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August 12, 2006

Yay!

It appears that I have finally found a use for my domain - I'm joining the world of knit bloggers and beginning a whole new adventure in my fibery world!

Stay tuned as I figure out how to work this thing - for an office applications guru, this web stuff feels a bit scary!

August 30, 2006

Knitting ADD

CeCebagcorset

two sockstubeyspin

I'm quite the flibberdigibbet these days - there are just so many things calling to me. Top row, L to R: CeCe from ChicKnits, a very simple and fun lace pattern in Butterfly cotton; a take on Zib's Via Diagonale pattern that will become a felted bag when it grows up; and Annie Modesitt's lace corset top - I didn't buy enough of the buttons I really, really liked*, so bought more that I really, really don't like, and the top sits waiting for me to find the right buttons again. Bottom row, L to R: two socks on two circs from the toe up - all parts new tricks for me, in Lucy Neatby's lovely merino; A Tubey started in something by Gedifra I picked up on sale in Asheville - gotta take all this out because the sleeves are too tight at the shoulder; and almost half of the pound of corriedale wool spun up - the cakes are ball-wound singles waiting to be plied. There are many, many more that I just haven't gotten around to photographing yet - phew! I'm also working on test-knit swatches - can't show those to you yet. CeCe will be getting my attention this weekend while Ernesto brings us some much needed rain.

*Standard MO - leave the house without ALL the information I will need whenever I get where I'm going - like exactly how many buttons I need instead of "oh, twelve sounds about right."

September 17, 2006

It must be a sign


I'm not sure what kind of sign, but it just must be a sign. So, late last night we were watching an old Eddie Izzard comedy hour on BBC - gotta love this transvestite - he makes me snort. I was fixated on the background he was prancing around in front of - all coppery, blue-y like light-stick blue, purple - really yummy. Today, after a chilly and windy trip to the beach followed by a bit of strenuous yardwork, I raced at the last 30 minutes of my LYS's special Sunday Blue Heron champagne reception. Mmmmm. But still pricey even on sale - I was talking myself out of it even as I touched all of it, then dug around in some bins assisted by a very energetic


salesperson, and laid eyes on this:Blue Heron


Exactly the color of Eddie's backdrop! It's Petite Rayon RicRac, 475yds, in Water Hyacinth. With the same mesmerising glow, the sheen - I lost all control and bought two skeins - I see a drapey, shiney, Clapotis in my future.

Some fiber(Domestic Wool, 4.2 oz.) flew up off the shelf and into my basket even as I was trying to make my getaway, Domestic wool and I'm not sure how those four skeins of Cascade 220 at 20% off for buttonhole bags got home with me... I have no control. And no pride. But I have tons and tons of pretty yarn and fiber. So sue me.

September 18, 2006

SIP and Social Skills and Stress Busting

Zowie - just back from a quick trip to see my rockstar mom who's just had her second knee replaced. It was great to see her, help out, and relieve my sisters who have managed mom's surgery, two businesses, and kids.

Of course the first thing I packed was yarn, and projects, and supplies for my sis to try felting, and spindles and fibers to play with. I got a LOT of mileage out of the silk hankies - my mother was amazed by them. As I was describing my spinning and plying attempts, we were talking about singles vs. plied, and I did something new... I had balls of Butterfly cotton, Lopi, and Cascade 220 with me - I pulled them all apart, untwisted, and poof - I broke them all down to their natural state. I'm really not sure why this delighted me so much, but then I'm pretty easy to delight. It fascinated my mom.

There wasn't much time to knit or spin, and I forgot the pattern for CeCe that I wanted to work on, but then I hit the usual Bermuda Triangle I find when I fly to Florida, and spent most of Wednesday in airports. The final bit of my first half pound of Corriedale was just the thing to keep my head from spinning off! Now I'm chuckling at that term - how appropriate - and not intentional. Anyway, I spun for what seemed like hours, and entertained many at several gates while trying desperately to get home.

This fiber thing, whether knitting or spinning, is amazingly good for this mostly anti-social* hermit. I NEVER talk to people on airplanes - never. I spent the whole day gabbing it up, whether it was with the 10-year old triplets who watched me spin or the gang of us going from gate to gate trying to get a standby flight and being berated by hostile gate ladies! When I finally boarded and found my seat, it was next to a very fun guy who was part of our gate gang - and we had a grand old time yukking it up about all sorts of crazy things. What fun!

*I'm not THAT bad... but given a choice, I'd choose going home and getting in my jammies after work so I can knit/spin/snuggle cats over socializing any day!

October 12, 2006

So much time, so little to do!

Wait - strike that - reverse it please!

I've been on a psychic cleaning binge, which means that I've been removing clutter and finishing things dying to be finished. I organized all my knitting magazines into one place, in chronological order by mag. I had a major "put it away" session this morning. Lo and behold, I think I've found my brain under all that mess! I get so full of life stuff sometimes I have to stop and dump and clear and sort and file to get going.

Long way of saying I've finished some knitting/spinning pictured below for your viewing pleasure:

Via Diagonale

Cascade 220, a little more than one ball each of tan and red

Tweaks: I cast on less stitches than the pattern, double-knit the handle for sturdiness, and felted the whole thing. It's a great, strong fabric - I see carrying spindles, etc. in it.

Felted Via Diagonale

In closeup:

Spinning, spinning, and more spinning on the drop spindles:

1/2 lb Corriedale roving, two plied:

That's all of it above - it's something like 480 yards. My plying skills are improving - here's some lovely merino, about 94 yards:

I sent the same amount of this roving to my SP - can't wait to see what PixelDiva spins up with hers.

Gratuitous kitten picture - Bluefish in action:

October 18, 2006

Who knew?

I'm not much of a frou frou type, and as such have never understood all the lovely, dangly, fancy stitch markers out there. I'm also big into functional as opposed to decorative, so I use the little plastic or rubber rings that I buy in packages at the yarn store often since they seem to like to wander once liberated from those packages.

I work with someone related to the creative brains of Zecca and was recently gifted a tin of her very lovely little markers. I've admired them for months, worn them on chains as pendants, and, finally, decided to use them knitting up some sample swatches. I am pleasantly surprised at how delightful they are to use - they sparkle and dangle and generally make me smile when I come upon them each row. Who knew?

November 19, 2006

Random Sunday

For some unknown reason, I've been waking up at 3AM, forcing myself to stay in bed til 4AM, and then getting up and having what feels like a full day before I have to go to work. This has been going on since Wednesday - ugh. But I've gotten a lot done - some spinning, almost a whole moebius shawl, and the beginnings of another funky cable sample. Plus lots of housework too, in prep for our holiday trip to a sunny place where we get to see both my family and DH's in one fell swoop. Couldn't have planned that better - we save tons on airfare.

The moebius - what magic - incredible stuff here. I wish my brain worked like Cat Bordhi's - how did she ever figure this out? It's Blue Heron Petite Rayon Boucle in Water Hyacinth - only a few more very long rows to go. I'll finish this on the plane.

In spinning news, after trying the Welsh Top that came with my wheel (it wasn't Wensleydale as previously reported, but hey, it was at least a w sound), which is very coarse and hairy and more to Indigo's liking than mine, I went thin with some unidentified dyed roving. I think I'm so worried about putting too much twist in that I'm not putting enough. Don't the colors in that wool look remarkably similar to the moebius? I see a trend here, and it's unconscious so far.



 


I've also discovered that white wool is incredibly challenging to photograph well, even when the sun finally did come out this week. Daylight Savings Time sure makes it tricky to find times to take pictures - it's impeding my blogging. The good news is that it ends two weeks early for the first time this year - big yay!

I've spent a lot of today cat proofing - Bluefish the wrecking ball hesitates at nothing. She jumped on the counter and up onto a shelf from there, which she rode down from the wall as it crashed into the lazy susan full of seasonings and the crock with all of my utensils in it. Amazingly, and lucky for the Fish, nothing broke. Can't imagine what trouble she'll get into while we're away.

In the final exciting news of the weekend, we have mice in our 81 year old house - imagine that. Mice bold enough to, in broad daylight, come up on my counter to munch on the cinnamon sugar that lives by the toaster. I didn't witness this - DH did, but I now understand it's not crickets that Bluefush lays in wait for in the kitchen, it's the mice she can hear behind the dishwasher. Fun. This is the first time in my whole life I can't call the landlord to get rid of the mice. One of the many things that reminds me I'm a grownup now. Not gonna think about it til after turkey. And I'll come home with a tan, which always makes me feel better, so I'm sure the solution will come to me then.

December 15, 2006

Moebius Mania

Or madness. I can't stop. I LOVE these things! They knit up uber-quick, they're mindbogglingly amazing, and they are so organic just like Cat describes them. I have moebius projects lined up as far as the eye can see. Seriously - it's cutting into my spinning time!

These are moebii 1-6, missing #2 which was gifted in the Secret Santa baloney at work. I didn't like it so much - I tried to be crafty and do math in my head (this is never, ever a good idea) and upscale the thing by half. It worked - to a point. I didn't make any scale arrangements for the decreases, and ended up with a bit lot of puckering. I also used only a single strand of Cascade 220, so it was pretty very flimsy felt. The recipient doesn't know any better - and also seemed completely indifferent to the fact that the basket only had one edge. And one freaking surface! Don't you get it? It's a MOEBIUS! Phew.

Anyway, these are all drying after their fun hot water adventure, and the next post will feature them in all their one-surface glory. I love everything about them - right up to blowing up a balloon inside them to dry them in a lovely round shape. The pale pink/purpley thing is a double basket that is thisclose to being done, but I ran out of yarn. And you know, it's just hard to get to the yarn shop when you're a working girl who's got chores and things to do with DH on the weekend. And especially now, with all the absolute worst crazies on the road searching frantically for that perfect holiday present - traffic hell and more than my patience can bear. (Whine) I'll live, it will get finished, and I'll knit some more with something else. The turquoise blob in the lower right corner is a first for me in felting - it fused together. After trying my very best to slice it open, I gave up and now I'll cut it into embellishments - note the circle already cut.. WoolPak sure felts fast, hard, and thick!

December 20, 2006

I love the smell of wet wool in the morning

Okay, so it wasn't morning, it was after work. But I do love the smell of wet wool. Makes me think of the time that, as a hurricane approached, my family was forced to pack up its tent village wet and drive home from Ocracoke with four adults and four children and two 50 pound dogs in a Bronco who were also all wet. Mmmm....memories.


Anyway, it's those magical moebii (?) which smell all wet-wooly, and boy oh boy are they fun. The different yarns make for very different felt and so the fun just never ends. Then you add colors - wheeeee! I see bunches of these like tribbles all around the house. I adore the little turquoise one which is made with WoolPak - single strand of the 10 ply, I think. The surface of this basket is all pebbly and I'm mad for it. Bought it on my 40th birthday trip to NYC last January when we stumbled on Purl - it has been wondering what it wants to be ever since. I'm in the process of making another, and I'll do as many as I can with the 880 yards of this pretty turquoise. The others are two strands of the ever-wonderful Cascade 220 - reliable, sturdy felt. Crappy pictures because one of them had to make its exit yesterday to go on to its new home. When I go to pick up DH's birthday (25th - ugh) honey baked ham on Friday I'll buy enough yarn to finish the double basket (gotta get all errands done early Friday morning - first of eleven straight days I'm off with DH - don't want to waste a minute) and I think I'll try the one with many more twists soon.

December 24, 2006

Somebody stop me!

Not really - I'm having waaaaay too much fun. May I present the latest moebius basket, BUNS!

Cat Bordhi describes this as anatomical in her Second Treasury, and I did consider the bare bum-ness of the pale pink when selecting colors, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. It's the first time I've ever knint with Lamb's Pride - pretty nice stuff, and double-stranded on 13s it makes for a very sturdy felt. Stands up on its own. Hinies, IMHO, are always fun. (How in the world do you spell that nickname for fanny??) I have another on the needles and one waiting in the wings - I can't stop.

I even managed to do the teeny tiny bit of finishing required to make these socks an FO - finally. Made a pair for twin sis for our big birthday last January and then cast right on to make the exact same pair for me from the giant bag of Elann Esprit sock yarn I bought a ton of for a project it was absolutely wrong for. They've been moving between various knitting piles, and somehow ended up in the active pile in the corner of the loveseat I live in. Two ends to weave in - what have I been waiting for? It's a pattern from Interweave some time ago - don't ask, I don't remember. Slouchy socks - very comfy, and it's hard to beat turquoise anything.

Hohoho and merry merry to all - slugfest continues here through at least tomorrow!

January 10, 2007

Big Day

At the Dream yesterday. Woke up at 4AM and proceeded to have a full morning before I went to work. First I fiinished plying the silk hankies, artfully displayed on the cat's bird watching post in the sunroom. This is 801 yards, and I'm almost positive now that I'll ply it back on itself for a bulkier yarn.

Then I set about dyeing the silk/wool fiber with the pokeberries, which turned into this:

I did my usual scientific method - I eyeballed the alum and cream of tartar in the dyepot and threw in the pokeberries loose. I mashed them about a bit and came up with a lovely shade of magenta - real, true, bright magenta. In went the fiber which immediately took on that bright hue. I wandered off for a bit, and when I returned, it had started taking on a few brownish spots, and then later completely changed into this strange pale, dirty apricot/peach (kind of like the baby loop I got in the CTH sale now that I think about it). I left it to soak in the pot all day, and found lots of color still left in the end. Silly to have left those mashed up berries loose in the pot - they had all firmly adhered to the fiber and took some work to rinse. If you look closely you may see some dark spots - berry bits. There are a very few faint streaks of that magenta buried in here. I have no idea - but I love that I've completed the circle started in the 70s when mom did some natural dyeing in the woods in rural Pennsylvania.

I unloaded the dishwasher, did the usual cat routine and then my own and worked a full day. During which I found out that carpet runners we had ordered were in and needed to be picked up, so I did that, lugged them and the carpet pads in from the car and did an instant redecoration of my halls. At which point, the UPS man turned up with my new desktop computer to replace the six-year old one that's become achingly slow. So, then I crawled around on the floor like a lizard to hook and unhook everything, during which time I made a feeble attempt to clean up the cable snare under the desk. I will be purchasing one of those newfangled devices that allows for those humongous adapter plugs that hog up space on your surge protector strip. I only made it worse and now have an additional cord snaking across the room, sure to trip the man when he gets home. Oy.

So, I am woman, hear me roar - all endeavors over the looooong day yesterday were successful, I'm freakishly strong for my size, I made my home wireless network function all by myself, and basically, I just rock. Thank you veddy much.

Random thought for the day: Do you find that, if your pants have more than the usual two-step closure, like two buttons, or a button and a hook, in addition to the zipper, you're more likely to leave your fly unzipped? Just wondering. If I have to think about more than the usual one-two, approximately 7 of 10 times I have to zip up, I'm likely to skip that third step altogether.

January 16, 2007

Another Monday Off

I could get used to this. Too bad I have to wait for President's Day to have another planned long weekend. The man had to travel for work yesterday, so I had a glorious span of time all my own. Since I'm still waking up at ridiculous hours, I got busy very early with all that silk. That pretty, pretty silk that I've been having a hard time keeping my (dry) hands away from, and have shown off at several opportunities, and only tied once when it came off the skein winder. It is suggested in all spinning references I own that you tie your skeins securely in several places - at least two. Why I can't possibly do such a simple task is beyond me, but yes, you know where this is going. I've invested a lot of time and energy into this silk, in a good way, and so after marinating for a few days, I finally decided Sunday night that it needed more twist if it was to grow up to be the four-ply I wanted it to be. So I rigged up the winder behind the wheel and attempted to put that skein back on the winder. It looked perfect - until I untied my one spot, and that damned end would not let go of the rest of the hank. You know that figure eight thing hanks are usually tied in? I somehow retained a twist, and almost two hours of cursing, yanking, re-winding, over/under-where-the-hell-is-that-going-now hell ensued. I only put it down because my arm was falling off from trying to hold the hank. Not only was it all tangled, those underspun areas are very grabby, making it look like tangles when really it was just sticky singles. Ugh.

So, Monday morning, back to the hank. I had coffee and most useful assistance from the cats, and we got sorted it out. And so I got it back on the bobbin after twisting the bejeezus out of it. All good. I even got it into a center pull ball over a tp roll sleeve. Then I got nervous that I'd wound it too tighly and it would go limp, so I hopped right back on the wheel and commenced the four-ply. Wheeeee! Until the center pull ball got lazy and I started pulling out that yarn barf from the middle - all energized and clingy and hanging onto itself for dear life. At which point I stepped away again. It's mocking me from the other room right now - I suspect it will be conquered tonight, and let me tell you, the Clapotis it turns into better be spec-freaking-tacular.

In the middle of all this silk excitement, I managed to finish a pair of socks that have been on my needles since last April, knit for two hours at my LYS with my new friend and her regular Monday gang, where I started My So Called Scarf with the BFL I spun up a while back. MMMM. What a lovely pattern - amazing, again, what one can come up with using just two little stitches. And amazing too, all those brains that come up with this stuff.

These are Wendy's generic toe-up socks in Lucy Neatby's Merino Dream, and I learned two new things on these plain stockinette socks - two at a time on two circs, and from the toe up for the first time. I was pretty queasy about the short row heels, but wore them today and they're sooooo comfortable.

I think I'll go back to one-at-a-time on dpns for my next pair of socks - less fiddly and perhaps more relaxing. I have some lovely Mountain Colors Bearfoot to play with.

Off to see about that silk - think good thoughts!

February 7, 2007

Back in the saddle again

I've been humming since yesterday morning... Whew – I survived breaking my blog. It looked dicey for a few days there, but thanks to a rescue from my patient and smart blog hostess, I’m back in business and I can blather on and on some more. Funny how, before I had the blog, I had gazillions of things to say, and now I have it and find myself speechless a lot of the time – same thing during my blog break. Tons of silly things to talk about, and now that it’s back, nothing. Brain empty.

Good thing I’m working on keeping track better, and I now have two notebooks where I can jot down my brilliant ideas on the spot – the official Notebook of Spinning will now share pages with blog notes, and I have a little “I’m becoming my mother” notepad in my purse. If I don’t write things down – they’re gone daddy gone, and there’s no way of knowing when or if they’ll ever come back around. I send myself lots of emails to remind myself to do things when I get home. I forget a caller’s name as soon as they tell me where they’re from. It’s a big step to write these things down – whether I actually go back and use them remains to be seen. I have a voice recorder that I thought would be the perfect solution to carry around, but then I never listened to the “notes” I recorded – just kept carrying the thing around.

Have you read Susan Gordon Lydon? The Knitting Sutra, Knitting Heaven and Earth, Take the Long Way Home? Knitting Heaven and Earth jumped off the LYS shelf for me one evening, and when I hit the web the next morning, I learned she had just passed away that week. I think she’s amazing, and a darned great writer. I don’t know how to describe her, except that she spoke to me, through me, and with me in all these books – remarkable. I’ve got my own cobbled together spirituality so it was fascinating to read about her journey, and the amazing part fiber played in it for her, and for me too. I wish I could call her up to talk.

Besides the blog, I’ve apparently gotten my fiber mojo back. I was really struggling after the holidays – perhaps a reaction to having to go to work and use space in my brain for something other than what I might play with next. The cable swatches were fighting with me and I was making stoooopid mistakes ( I think I started one in a bad mood – it had bad juju), and I couldn’t commit to a next project. The spinning wheel wasn’t even calling to me, even after I fiddled with the yummy brown wool that I think is cormo cross from the VA Fiber Fest last fall.

But it’s all coming back now – whew again. Cable swatches going along swimmingly once again. I actually did a test ply with the bit of brown wool – and decided that, while it’s lovely as two-ply, I want a three-ply. It’s escaping me now but I recently read a witty blogger’s discussion about why three-ply looks more like commercial or “real” yarn and I want to try it. I’m hoping to spin enough to knit the man a cabled, buttoned vest. His request.

February 8, 2007

Will she make it?

almost

Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of the epic silk hankie adventure....

February 19, 2007

February is for...

Finishing things:

Modesitt Lace Corset

This is Annie Modesitt's Ribbed Lace Corset that I started oh, in February of 2006. It's been forgotten in the pile since I bought the cute little buttons. Only I didn't buy enough buttons, because, in my typical boneheaded way, I set out for them without checking how many buttons I might actually need. So of course I came home four buttons short, and I'm just too lazy to go all the way back to where they came from. I even bought different buttons when I passed close by a fabric shop last spring, but I didn't like them, so it sat some more. Until my LYS owner asked if she could put it up to try to sell the Roma that she just wasn't moving. Jaeger Roma - lovely stuff, soft, good stitch definition. I fiddled with it again last night, and after sewing up the buttonholes that were never going to work, I crocheted on a little button band and I'm quite pleased with it. It's way more bare than I ever wear, but one of the ladies at knitting this morning told me about Hollywood tape - do you know about it? I was picturing her taping up her boobs, and I had a not-so-pleasant experience with the tape on the Victoria's Secret stick-on number, but this is double-sided tape that works skin-to-fabric or fabric-to-fabric. Very interestink - I have an abnormal fear of my bra straps showing, so I'll be looking into the stuff.

And these:

socks for the man


Socks for the man, who from now on I think I'll call Captain America, or CA for short. He's in security - serious, so you can get out of bed in the morning security, and he takes it very, very seriously. If I telly you any more I'll have to kill you, so know that you're safer because CA is out there protecting America. So I made these socks for him maybe 18 months ago - never wove in the ends. What's wrong with me? Upon inspection after finishing, I either changed needle sizes for the second sock or lost my mind on gauge, so yes, the sock in the back is a bit smaller. He'll wear them, and he'll damn well like them too!
ETA - Holy cow, I just realized what socks these are.... These are the socks I grabbed on the way to Florida when my father passed away suddenly in April 2005. They're the socks that kept me sane on the plane, and in the middle of the night, and when I didn't know what else to do. I didn't finish the second sock for a long time, so it's no wonder it's a different size. These are the socks that saved me, and they're the same socks that got me published for the very first time in Annie Modesitt's collection of essays called Cheaper than Therapy. I knit a couple of purl stitches in the toe of the first one just so I'd always know which ne I started that morning on the plane. I think maybe I'll put them away. Or maybe CA will wear them. I have no idea. Phew.

I also finally finished a very large cable swatch for Melissa Leapman in lipstick red Cascade 220, but I can't show you that. Very pretty and it seemed to go on forever.

February is also for Frogging:

tubey!


May I present Tubey, in Gedifra Softice I bought last May in Asheville, NC. It's now been ripped twice and is beginning to look a bit fuzzy. I think it will rest for a bit before I decide what it wants to be. I WILL make a Tubey - maybe just not with this stuff. Or maybe I will use it - it made fabulous random stripes.

And for Figuring Out What to do with the Brown Wool:

Here's the first test, spun on the middle Lendrum ratio and double plied. From this test I decided I'd go for a tree ply I'm up to a bobbin and a half, and spinning is the plan for tonight's tv watching.

brown wool


I think I'll frog one more thing before the end of the month, and I blame BonneMarie for this several years ago - can't remember. It's Le Gilet Long cardigan (scroll down - it's shown in purple/white) that was all the rage, and I had to have it because it was French, and it's all knitted but I could never get it to fit together properly to seam it up. It's probably a good thing since it's unlikely I'd ever wear a long, bright white and orange cardigan. The was a keyhole top pattern in that issue of the Phildar mag that I'll have to hunt down one day....

April 15, 2007

The Swatch that Ate My Brain

And other random stories in an attempt to catch up.

The Swatch That Ate My Brain


This is it. THE swatch. One of the bazillion I've been knitting for Melissa Leapman, she of the fantastic cables. Here's its sad story, from the beginning:

  1. Begin knitting with one of the many balls of "red or burgundy" Cascade 220 in my house as directed.

  2. 15 or 20 rows in, realize I must have picked up a random ball of my Cascade 220, leftover from my Via Diagonale bag, and so rip and wind a hank from the box for Melissa's swatches.

  3. Start over, but with such limited attention to detail that I spend a LOT of time ripping and reknitting this monster of an 89-stitch, 39 row repeat swatch. Rip to the beginning at least once, maybe more, but my memory is blurred.

  4. Make two daredevil cable re-crossings at two different times, only to figure out on the next row, BOTH times, that the cables were correctly crossed to begin with.

  5. Step away from the red monster, and complete three other cable swatches with no problem, attend Knittapalooza IV, drive to Philly to see the Tut show, read up on cabling without a cable needle again, and ignore it right up to the hours of forced knitting time on Good Friday while Captain America had shoulder surgery.

  6. An hour into my fabulous, perfect-for-powering-through-the red-monster time in the waiting room, run out of yarn about 11 rows short of the end of three repeats of the 89-stitch, 39 row repeat swatch.

  7. Two and a half hours into that wonderful perfect-for-knitting time, I get to the toe on my first Koigu Jaywalker, and after searching through my belongings, resigned myself that I had nothing to MacGyver grafting the toe with and watched a ridiculous Maury episode while waiting for CA hit the recovery room.

  8. Find, at home, a small ball of the same color Cascade from another panel, and knit as fast as I can to make sure it was enough. It wasn't. Found another small ball of the same color and with a glimmer of hope, tried to make it the four more rows. I made it 2.5 rows. Even if I cut the long tail from the cast on and tried to push it - no way Jose. See those ends in the photo? Shyeah.

  9. Throw it across the room.

  10. Beg Melissa for a new panel so I can get this one out of my brain - I've already knit it, and I must now wind two new hanks of "red or burgundy" Cascade 220 and start the beast all over again. Oy.


I'm trying to stick to the bright side of the story - I did finally figure out how to cable without a needle, thanks to both Annie Modesitt on Knitty Gritty and Grumperina's very clear instructions. In all previous attempts, let's just say I was pulling out too early.

Let's see, what else? I finished plying from my three bobbins of CA's wool, and impressed the hell out of the cats with my eyeballing technique to making sure the bobbins were fairly evenly loaded:

bobbins


CA is cutting up my PVC as I type for a full-sized Niddy Noddy - yay.

I'm reading up on HTML for Dummies and WordPress in an attempt to get past my fear and conquer the layout of this blog. I've contacted my amazing blog hostess, Becky, and have an out should my attempt fail. My plan is to create a template from scratch following the book - and see what I can come up with. I get all flustered when I look at the stylesheets for the many templates I've tried, so maybe I can build one myself. Please don't hold your breath.

April 30, 2007

No Words Necessary.

the beast

May 7, 2007

Sheep & Wool Sheep & Wool Sheep & Wool!

I've braved the largest fiber festival in the country and survived - what a scene. Getting dressed to mingle with several gazillion fiber freaks was like getting ready for a date, and I spent time laughing at myself as I made, and discarded, a name-tag so everyone out there who was dying to meet me would know who I was (the dork with the name badge), tried on several outfits to maximize the opportunity to show off handknits (dork trying too hard), and went with my usual long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans with my original Clapotis (for warmth).

I flew up to Baltimore to meet Captain America, the world's best husband. The TSA and vendors in the Norfolk airport must have been taking happy pills - everyone was grinning and by the time they had my knitting needles out of my bag, I had my foot up on the conveyor to show off the handknit socks I was wearing. I was in Southwest's B cattle call line, so I took a seat in the middle between a giant man and a tall man in the third row so I could get right off the plane. I'm a little skinny thing - the flight was less than an hour - cool.

CA was surprised at the loooong line of cars going into the fairgrounds - not me. We parked in another county, but it was a reasonable day and the walk was lovely. I know I read about a knitblogger who was going to be there in her yellow VW camper and CA spotted it - damned if I can remember but hey - great yellow camper!!

I lost my mind immediately as expected. Things I know about myself but choose to occasionally overlook for an event of this magnitude: I have trouble with visual overload. I have no sense of direction, so going into one building and coming out turned me completely around each time - good thing CA was in charge of steering. I'm not so good at crowds. I am incredibly indecisive and sometimes a little too practical for my own good. I needed absolutely nothing going in.

We did all the outside buildings (pavillions?) when we arrived. I was surprised at the amount of yarn - it never occurred to me that there were so many small producers out there. I hadn't given a thought to patterns, have tons of stash, and so didn't spend a lot of time looking at it, though I did accost someone in the STR line so I could question her about its mystique. (I'm not sure I figured it out - but I only saw her skein.) I was there for fiber, if anything, and I have to admit that not only was I worried that I might find something more delicious at the next turn, but that I was sure I'd do it wrong when it came to buying some. Didn't occur to me to observe - do you just pull a hunk of roving off the balls or out of the bags? Do you wait to be helped? These are things I need to learn before my next attempt.

About 45 minutes in, this called out to me, and I'm not even sure what it is beyond 3 2oz, carded batts - fluffy pink clouds of softness:

pink clouds


It was now past 1pm, the time of the knitblogger meetup - and I had no idea by this point where I was supposed to be. I'm not a particularly social person - most nights I'm in my pj's after work with my knitting and my cats. But fiber is changing that, and I find myself wanting to hang out with knitters - amazing. So even though I was feeling shy and dorky, I called Mel, had her describe her surroundings, and managed to spot her right off. She's exactly like I imagined - gorgeous and fun and she knows about the greeting squeal - I think it's a tribal thing. She's a pro - with her cutie husband Tad they were there for the second time and had the place scoped out and a systematic approach. I was all anxious and jangly and they were cool as cucumbers. Best thing about the festival for sure. Can't wait to see the picture of us! (hint hint)

We ate a funnel cake, hit the exhibition halls for more stuff, stood in the loooong line for this (worth the wait):

mascot


The t-shirts are gorgeous - great design, great colors. Yes mom, I got you a mask too! CA didn't think it would be a good idea to take the masks on the plane - something about security not thinking they were as funny as I do, so they're coming home with him later this week. I also bought a funky silk/wool scarf felty kit, and I think that's it. I wish I had been alone to make a stealth run at the end to pick up a silk bell and some of the "party wool" in a tub I saw but didn't just buy, but I was being nice to CA.

I wonder if the S&W people would consider a day for claustrophobics like me - I didn't like cramming into the little booths....

We wandered out past these two characters - they win the silliest haircut prize:

haircut


Besides these guys, there were so many sheep - bigger sheep than I've ever seen, soft, copper-colored sheep, goats, alpacas, angora bunnies like silver poufs, amazing animals. We managed to keep just missing shearings, but saw some clipping that triggered a memory of those hand clippers from back when I had a pet lamb....

A very sheepy, fibery, exciting festival - I'll go back. With a better plan, more research, and the hopes of actually taking a class. I feel like I'm still just at the outside edge of the spinning world - I need to break all the way into the circle (in my own mind anyway).

June 25, 2007

Now We're Cooking with Gas!

Or at least blogging from my corner of the couch, the place where all knitting and most other things happen in this house, because yes, I managed, finally, to get wireless! Zippity dooh dah. Here's how I did it: spent hours booting and rebooting and searching technical websites on the other computer over several weeks. Since about the second week of June I've taken a more desperate approach - avoiding the damned thing, and practically the whole room it was in altogether, with occasional delusions that if I just did that one thing, it would work, followed immediately with desperation and more avoidance. Until today, when I realized I could start with the lowest common denominator, the cheapest fix, and I bought a new adapter at Radio Shack (only because I was on a rare and stealth mission to the mall - no new summer purse, but a wireless card. I strongly dislike Radio Shacks, but I was desperate and braved the land of geeks.)

Anyway, $60 later, with absolutely no other pain whatsoever, here I am, in business on the couch. Yay me.

I have aboslutely nothing spectacular to talk about, and no fabulous new knitting to show you, so I took garden pictures. This is the clematis I hoped might be white:

2nd purple clematis


A second type of purple - just as great! The other has four-petaled flowers.And morning glories galore - the ever-reliable Grandpa Ott's, and several new colors from the mix I planted. Love these things - they grow fast and make me happy every single morning.

GO's morning glory


random gloy


random glory 2


And my favorite thing in my garden every summer, my biggest joy, and also the one that causes me the most trouble and heartache - the tomato. I have two plants left from the batch I started from seed this year. I've grown all kinds - grape, cherry, roma, heirloom, purchased plants - all of them. And all I ever want is a good, fat, juicy slicer for my tomato sandwiches. And that seems to be the very hardest thing to get. I skipped the relentless cherry/grape vines - they never stop and I have tomatoes coming out of my ears. Nothing fancy this year - I did Burpee Early Girls and Big Beefsteak I think, and I'm down to two of one or the other - not sure which anymore. Despite too many cool nights and some blossom drop:

TOMATOES!


With more to come - I think tomato blossoms are happy and beautiful:

Tomatoes to be


I'm obsessed with my garden - I dote, I admire, I encourage - so satisfying when it works.

I have a new dove pair on the porch - they spent most of this weekend deciding if it would work, building the pile of sticks that doves seem to prefer, and noodling around together up there. I don't think I wrote about the original mom, who was tending to her second set of eggs in the same spot. One morning in May, I was up at 4:30 and looked out the window to see her sleeping in the nest. I was knitting at 5AM when there was a horrible commotion and I ran to the window just in time to see the neighborhood alley cat making off with the mom dove. After he crashed the nest to the floor which crushed the eggs that were very near hatching. Awful. Horrible. I don't know why the universe decided I needed to see it all. I looked for her every time I went in or out for weeks. That event was the beginning of my apparently appointed role to bear witness to baby bird tragedies in the yard this spring - I found other unhatched and broken eggs and a baby who had probably fallen from the nest. I can only hope someday to know why I was chosen. So it's great that the doves are here - and I can now worry about them every time I come in and out.

I think the end is in sight with the cable swatches for Melissa Leapman - I believe I have the last two patterns in hand and one of them in process. When these are done, I will return to my little green tee. The design issue on the back has been rolling around and fermenting for a while and I think I know what I'll do to make it work, but my brain is a very dangerous place to keep this sort of thing, so I'm looking forward to pulling it out and getting to it.

Oh yeah - I've spun up a bobbin and a half more of the brown wool - not too exciting, but it's going swimmingly and I look forward to the day when CA wears it! I'm denying myself other spinning til I finish these three bobbins-full - that should give me close to 1,000 yards. I've found a rhythm with it and don't want to mess up by adding a different rhythm or fiber to the mix.

I've even made some inquiries around finding a way to make fiber my work... If you're reading and you're a yarn rep, I'd love to pick your brain!

July 11, 2007

In Memory of Momma Dove #2

Yep, that pesky neighborhood cat got the second nesting dove on my porch sometime between breakfast & lunch on Monday, and I just feel terrible. I knew the cat knew she was there, even though I haven't seen him since his massacre in May. I spent many nights falling asleep thinking about ways I could protect the dove - spikes, aluminium foil, a net, anti-varmint spray - but I did nothing. Mostly because I know you can't stop a cat on a mission... I had one of those cats who, back when I was making a lot of pottery, would not allow any other potter's work in my apartment. Anytime I brought something home, she'd find and "kill" it, smashing it to the floor. I bought a beautiful Malcolm Davis shino teapot - I was mad for it - and within 24 hours, my little Spike had found it, stashed on a high shelf behind lots of other pots, and smashed it.

Anyway, I feel like I set Momma Dove #2 up, and if any of her friends decide to investigate this lovely spot to make a nest, I will, even though the thought kills me, drive her away. Captain America is as sad about this as I am - we both enjoyed greeting her anytime we were on the porch and marveled at her tolerance and dedication as we watered plants hanging right next to her and generally banged around out there. RIP momma.

In fiber news, I'm up to the armpits on Cece, and boy, all that shaping in lace has tested my feeble brain! I persevere, and tonight I'll cast on for the sleeves - wheee! I also managed to fill another bobbin with CA's brown wool over the weekend - one more bobbin, a little plying, and I'm ready to make his vest. Whee again! And today I will mail off the final six cable swatches for Melissa Leapman - big WHEEEE!

August 14, 2007

How to knit CeCe the Dream way

1. Cast on for ChicKnits' CeCe in August of 2006, get through a few inches of the lace pattern and allow the thought "this is pretty simple - I think I've got this pattern down" to come into your awareness, and then of course, make a spectacular goof somewhere in the lace pattern that, after heroic attempts to repair, causes a total frog in desperation.

2. Start over. Try very hard to remain humble. Stumble briefly, but get into it about to the armhole shaping.

3. Get a spinning wheel for your anniversary and abandon CeCe, with its lacy challenges, completely.

4. Pull CeCe out of the WIP wasteland and try to figure out where you are and why that slipped-stitch edging looks so funky.

5. Give up on starting where you left off and start ALL OVER.

6. Sort of figure out your complete brain fart on slipped-stitch edging, so at least one front edge of the cardigan looks good, but don't realize your oh-so-simple mistake on the other edge until it's become a design feature. Plot the crochet edging you'll add to hide the fug.

7. To cleverly avoid sleeve island, cast on for both at the same time and knit four rows of ribbing. Now notice that the pattern says knit four ROUNDS of ribbing. Oh. Cast on the first sleeve, knit that ribbing again, realize you just can't read and you didn't cast on enough stitches and start the blasted thing over. Rinse and repeat (only once) for the second sleeve.

8. Somewhere in the yoke, decide that, after a bunch of decreases that sure, you have enough room on that circular needle to try it on. But you really don't, and so spend the rest of that evening getting a bunch of stitches back on the needle correctly.

9. Finish!

10. Realize that once again, you have horrible judgment when it comes to knitting the right size. Always. Several recent knits have been a bit snug in my shoulders, and this is meant to be worn over something, so I made the second size - which may well be too big in the shoulders. This can't possibly have anything to do with gauge or my unwillingness to keep track of my measurements. It's not a vanity thing - I promise. Just some weird avoidance of measuring and writing down.... Or maybe that this is heavy cotton and lots of lace - BonneMarie and Fluffa both used springy and light Calmer yarn for theirs.

11. Block. Hold your breath. Think about what friends you like enough who might also be the right size to give it to you if you can't shrink it or block it into submission.

CeCe%20blocking.jpg

12. Try it on two of your friends, unsuccessfully, and realize it's just too big.

13. Wash the sucker in hot water and dry on the long cycle hoping for shrinkage.

14. Come very close to throwing CeCe in the trash, but don't, because even though it didn't shrink enough, it's just such a pretty little lacy cardi that there must be some way to rescue it.

15. Take out the neck strap thing - and plan to shorten it by half, sew it on using every other stitch on the neckline to see if you can pull it in a bit.
cece%20now.jpg

I wasn't going to publish this post until I was able to show you an amazing photo of me modeling the damned thing, but it's going to hang out in the pile in the corner of knitting central (the loveseat) while I turn my attention to yet another sweater to knit in the wrong size. More on that when I get a swatch knit.

August 17, 2007

Leroy says

Ever since I got my Rockin Girl Blogger button, I've been singing Michelle Shocked's Anchorage:

Leroy says send a picture
Leroy says hello
Leroy says awwwww keep on rockin, girl

Where is she now? I saw her several times in the early-90s - one concert was amazing, another torture. The torturous one was at the new and amazingly acoustically perfect George Mason U's music hall, and Taj Mahal was her opening act. Well, some great snafu prevented a large number of band members to be MIA, from both bands - can't remember the details anymore. Taj handled it amazingly well and pulled off a terrific set - one that made me rush out to buy his music and to play Take One Step a thousand times. Michelle, on the other hand, flaked out and instead of singing, spent most of the show blathering into the microphone about her problems. Yuck.

Today Leroy says I figured out short rows all by myself for the long-forgotten sweater-copying exercise I started ages ago. I've been puzzling over the back neck and shoulders, and one night last week as I was knitting a garter stitch project, an image of the way short rows might work popped up, uninvited really, in my brain. I let it mull around for a bit, and then did some googling and studied a few short row tutorials. Feeling aaaalmost ready to attempt this great feat, I found a Knitty pattern that had the directions written out so I could see how it all came down - and I felt ready to give it a try. I had, in fact, pictured it in my head pretty well, and amazingly, even in seed stitch, it WORKED! I've never picked up those wraps better I tell you! I always tried to maneuver through the wrap and into the stitch it was wrapped around without moving it at all - very squidgy work. Slipping the wrapped stitch to my right needle, putting the wrap up on the left, slipping the stitch back from the right to the left, and knitting those two stitches together made for a great result!

SR%201.jpg

This short row victory is particularly important since I consider myself challenged in the visual-spatial area. I can't imagine furniture in an empty room, and though I love maps - I have to put myself "in them" to find my way around. I'm the person who has to draw the outline of my face in the mirror to figure out if it's oval or square or round. So to have a short row solution, something I've barely wrapped my brain around even after having taken a class, pop up in my head out of nowhere is just plain REMARKABLE. To have let that solution stay and grow and then to have made it work - my god - spectacular! I'm well into the front piece now, and am happy to report that my note-taking so far has been good enough to make a matching piece. So far.

Leroy also says that Leroy shall hereforth be the name of the monster guarding my tomatoes this year:

Leroy%201.jpg

Leroy has been with me and the vines from the beginning, and I've watched him grow from a little teeny tiny thing to this humongous creature - what I call a zipper spider. You should know that I'm terrified of spiders, that I leap and scream like a girl when they appear - and they seem to seek me out everywhere. I've come to a point of acceptance with them when they stay in their own natural environment, like the tomatoes. If they're in the house, or they make a web across the back steps I'm sorry, that's my turf and they have to die. I tried early on to convince Leroy that he'd be happier elsewhere, but he seemed to think otherwise. I really messed with him when he was little - twanging the super-strong support threads on his web, blowing on him, spraying him with the hose while watering, throwing things into the web to see if he'd think they were a bug - you name it. He shakes his web when he's threatened, and I wonder what he knows of me - he seems to know I'm there when I get up and off to his side - he starts rocking like crazy. I can't stop watching him - he's truly as large as he looks and he seems to still be growing. Note the tomatoes in the background of this picture - they're the size of large plums, and he's easily as long:

Leroy%202.jpg

His girlfriend has been around this week - a very plain brown spider of the same general body type only about 1/8th of his size. I've spied her hanging on the web directly behind him but I haven't seen them actually interact. I'm off to google zipper spider reproduction so I can be prepared.

August 23, 2007

Mmmmmm

I%20got%20a%20bug%21.jpg

Leroy, my FEMALE spider friend, got herself a big 'ol cicada yesterday - she was wrapping its upper body when I checked on her before work, and by the time I came home, she had sucked it dry and dropped it to the ground.

Of course I know that female spiders are the showier of the species, and that at least black widows eat their mates, but I believe this is the sort of thing we learned in school that just, as time goes by, simply falls out of our brains. Like algebra. And in my defense for assuming that Leroy's size and position made her male: 1) I simply do not think about spiders unless I'm squealing and levitating trying to escape one - or I'm watching Debra Winger hunt a human version down in Black Widow (ooohhhhh - remember that French man in Hawaii - yummy); b) I spend a lot of time stalking my bird feeders with the cats, and when it comes to birds, the boys ARE prettier; and 3) did I mention that I'm afraid of spiders and just never give them room in my brain or my world? I check on this girl at least twice a day. I worry when I go to visit and she's moved around the corner in the bed - I have a moment of despair when I think she might be gone. Go figure - I have a spider friend.

In knitting news, I've just finished a quickie Ty Dye bolero for my wild and crazy mother. Sort of finished. I discovered, as I laid it out to block, that I had pulled one of my classic garment-making maneuvers, perfected way back as a teen sewing clothes: I sewed up one side inside out. Yup - even though I know this particular trick well, and work to guard against it, and thought I checked carefully while riding home from the beach last weekend - I now have to take that garter stitch seam out and flip it. I did find the perfect glass button when we stopped at Knitting Addiction on the way home. This store is one of the very few I've ever been in that has samples and projects knitted up for EVERY SINGLE YARN in the shop. The owner told me she and one of her staff knit all fall and winter to make sure they know and can talk about each and every product in the shop. Fantastic.

I've also just completed the front of the green Silky Tweed sweater, and I'm an inch in to both sleeves - I CAN do them both at once on this project, and these are little cap sleeves, so i expect to have photos by the weekend. I three-needle bound off the shoulder seams - the ones on all four shoulders that I managed to do short-row style (still reeling from the success) and draped it over myself - though I'd never say it out loud, it looks like this could fit. Shhhh - not gonna jinx it.

August 31, 2007

Maths: 0 The Dream: 1

My first no-pattern sweater is finished and IT FITS!* I started this at the beginning of the summer, during a break from Ms. Leapman's amazing and numerous cable swatches, and then forgot about it once I had to start figuring the plan for the shaping. But as I discussed in my short row post, this thing really stayed lurking around in my head, quietly, until the next steps just sort of happened organically. Here's the first fitting, after I had the sleeves on and the sides sewed up:
first%20fitting.jpg
It was hard to contain my glee and remain humble while finishing the other seam and knitting up the neckline, but I must not have pissed off the knitting goddess, because it continued to work.

Captain America wasn't home when I proudly wore my sweater to work Wednesday, so I had to fend for myself with the self-timer on my camera and a great little tripod that I can wrap around or perch on anything. Which ended up being the bird feeder pole, because I wanted to get the sweater in front of the morning glories it grew up with. You know that visual-spatial problem I have? Means I just can't get myself in front of the camera - I have twenty shots of my shoulder. I did manage this one:
082807%20022.jpg
So, I copied a little black sweater I own, and added a teeny tiny bit of design with seed stitch for the top third of the body and also the sleeves. I didn't hesitate to rip and redo when something didn't look right and felt good about it. I counted and kept pretty good track in my pretty little notebook and was generally able to figure out what I had scribbled in there. I used about four and a half hanks of Lasvold Silky Tweed and size 5 US needles throughout. The squarish neckline wasn't on purpose, and I can now see what I'd do to make it more rounded, but I love it. I'm delighted - tickled - proud. I'm not as dense as I once thought, and while I still don't see myself whipping off sweaters with no pattern on a regular basis, I proved something to myself. I walked around for a few days doing Kevin Spacey's "I rule" move from American Beauty. I bragged to non-knitters who had no idea what it means to make up your own pattern. Woot!

*Full story now - the sweater DOES fit, it just "hangs out" after wearing. When I first put it on, the break of stockinette to seed stitch was perfectly placed right across the top of my bust, but by the end of the day, as you can see in the picture above, it hung down to below my boobages. Still fine, still fits, but, as it should be, I learned another swatching lesson - wash & block baby - wash and block the swatch. It's baby steps for me I guess - I've grown as a knitter and I now at least knit a small swatch before I start a project, so I'll just have to break down and admit I HAVE to take the next step. Which I just did for my next project - the big swatch has had a wash. See - I can learn from my mistakes - just slowly apparently. S'okay - it's all good. Anyway, I have another sweater's worth of this yarn, in a great demin-y blue tweed, which I'll likely knit on a smaller needle. This yarn makes a terrific fabric - soft and light and drapey - but it's got 30% cotton - must be what contributes to its growth after wearing. I'm NOT complaining - still in love with my sweater and I'll just toss it in the dryer with a damp towel to shape it back up each time I wear it. I do that with store-bought sweaters all the time.

September 4, 2007

The Club

A delightful thing happened yesterday on the way home from our weekly pilgrimage to the Outer Banks. I drive down since it's early in the morning and I've usually been up for hours, so CA always drives back - which means I get to knit for 74 miles. (Which also means I don't have to see how close CA is to the car in front of him.) I was deep into the corrugated ribbing of my latest project and was jolted by a horn honking - beep beep beep-BEEP - not necessarily a good sound. My head whipped up to see, in the left lane, a woman grinning and pointing to the knitting she was holding up and waving out the window of her big SUV. Too much - I'm grinning now thinking about it. I'm not sure what CA makes of me and this club sometimes - along with my many other quirks, but he cracked up too. I explained that it's just like how motorcycle dudes wave at other motorcycle dudes, or how anyone who has a four-wheel drive vehicle will automatically tow another four wheel drive vehicle out of the sand no-questions-asked, or I don't know, a secret handshake. I wagged my knitting back, laughing. Good stuff - made up for all the idiots who apparently paid extra to lollygag around in the left lane (not talking about the knitter). On that - do they forget to talk about what the left lane is for in driving school anymore? It's seared in my brain after driving lessons with my dad and the time I was driving the Bronco on the Washington, DC beltway with other family members in the car and he got so embarrassed that I was passed on the right. I was mortified as only a 15 year and 9 month old driver can be, but to this day I feel like an idiot if I get passed on the right. I just went to the DMV to see if the Driver's Manual said anything good about what the left lane was for, and not finding what I wanted, I found this absolutely hysterical and perfect ink while googling. Captain America says I can't get one of these decals for my car - what a killjoy.

But I was talking about knitting, and about being part of this fantastic group of people. And about that corrugated ribbing for my Reynolds Whiskey Fairisle Pullover (scroll down - first pattern on the right). For which I made a proper swatch, simulating the in-the-round knitting by leaving big, messy strands hanging off the back of the piece. I'm too cheap frugal worried about running out of yarn to clip at each end, but this method worked quite nicely. I then washed and blocked it - alert the press. I even got gauge, though my quest for the proper needles in the proper sizes and combinations proved difficult. I have more to say on that, just not right now. Anyway - the swatch, front and fabulously messy back:
fistart%20001.jpg
fistart%20004.jpg
I've already done five inches of corrugated ribbing and I adore how the lavender glows from between the tobacco, and the tidy lines the stranding makes both front and back. I even carefully took all 200 stitches off the needles so I could try it on before starting the body - amazing how small this band looks and how nicely it fits so far. It did take doing the decrease round twice to remember how to figure "evenly" over the round and that it involves subtracting one after doing the division. I think out of all the crazy stuff I've knit, stranded knitting is my very favorite so far. Keeps me interested as I fall prey to the "just one more row" routine so I can see the next pretty colors go by. Appeals to my deeply buried neat-freak. Good stuff all around. Plus I'll potentially have a new sweater to wear BEFORE it gets cold.

September 10, 2007

And just like that...

She's gone. Leroy is gone. I watched her spin her web early yesterday, and then fed her a moth which she seemed most pleased with. It took three tries to get a moth to stick in her web - twice with the same wiley moth who managed to slip through somehow to freedom. I witnessed Leroy wrap her moth and dangle it below for later. I wandered by an hour or so later to find Leroy sucking the moth package and to see her catch another little bug for lunch. When I went out again late in the afternoon, she was gone. Her web too - it looked like something just blew through the whole thing. She was in a bed up against our fence - not sure how a bird would have flown through, but the blackbirds were back in force yesterday on their way south, so I'm assuming one of them enjoyed a crunchy black & yellow lunch. I held out hope until this morning since she'd gone missing once before when she moved in the bed, but armed with my lantern at 6AM I scoured the bed for any sign - to no avail.

This is all I have left of my friend Leroy, and I'll try to keep it safe through the winter for her:
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Nature has been rough on me this summer - I'm sure the lesson has to do with how attached I get to fleeting things. From doves to baby birds to spiders I've been reminded to enjoy things while I can. Oy. I just miss her already. I know - I'm a freak. I've been trying to prepare myself for her natural death - but she's been such the queen of the tomatoes all summer that I almost expected her to live through our mild winter. I didn't expect to blink and find her gone. I had to look up Charlotte's Web quotes - this was an important book in my family and we even had a great german shepherd mutt named Wilbur. I wish I had the book because I know Charlotte says something profound about the cycle of life but I don't, so I'll go with some words from the narrator instead:

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. (The Dream will never forget Leroy either) Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

I have been knitting in between stalking Leroy and going to work, and this morning I bound off stitches at the armholes in my fair isle pullover, and tonight will test my gauge while knitting the front and back flat - ick. But better than trying to figure out how to get a steek in there, especially since I've never done steeks before. I will do them - I'm dying to cut some knitting, but I think I'll find an already-figured-out pattern for my first time. This photo of the glowing corrugated ribbing was meant for the last post, but since I don't have a current one, enjoy the indi-glo effect of the lavender and brown:
fistart%20007.jpg

September 17, 2007

Breaking out of a rut

Shhhhhh - don't tell anyone, but it looks like I'm into my second sweater in a row that fits:FI%20fit.jpg
Love this Whiskey pattern, love the colors, lovelovelove stranded knitting. I could be finishing off the last bit of knitting on the body instead of writing about it before work, but honestly, the prospect of dealing with the profound number of ends and twists and tangles for a little bit of neck and shoulder is too much for me this morning. While as I said, I lovelovelove this sweater, it has helped me form some rules for stranded knitting from here on out:

1. No more back and forth fair isle. Period. This is the second Reynolds stranded pattern I've made that does this, and the PITA that is trying to carry two yarns on a purl side is officially off the list. I've heard that pattern makers don't think American knitters like to cut their work.
2. I must STEEK. Soon. Dying to take scissors to my knitting.
3. No runs of color more than five stitches long from now on! I'm sure there's a very efficient way to twist the colors over these runs - but I have developed my own method that is clumsy and oh-so-inelegant (especially going back and forth).
4. Did I say in the round only from now on? The lovely rhythm of stranded knitting is just blown to bits otherwise.

Even though the thought of those last 10-12 rows of shoulder/neck is too much at the moment, I can look forward all day to coming home to finish after work tonight - which means I can start the sleeves. Since sleeve island for me is just as bad as second sock island, I will do both cuffs in corrugated ribbing on two circs at the same time. At which point I'll finish one at a time - after some thought, I realized I would only be creating havoc and stress with eight balls of yarn going at the same time. (Clever me - BEFORE I started this time.)

September 30, 2007

Ennui

I'm stalled on the first sleeve for the Whiskey pattern and I've spent the week groping around for anything else to play with. Part of that has to do with knitting a smaller circumference piece - I have to turn the work more frequently than when working on the body, so I have to stop more frequently to untangle all the balls . I might not fight with the tangles so much if I was willing to snip the yarn more frequently, but I'm lazy and it already looks like it will take me as much time to weave in all those ends. Or maybe I could be more methodical about turning the work one way and then the other, but I simply can't seem to store the direction of the last turn in my feeble brain long enough to do it the other way the next time. So I curse and untangle. Another part is that I've exhausted the "one more row" to see the next color change energy since i know darned well what's coming next. Not stalled, just slow. My tension is more even on two circs for the sleeve - interestink.

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Here's 722 more yards of Captain America's brown wool. I sure hope that the 1000+ yards I've spun is enough to make him an XL cabled vest since I'm quite bored with spinning it now, and I'm pretty sure I'm not yet a talented enough spinner to make more of it if I don't do it right now. I'll employ the usual methods of making sure I don't run out - knit faster and hold my breath. These hanks were all pretty with no weird bits sticking out, but a certain monster cat had a bit of fun when I wasn't looking.

I had to re-wind the largest hank in the photo so I could add more twist to the three-ply. I don't know why I'm afraid of the twist - don't beginning spinners usually over twist? Should I twist more since I'm plying? I hope to get the answer to these and more questions from my Mabel Ross DVD that I was finally able to watch a portion of this morning (without it hanging, thanks to new equipment). I was able to watch only a portion of it because, even though I was on my second cup of coffee, it put me right to sleep. She's got a very soothing and slooooooow voice and manner, and freaky spider fingers, but she's just a little dry. As soon as I turned it off, sure enough, wide awake again!

Tonight I decided I had to have a break and a mindless pattern to work on in between bouts of tangles, so I decided to swatch for the Minimalist Cardigan from IK Fall 07. Unfortunately, after an hour of energetic searching, I gave up, in a sweat, on finding the size 7 bamboo circular needles I know I own, and also the size 7 tips to my Denise set. Arrrrrgh. I even looked in the upstairs bathroom to see if perhaps this little monster had a secret hiding spot for all my size 7s:
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Bluefish, or more often FishyFishy, is our wild child. She's a beeee-yooooo-teee-ful cat but we forget it most of the time because she's such a goof. Anyway, she didn't take my needles.

Fine, I settled for my least favorite needles, Addi Turbos. Early in my knitting life, I unfortunately hung around a few Turbo addicts and stocked up on a lot - a LOT of them before I realized I like wood or plastic much better. I'm sure I was attracted to their supposed speed, but I've mellowed and realized it's not so much about speed, not that these needles afford me that anyway. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything about the glare of these shiny silver needles, but it irritates me. The only thing going for them, IMHO, and it's a big one, is that fabulous cable and join. Their new lace needles aren't as glare-y, and I used them for the ribbing on my Whiskey sweater with no big issues. I'm also using a Susan Bates Quicksilver circ on the sleeves, which to my surprise I like very much, since I really can't stand the same needle in straights - another thing I stocked up on before I knew any better. Amazing that I have more than 50 sets of needles and I never seem to have what I need for the next project. It's also remarkable how poor my memory of needle purchases is, given that I have at least four or five sets of size 5 dpns - go figure. I know it's hard for yarn shops to carry tons of different needles, but a good selection of wood AND Turbo would be nice. Love the Addi Naturas, but they're very hard to find around here. Must remember to put the new KnitPicks Harmony wood needles on my Christmas list.

So now, at least, I've cast on and done almost all the ribbing for the cardi - whew. I feel better. It's also perfect since I'm about to start four full days of database training, and while I've just been made the Queen of said database*, parts of this training are going to be old news for me. I've already told my boss that if he wants me alert and getting real smart, he'll have to put up with my knitting. He completely understood - told me he hears better when he's doing something with his hands.

*I've so wanted to be the Queen of our database for seven years now - but because of various power struggles and bogus job-protection tactics, I've not been allowed to be involved with its design. The department that kept such tight reign on it for so long is now almost completely full of new people and good energy, and they all know I know more about it than anyone else in the building. Very satisfying, finally. Told my boss I was going to be ruthless in cleaning it up, setting policies and procedures, and fixing all the stoooopid problems we've created over the years. Yay - wish me luck. Wish me a big fat bonus check too - I'm technically an executive secretary and this is above and beyond my call of duty!

And finally, wish me happy eighth anniversary. I think it's a good thing that I feel like Captain America and I have been together forever, and I'm absolutely certain I'm a very lucky girl (not the very freaky girl I once thought I was - you know, the kind you don't take home to mother). Love you, baby!

October 11, 2007

Whew!

I'm now most certainly over my little boredom episode as evidenced by the two-about to be three-new things on the needles. The Minimalist Cardi from IK turned out to be just the ticket to get me out of my slump, especially since I'm making it with the Cherry Tree Hill Silk & Merino I stayed up til midnight last year to buy on deeeeeep discount.

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I managed to get this much done during the database training last week - not as much as I would have liked, but since I had to be head cheerleader, refreshment stocker, and best learner during the sessions, I'm pleased I got to knit at all. I'm pretty awed by how much needs to be fixed, and how badly this database has been managed over the last 10 years. In typical non-profit fundraising, the accounting department has very different needs than the development department, and neither wants to play nice (or even speak) with the other. I now get to be the mediator for both groups - and I'm working to find a way to assure both I've got their backs.

Back to my knitting - I know some folks are bothered by variegated yarn, but I love the weirdness that often results, like the line of little blobs of color in a row that developed here. I'm way too lazy to alternate balls of yarn every couple of rows - I take what I get. The colors in this yarn are ones I wear all the time so it will be a useful wardrobe unit. I used to say this was my very favorite yarn, the one I'd take with me to a deserted island, but it has serious pilling issues. It's still up there on my list for its incredible softness and sheen and drape, and the moss stitch is enough to break up the colors. If I ever got into the yarn making business, it would involve silk.

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I also found the perfect use for my little bits of handspun - who knew I would love mitered squares so much? They're not only super fun and fast to knit, they make good use of the funky colors I end up with:

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This is one of two I knit up this week, but I forgot to take a picture of the second and it's off on a secret mission now. I fantasize about making myself something with a bunch of random squares of my funky handspun someday.

I've temporarily lost interest in the Whiskey fair isle sweater - I DID finish the first sleeve, agonizing flat knitting and all, and even have almost all of the 5" of ribbing one for the second sleeve. I can't bring myself to pick it up right now though - so instead I think I'll finally cast on for Captain America's cabled vest. I think I'm making it up as I go along, and basing it loosely on a vest in Men in Knits. I've knit two full cardigans for the man, but I apparently have the same issues with fit no matter who I'm knitting for - both were a disaster and live in a box upstairs now. In my defense, the first was very early in my knitting life and I had no concept of gauge at that time. I'm hopeful (and wiser) for this new wearable for my guy.

October 25, 2007

Coincidence?

I think not. More like just another little quirk related to my lifelong, complicated relationship with all things military. You might have such a complicated relationship if your parents were a hawk and a dove - a Navy SEAL and a hippie. I grew up with a huge sense of pride and a love of men in uniform, but also mixed in a huge dose of rebellion. On a trip to the Naval Academy during high school, my father was gung ho about me, the oldest, attending while my mother tried to console me by telling me how good I'd look in uniform. True, but not enough to break my James Dean impersonation. I'd have been kicked right out back then anyway, though in hindsight it may just have been a darned good thing for me. Anyway, this really does have to do with knitting, I promise.

Captain America is in love with all things military surplus, and he is honored to tell people that his father-in-law was a SEAL. He came home one day all excited to show me his new SEAL t-shirt - The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday. Poor guy - I guffawed out loud and said, verbatim, "are you kidding me? I grew up with a gross of pencils bearing the family name and that quote!" I always think I'm escaping the whole military thing, and then I go and marry a guy who works with and has huge respect for our armed forces, and move to the Navy town I grew up visiting when dad drilled - go figure.

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So, CA asked, as I was knitting away on my Minimalist Cardigan, if I was making a digital camouflage sweater! And he should know - he has a huge collection of digital cammo hats, work shirts, tote bags (you know, the ones the soldiers carry their yarn in-hah) and any number of other garments and doodads. You tell me - I think he's on to something. Maybe Cherry Tree Hill should get into the uniform business.

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I'm into the sleeves - the end is in sight. I love being able to do two sleeves, or the two fronts for that matter, at the same time. I'm less likely to abandon a project out of boredom this way - a good thing.

I'm off for the weekend on a family adventure that features, among other things, an iPod full of everything we had on 8-track on our family road trips in the 70s. Like Queen, The Carpenters, Boxcar Willie, Baby Snooks, and Barbara Streisand. We'll be the station wagon rocking and laughing down the highway for sure!

December 16, 2007

Cammouflage Minimalist

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Somewhere in the travels and craziness of November, I finished my Cherry Tree Hill Silk & Merino IK Minimalist Cardigan. It's amazing I ever did finish - I managed to knit merrily along, inches past what I was supposed to, on both the fronts and the sleeves. I took some of it out, but left itlonger than suggested. I guess I must really love knitting this stuff - and it is sooooo soft. I did the fronts & sleeves two at a time - love that. After knitting a good amount I was finally able to see the pattern in all that variegation and it was a quick, easy, and satisfying knit. I've worn it several times already - it's an absolutely perfect "throw on with jeans" thing and it's warm and snuggly. I do find myslef wanting to close it at the top, so I may go with a shawl pin on particularly chilly days.
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This poor sweater will now forever be known as the database sweater - the one I started so I had something to knit during training. Do you do that? Think of your projects in terms of what was going on when you knit them? The last time I worked with CTH yarn, I made a diamond pullover from VK while my grandfather was ill - can't help but think of that and him when I pull it out. Then there are those socks that got me published.

December 30, 2007

Pretty, Shiny Things

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How about these babies? I was shopping for gifts on Amazon.com a few weeks ago, and good ol' Amazon knows me well and offered up these Kenneth Cole shoes for a mere $26. How could I not buy them? My girlfriend told me she'd just read that the shiny, aluminum foil look will be all over the runways this spring - so not only do I get to giggle at my new shiny shoes, I'm fashion-forward for the first time since I was blazing new fashion trails in my new wave days! Come to think of it, these shoes would have been perfect at the old, dark 9:30 Club in DC - not only perfect for the times, but they could have helped me see where I was going in that cave!
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Continuing the theme, I found the very largest Christmas balls (and bells) I could find on my front porch this year. Pretty lame, but at least a nod to the holidays on my front porch that screams out for something. As always, I swear I will think about these things earlier in the year and find a better solution. We have no power outside, and our house is old and drafty enough already without cracking a window to run an extension cord out.

And now that it's done, I can tell you about another project that kept me away from my computer for all of November:

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This is part of a lovely cotton cardigan jacket I knit up as a sample/test for Melissa Leapman, the pattern-writing fiend that she is! (the photo is rotated - the pattern is still secret) I had a month to get it done - I was confident. I knit up the back in a few nights - no problem. The fronts were a little slower, but I did them at the same time so when they were done, they were done. The sleeves, also both at the same time, seemed to go on FOREVER. What's with that knitting time warp thing? Perhaps it was because I was getting nervous about blocking and seaming and how it would turn out - I had a schematic, but no sketch, so I was flying pretty blind.

I finished it and got it off the post office last Saturday and though the line was long and I was sweating, I ended up having a grand time chatting with the postal worker in line ahead of me to buy stamps, and when I got to the counter, Larry the postman eased my worries of Monday delivery with his big smile and guarantee that it would arrive Monday by 3PM. It didn't. But, fingers crossed, it made it to the yarn company (Aslan Trends) in time for a photo shoot. It was major relief to get it done, and another great opportunity to work with Melissa and her great patterns. No sooner had she gotten that sweater off, she sent another for me to finish by January 15th! Luckily this is just a little girl's sweater with lots of stockinette - I think I can manage it.

Trash Totem

to·tem /ˈtoʊtəm/ –noun

1. a natural object or an animate being, as an animal or bird, assumed as the emblem of a clan, family, or group.
2. an object or natural phenomenon with which a family or sib considers itself closely related.
3. a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group.
4. anything serving as a distinctive, often venerated, emblem or symbol.

I'm using this term only a slightly incorrectly - one of my clan's many totems is inanimate and unnatural - but I like it and I'm going with it.
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Captain America has been asking for a new pair of Fiber Trends Felted Clogs (his 3rd) for a month or so, but I was so caught up with the test knitting that I hadn't gotten around to them. Finally, after the green cardigan was sent off, I whipped up a pair in a couple of evenings for him during the last week before Christmas (which is also CA's birthday) and was feeling all caught up and ready to relax for my week off. And then I threw that very nearly completed pair away with the trash on Thursday. Yup, along with all the yarn and my Denise size 13 tips and short cable. (Take a moment to catch your breath - I know - it's horrifying).

I have to tell you a about couple of other tragedies so that you'll have some idea of how this could have happened. My earliest memory of a brush with the trash demons was when my father brought back six beautiful, handknit Scottish, cabled, natural white wool sweaters from his two-week active duty there. Gorgeous sweaters for the whole family. For some reason, they were in two white plastic bags - like kitchen-sized trash bags. The family lore is that for once, my brother decided to do his chores and take out the trash, and out three of those sweaters went. Ouch.

Then, Captain America bought a fabulous new suitcase a while back that opened up like a steamer trunk and had shelves and drawers and hanging places - fabulous. We kept it on our screened porch when we lived in a tiny apartment in DC, and one spring I noticed it was getting covered in pollen. Into a big black trash bag it went, and shortly thereafter, out to the trash in that big black trash bag in went when CA took out the trash. Ouch again - it had only been used once!

So, fast forward to last Thursday morning - trash day chez the Dream. I had a big pile of bags at the front door to go out with me when I left for work. Those clogs, in Cowboys colors for Mr. Texas pride, had to be hidden before he came home that afternoon, so I put them in a grocery bag and left the bag in my knitting corner of the couch - which, in my bungalow, is at the front door. As usual, I was rushing out the door and had to come back for a second trip to get all that trash. That bag on the couch looked just like another grocery bag filled with trash - so without thinking, I grabbed it right up with the rest of it. When I came home for lunch that afternoon, I knew EXACTLY what I'd done when I saw the big empty place on the couch. Aaaaauughhhhhh!

Good news - I had more yarn, and only had to run out to the LYS for one hank of the gray accent yarn - phew. Bad news - how in the world am I going to exercise this trash demon that seems to really, really like my family? When I told my mom, she said she was sure dad was laughing - yeah - I bet he is! We all know the moral of the story - don't put good stuff in trash bags for goodness' sake - but do we really think I'll learn that lesson? I'll add it to the things I'm supposed to be working on in this lifetime, but I fully expect to have come back for another life to perfect that one!

Captain America got his clogs on Christmas morning, and we promply threw them into the washer for felting. I hope to make myself another pair of those fabulous clogs soon - and I'm going to doctor it up a little to address the exposed skin from the top of the clogs to the bottom of my sweatpants - I'll post details when I see if my plan will work. That may be after I finish: the test cardigan for Melissa, the Whiskey Fair Isle pullover - so close, and the Sally Mellville white blouse from Needful Yarns - whew. I want to wear both the sweaters for our big knitting weekend this March, so I have a LOT of work cut out for me!

February 24, 2008

I COULD have. I CHOSE not to.

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It's shocking that we're headed straight for the end of February - I feel like I was just cursing Puxatawney Phil's shadow seeing.... I'll sprinkle in some WIP photos just to break up the saga that looms ahead.....

It was right about then, Groundhog day-ish, when, out of nowhere, a fabulous yarn shop for sale came hurtling out of the universe into my lap. Just like that. It came flying at me with flashing neon signs saying "this could be IT, Dawn!" It happened out of the blue in the kind of way that stops you in your tracks and makes you think it was meant to be. It happened just as I'm settling in to much better times at my job that I was ready to run screaming from eight months ago. I wasn't looking for it - that's the way things are supposed to turn up in your life if you work hard and live right and put it out there in the universe that you want to find a way to work with fiber all the time... right? So holy shit - here it was!

I literally vibrated for several days - learned about the whole thing on a Thursday night, set the appointment for Captain America and I to meet with the couple selling the shop on Saturday, and I tried to remember how to breathe. I felt like my organs were sucked flat and pressed against my back inside. I felt giddy. Captain America got excited.
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We met with the yarn shop folks - great. I had to wait until Monday to take advantage of my eight years working with the most incredible people who serve on the Board at my company - boy oh boy am I lucky to get to work with these folks. I needed quick, serious financial, legal - all kinds of help - we're pretty simple folks who filed a 1040EZ til we bought our house and we never had to find a lawyer, or have a relationship with our bank, or any of that other sort of grownup stuff.

The incredible person I called was away on vacation, but he must have checked in with his secretary 'cause all of a sudden he was on the phone. Without hesitation he made a phone call on my behalf and set me up with red-carpet treatment at a local bank, whose commercial lending people called me right after the bank president did! (Vibrating, trying to remember to breathe still - four days into the process)
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Tuesday morning I met with the bankers - what do you wear when you're thinking about borrowing a whole lotta cash? I've been wearing the same pair of ratty black pumps for about ten years, and they say shoes say a lot about a person, so I had an agonizing morning trying to build an outfit around the new blue shoes that said I wasn't some cheapskate who couldn't afford new black shoes. I wore gold jewelry and a sweater set - gold somehow seems more serious than silver and since I'm not so into suits, the sweater set said "classic" and "professional." Right?

The bankers asked where I was in the process and my response was "here." My wonderful business owning mom kept assuring me no one knows anything about buying a business until they're buying one, and the bankers were incredibly generous and helped me set up a plan to figure it all out. Next step: CPA.

It was much easier getting dressed for the CPA appointment on Wednesday. Somehow it seemed like there was less on the line - and appearance just wasn't so important for an accountant. I know - where do I get this stuff?

We talked numbers - really talked. I had to stop him a few times for definitions and clarifications, but we got through a good discussion before he said he'd never have guessed I was a knitter! He pointed me to the next step: attorney to work up an offer.

I called the attorney - seemed like we weren't quite ready to get to the offer. We talked and agreed to talk some more the next week. It's all backwards when you want to buy a business - the bank doesn't want to talk about lending you money until you've got a firmly accepted offer, but I wanted to know how much I could borrow before I could decide if I wanted to make an offer!

In the meanwhile, I decided to call up a yarn shop owner I've admired since she opened her shop in another state more than four years ago. When I landed at her website, I discovered she'd sold her shop last summer! Was this a sign? I tracked her down by email and asked for advice - and she was incredibly honest and incredibly generous with her time and experience. So the next night, I decide to pop on over to Knit Happens - another yarn shop I watched open with envy and admiration four or five years ago - turns out Kristine has left the country and the shop is running without her, AND they closed down what I thought looked like an incredibly successful online shop too. Another sign.

And all through this time I was avoiding the nagging realization that I had already processed the whole yarn shop idea over the last four or five years and had decided that I really didn't want to be in retail. I didn't want to deal with the hours, the inventory, the staffing, the cash flow, etc., etc., etc. Decided. Moved on. Started thinking about other things I could do in the industry. Got involved in interesting and challenging projects in my day job. Didn't bat an eye last summer when another LYS went up for sale - didn't even consider it. So, this shop is THE shop in the area, or at least the one I where I shop. It's always busy, has a steady clientele, good classes, and a fabulous big deal retreat every year. So, so very seductive!

Then I figured it all out. I boiled it all down like my man would - so simple. Captain America and I recently spent several months talking about whether or not we should get a puppy - something we'd both really really love. BUT - after considering all the pros and cons very carefully, understanding the demads of puppy ownership, and witnessing my little sister's gorgeous four-month old golden leap from piece of furniture to piece of furniture, we made the very grownup decision that this wasn't the right time to become dog owners. Decided. Moved on. I'll continued to talk to all dogs on the street, but not gonna get one right now.

So this yarn shop thing felt just like what could happen in an instant if I got a whiff of puppy breath - a single whiff of that sweet, sweet puppy breath, and I could forget my hard fought, rational decision and end up with a puppy. Easily. Except the yarn shop would have locked us into a very, very large debt that would have made housebreaking a puppy seem like a walk in the park.

So, no yarn shop for me. I did the work, I took the steps, I made the right decision. I was telling the one friend who knew the saga about my phone call last Monday to pull my name from the running, and I held up my thumb and forefinger in that universal "little bit" symbol about to say I felt just a little bit disappointed that I wasn't going to be the new LYS owner when it occurred to me with a lightbulb flash - I wasn't disappointed at all! It turns out is wasn't meant to be in the end, but it was an incredible journey filled with great stuff, great people, and great generosity - not a bad way to spend February 2008!
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Photos:

  • Daffodils that were all ready to bloom right before a cold snap, so I cut them. And note the vase - I blew that glass!
  • White mohair blouse from Sally Melville & Needful Yarns blocking - it's further along and I'm grafting the collar to the neck band at the moment.
  • Sleevage! I finally gritted my teeth and picked back up on my Whiskey Fair Isle pullover - and it's DONE as of yesterday! Except for all the ends I have to weave in and the neck bind off I want to change from "in pattern" to a smooth knit bind off.
  • Gratuitous Bluefish shot - she's recently decided it's great to watch TV - she's really going to ruin her eyes this way, but she makes me giggle. I think this is the opening to HBO's In Treatment on the screen - how cool is that? Are you watching this show BTW? Good stuff, especially with smouldering Gabriel Byrne in the lead. Mmmm.

February 27, 2008

62 and counting

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Sixty-two ends I wove in and trimmed off my Whiskey Fair Isle pullover - and there are still soooo many more. I just want to wear it already - I even dreamed I couldn't wait to wear it and did without weaving in all the ends, and the dream was all about my embarrassment as all those ends kept hanging out of the neckband at work. Ugh. I was committed last night to getting it done so I could wear it today but, after all those ends, I conked out on the couch at 9:30. For a moment this morning I thought I might finish before work, but then I remembered that yes, I had snapped the seaming yarn on the first sleeve and have to redo part of that seam (more ends). I tried to pretend that hadn't happened - I couldn't find a break when I first heard it snap, and the sweater's been on several times since them with no problem - but of course the sleeve opened up as I was weaving. At least it wasn't while I was wearing it.

I ended up trying three different bind-offs for the neckline ribbing: 1)the recommended bind of in rib - came out floppy and didn't lay flat, 2) a plain knit bind-off - still floppy and just not so good, and finally 3) a knit bind-off, but as I went, I knit and bound off the knit stitches as usual, and before binding off the purls I purled them together. Did I say that clearly? I reduced the number of stitches on the bound off-edge by purling the two purl stitches in each rib together before binding them off as one. Perfect! My handknits often suffer from some neckline issue and I was determined to make this one look pretty and function properly. Score!

So - tomorrow. I WILL finish this sweater tonight (which fits perfectomundo!) and I WILL wear it tomorrow.

March 2, 2008

115 and then some!

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Ends, that is - a whole lotta ends going on here! But they're all woven in, and I did indeed wear this sweater to work on Friday after I sewed in the very last end that same morning. It fits poifectly - I mean poifectly. I'm thrilled that I can wear this to Knittapalooza in just a little over two weeks!

The pattern: Reynolds Whiskey Fairisle Patterned Pullover from booklet 82391

Yarn: Reynolds Whiskey in suggested colorway - I fell in love with the "lavender" stripe in the corrugated ribbing. Too lazy to get up and see what's left, but I know I have a ball or two rolling around somewhere. I maybe bought extra...

Needles: 3 and 4 circs - combination of addi, Susan Bates, and HiyaHiya!

Details: If you don't like stranded knitting back and forth, don't knit a Reynolds pattern. Not a steek to be found in this booklet. If I were to do it again, I'd figure out how to insert steek stitches for the sleeves, but I want to steek from a witten pattern before I go all maverick on it. Confession - I added a row and my own twist to a stripe on one of the sleeves.... hard to spot but now that I know where it is, it's the first thing I see. I'm over it - I'm just sayin'. Binding off in 2x2 ribbing made for a floppy neckline, so I took that out and tried just a knit bind-off - still floppy and untidy. So, the third time WAS a charm here, when I bound off in pattern AND purled the two purls of each rib together before binding them off - voila.

Here's my current knitting conundrum as I finish another "sweater" and set in more sleeves: the second sleeve always goes in better and easier and even-er and I start to feel bad for that poor first sleeve that had to be the on-the-job-training one. It just doesn't seem fair that I have to practice on the first and the second gets to go in so much better. I'm considering picking out the first sleeve seam in my mohair white blouse because it's just not quite up to the second one's standards! (I said considering - we're talking about fuzzy, sticky, white mohair here.)

March 6, 2008

Home Stretch

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I'm about to finish my Sally Melville for Needful Yarns White Blouse in Kid Mohair and I'm so delighted with this little project!

Sally Melville the amazing was a teacher at last year's Knittapalooza, and during breaks and after dinner she was knitting away on a white mohair something - turns out she just decided to measure up her favorite white button-down blouse and knit it - voila! Besides the fact that I love a good white blouse, I was there for the birth of this pattern, so it was pretty much a given I'd make it.

It's a super fiddly knit - Sally's not messing around. It has knitted button bands, a collar band, cuffs, and grafting galore. I've about knit up the separate cuffs and plan to attempt to graft them to the sleeves tonight. I have entered a new phase of my knitting life somehow - one morning before having to graft the collar band back onto itself, the way to do it just sort of arrived, circled around in my brain, and settled during my shower. Love that! As a spatially challenged person, to be able to imagine the path of the yarn was a pretty remarkable happening. I'm not saying my execution was perfect, but my understanding is much more bettah these days.

Of course I'm on this finishing kick because I must have new knits to wear to KNITTAPALOOZA next weekend - I'm already vibrating. Whiskey pulli - check. White blouse - almost. Haven't quite decided what else to wear - this is a Thursday - Sunday knitting retreat - my favorite weekend of the year. And bonus for me this year - I get to pick Annie Modesitt up from the airport a week from today - zippity dooh dah! And for the first time, deliver test knits to Melissa Leapman in person! And Barry Keinl from Trendsetter Yarns is having a pajama knitting party Saturday night - anyone know where I can get some crazy footie pj's real quick?

March 12, 2008

Like Wearing a Cloud

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Thanks to Brouhaha for that title - this blouse is light and airy AND warm - merino and kid mohair from Crystal Palace.

This is the absolute fussiest thing I've ever knit. Lots of pieces, lots of seaming, LOTS of grafting - live stitches to bound off stitches. I did get a clear image in my head on how to do that and made a fairly decent go at it all. I do make a damn fine button band these days!

I had to graft the cuffs to the sleeves TWICE for each side. Yup, I picked out all those white fuzzy mohair seams twice and re-grafted. I found it most challenging to keep track of what was a stitch and what wasn't - with this fine yarn it was difficult to tell the difference between the stitch and between the stitch. After I had accomplished my 2nd go at cuff-grafting, I realized I had slightly screwed up one of them. The buttonhole side of the cuff is supposed to lap over the button side, just like a regular blouse, but I managed to do the opposite. Oh well - I like it better unbuttoned anyway!

Pattern: The Sally Melville Collection for Needful Yarns (I'd love to link you to this pattern, but Needful doesn't seem to be listing it at the moment)
Yarn: Crystal Palace Kid Merino - 4.25 balls
Needles: KnitPicks Options US4

I grabbed the photographer at work for a quick shoot yesterday, and I sort of imagined he'd at least put me in front of a solid backdrop, but beggars can't be choosers, right? That's all his stuff in his studio in the background. The blouse grew a bit while wearing it, and I may end up sewing up the front partway to kill the gapping that inevitably happens.

I'm thrilled with this one - it fits, it's elegant, it's so different. And I was there for the pattern's birth - pretty cool. Sally Melville remains one of my top ten knitting godesses - this blouse is one of the many reasons why. Woot!

Now, should I wear it Friday or Saturday to Knittapalooza?

March 30, 2008

Spring forward?

Spring? Springy? More like stumbling chez the Dream since the early time change. As a confirmed sun worshipper, I do love the late day sun, but man, this early switch has been mighty rough on me. I also love my early mornings, and 5AM has still been mighty dark in these here parts. Or that's my story anyway... or part of it.

For the two weeks following my fifth Knittapalooza weekend*, I fumbled around in a fiber-overload daze trying to figure out what to knit next. Sure, I have a bunch of Melissa Leapman's fabulous sliip-stitch swatches to amuse me, and boy DO they amuse me, but I had nothing else on any needles since finishing the fair isle sweater and the white blouse. NOTHING. And nothing calling me, except that gorgeous Sheep Shop silk/wool, which has steadfastly refused to tell me what it wants to be. I've swatched it, stared at it, searched Ravelry for a pattern that called its name - nothing. then I remembered some pink Koigu in my stash and pulled that out to see if it might play well with the Sheep Shop - I'm still not sure. What do you think? Maybe a slip-stitch or mosaic something? Can I do slip stitch patterns with just one color? It's such a gorgeous semi-solid, I think a simple textured stitch of some sort will bring it out.
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So that's hanging out in the knitting corner of the couch. I'm thinking I might just do the ever-popular Monkey socks from Knitty with the Koigu and continue to hope for inspiration for the Sheep Shop stuff.

But then Captain America's vest from my brown handspun popped into my head, and I spent a couple of days pondering the design, and searching Ravelry some more, and staring at the yarn, and pondering some more, until I bit the bullet and cast on for the Cabled Rib Vest from Men In Knits. And I haven't put it down since. I admit feeling immense pride watching my handspun knit up into a gorgeous fabric, even though the yarn is both underspun and underplied in lots of parts, and even though those funky thick parts appear to enjoy aligning themselves over rows and cables, and the thin parts also often seem to seek each other out.
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I was able to get some photos when the sun finally made a brief appearance this week, and I'm just plain delighted with this project so far. I'm cruising up to the shoulder on one of the fronts, which is thick and square and handsome. Hopefully the three hanks remaining will a) be enough to finish the vest and 2) be enough alike in grist to continue at the same gauge for the rest of the project.
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Now that my mojo has returned, I've been pulled back to my spinning wheel, which has been languishing untouched in my dining room since (gasp) last July when my mom visited and I made her try it. The same purple wool that I tortured her with was still hanging out in the basket next to the wheel and on the bobbin, so that's what I've been spinning since last Sunday afternoon - I guess when my mojo comes back, it COMES BACK. I'm deliberately putting more twist than I've ever used in the singles since I seem to have a tendency to under-twist. I split the 8oz. of roving in half and I'm shooting for a sock-weight two or three ply. (That makes it sound like I have any control over what I end up with - which I really don't.)

*I do have lots to say about Knittapalooza V - another incredible, mind-blowing weekend, but even though I've started a post about it it feels too special not to write about it very carefully and thoughtfully. I'll get there...

August 10, 2008

Why I started knitting

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Thanks, mom, for pulling out these sweaters on my visit last weekend - I'm thrilled to have gotten to finally bring one of these beauties home to call my own, and thrilled to have this piece of my knitting history.

When I was a young teen, my grandmother took up knitting these fabulous fair isle sweaters - but only for the grownups in the family. It wasn't worth all that knitting for kids who would grow out of them - a feeling I now share about knitting for kids. She made red/black/cream ones for the men.

I was insane with envy - I so wanted one of these sweaters! Instead, grandma showed me how to knit (thanks grandma!). I don't really remember learning, or what kind of yarn we used, or any details whatsoever. I do remember the first project I decided to make - a long, black, acrylic cardigan. I guess I've always been the "just do it" type - no hat or scarves for me. I started that sweater, made tons o' mistakes on the back - I recall holes. I'm sure I started one of the fronts, but I was, after all a teen, and it was black, and I had no idea what I was doing, and grandma lived hours away, so it got stuffed in a plastic bag. Where it live for many years, untouched but apparently important enough for me to cart around until I was 34, through many lives and many apartments. I finally pitched it in the big move of 2000. Right before my twin sis was pregnant and on bed rest and taking up knitting to pass the time.

Being a twin, it was imperative that I knit too, across the country but in some competitive sychronicity. For me - it took. For her - not so much. I made a horrible yellow cotton tank that I never ever wore, but I was hooked. Haven't put the needles down since.

And look where I am now - this sample cardigan I knit up for Melissa Leapman is in a pattern book! It's the green cardigan that comes up right after the godawful 80s sack sweater in yellow and red - please forgive me if that's your favorite one in the book. And know it looks much different on that long-waisted model with her belly hanging out than regular people like me!)
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September 10, 2008

They call me....

The Possum Wrangler. Well, no one really calls me that but me - because that's exactly what I was doing Tuesday morning before I even had my coffee.

It all started Monday night, when my little guard cat Bluefish spent most of the evening eyeing a corner under the cabinets in the kitchen. Then, just before I went to bed, there was some sort of kerfluffle in there, went to investigate and decided maybe we had mice again, so I loaded up a trap with peanut butter and went to bed.

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I knew something was up when I woke up and my little Bluefish didn't, as always, zoom to meet me in the bathroom where she knows I'm stuck in one spot, and that she can vamp for some good tickling there with me. I proceeded to the kitchen, where I found her now staring down the other end of the kitchen, right under the coffee pot and the diswasher. I got my latte going as usual, and then decided to investigate. I started pulling the brown grocery bags out from where they're wedged in the crack between the fridge and the diswasher and heard a very, very strange growly sound - definitely NOT a mouse. Rrrrr, rrrrrrrrrrrrr - holy cow - what was under there? I went looking for a flashlight, which, living with Captain America, always prepared for emergecy, I expected to find easily. Nope, no flashlight. But I did grab my trusty battery operated Coleman lantern that we keep on the mantel for power outages and headed back to the kitchen. I pulled the side of the cabinet away from the dishwasher - it's been loose since we bought the house, and there, at the bottom, saw a ball of grey fluff. Which I studied more closely with the lantern, which is when I saw the loooong ungly pink tail. The thing was upside down and made more growly sounds when I opened the diswasher to see if his head was stuck in there. I grabbed a pair of tongs - yeah - great idea. I paced the kitchen. I considered calling Animal Control to come remove it, but then realized I'd have to clear the counter and wash the dishes in the sink before I could let anyone in the house, so that was out. It was going to have to be me.

I managed to have the presence of mind to get the door from the kitchen to the laundry room and then the door out to the backyard open so if I did manage to somehow get the baby possum out of the cabinetry, I could get straight out the door. Armed in CA's leather work gloves, I grabbed the tongs again and even put my hands on our hammer in case I needed to bonk it on the head, but I quickly put that down after remembering I'm an animal lover and couldn't possibly imagine creating any blood and gore, especially before I'd even had my coffee. I was seriously reconsidering calling Animal Control again when I noticed the possum was now stretching one of its little pink feet out of theat spot, trying apparently to find the floor. So I grabbed that little pink foot and then squealed and dropped the little guy on the kitchen floor where he stood, stunned, staring straight up at me with his pointy, evil little mouth open. We both hesitated and then I pounced, grabbed him behind his head, and bee-lined it out the doors to the back deck and flung the little bugger out into the yard. I saw him thunk, and he actually stood there staring at me again with his evil long, pointy mouth open - ew. By the time I ran back in the house for the camera and ran back out, he was gone.

I wish I wish I wish I had been calm enough to have taken a photo of his little leg stretching out, but I didn't think of that til it was all over. I wish I was brave enough to go down into our spider-filled basement to see if his whole family is living down there, but I'm not, so Captain America wil have to do that when he gets home tomorrow (as well as procuring many flashlights to have at the ready in every room!). I hope momma possum has cautioned her other little baby possums on the dangers of climbing up into our kitchen - "your little brother tried that and now he's disappeared!" Bluefish has been rewarded for her extraordinary powers of possum detection, and once it was gone, she passed out and slept deeply all day after a long night of keeping him under the cabinets.

So Possum Wrangler - that's me.

Since I'm actually typing a post, I'll take this opportunity to show a few completed knitting projects - I have in fact been knitting a lot. Two more sweaters for Melissa Leapman - a Malabrigo Worsted Tweed jacket number that came out great, if I do say so myself. If you ever actually see this pattern out there, let me know!
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And a Reynolds Saucy cotton cardigan - this is an awful picture, but it's proof of knitting anyway:

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And a Knitting Pure and Simple top down cardigan from some Berocco Zen I scored on deeep discount. I'm not a huge fan of ribbon yarn, and even though I knit this on size 6 needles and not the recommended size 9s, it still stretches like a mofo by the end of a day of wear. It was a fun and quick knit, but not one of my all time faves:

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And then there are all the swatches for Melissa's next book on color knitting - I think seventeen of them, all slip stitch patterns. Lovelovelove these - great colors, great bang for such a simple techinque:

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I've got a giant box of Cascade 220 she sent waiting to be knit into more of these little jewels.

I also just finished all the knitting and seaming on a pale pink Calmer CeCe with three quarter sleeves, and this one actually fits! Photos as soon as it's blocked and I find a button. Also finished all but sewing the buttons, in hand, on my Henley Perfected - that Sheep Shop wool/silk FINALLY decided what it wanted to be, and fits and will be great once the weather changes. Photos soon on that one too.

Oh - and hey - did you know my good pal Mel over at purling plans is doing the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk (for the FIFTH time!!) next month in DC and looking for sponsors? Beside the fact that this is tremendously important to her, and to all of us, she's collected an astounding number and range of prizes and will be giving them out by random drawing to folks who contribute to the cause on her behalf. Go see for yourself!

September 22, 2008

Backwards

I'm a back-drafter. I'm a 100% self-taught spinner on my Lendrum DT wheel, and my natural inclination is to do a backwards draft. I've never figured out the inchworm trick, and when I try to do a forward draft I'm awkward and uncomfortable, so I do it backwards. I manage to turn out yarn, so it's not a bad thing, but one day, I'll manage to take a class or two and learn some new tricks.

Here's some merino tencel that I decided to spin from the fold, for no other reason than I heard it was a slippery fiber and I have wanted to try that trick.
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I pulled off sections a little longer than staple legnth, folded them around my fingers and did my usual backwards drafting. I did 3.8 oz of this stuff and ended up with 145 yards of three ply that I did navajo style - a technique I've been working on and feeling pretty darned good about. Close up:

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I have another 3.6oz of this same merino tencel which I'd like to try to make a decent sock yarn from - and will try to spin right from the roving instead of from the fold.

Then there's the lovely pink wool from three fluffy batts that I attempted to spin woolen with the long draw, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I had overloaded two bobbins and wanted to cram the rest of the wool onto those two so I could do a two ply, so I, as advised in Aldon Amos' book, rewound the bobbins by running them back through the wheel. Before and after, aided by my trustee assistant, Bluefish:
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After the repacking of the bobbins, i was able to get the rest of the wool spun onto them and ended up with this:
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Which is 6oz turned into 376 yards of two-ply. Close up:

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I'm starting to build quite a stash of handspun with no plans for what I'll do with it, but I'm sure it will someday let me know what it wants to be.

I've just finished CeCe #2 from ChicKnits, and after the first disaster with the wrong yarn and the wrong size, I'm thrilled with the results of this one. I'm still not as enamored of Calmer yarn as some knitters seem to be, but it's growing on me. I must remember to wear a proper undergarment for photos, but since I don't wear one unless absolutely necessary, here's the model shot:
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I'm easily seduced by fabulous patterns but don't often take into account how I might wear them, and I feel like cropped things cut my short torso in half, and perhaps they're for the younger crowd, but this one is growing on me and I just have to learn how to wear it properly.

Just finished Charlene Schurch's corded ribbed socks too - these were a pretty quick knit and could have been even quicker if I was the sort that paid better attention to what I was doing.... I knit them both together from the cuff down and split them up to do the heels and feet. For the first sock, I managed to knit all the way to the start of the toe decreases before I realized I can't count and hadn't done enough gusset decreases so I ripped back and corrected that issue. Then on the second, I forgot to turn the heel before picking up stitches for the gusset, so I had to rip back and redo that too. And then since I can't possibly bothered to stop and check the pattern, and I can't possbly be bothered to remember which decrease slants which way, on the second sock I did half the toe decreases backward, but in the end can't tell a whole lot of difference, so I refused to rip back anymore! Absent minded knitter - that's me. But this Mountain colors yarn is soooo soft and squishy and comfortable - I think I'll get a lot of use out of these this winter.

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Next up - some merino/tussah silk/alpaca I've been spinning for a three ply sock yarn - almost done with the third bobbin now and hope to ply tomorrow night. It's undyed - gotta decide if I want to do that or make some nice natural colored socks for wear with khakis.
and now I've got the sock bug - next up are a pair for Captain America I'll cast on for tonght and will probably do in plain two by two rib since he's a pretty plain guy. But it's some lovely Knit Picks sage green yarn - good for his manly feet.

January 11, 2009

Happy New Year!

Egads - this post has been waiting patiently in the wings since January 2nd, when I was finishing up my almost two week break from work. I finally had some mojo for the blog, but when I attempted to upload photos, I was DENIED. Thanks to the super sleuthing and stick-to-it-ness of my fabulous blog host, pretty posies aka Skinny Rabbit aka Fluffa!, I'm back in business and ready to show you two of the final three FOs of 2008:

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I love this Henley Perfected – and I should, because I had to work extra hard on it. When this Sheep Shop yarn FINALLY spoke to me and told me it wanted to be this sweater, I completely forgot the 30 minutes I spent at Loop last year with all the hanks in this reddish/pinky/orange variegated yarn spread out on their ample and well lit couch, trying to pick four hanks that were all similarly pink or orange or red.

I forgot this fact for as long as it took to knit up the entire back of the sweater, and up to the boob line where the lace starts on the front piece of the sweater – which is when I realized, while knitting in the car on a bright sunshiny day, that the back was orange-y and the front was more pink – ugh. Took the whole damned thing out and started over, doing the alternating 2 rows from several hanks thing one must do with this sort of yarn. While I LOVE the colors and the subtle variegation, I don’t like knitting with multiple balls unless I’m doing colorwork.

The sleeves, while ending up the same dimensions, don't quite have the same lace repeat at the end, and I can't figure out why. The decreasing in lace was taxing - I always manage to combine hard knitting with complicated database stuff at work - just to make sure my brain is extra special full and fatigued.

In the end though, this sweater fits perfectly and I’m mad for it. I can wear it with a hippie-dippy bell-sleeved orange tee, or over a turtleneck, or plain (with a flesh colored bra, of course!). The merino/silk is already a bit pill-y on the arms where the rub against the body, but I have a sweater shaver – no worries.

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The Huntington Castle pullover is a sweater that I’ve wanted to make since it graced the cover of Interweave’s Winter 03/04 Knit. I even tore the pattern out of the magazine to have with me when I hit yarn shops, but never committed to it. When I realized recently that I have waaaay too much Cascade 220 leftover from sample knitting, a found some blues and went at it. I knit on 6s – I usually do Cascade on 7s and I got a lovely fabric. I didn’t do the hood – did a fold-in standup tab-like collar similar to the one on the Henley Perfected. I need to re-do the crochet edging and move my big crocheted button down a bit, but otherwise this is a perfect throw on with jeans all winter kind of sweater – woot! And an amazingly fast knit – amazingly fast.

I’m into Neiman now – after a false start or two there, I’m enjoying the Rowan Wool Cotton and the shiny lustrous Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. I’m on a kick here – knitting things I’ve had on the list for too long – this is certainly one of them.

(And last but not least, I’ve had to spin up more brown wool for Captain America’s vest – for the second time now… I chalked up another 375 yards finally and am SURE it will be plenty to finish the couple of inches on the back and the button band by Christmas morning – also his birthday.) **This is old news - the vest is finished, and I'll get a photo up with my next post - when the sun comes out... No promises - wouldn't want to break my once every three-month posting streak or anything.

February 16, 2009

Obsess much?

It's actually February 18th, even though this post is probably dated the 16th - my blog keeps denying me permission to post words or pictures. My fabulous blog hostess fixed this problem in January, I was able to eke out a whole post, and then by the time I got around to this one, broken again. I've emailed my poor hostess, but in the meanwhile decided to dig and HERE I AM! Woot - I fixed my own chmod problem via ftp and I have no idea what it all really means, except I can get back on with it already!

This post was meant to be about a whole bunch of projects, FOs, and updates, but I've been completely sidetracked by Mel's new Interweave pattern Float. I mean sidetracked to the exclusion of just about anything else. Obsessed? Maniacal?

I cast on Saturday night when I rememberd I had a half-wound hank of Purled Llama alpaca lace that I bought in the last minutes of Knittapalooza 2006 I think. I had a slim memory of this yarn but didn't remember it was alpaca - perfecto. It's local - and Chestnut Plum may well have been the Knittapalooza colorway that year. It reminds me of my favorite bikini in the 70's - I might have been seven or eight. Anyway, I cast on - I used the cable cast on with a random size 3 circular with a looooong cord and shiny silver, pointier-than-Addis-but-not-so pointy needles. Took me a long while, but I was satisfied and well-counted.

Sunday mornng, very early, which is when I wake up to a couple of hours all to myself, I got the first row knit, and then, since I can’t be bothered to actually pay attention to the directions I just read, launched right into an eyelet row without bothering to knit rows 2-6! This is just so me - no bother, I pulled it out and started over.

I learned two things on try #1 - I will knit it on 4s because the only long 3s I have are shiny and my eyes can’t take the double whammy of shiny and little itty bitty stitches! Not to mention that my KnitPicks Options are pointier and grippier. I'll put off the little Custom Knits sweater I just swatched on my 4s - I want this Float!!

So, cast on #2 - I consulted my sister in fiber and she recommended the knitted, or lace, cast on - okay. I got in a couple of rows while trying very hard to ignore that cast on, but reason prevailed and I took this baby out too. Most of it - something got stuck at the edge of this cast on so I ripped it off and had to take a picture of it. Yes, I went overboard on the "cast on loosely" part, but it's at least even and the colors are so, so yummy.

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The third time apparently IS a charm, and I'm now happily through row eight. My eyes are pissed that I was so resistant to putting glasses on - it's not vanity, just laziness. It all is much better on the wood needles, but it's still fine lace yarn and I'm old. We have readers all over the house, so I'm wearing them!

Now please excuse me, I must go knit a few more rows - I think I have 15 rows until I start the first pleat. Thank god we're off today.

ETA - That was Monday - I've now reached the instructions to begin the first pleat - and I forgot to mention that I cast on 355 stitches to get a slightly shorter than written stole. I forgot how obsessive I get about lace - it's all I can think about. I wish it were speedier - I want more, faster - but it is what it is and will be lovely and wafty when I'm done. And I like knitting.

September 4, 2009

I had no idea

I'm writing from Bozeman, Montana, where Captain America and I are passing through on our way from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone and Teton National Parks on our 10th anniversary Epic Adventure.

Driving today, first along and then inside these great mountains, I realized I have simply never given much thought at all to mountains. Just never considered them - never gave them a thought. Being a born and bred beach girl, I've done coasts and islands, and a francophile, Paris twice, but oh, never this.

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I've been saying things like "I'm converted" about the mountains, but that's not really right. It's not like I'm switching from beaches, but shazam - add mountain girl to my bio. Captain America, who planned this magical tour, has had this in his soul since Boy Scouts at 12, and now it's in mine. Big sky country meant nothing to me before - but we drive into Yellowstone with my eyes wider and my heart bursting and I get it.

We kicked Glacier National Park's butt - these two total novice hikers decked out in all the very best gear did most of the Grinnel Glacier Hike Tuesday (before very responsibly turning back before the point of pain) and a good lot of the High Line Wednesday. We've seen big horn sheep and a lounging moose close up, mountain goats and a grizzly mom and cub from far, far away, and kayaked around the lake in front of Many Glacier Lodge where we stayed.

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I've made it to three great yarn shops now - Knit and Nosh in Helena, and Yarn Shop and Fiber Place and Stix in Bozeman. Bought me some Alchemy mohair laceweight that will remind me of the amber waves of grain we've seen for miles and miles, two ounces each of local Montana Lincoln wool to spin - some natural gray, some dyed barely processed salmon-y pink stuff, and two balls of Simply Shetland silk lambswool laceweight - mmmmmmm. Stix is, hands down, the most beautiful shop I've ever seen, and let me tell you, these Montana shops are BIG - one owner said of course - they have long, cold winters here! I've barely knit, even though yarn was the first thing I packed - there's just too much to see and do. This was on the Empire Builder train - the first part of the adventure in our sleeper car:

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In a word - Glacier National Park is a serious Bucket List item I didn't realize I had on mine, and I'm damned glad to make a check mark there, We'll go back, and I'll have more to say.

September 24, 2009

Epic Adventure, Part I

Captain America started planning this trip to celebrate our tenth anniversary well over a year in advance, which started with an idea of a motorcycle trip out West that's been perking for many years. Given that neither of us owns a motorcycle, and that though the thought of driving or riding on one is thrilling to me I'm not interested in dying young, I killed that after a year or two of incessant motorcycle talk. Then CA started looking at canned Amtrak tours - which, his travel agent sister-in-law informed him were a lot like Denny's - the food looks really tasty in the photos on the menu but tastes pretty bland at best on the table.

He then embarked on the perfect project for his soon-to-be unemployed self - he planned it all on his own, researching and calling and booking National Park lodges at precisely the right moment 364 days ahead. He also talked about it non-stop and ordered lots and lots of hiking gear since we don't hike - or didn't, but that's getting ahead of myself.

I admit - I spent most of the past year with my fingers in my ears going "la la la I can't hear you," both because he wouldn't shut up and because I was just going along with his dream trip - I didn't have that mountains dream in me. Had I planned it, we'd have gone to Costa Rica to go fishing and get deeply tanned. I would NEVER have planned a trip to the Rockies - wasn't on my list. Silly me.

Packing was fun - we had to consider a wide range of temperatures and conditions, and by the time I had all my stuff out for review, I realized it was everything CA has been buying me over the 12 years we've been together - Gramicci climbing pants, great tie-dyes from REI - I was being prepared and neither of us knew it consciously. I passed his packing inspection handily. Of course yarn was the first priority, and as I imagined I'd have ample knitting time over the two weeks, I planned my small Christmas present project and packed a lot of yarn, thinking I would make neat little tags with the cities the presents were finished in. Hah.

I never ever go away for a full two weeks - ever. Getting ready for that, at home and during the most hellish 60 days in recent memory at work, was challenging and stressful. I'm a serious slave to my routine, and that works for me - two weeks of complete unknown was just a tad anxiety-producing. I managed.

My single contribution to the planning was a reservation at Frontera Grill in Chicago on our first night of the trip. We stayed at the Fairmont Millenium, right next door to the Art Institute and walked to Frontera. It was perfecto - CA had a tamale appetizer that he said was just like his neighbor Mrs. Rodriguez used to make in Dallas - go figure. He's a picky eater and I'm not - and I think he enjoyed his meal more than I did. Score!

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Saturday we boarded the Empire Builder train after a quick stop at the Art Institute, which I don't think I've ever been to and which blew me (us) away. I visit museums differently since I've worked at one for the last nine years, and it was amazing. No time to hit Loopy - drag, but I had many more LYSs on my list.

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The modern sleeper cars on Amtrak bear little resemblance to the ones in North by Northwest, but did provide reasonable accomodations for about 30 hours as we left Chicago and went through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana - in fact, right up to East Glacier Lodge, our first night's pit stop. All but Illinois are states I've never been to before - many tacks for my map. We had a submarine shower and bunk beds - Amtrak could work a little on the thin cloth they call a mattress - a thin NASA foam one would go a long way.

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We got in four meals on the ride, which meant we ate with four different couples. We're not the most social couple but we held our own and had fun meeting all of them (even the woman who was so drunk she excused herself halfway through the meal).

From the train we saw:
Proghorn antelope
Astonishingly happy and rich fields of sunflowers blooming
Amber waves of grain - lots and lots and lots of it
Many cows with their frolicking, kicking, happy calves
A gigantic wind farm - I find these beautiful

And, just like Captain America said, those mountains I had never seen, appearing first like clouds far, far away, and then growing and growing and looming and holy cow we're in the MOUNTAINS.

We stepped off the train and threw our bags on top of this:

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While we walked across this path to the lodge:

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Part II coming soon.

September 28, 2009

They call me....

Little Bunny Foo Foo!

We interrupt our tale of the epic adventure to bring you some everyday news. Saturday, while re-layering my compost bin, I discoverd a mouse had made her nest inside it. The momma mouse made it out alive, but as I kept digging out the bottom layer, baby mice kept dropping into it from the middle somewhere.

In a split-second conversation with myself, I knew we'd be buying mouse bait soon for the garage (which the composter is in front of), so as adorable as those little mice were, I decided they would probably prefer a quick, painless death to one by poison and I bopped two of them on the head. I was apologizing as I did it - it's completely against my nature to kill something, let alone a cute little baby mouse, but let's be real - they would have been in my house or garage as soon as the weather turns. More mde it out than I bopped.

Today, after feeling like I had disturbed the force in the universe, I was totally vindicated when I arrived home for lunch and Captain America told me Fishy was playing wtih a mouse. A live one, in the house. Specifically, my bedroom closet. I warned CA to watch where he walked for the rest of the day and went back to work, wondering if I'd be sleeping with the mousies tonight.

No - Fishy is a brilliant and determined huntress! Remember, Fishy found and alerted me to the baby opossum in the kitchen ealier this year. She got it, and CA found her this afternoon in the hall with Indigo (enjoying the spoils of Bluefish's hard work), tossing the little thing around. No more mouse. Death by bop on the head or by cat - I choose shovel bop!

Had a great class Saturday afternoon with Wendy Knits on toe-up socks from her new book. She's a LOT of fun and we decided to start a Ravelry group to celebrate her term "toe cuppage" - the moment of success and joy when you achieve it - we're up to 30 members on the first day!

I've started knitting the yarn haul from the trip - this is a Shetland Shawl from Wrap Style in Simply Shetland's silk noil/wool laceweight from Stix in Bozeman - mmmm. I forgot how long the rows get on these triangles - I'm almost through the first ball of yarn.

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