Friday, August 25, 2006

A Long and Incoherent Post

First of all, thank you everyone for the helpful comments about Daniel's scarf. An especially big thank you to Lyricc, both for your highly practical suggestions and your service in Iraq. Unfortunately, Blogger is a b*tch, and I don't have your email address and can't get to your blog. Please send me an email directly ... I would love to see your blog and chat about my scarf project.

Per Lyricc's suggestion, I think I may try to make a nice one for sleeping and off-duty, and a washable one that can get dirty. I may try Knit Picks' new Swish superwash -- has anyone tried it yet? As far as patterns go, Here and There Cables is in the lead for the "nice" one. For the on-duty scarf, I'm torn between Interlocking Balloons, the Irish Hiking Scarf, and the Herringbone Rib scarf. I started an IHS a while back and got a little bored with it, but it is a nice pattern. All your suggestions were great ones, and even if they don't get made for Daniel, I'm thinking I'll be knitting these patterns sometime in the near future!

I finished the Calla Lily socks, just a day and a half before receiving my new shipment from Sundara. More details about the finished socks are here, at the Petals Collection KAL blog.

I have had bad sweater-knitting karma this year. I've definitely decided to frog the Roundabout Leaf Tank. I've lost some weight lately and I am certain it's going to look like a sack on me. Yuck. I have started a few others (Audrey, Turbulence U-Neck Pullover, Soleil) and none of them have worked out yet. But I am trying to reverse that, and am working on a little something from stash yarn. Also, I think I'll be getting back to the Turbulence pullover, and I'd like to make Mary-Heather's Chanel-Like Cardigan. I have big ambitions, clearly.


I bought this bee-yoo-tee-ful Malabrigo back in May at WEBS. The name of the colorway is Paris Night! How could I resist?! I thought it would make a lovely and warm mistake-stitch-rib scarf. But now I want to do something a little more special with it. How about this little shrug-like thing from the fall Knitscene?

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Choices, Choices

My very charming cousin Daniel is currently serving the United States in Afghanistan. He learned of my little knitting obsession and did not hesitate to ask for a handknit scarf. See, it's this kind of bold decisiveness that makes for excellent Army personnel. Now I need to decide on a pattern and a yarn.*

Here are the pertinent considerations:
1. It gets very, very, very cold there and he needs to be warm.

2. I do not want to get bored to tears knitting this scarf. So an interesting pattern would be nice.

3. But nothing that could be considered even slightly "girly." He is engaged in acts of bravery and general bad-assness, in the best possible way. So no bobbles, for example. It just wouldn't be right.**

4. He has expressed an interest in cashmere or a cashmere blend. (Did I mention he has excellent taste?)

5. Any masculine-looking color is fine, but I'm leaning toward dark (not olive) green. So the yarn should come in that sort of color.

I am now opening the floor to suggestions. Thanks!

* Dan, if you are reading this, I felt the element of surprise was unnecessary. You did ask for it.
** See, I thought about Forbes Forest, which I'd love to knit. But I just couldn't see him over there defending us from terrorists whilst clad in bobbles.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


It's been a hard couple of weeks. My extended family has suffered two losses in the past week, one expected and one very unexpected. I'm a little embarassed to be posting about it, it looks like a play for sympathy. But comments and emails have not been acknowledged, I have 300 feeds on my bloglines, and I just generally haven't been keeping up. I didn't want to appear to have disappeared or for anyone to feel slighted. So.

Knitting a little ... the Calla Lily socks are getting close and I am starting some socks for my sister with the Umbrella Drink yarn. She saw the yarn and loved it. It does look like her! I asked her if she wanted lacy or cable-y and she wisely picked lacy. (I think that yarn just says lace.) So I'm making Minty's Anastasia socks.

More when things settle down...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Knit-Geek Questionnaire

I've recently started reading Kate's blog, A Strikke, and she mentions a questionnaire that she put together. It's an interesting one!

The Knit-Geek Questionnaire (unrelated to any swaps or secret pal exchanges)

1. What's your worst habit relating to your knitting?
Well, I don't really hold the yarn properly, even for a thrower. The process by which I make stitches is almost certainly highly inefficient.

2. In what specific ways does your knitting make you a better person?
It provides me with a creative outlet, which I really need. It gives me something to do besides worry.

3. How might you or your life be different if you were suddenly unable to knit?
Shudder! Well, I'd experience the feeling of boredom, which I hardly ever do now. I think I'd be pretty grouchy. Also, very depressed.

4. If money were no object, what one yarn, and what one tool or gadget would you run out and buy first?
I would buy Axelle de Sauveterre's cashmere for sweaters. As for a tool or gadget, not really sure. Maybe a blocking board and wires?

5. What knitting technique or project type are you most afraid of (if any)? What, specifically, do you fear will happen when you try it?
Steeking, and I fear the obvious. The knitting will fall apart.

6. Who is/are your knitting hero(es), and why?
I would love to own a shop like Suzan Mischer's. I admire not just Nancy Bush's patterns, but also her knowledge of and respect for knitting culture and history. I find Eunny's attention to detail, amazing execution, understanding of knit fabric and how it can work to flatter a woman's figure, and frankly stellar writing to be really inspiring.

7. Do you consider knitting, for you personally, a mostly social activity, or a mostly solitary activity?
Mostly solitary, although I am rarely alone when I do it. The boys are always around. But they're not knitting. Yet.

8. Is there a particular regional tradition in knitting that you feel strongly drawn toward (e.g., Fair Isle, Scandinavian, Celtic, Orenburg lace)? Any theories as to why it calls to you?
Shetland lace and Aran cables. I have this fantasy about living on an island in the North Atlantic. Of course, that particular fantasy home is on Fair Isle, but colorwork doesn't thrill me that much.

9. If you were a yarn, which yarn would you be?
Well, I'd want to be Blue Sky Alpaca and Silk. A little bit down to earth and a little bit glamorous.

10. Some statistics:
(a) How many years have passed since you FIRST learned to knit?

(b) How many total years have you been actively, regularly knitting (i.e., they don't have to have been in a row)?
(c) how many people have you taught to knit?
(d) Roughly what percentage of your FOs do you give away (to anyone besides yourself, i.e., including your immediate family)
Right now, almost none. But it used to be very close to 100%.

11. How often do you KIP (knit in public)? i.e., once a week, once a month, etc. Where do you do it?
Nearly every day. At the children's section of the bookstore while my younger son plays with the train set. In the waiting room of my older son's speech and occupational therapists' office. In my car at a light that is ridiculously long. In coffee shops when I get the opportunity to hang out there. At the SnB meeting I have started attending.

12. If a genie granted you one hour to stitch-n-bitch with any one knitter, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
I think this question is aiming at "celebrity knitters." Maybe Melanie Falick, because I think she has an amazingly beautiful aesthetic vision in her work. I just love all the books she's edited. And I think that the mark she left on Interweave Knits is still visible. I would say Olga, but one hour would be too infuriatingly short a time.

13. What aspect or task in knitting makes you most impatient?
Casting on or binding off lots of stitches. Binding off is probably worse, because I'm dying to see the end result.

14. What is it about knitting that never lets you get bored with it?
There's always a new technique to learn, a new yarn or tool to try. And I find many knit designers to be very inspiring. Just looking at their work gets me excited about knitting.

15. Describe how and where you most often do your knitting - where do you sit, what is going on around you, what tools do you use and how are they (dis)organized?
I often knit at a desk that I have in my kitchen. My desk is near our kitchen table, and I often work on my projects while my boys are eating or drawing at the table. (My three-and-a-half-year-old is quite the artist. He can draw all day.) I keep my knitting and most of the tools I might need in a little basket that tends to get carried around the house as I follow the boys. I also have a little corner of our den where I keep all my tools, needles, some of my stash, and my knitting books and magazines. I sit on the couch near all my knitting stuff and work while watching television.

16. Which one person is the recipient of more of your knitting than any other?
Lately, myself. But, in general, my sons. My sister has scored some items, too.

17. What's the oddest thing about your knitting, or yourself as a knitter?
Right now, I'm finding it odd that I am a shoulder strap and a half from finishing that leaf tank and I cannot make myself finish it. That's actually not like me. I have UFOs lying about, but most of them are projects that haven't worked out for some reason or another and I just haven't gotten around to frogging them. I usually want to finish things, or decide pretty early in a project not to continue it.

18. What do you see yourself knitting - if anything - twenty years from now?
Hopefully more and better sweaters.

19. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only ONE SKEIN of yarn, which yarn would it be and what would you do with it?
Maybe a nice big skein of merino fingering weight. You could do some interesting things with that. But whatever I made, I'd rip out so I could use the yarn again. So it would have to be a yarn that could hold up to frogging. I've actually thought about this while watching Lost. Many times I've asked myself, What on that island could I knit? Vines? Could I trade mangoes for sweaters I could take apart?

20. If you were allowed to own only one knitting-related book, which would it be? (you'd be free to browse others, but you couldn't keep them)
Easy. Montse Stanley's Knitting Handbook. Awesome.

21. Is knitting the new yoga? Why or why not?
Minty should answer this. I don't really think so. I think people say this because both activities are supposed to calm and center you. But for me, some of the excitement of knitting comes from problem solving and just the act of creating something. I don't think you get the same things out of yoga, but then again, I don't practice yoga.

EDIT: This last question added by Caroline:
22. What important thing are you trying to put off doing whenever you knit?

Housework. Always.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More on the Dishcloth Cotton Addiction

Project: Dave's Garterlac Dishcloth (detail of the FO)
Yarn: Sugar n' Cream Peppermint colorway (slightly less than one ball)
Needles: Knit Picks Options 24" circular, size 7 .
Finished Dimensions: About 8.5 inches high and 9 inches wide.
Thoughts: Excellent, excellent pattern. (Yay, Dave!) If you are in need of dishcloths, or just something fun to knit with all that cotton you have lying about, hightail it on over to Criminy Jickets and print out Dave's pattern.

Yarn was fine ... everyone keeps saying that the Sugar n' Cream colorways are so much better than Peaches n' Creme. This was the only one (other than white) I could find that didn't scream "Kountry Kitchen!" (Not that there's anything wrong with kountry kitchens, just not my preferred color scheme.) All these great colors ... not at my Wal-Mart, anyway.

The needles. Well, they've been blogged about ad nauseam. But put me in the camp that loves them to pieces. Nice and slick, and sharp, and I love that the cables have zero memory. I didn't notice the extra weight. Undoubtedly, had the nasty mother of the Prince Charming put me to the pea-under-the-many-mattresses test, I'd have failed miserably. Just not sensitive enough. All I can say is, there's one test you'd want to fail. Imagine that for a mother-in-law.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Addicted to Color

Today, since the heat wave appears to have moved on, I decided it was time to dye some of the Knit Picks merino dye-your-own I ordered as soon as it was in stock. I was so pleased with the results and had so much fun, I couldn't wait for it to dry to show you.

First, I wanted grown-up purple, not Barbie's car purple. (Better late than never for Project Spectrum!) I remembered what Chitta had told me about her experience with using plain grape -- it turned out maroonish. So, for this skein, I used 10 grape packets, 5 berry blue, and 3 black cherry. (Actually, some of this I used for a little test skein, but that's roughly the right proportions.) Before I added water to the dye bath, it looked almost black. But the result was exactly the deep, dark, semi-solid purple I was hoping to achieve. Huzzah!

What to name it? It reminds me a little of Lorna's Laces Black Purl and it does look like a black pearl. But it also reminds me of nighttime, and seduction, and for some reason, I've had Romantic poets on the brain lately. So maybe Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know?

Emboldened by this success, I thought, I can do two colors. What I really wanted -- and I think I saw on one of your blogs, maybe Jenn's -- was the colors of a pink grapefruit. Deep pink and brilliant yellow. But I didn't have enough lemonade flavor, so I wasn't totally satisfied with the result. Also, once I put the water in the bowl with the painted yarn, the pink sort of took over. How do you prevent the colors from running together? You have to add water, right?

So this is what I got, the colors appearing only very slightly darker in the picture. The yellow was made with two packets of lemonade and half a packet of orange. The pink is eight packets of pink lemonade. Having less dye bath for this, there are a few tiny white spots. I don't mind that at all -- it looks like the pith of the fruit! I must say that this smelled fabulous. In spite of the lack of cranberry, the colors and the smell made me think of a "Sex on the Beach." When I was (quite a lot) younger, I thought these and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers were the height of sophistication in a cocktail. Silly girl. But I'm thinking I should call this yarn not Pink Grapefruit, but rather Umbrella Drink.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Jumping on the (Conestoga?) Bandwagon

I am not embarrassed to admit that when it comes to knitting projects, I'm a follower. And, in this sweltering heat, I've apparently caught the Dishcloth Cotton Fever that's spreading through KnitBlogLand. I am pretty certain I got it first from Amy, but Dave definitely had something to do with it, too.

But, today, you get not one but two, two, two bandwagons for the price of one! Can you guess the other? Here's a hint...

Those Mason-Dixon gals have me log cabin knitting. It is wonderfully mindless, yet not boring. As Cara has written at length, it presents all sorts of creative opportunities within a dictated structure. You may think it is impossible to be truly creative within the strict confines of garter stitch strips. I would remind you of a poetic form which is very highly structured but nevertheless has been the starting point for some of the most gorgeous expressions of language in Western civilization: the sonnet. (And I haven't even mentioned the villanelle.) Kate of A Strikke wrote a very thoughtful post on Mason-Dixon Knitting, which you really should pop over and read, especially if you've been wondering what all the to-do is about.

So far I have finished one (approximately 14 inch) square and I have no set plans for it. I have started another, in the same colors but in a different order. When I get nine or so of these squares, I may sew them together into a baby blanket. We'll see. For now, it's just too damn hot to think while knitting, or hold wool for long. In a perfect world, I'd be sitting with my lime and lilac cotton and my Addi Turbos, in the shade, whilst been served very many gin and tonics. Sadly, not to be.