Monday, December 24, 2007

The Nutcracker and such....

It has been a delightfully dreary day outdoors today, and therefore perfect for knitting.

The rain this afternoon was a great counterpoint to The Nutcracker Suite and the clicking of the needles. I think I have watched it about a hundred times. Baryshnikov is amazing.

Today also turned out to be somewhat cultural, as I watched Amadeus afterwards. The Ovation channel managed to turn that film into a four hour event (with an encore following. Go figure.) I think this is the first biography that I experienced where the subject was not beatified by the author. Sort of a different contrast -- Mozart's heavenly music came from a man steeped in earthly pleasures and problems. And the story is told from the viewpoint of a rival, which makes it even more interesting. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

The Christmas present is finished. The pinwheel sweater is still sans sleeves, but the body is complete and the edging is in progress.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Little lights on the tree...

And I am listening to one of the dogs ripping a squeaker from a toy, so it's not quite a 'silent night.' If she has her way, that pesky little bugger will be out in a little bit.

The dining room is a wreck with wrapping paper all over, so I spent a little time on Sunday ignoring the cleaning and knitting in the living room. It looks pretty festive with the tree twinkling in the corner. Peaceful even. Much progress occurred on the Christmas present (still in progress.) I will post a picture after the holiday, because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The end is near

OK, so this might sound an awful lot like an earlier post. I realized today that the end of the semester is next week, which means finals are the week after that. YIKES!

But it is a good thing. The last few weeks have been sort of a hurly-burly between tests, studying, holidays, projects, work, and (oh yeah) running the household in between. I am looking forward to getting all this done.

Just for that, I am taking tonight off to knit like mad.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Growing, growing.....

The pinwheel sweater is definitely making progress. Last night, I finished the tan band and started with the coffee bean brown. Its dark heather-y-ness is a cool contrast to the light sandy tone of the prior color. I don't have pictures yet because I haven't completed a full round in the new color yet. Those will come a little later when there is more of the contrast to see.

A benefit of this project is that I will have a few bits & pieces of coordinating colors left over from each of the bands. A few ideas are rolling around for small pieces. They range from a felted purse, mittens, narrow scarf, and a sweater for a teddy bear. Who knows what will come off the needles at this point?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Counting our blessings.....

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. As an experiment, I invite you to share one of the things you are thankful for. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering, just as long as it means something to you. I'll even go first to get us started...

I am thankful for the "little blessings" in my everyday life. You know, like the empty parking space close to the door when you are running late. Or the new grass poking out of the lawn despite the dryness of the past few weeks. And letting my friend talk me into that caramel-chocolate-coconut-pecan wrapped apple (which was divine....I highly recommend the experience.) The nudge of a head or paw against my hand as a request for a scratching. Little reminders to slow down and enjoy the now.

That's mine. How about you?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall foliage (or a knitted cheese pizza...)

For a change, I think I will start putting up pictures of things before they are completely done. Here's hoping it will serve as inspiration for completion.
This is the current project. As you can see, it is still in process. This is called a "pinwheel sweater." Construction is pretty much one big circle with a couple holes for sleeve attachment later. Very simple, minimal (to no) finishing -- definitely my kind of pattern.
The picture does not do justice to the colors. The color palette is golds, reds, and browns all smooshed together in a bull's eye o'color. The circle you see here will be the back of the sweater.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

This is what crawled up from the crypt this year......

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sweet vest

Here is the finished, edged vest. The I-cord didn't quite turn out the way I intended, but the effect is pretty cool anyway.

The yarn in the body is a variegated yarn that "stacked" colors when it was knit in the round. The end look is a crazy warped square pattern. Sort of psychedelic in an interesting way.

Hope you like it!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The light at the end.....

Sometimes it's freedom and sometimes it's a train. I'm not sure which it is yet, but I know it is getting closer.

Knit Night is tomorrow and I have cool things with much progress. (Pictures, I know.....terribly behind in that department....) The little vest is now EDGED in I-cord and has most of a little tie to hold it closed. Stress has also compelled me to knit on the unnamed pinwheel sweater project. It is in a lovely fall palette of golds and browns. As it has just begun, it is the size (and quite honestly in the same color family) as a medium cheese pizza. Dinner anyone?

October is one of my favorite months because of 1) fall, 2) Renaissance Festival and 3) Halloween! With it only being about a week away, I can't wait to show the seamstress project. Pictures to follow soon (no really....)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My girl

One year, and I still miss you every day. This is my Sasha.

I met Sasha when she was just 3 weeks old and barely big enough to spill out of my hands in warm and wiggly fur. We brought her home two weeks later on the Fourth of July.

From that time on, she was a constant companion. Sasha was the first dog I had raised from a puppy . We walked together (sometimes VERY early), went to obedience classes, and took care of each other. We learned from each other. She had all of the great traits of her breed and I became a confirmed GSD advocate whenever anyone mentioned getting a dog.

Sasha was with us for seven years. She left with no warning at all. When the vet called to let us know that she had died, it was the worst day of my life -- made ten times worse by the fact that I was out of town and hours away. But in hindsight, I think that she left on her terms. I never saw her sick or weak from the cancer that (we later learned) took her. My last memory is rubbing her ears and reminding her to be good for the staff at the kennel.

I think of her every day. Last month in Williamsburg, I had to hide tears from a stranger with a lanky young shepherd on a lead. The pup's eyes were so like my Sasha's. It's a bittersweet reminder of the joy of her with the ache of her absence.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The return of the prodigal ....

So after about 5 months of asking for measurements, the Apple Jack Tank turns out not to fit. It made the trek back home with measurements and a request for adjustments.

I looked it over. The yarn is great and really soft. Because I knit it in the round, adjustments to the body are darn near impossible to make. And it fits me just fine. So I think that I may send and imposter (AJTv2) in its place. :-)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mattress stitch, kitchner, and all seams invisible...

It's the simple things that make me happy. This week, it was an unexpected revelation with sewing seams.

Finishing is not really my strong suit. I have been able to do a serviceable seam, but not always a pretty one on the first try. There is often unravelling, ripping, restitching (and sometimes cursing) before the seam comes into being. I also have several books with great illustrations that seem to put the process just out of my grasp.

This weekend, I started finishing the vest/steek experiment. Its to have an I-cord border around the neck, bottom, and either side of the center opening. Before that could get started, I had to seam the shoulders.

I usually match right sides together and seam from the wrong side of the work. It was not working so well for this piece. The variegated yarn was all wrong in the seam and looked like the good Dr. Frankie (see here) had made a go of it. It would just be easier if I could see what I was doing a little better. So, I put the pins lower in the work and opened up the seam so that I could see where I was stitching. It also turned out that I could see how the seaming was supposed to duplicate the knit stitches on either side of the work. Perfect little V's all in a row. Huzzah! Eureka! Woohoo!

After thinking about it some more, it seems like I could do this with just about any seam. Why not even Kitchner toes? They are hidden by a shoe most of the time, but the perfectionist in me wants to make them pretty all the same.

This idea has me really amped up -- so much so that there is a sweater that may achieve finishing in the near future. It has spent a long time in project purgatory because I got to the point that I didn't really know what to do next. And once I did figure it out, I didn't want to deal with it. When it's finished, it will free up a lot of space in the pending basket. And I can buy more yarn. That sounds like motivation enough.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Steek it, Sister!!!

You know that vest I have been working on? The mysterious one lurking in my pending basket that I have yet to post pictures on? Progress has been made! Last night, I summoned up my courage, took scissors in hand, and cut through stitches I had labored over for hours. Guess what? IT WORKED! I still have a vest -- not a ravelly pile of tear-dampened string!

To be fair, it's still a bit rough. There are shoulder seams to make and a border to smooth out the cut edges. But it is still a vest!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Healin' on the needles

Knitting is getting praise from some sources with more "authorit-tye". Check out this excerpt from the latest Creative Knitting with Bobbie Matela e-mail (emphasis added):
When things are not going well, or we are anticipating a life changing event, many of us turn to our knitting. This may be because knitting makes us feel a bit calmer, or the accomplishment of making a beautiful, useful knitted item is a boost to our ego, making us feel a little more in control. Scientific research from the Mind/Body Institute at Harvard now confirms this experience. The Lion Brand Yarn company released the institute's findings which I am happy to pass on to you.
It turns out that the repetitive actions needed for knitting and crochet can bring the mind and body to a state called a "relaxation response" that is quite similar to what people experience with techniques such as repetitive prayer, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and other relaxation disciplines. Research at the Harvard Medical School Mind/Body Institute has found that when an individual is knitting her heart rate can drop 11 beats a minute and her blood pressure drops as well. These results can have significant health benefits for people who knit and crochet.
In the U.S. many institutions are taking advantage of these health benefits by incorporating knitting and crochet into the activities that they provide. Gilda's Clubs, which offer family cancer support in locations across the U.S., now provide knitting to help with the emotional upheaval of dealing with cancer. At the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, knitting is used to lower stress for its clients. Children and their parents are seeing the benefits of knitting and crochet as well. Grade schools from Oregon to New Jersey have incorporated knitting into their curriculum, not only for the health benefits, but to help build creativity and improve math skills.
"Knitting benefits an individual's emotional and physical health. Knitting can reduce stress in an individual who is trying to manage the severity of their chronic illness. It can also help reduce stress in individuals who lead very hectic lifestyles," said Gary Scholar, Health & Wellness Consultant to the employees of the American Hospital Association.
"I have incorporated knitting classes in my Health & Wellness programs for employees because of the health benefits. I would like to see implemented at children's hospitals a program to teach sick children how to knit so they have something to keep their minds occupied and be proud of what they have made if they are in the hospital for an extended time."
I think you'll agree with me how nice it is to hear that something so enjoyable is also good for our health! I have also decided that from now on I will pick up my knitting whenever I'm feeling a little anxious or need to solve a problem.

Preach it! Now I can tell my husband that stash purchases are actually keeping me healthy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Frankenstein's knit bag

Maybe I should save this for the holiday next month (although I hope to have my little seamstress job done in time to post for that), but I have to share it somewhere now.

I looked into the 'in-progress' bag to assess damage and the progress to the end of a few things that have been hanging around as I was looking for a 'takealong' project for an upcoming long car ride. It was like being in Frankenstein's lab. There were sleeves for the little dress (still unattached), the back of a summer tank (waiting for the front), a test swatch for a winter sweater, a test swatch for a light fall/spring sweater, and the steek-needin' vest. All reasonably close to completion and still in pieces. NONE of them appealed to me at the moment.

I think I will end up taking the little dress because 1) there is no pattern so that is one less thing to carry around, 2) it is close enough to finished that I will probably complete it on the ride, and 3) it will let me put off the steek for another day.

The mad-scientist in me was tempted to make something crazy from the sleeves and a few of the swatches. Then, run the whole thing up on the roof during the lightning storm and metal needles. ITS ALIVE! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What we learn while knitting.....

Tuesday night was Knit Night at my local yarn shop (LYS.) We had a pretty good crowd. There are four new participants (which has almost doubled our membership.) LOTS of admiration of projects, yarn envy, and the persistent whispers of things in the shop begging us to take them home. (The proprietor of the LYS is teaching them to sing...we are all afraid.)

There was also a LOT of conversation -- most around non-knit related subjects. What was fascinating was watching the way the conversation evolved. Here are the top ten things I learned last night:

10. Nobody likes going to the dentist. This may seem like a given, but some of the stories were sort of scary (see #9.) I have never been so thankful for good genes, strong teeth, and a mother that never let me go to bed without asking "Did you brush your teeth?" (Thanks Mom.)

9. Different societies view pain differently. Again, maybe this is a given, but the point really hit home last night. One of our ladies grew up in England and talked about visiting the dentist as a child. If she had to have a filling, the dentist would drill out the cavity WITHOUT ANESTHETIC. (!!!!!)

8. Folk music is enjoyed on some level by just about everybody. The LYS had a customizable web radio station on the speakers last night. Most of the stuff coming out was pretty laid back. James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Paul & Mary, and Grateful Dead just to name a few. At some point during the evening, everyone was singing or humming with whatever was playing. It was a very mellow vibe. No one asked to flip the station either.

7. If you make it, they will brag. We had "show & tell" last night also. It was all very positive. We ogled lace, passed around hats, petted some hand-spun skeins, and tested the structure of a crochet sock. It was all good. Everyone recieved some kind of complement on what they made. My personal favorite was a little cat knitted by one of the newer members. I loved its big ears and button nose because it reminded me of my brother's Havana Brown kitties.

6. Somebody will knit something you never thought could be knit. Case in point: the gossamer shawl one of the ladies was working on in size impossibly small needles. Yes, it was a pattern. No, she wasn't looking at it because it was memorized (apparently.) I was afraid that it would disappear any moment because it was so fragile and beautiful. Even better -- it was all from one skein.

5. Somebody will knit something that you never thought would be practical as a knitted item. Case in point: soakers. Soakers are little knitted covers for babies worn over cloth diapers. I was sort of disbelieving at first. Although they are a more green alternative, cloth diapers have a major drawback in not being water/leakproof. Adding a knitted layer on top of it just makes another layer of wet stuff, so what gives? Then, we all got a lesson in these little marvels. Soakers have to be made of wool or bamboo because these fibers are naturally anti-microbial and will hold an unbelievable amount of moisture. Plus, they have to be washed in lanolin to improve this quality. The acidity of urine saponifies the lanolin on contact. So--when they get dirty, they make their own soap!!!! Crazy-science! All at Knit-Night!

4. There are a lot of brilliant people that knit. (See above.) Who expected a science lesson in the knitting circle? We also learned that MANY plant fibers naturally inhibit the growth of bacteria and microbes. You can get that benefit without soaps or chemicals. Good news if you are looking for greener alternatives.

3. Cool guys knit. I have another post on guy knitters here with more on this subject, but it bears repeating. As of this Tuesday, we have a guy that has crossed over into the 'regulars' group. Woohoo!!!

2. Eclectic hobbies attract like magnets. We don't JUST knit. Everyone has other interests as well. There was an impromptu juggling demonstration (and promise of another one at our next meeting.) A few people were discussing a short-lived (but really good) sci-fi series. Some were talking about BBC-America. And then we talked a little about the upcoming Renaissance Festival. (One of our members is a longtime festival actress.)

But the number one thing is:
1. Don't sweat it if it doesn't turn out the way you planned. Enjoy it for what it IS. The flaw in this hat may be the thing somebody else likes best about it. That's ok. Maybe if we learn to let go of the "should've's", we can look for the best in the "is." Pobody's nerfect.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Something new....

As you may have guessed, the little dress and vest are not yet complete. Progress has been made (although we won't go into detail on that one) and I still have yet to post photos. As an author, I am letting you down by making promises that have not come to fruition.....yet. Hang with me. I promise it will be worth it in the end.

In my spare time (chortle haha giggle snort!), I made the somewhat misguided decision to undertake a seamstress job on the side. The client is not in a hurry (given my production lately, that is good) and the patterns are not too complicated (even better.) I am actually going to get paid for this (woohoo!) -- something I enjoy doing. I won't say too much about it now, other than I am excited to be sewing again. Photos to follow....eventually.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Today was our group presentation. Tomorrow, we turn in the paper that has been a gargantuan effort. And then......I'm FREE!!!!!

Well, for about a week or so anyway.

But its a good start for a break and it will give me a little time to work on some of the wayward projects that really need to be finished up. And to post a few pictures of those things I have been promising to you, faithful readers. Just the time to do things I want to do, instead of that I have to do to meet a deadline, is restful.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The best laid plans.....

I have been taking a summer course for the last five weeks. This is turning out to be a mistake in judgement on my part. A full-sized semester of work has been crammed in the abbreviated (pint-sized) schedule. That means that this post is the break between working on two full sized papers and fretting about a presentation (for Tuesday AM) that has not even seen the start of a PowerPoint slide. In short, I'm going nuts.

The class only lasts another six meetings, so I am trying to hang on. Then, it will be a short break until the fall session begins meeting. Even though the semester is longer, the classes don't meet on consecutive days. It sort of makes the week easier in a weird way.

I did manage to finish Harry Potter. Farewell Hogwarts! The vest is still awaiting its "surgery" and the little dress is a sleeveless number right now, but I hope to set those to rights shortly. Pics to follow once they are complete.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trapped in the Burrow the steek piece is blocked but still wet. I am waiting for it to dry. What to do in the meantime? Why, start Deathly Hallows, of course! I am sorry that I have misled you, true believers. The draw of the wizarding world has proven stronger than my willpower....

On the up side, I have completed a new gauge swatch in a lovely pumpkin orange, merino/angora blend. It is a cable pattern that I loved the name of, but I wasn't sure how it would show in the yarn. How delightful that (with a minimal change) the two are perfect for each other! Pictures to come (looking for a good background color....)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eek! A steek! (Part 2)

OK...I haven't forgotten about the steek. It's just that I sort of lost my nerve AND the piece of knitting for a couple of days. This weekend, it surfaced to the top of the project bag. There will be no more procrastination. It's on the ironing board now (along with a test swatch) awaiting blocking, stitching and the cut of the steek. After I finish the research allotment for today (which was put off to doodle on the blog a bit), it will be time to plunge headlong into the unknown. And I do promise that there will be pictures, no matter what the result. Wish me luck!

Update: July 19. The best laid plans have gone quietly awry this week with an early arrival for dinner (Mon), a school event (Tues), an unexpected trip (Wednesday), and a test tomorrow (Fri.). No, its not steeked yet, but it is still located. On the ironing board in the room where my husband and dogs don't go. Never fear -- it will get done this weekend BEFORE I start reading Harry's latest adventure.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The mystique of the male knitter

Our knitting group met last week. Although we don't have a "formal" membership process, a core of 'regulars' has developed over the past couple of months. We had THREE first-time participants, so it was sort of a red-letter day.

Even more exciting is that one of them was both a first time knitter and A MAN! This may not sound like much, but male knitters are somewhat scarce in the craft. Like on the scale of finding a gem-quality diamond in the dirt on your afternoon walk kind of scarce. I'm exaggerating (a little), but suffice it to say that you will be hard pressed to find many dudes that will profess to proficiency with the knit sticks.

This was my first time witnessing the birth of a male knitter. It's always exciting to see someone pick up the needles for the first time. Most of the time, they are eager and nervous at the same time. It makes coordination of the yarn and needles a little harder than normal because they are trying very much to do it 'right.' But with encouragement and support from a willing teacher, they are ticking along in no time.

J was not fooling around on his first time out. Under the watchful eye of his girlfriend, he had cast on a series of stitches and had spread them over three double pointed needles. Yes, you heard it right true believers. He bypassed standard flat knitting on two needles and jumped right in the deep end to knit in the round. This method is most commonly used in knitting socks and is sometimes compared to wrestling with a porcupine. J had also elected to use two strands held together (another bold choice for a beginner).

J took a seat in the common room and diligently worked the rounds in his project. Ever the gentleman, he even moved to the floor to allow the ladies a chair. And at some point in the evening, each of us paused to watch him work and offer encouragement. Or told his girlfriend (so he could hear it, of course) how lucky she was to have a man that knits.

Don't misunderstand -- we are supportive of ANY new person that decides to brave the needles and tame a skein or two. It's fun to see that look of "A-HA!" when the process begins to make sense. But somewhere along the way, the craft landed (mostly) in the feminine domain. "Knitter" somehow became effeminate. It is fascinating to see a man knit in the same way as watching a muscular, tattooed gent handle a toddler (interesting day people watching at the mall -- another post entirely.)

And if you are a single male, there is quite possibly no better way to meet a quality lady. If you go to a knitting class without a wedding ring, someone may ask your status during the course. (Knitters aren't too shy and some are downright nosey!) One of your classmates will be willing to tell you about their lovely and talented daughter/granddaughter/neice/cousin/ friend who would be delighted to meet you. Or if you find a good place to people watch while you work on your latest project (read: park bench, gallery, or even the bus/subway), you may get a gentle inquiry that turns into a conversation.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

You want me to WHAT??!!?

This could also be titled "The great steek experiment." For a few months, I have been toying with a pattern that requires a steek for the neckline. A 'steek' is a section of stitches put into the pattern so that the piece can be continually knit in one piece (in the round or flat) with the purpose of sewing around them and cutting them later for a neckline or arm holes. It's done in stripe or fair isle type knitting so that one doesn't have to fuss so much with matching/continuing a pattern etc. It's also a very scary thing because you are putting your faith in four little machine stitched rows and praying to the fiber gods that those jokers are going to keep everything else in line. (Those of you that have dropped a stitch (or lots) that have laddered all the way to the selvedge edge know what I am talking about here.)

Anyway, I have been working on an original vest in a multicolored yarn that conspired to make its own color pattern as it was knit. Things were going great until I realized "It's not a pullover. You need an opening." Drat.
That one got "tinked" and I started thinking about how to get that same pattern with the ease of knitting in the round. Again and again, the steek looked like the way to go. It would also allow me to make a "V" shaped neck with a minimum of fuss. Laziness wins, I incorporated the steek allowance and off we go.

Now, everything is finished except for the steek. I will probably block it and sew in the holding stitches this afternoon. Depending on my nerves, it may get cut tonight. Or not. I'll post the pictures if I'm still steady enough to work the camera. :-)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Kung-Fu knittastic

It's the season of blistering afternoons and deep purple ripened blackberries here in my part of the world. For the past two weeks, it's been a ritual. Put on the long pants, shoes with covered toes, and one leather glove. Grab the keys, a little bucket, and let the dogs out. Set out some cold water for the puppies and head into the briars for as much totally organic, pesticide-free succulent fruity goodness as you have the inclination to collect in the fresh air.

I've filled the bucket to different levels every day. Some blackberries went to the freezer, some to an experimental pancake syrup, and some to a friend who likes them in cobbler. That was after having them fresh with yogurt or just out of hand as a snack.

Berry-picking in the afternoon is hot work. When I come in, I end up in a melted heap on the couch thanking the electric company for AC and watching whatever channel comes up when I flip on the TV. It is a terrible habit.

Lately, the remote has landed on a whole LOT of martial arts films and I am fascinated. During 'Enter the Dragon' (the first Bruce Lee film I have ever watched from beginning to end), I was knitting like mad. Ditto for whatever I caught the last half of the next day. Crazy-fast knitting! Today, I didn't have the needles up because I got too wrapped up in "Hero." The scenery had me thinking of some yarn in the luxe stash (Noro Silk Garden Lite) that has not yet told me what it wants to be when it grows up. And other scenes (that had a single color in both the setting and in the costumes -- too cool) got me to thinking about an original design. (More on that one later, I think.)

It's crazy. Two totally unrelated subjects that appear to have a relationship. I don't know what element (the music, the action, delayed dialogue?) makes the stitches and rows flow while the kicks are flying. But they are having a martial arts film marathon on the 4th....maybe I will start a new project at the beginning and see how much I can get done by the end.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

OK to be a geek.....

I am a geek. I admit it freely. It used to bother me because I thought that it meant that I was uncool, awkward, and hopelessly mired firmly in nerd-dom. But a gradual realization over the past 9 months has led me to embrace my geek-ness and understand that it is ok – its part of who I am.

First, let me define what I mean by "geek." A geek is someone who has a lot of seemingly minute or useless knowledge about a subject AND the (maddening) continued desire to learn more. They don't mind sharing information. Many are so excited about the subject (and want to make you excited about the subject) that they possess the ability to overload a listener almost into a comatose state with the amount of information/experience/anecdotes that they have on it.

Given that, I think that everyone has some type of geek in them. The technology-loving geek and the science geek are typically what comes to mind because that's what we see in the movies and on television. That leaves a lot of us out. Ever watch the Outdoors channel? Hunting geeks and fishing geeks with their own shows. Take a walk over to the pet store and you will meet at least one dog geek. How about the grocery store? Foodie geeks, hanging out by the seafood counter and looking for whole squid. Home improvement store? Hammer geeks, garden geeks, and the interior design geeks are all over the aisles.

I am a knit geek. I am a sewing geek. I am a paper geek. Or you could just lump all of that together into "craft geek." It's ok. But if you have a few minutes, let me tell you about this fabulous pumpkin orange, angora and wool yarn I just picked up..... :-)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Get your knit on...

It is time for knit night again and I am beginning to fret. My project does not have the progress I was hoping for since the last meeting. Never mind that I was just working on a gauge swatch then and now I am working on the actual project. It is not "enough" to satisfy my somewhat competitive nature. It is not an excuse that I didn't bother to pick up the needles over the weekend because I was on vacation. So, after the trip to the grocery store and the kennel, it will be knit like mad until time to go. Just so it looks like the two weeks between meetings have been somewhat productive.
I am also stumped with a little problem on an original design for a hat. Now that I have drawn in the circumference of the band (so the little bugger won't cover one's eyes and be more ski-mask-like), I am not sure how many rows to knit to make the top "flop" properly. Maybe this is a job for the circle to ponder tonight.
Vacation was productive in another way. The blues and greens of the patient ocean at dusk keep playing through my memory. I have the perfect yarn in my stash. Now I just have to find a great "wave-ey" type pattern to put in it for a wrap. And then there is the orange ball of fire rising from the waters at dawn. Some yarn from a San Antonio excursion (Noro, naturally....don't you love his colorways?) is destined to do that one. Maybe a freeform piece to make the sun...and then pick up the sea's purple and blue.....I see that on the back of a kimono-type jacket .....mmmmmm....inspiration.....

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What to knit next?

So I admit, most of the knitters I know don't really have problem finding the next project. It is more of a "Which of the next possible five projects should I work on next?" kind of question. When inspiration hits, sometimes it is in a tidal wave.

This is the only way I know to explain the concept of the "stash" to the uninitiated. Sometimes, you find a yarn in the right color, the right amount, the right fiber blend and (!!!) at the perfect price. You can see yourself creating a sweater/scarf/shawl/socks/tea cozy that will be so (a) beautiful that you will be the envy of all your girlfriends, (b) perfect as a gift for that hard to buy for person, and/or (c) cool in technique/color combination that your knitting group will clamor for pattern and the location of the yarn shop. At this time, it doesn't matter that you have a complicated cable pattern sweater on the needles and that it is likely to take the better part of the year (or lifetime) to complete it. It also doesn't matter that you already have a bag/closet/room full of yarns for projects yet begun. You have hit the trifecta and have this new yarn you will.

Stash expansion is something more than sheer avarice and acquisition. Over the past few weeks, I have been going through the closets in the house. This includes the one housing my stash. As I look at the yarns there, I see the possibilities of what these random little balls will become. I get excited about working on what is to come. Some of them will not be how I first envisioned them. That's okay, because dreams change. I also get a "second wind" for those things that are lagging on the needles. It helps me to see them with new eyes. My stash is a source of inspiration.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Numerical needlework.....

The internet contains all sorts of things you never would have thought there was a need for (and a few that make you wonder how much spare time people have on their hands...) One thing I stumbled upon a few days ago is the inspiration for this post. A few crafty crochet-ers decided to create (and I am not making this up -- REALLY) a in the coral variety. It is totally made out of yarn and the shapes are pretty close to some growing out in the Caribbean right now. Turns out, this was also a mathmatical experiment of sorts. The wavy, fluted edges of the corals were mimicked in crochet by strategic increases in stitches. Really cool!

Also, there are a number of patterns based on the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,etc...). I found a scarf pattern that was pretty interesting. You pick a variety of colors for your scarf and then begin knitting. As long as the number of rows per color equals a number in the Fibonacci sequence, the overall color combination is pleasing and balanced. Very interesting, as this allows the artist to create several different looks from the same group of colors. It is also a great stash reducer -- very important as you can only hide so much yarn under the bed after your husband begins to notice the random skeins running about the place...but I digress....

Another nifty numerical pattern was featured on a few issues ago. (Go visit them here!) "Numbers" is a bag that can be knitted in whatever gauge you feel like and felted (or not). It incorporates a given number (that you choose) as a multiple that you use to increase and decrease the shape of the bag. The size of the needles, the number you choose and the number of rows you choose to knit all affect the end result. As you can see from the pictures, you can get some really interesting accessories! The neatest thing about this is that the designer made a conscious decision to play with the pattern's math with stylish results.

It gives you a lot to think about. For me, these are the first patterns in the "pending project" basket that use this concept. I look forward to trying them, if for no other reason than to see what comes out.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Apple Jack Tank

THIS is what my sister, TF, is getting for her belated birthday present. She seems to like the apple green and the light cotton/silk blend of this yarn is more wearable in her neck of the woods. As you can tell from the photo, this is not a smooth yarn. Its texture should only get softer with each wash -- sort of like a favorite pair of jeans.

The construction of the tank is loose and ends just at the waist. I finished the edges with a reverse single crochet that looks a little like a rope. All in all, I think this is a success. It is the first time I have modified a pattern's neckline and I am pretty happy with the results.

It also brings to mind that these pictures would be more interesting if they were not "flat on the towel" shots. Maybe I can find a mannequin...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Redd Soxx

OK, this is not what my sister is getting for her birthday. This is sort of a cheat, because I actually completed this project a few weeks ago.

The picture does not really do justice to the PHENOMENAL color changes in the yarn -- Wildfoote's handpaint color Symphony -- a yummy mix of reds, yellow, browns and purple. (Yes, I couldn't believe it either. But it is sort of cool together...)

The pattern is a toe-up job and is my first try at this technique. I have included a close up of the toe so you can see how nice life can be without Kitchner stitch or grafting in your life. This was also a pattern that allowed both socks to be knitted on the needles at the same time. It made the process more interesting and kept this project from having a "sabbatical" while I procrastinated in beginning sock #2.

I love sock projects. They are quick and don't require a substantial yarn investment. You can also play around with patterns and whimsical (or downright weird) color combinations. What's the risk? If you don't like it, you can wear them around the house. Or maybe you have a friend who is in need of some sole comfort. Put them on the dog and take next year's Christmas card photo. Or if you really, REALLY don't like them, you can put them on your husband's golf clubs. Waste not, want not!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A pirate's life for me......

(Caution: This has some details from Pirates of the Caribbean 3 that were not in the reviews I have read so far and may be considered spoilers.)

I went to see the latest POTC installment this past weekend. It has absolutely nothing to do with knitting and probably has no place in this blog whatsoever, other than to give a bit of a window into my personality. It is a great "escape" movie -- swashbuckling adventure on the high seas with boats full of swarthy cutthroats....what could be better than that?

Anyway, a part of the movie has had me thinking for the better part of the last few days. Just before the climactic sea battle, the pirates are debating whether to fight or run. Who is it that inspires the crew to not only fight, but to defend their free lifestyle to the last man? It's Elizabeth. A WOMAN! It was great. We need more of these types of models for our young women and less of the empty-headed, body-baring, let-me-get-by-on-my-looks tanorexic cell phone addicts.

And these movies also get me thinking about staying true to yourself -- that's real freedom. The ancient Greeks knew that the first step to truth was knowing yourself. None of these characters pretend to be noble or good or any of that. They're pirates! Deal with it! It's that spirit of being true to yourself that leads me to knit, listen to punk, and read to kindergartners all in one package.

Embrace your inner pirate.......YAAR!

Yo ho, yo ho! A pirate's life for me...........

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Was that on purpose?

For the last few months, I have been participating in an after-hours knitting group. A few locals in the Concord area bring whatever their latest work-in-progress over to the wonderful local yarn shop, RaveKnits. (Check out their website here.) It is a growing group with a steady attendance by "regulars." Sort of like a "Cheers" for the knitterly set....
Anyway, the coolest part of this group is that everyone is so open and supportive of each other. We share projects and are greeted with "That is so cool!" "I love those colors!" and occasionally the "WHERE did you get that FABULOUS yarn???" Don't know what to do next in the pattern? Bring it to group! The collective knowledge is so great that there is a good chance someone knows (a) how to read the pattern, (b) how to show you what the author is talking about, and most likely (c) a better/easier/fancier way to do it.

That being said, we also talk about failures. Its never called that. Because we are (on some level) artists, there really aren't failures. You learn something from everything attempted --- even when that is "I probably won't do that again." And sometimes, you like the mistake better than what you were supposed to do in the first place. You like it so much that it becomes more of a focus in the work (or the focus of another project.) I learned to make a pretty cool, organic-looking ruffle when I misinterpreted a pattern. That helped out on the last project (pictured above). It all comes full circle sometimes.

Hopefully, I will be casting of the latest project later tonight or sometime tomorrow. It is a birthday present for my sister and the first piece of significant knitting I have done for her. She is a non-knitter ( though I am campaigning to change that status) and I hope she likes it. If not, I can always take it to Knit Nite.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Hi all.

This blog is an experiment. Can I write about my passion and actually generate any interest in it? We are all about to find out.

As you may have guessed from the title, I am a knitter. Or as some call themselves now, the more comprehensive "fiber-artist". I work with pointy sticks to coax something useful out of piles of loopy, fluffy, silky, (and sometimes hopelessly knotty) yarn. It's a great way to spend an afternoon. (And sometimes, it gets you really interesting looks at the doctor's office....)

From time to time, I will post pictures of what is on the needles. I am a proud mama to all of my projects....even the ones that come out a little differently than expected. Above is the latest: a girl's toddler sweater in a mohair blend: