Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas insanity

Yes, I am insane. I decided this last night when, after spending much of the weekend baking and making fudge (as well as doing last-minute shopping and going to a Christmas party), I cast on for a hat. And this isn't just any hat. It's a Christmas-present-that-has-to-be-finished-in-4-days hat (that the recipient is not expecting). Oh, and did I mention that I still have 3 pairs of slippers to felt? And a scarf to finish? And that a NYC transit strike is looming, when we're flying to Tennessee Friday morning?

I almost had a breakdown last night thinking of it all. Then I scrapped the last batch of cookies, had husband run out and buy some Hershey's Kisses for filling up the gift boxes, and got over it. Sometimes the German martyr syndrome comes out a bit too much. It's also known as the "Martha has nothing on me but free time and lots of helpers" syndrome. I did inherit this from my mother and grandmother. I also suspect my great-grandmother was the same way, but it's a whole new ballgame when the women start working outside the home. You're expected to do all these wonderful homemaker-type things IN ADDITION TO holding down a regular job. And I don't even have children yet.

On a brighter note, I finished the first sleeve of the Charlie Brown sweater. I bought the pattern here, although I almost wish I'd charted it out myself. I like the blanket pattern, though. The sweater calls for duplicate stitch, but I think I may do intarsia, because I'm not sure I have enough yarn otherwise. I'm using Blue Sky Cotton, which is just lovely. I'm afraid of the pilling, but it's a newborn sweater, washable and soft, so it will be okay.

My plan was to take photos of all the Christmas knitting, but I'm not sure that will happen. Maybe I can take photos of the recipients trying to look pleased that they received a hat/slippers/a scarf instead of a normal gift.

Even though I've enjoyed the Christmas knitting, it will be nice to get going on new and interesting projects. Next up: gloves from Handknit Holidays for me and Saranac for husband.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Well, Christmas knitting is all but finished. No, I haven't done the holiday cards yet; I think I'm going to send out cards to a much abbreviated list of 10-15 recipients. If I'm not going to do a good job at it, I might as well not do it at all. I'm planning the cookies and fudge for co-workers--I like to do something, but nothing that makes them feel obligated. The baking will be next weekend, I think. Shopping is almost finished, but there are always the odds and ends to be purchased.

I actually enjoyed knitting most Christmas gifts this year (except the third pair of felted clogs that my husband decided his father had to have about a week ago and which are still in progress). It was nice having a goal and recipient in mind, rather than my usual "I want to try [insert new technique]" knitting. I did learn fair isle while knitting Christmas gifts, and I improved my lace knitting (and tinking back several rows, but let's not start on that). I also improved my intarsia technique, which I'll need for the baby sweater that's up next (a Charlie Brown sweater, complete with zigzag).

I finished the lace wrap Saturday and blocked it Saturday night. There are one or two mistakes where I apparently decided to skip two rows in the pattern, but it's one of those mistakes that only I will notice, really. I'll have a hard time giving this away, though. Lace is like that, I've learned.

Work has apparently slowed down, and I'm not going to work hard to get new assignments, since it's almost Christmas and I may apply for a new job soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Knitting

I've been working away steadily at finishing the Christmas knitting. Only the lace shawl for my mom is concerning me--in part because I foolishly took it to a group knitting event and attempted to work on it. If you've ever done it, you know what happened (what always happens when lace and lack of concentration combine). I fucked up. My stitch count is off. And I think it's bad enough that I need to try running an after-the-fact lifeline a few rows down, then rip it out. I can't look at it for a day or two more, so I'm going to start on Saturday and finish this thing this weekend, I hope.

Meanwhile, I've been using some gifts to practice fair isle. I made one hat for my dad with a simple motif, but it was terrible. So I tried again, making a small bag from Handknit Holidays, then a second hat for dad. Both turned out very well, and my technique is getting much better. It's still not good enough for a complicated fair isle, but it's getting there. I'm holding both yarns in my right hand, because I have serious issues trying to hold the yarn in my left. My thought is, why do something that's uncomfortable, when you can master a technique that builds on skills you already have?

The technique I'm using is described in Sally Melville's third book. Definitely a helpful resource for a colorwork beginner. Next up is, hopefully, a book of fair isle motifs.

Over Christmas, I plan to work on a baby sweater and some gloves for me, I think. Then it's on to a sweater for my husband and a lace shawl for me.

The new Knitty is a mixed bag for me. I think Bamboozelle is a nice use of bamboo yarn. Hemp might also be an interesting choice for this design. I also really like Bristow, something that I plan to knit in the not-too-distant future. It's a classic design that is a cut above many of the sweaters in Knitty, I think. There are several others I am fairly indifferent to, though I've seen Tubey in person, and it's an interesting design that I could see myself knitting--without stripes.

On the other hand, there's this. Can anyone tell me why this was published? I'm tired of the overuse of bobbles, and did the designer actually knit a gauge swatch, or is this a project gone awry? I'm sure it's fashionable, but I would never waste yarn on it. A little less enormous, with the addition of a front and back and the deletion of the bobbles, this might be an okay bed jacket type garment, but its current form is just terrible.

I'm still waiting for Interweave and, hopefully, Spin Off, but I'm not holding my breath. I wasn't impressed with the Interweave preview, but I hope it looks better once I get the magazine.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas knitting is almost finished. I started out with what I believed was a long list of items to complete, but either I'm knitting more quickly, or I've just been neglecting all sorts of things to knit. The latter is more likely.

It's gone so quickly that I've added a few more things to the list, quick knitted gifts for people who might not appreciate it as much. I still anticipate a push to get it all finished at the end, but we'll see. I'm most dreading the lace stole for my mom. It's not that it's terribly difficult, but I can only work at it for an hour or two at a time. I did get some great knitting in during Monday Night Football, because both my husband and I were tense that the Colts were playing a big game.

The lace is a 20-row repeat from Barbara Walker's first stitch collection. I've adopted the note cards method for this one, since I was both (a) too lazy to chart it out and (b) of the belief that a stole with no shaping really didn't need a chart. I wrote two rows on each note card, then punched a hole in the top left corner and joined them together with a binder ring. It's worked surprisingly well, and I'll probably use it on similar projects in the future.

Tomorrow, it's off to Karen's for a holiday knitting party!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I received the third package from my Knitty Secret Pal 5 yesterday! I have no idea who she is, but she really knows what I like!

The package in all its glory

2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss SoHo! The only question is what I'm going to do with this gorgeous yarn???

A pair of Lantern Moon ebony needles. My secret pal introduced these to me in the last package, and I love them! I'm waiting anxiously until they make circulars.

These photos really need no explanation, do they? She sent extra chocolate (really, tons!), because my husband rudely ate all the Cadbury chocolate (the real kind, not the stuff made by Hershey masquerading as Cadbury).

Three--count 'em--three Debbie Bliss pattern books! I can't wait to get started on some of the patterns in here! Now I just need more time and some adorable babies to knit for.

Thank you, Secret Pal, whoever you are! I'm looking forward to finding out who you are, so I can thank you properly! You have been so generous and kind, sending me so many beautiful things!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Knitting and the Age Divide

I was reading The Knitting Curmudgeon's blog the other day, and she brought up an interesting point--maybe there's no real "age divide" between knitters. Maybe it's divided by interest or style instead. I think she's onto something.

This is a topic I'd been thinking about a week or so before Marilyn's post. I went to an NYC knitting store to knit with Karen. Sitting at the window were the regular Friday night knitters, all working on something from the latest Vogue Knitting. There were a few other people who seemed to have their own group going on, all knitting the latest trendy sweater or accessory. One even had the yarn to make that monstrosity on the cover of the latest VK. (If you like this design, we need to talk. Seriously.)

The point is, this is one of the two types of knitters you'll find in NYC. The trendy, hip knitters who are always making something that costs a fortune to make and will be out of fashion by next year.

The other type is essentially the same thing, but older. These are the people who have knitted the same garments since 1980 and never really venture into newer styles.

I always wonder where the "other" people are--those who are fairly adventurous in their knitting and like to hone their craft, but are also interested in adding new techniques and styles to their repertoire, so to speak. You find one or two at knitting groups, but too often it's the same people making the same set of legwarmers/shrug/fingerless mittens as everyone else. (Not to say that I have never made any of those, but still.)

In other news, I just found out on Sunday that one of my closest friends at work is probably leaving. This (along with various other issues that have cropped up in the last few months) has made me begin to think about going elsewhere, though it's nothing more than a thought at this point.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Two new books!

I received two knitting books from Amazon last week, and I digested them a bit over the weekend.

Handknit Holidays, by Melanie Falick
What a beautifully photographed book! This is one of those rare knitting books that is so well laid out that the designs look even better than they are. There are a few misses, such as the cover design and the poncho and matching dog sweater, but there are several projects of varying degrees of difficulty that I can see myself making. I've already bought the yarn for the vintage gloves (without the beading) and the gansey sweater, the first sweater I will knit for my husband. There are some very special designs in here, like Annie Modesitt's lace tablecloth and Teva Durham's aran tree skirt. Several of the designs are holiday-neutral, but there are a number of Christmas designs.

The Knitting Experience, Book 3: Color, by Sally Melville
Let me get this out of the way first: most of the designs in here are either not my style or just plain fugly. I doubt I will make more than one or two, if that. Don't let that turn you off, however. This book is easily worth its cover price. Melville is a great teacher and includes instruction for every kind of knitting using color that you can think of--intarsia, stranded (fair isle, though she steers clear of that term), knitting with handpainted yarns, and slip-stitch designs. What I like best, I think, is that she shows a number of methods for accomplishing the same goal. For example, she shows three different ways of holding the yarn for fair isle knitting--both in left hand, both in right hand, one in each hand. She also gives instructions for holding one strand around the neck. It seems that, too often, an author chooses one way of knitting as "correct," when we all know that there are as many ways to knit as there are knitters.

In other knitting news, I'm cranking away at the holiday list. Still working on a couple of items, but I did get a pair of felted clogs knitted up and ready to go. I think the lace scarf for my mother is going to be the project that comes down to the wire.

After more than a week, I haven't heard from the friend whose daughter received the lovely Samantha sweater. I'm not really sure how to take this; I even emailed to confirm that she received the package. Still nothing. I'm debating calling, but I don't want to sound desperate for gratitude. She used to be a fantastic person, but now I'm not so sure what's going on. At this point, it almost needs to be something serious (though I obviously don't want anything bad to happen to her or her family). It's strange that this bothers me much more than not getting a thank you for the throw I knitted for my cousin's wedding. If there's one time in your life you should send a thank you note, it's for your wedding. Oh, well, I'll stick to the registry from now on and only buy or knit for friends' kids when I know they'll at least acknowledge the thought.

I nearly forgot to add that my parents picked up the spinning wheel! The Schacht is sitting where the tree will be when it's put up around the first week of December. Mom's putting a big bow on it, and I'm going to get cranking while everyone else is opening their far inferior gifts. The store was closing out their fiber, too, so I got some nice tops for good prices. One is a mohair blend, and the other is a Corriedale, I think. I really wish I could have been there to see my dad in a yarn store!

Friday, October 21, 2005

A spinning wheel!

Yes, my fiber obsessions will continue! Although I'm still producing something akin to a really bad novelty yarn on the drop spindles, I'm getting a spinning wheel for Christmas. And not just any spinning wheel--a Schacht Matchless Double Treadle! I am getting a fantastic deal on this wheel from a yarn store owner and spinner who is, sadly, closing out her wheel inventory. I was wavering a bit between this and an Ashford Traditional (double drive, double treadle), but I was convinced by a number of people that the Schacht was the way to go, even though it was $300 more. My Schacht will be missing a lazy kate, but I can buy that easily.

I visited The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn last night and met the lovely owner, Linda, who was kind enough to let me try out a Schacht and a Kromski Prelude. The Prelude's single treadle drove me nuts (or maybe it was because it was the first wheel I've ever actually tried), but the Schacht was lovely. If you are ever in the Williamsburg neighborhood, you must visit The Yarn Tree. It is a lovely shop, with more Koigu than you can handle! It also happens to be the only store in New York City that carries fiber and wheels. Go figure--dozens of yarn stores and no fiber!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I was lucky enough to hitch a ride to Rhinebeck with Karen and her mom on Saturday. If you've never been to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, you have no idea how many fiber-crazed people there are out there. (And I'm told the one in Maryland is even bigger!)

This is the kind of place that fuels your wildest fantasies of making that Dale fair isle madness out of your own handspun yarn sheared and processed from your own flock of sheep. After an hour, I was ready to quit my job, buy some sheep and alpacas (with a few cashmere goats and angora bunnies thrown in), and start my own fiber farm. It poses a bit of a problem because we live in an apartment with no yard, but the urge is still there.

I was extremely lucky to get out of there without having put down hard cash on a wheel. Wait, let me rephrase: my husband was extremely lucky I left without putting a downpayment on a wheel. Seriously. I bought a beautiful drop spindle from Grafton Fibers, which is fueling the fire until I get a wheel.

I also bought 2 skeins of yarn from Brooks Farm, which is much more beautiful in person than on their website. The colors, the sheen, the drape--all of it works on this yarn. I also bought 1000 yards of kid mohair from Mohair in Motion, a steal at $32. This is destined to be either Lily Chin's Reversible Rib Shawl (see Laura's pink confection here) or an Orenberg-type lace shawl. I'm open to suggestions. I also bought a skein of Blue Heron Socks that Rock in the Sedona colorway. About 1/3 of the skein has become a pair of baby booties that perfectly match a sweater I bought for the baby. (Yes, I know I should be ashamed, but the mother and I aren't that close--booties suffice.)

I also purchased something for my Knitty Secret Pal, the Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls book from Interweave, and blocking wires.

Quite a haul, huh?

Oh, and I got to meet the lovely Franklin and Joe, the latter as he was spinning on his very own Robin wheel for the first time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Ah, okay, so this blogging thing isn't working out so well. It's like when I was in high school and applying for a scholarship from a Lutheran organization that told me I hadn't represented myself well on paper. I'm not very good at self-promotion, even 8 years later!

I have still more photos of finished objects to post, but we'll get to that later. I also need to photograph and post a picture of my FANTASTIC Knitty Secret Pal 5 package. I have received 2 so far, and I really have an amazingly generous SP. I will post pics soon, promise.

In knitting news, I've been hit with a barrage of works in progress. First, there's Ruffles, from Scarf Style, which has been in my knitting basket since June, I think. Then there's a sock for my husband, the Lily Chin reversible rib shawl, a lace scarf for my mother, and an adorable little baby hat for a friend's daughter. Oh, and I started Cinxia, from the current Knitty. I'm hoping to finish in time to wear to Rhinebeck! Yes, you read that correctly--I'm going to Rhinebeck!

Oh, the Samantha sweater is finished, except for sewing on the buttons. I only have white thread, which is okay, but I'm having mixed feelings about it.

This Sunday is the Knitty cruise in NYC, where I'm going to go hang out with Maryann and Karen, along with many other Knitty and non-Knitty people. I'm bringing Cinxia to work on, unless I get enough finished that it's too big. Then it will be Ruffles.

Sometime I will post links, but not now!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A parade of finished objects!

Here are various things I've finished since February. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Moving is hell. I had moved once in my life before I was 18, and I don't remember much about that one. Since then, I moved to and from college each year, one year to and from Germany, then to Vermont, then to another apartment in Vermont, then to Brooklyn, and now to a new apartment in Brooklyn. Each time, I amass more stuff--I'm a packrat; it's in my genes. I've tried downsizing over the years, but sometimes I think it's more trouble than it's worth. I almost had a breakdown yesterday, though, with the giant piles of clothes to be sorted and put away. I told my husband I definitely have too many clothes (and shoes). I even got rid of a few. But not nearly enough. Someday, my the closet and I are going to have a reckoning, and it's not going to be pretty.

No knitting news. I'm still on the second sleeve of Samantha and should finish it this week. I'm hoping it's received better than the first cardigan I made for her. If it isn't, I am making a solemn vow not to knit more until the baby can appreciate them. No matter how much I love knitting for little girls! Really. Cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die.

In other news: I have my new Knitty Secret Pal! I am shopping this weekend, if I can escape the unpacking!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A blog!

After much hemming and hawing over it (and a failed attempt or two), I finally decided to create this. You see, I've been blog-stalking several knit-bloggers lately, and it just seemed like I should at least have something for them to comment on/ridicule. It's not like I need another time-waster, but there you go.

I've finally decided to participate in one of the Secret Pal exchanges on the Knitty Boards. So to my yet-unknown Secret Pal, a little info about me by way of the SP5 blog.

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

It's pretty much all the same to me. I prefer natural fibers, but acrylics really have their place, especially in blends. I tend to use a lot of mid-range stuff, like Cascade and Brown Sheep, but I love it all!

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

I just bought a drop spindle and fiber at this lovely little shop (Knit n Purl) in Knoxville, TN, but I haven't learned! If I like it, though, I'm definitely going to do more of it.
Crocheting and I have a love-hate relationship; it's really handy, but I don't get it. The yarn does NOT want to be in my left hand. (Sometimes I think my left hand belongs to another person, for all the use it actually gives me.)

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)

I'm allergic to cats, much to my husband's dismay, and excessive perfume or smoke will really get to me.

4. How long have you been knitting?

Well, I taught myself when I was a teenager. I asked my mother to teach me, and her response was to shove a book, some needles, and some yarn in my face. She's a left-handed crocheter. *sigh* But I've been a "hard core" knitter since January.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?


6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

I would say vanilla, probably. Or mulled wine/cider. Or something more herbal, like rosemary.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?

Yes, much to my waistline's dismay.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?


9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like a bit of everything. My computer plays MP3s, and I have an iPod.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer?

I love fall colors.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married, no kids, no pets.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)

To knit all my stash, so my husband doesn't kill me (and I can buy MORE).

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

I like just about everything, really, and always want to try new things. A few I like are Lamb's Pride, any silk/merino blends, and Knitpicks Shine. And I'm getting into handpainted yarns, although my budget isn't liking it!

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I don't like the "squeaky" acrylics (like the normal Red Heart), but that's about all.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Lace and cables

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I haven't really decided yet.

17. What are you knitting right now?

Samantha by Kate Gilbert
My So-Called Scarf
The Spiral/Ruffles Scarf from Scarf Style (which drives me nuts! Am I alone in this?)
Basic 2x2 rib socks for husband

18. What do you think about ponchos?

While I like some, they're generally overdone. And they make me look pregnant.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?


20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I own all three and use each for different things, but I use my Denises most.

21. Are you a sock knitter?


22. How did you learn to knit?

See above--book, needles, and yarn shoved into hands. The book turned out to be the Mon Tricot stitch dictionary, though, which I stole on my last visit home.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

I think I started it in March. It's Angelina by White Lies Designs. The 2x2 rib killed me. Maybe I'll finish it this fall.....

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

I don't really have one.

25. What is your favorite holiday?

I love them all, but my top 3 are Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Not really, but I'm a pack rat, so I guess I collect LOTS of stuff. :-)

27. Any projects you want to make but haven't gotten there yet?

I want to make a jacket like the one in the Fall 05 Vogue by Debbie Bliss. It's also similar to the
new ChicKnits design.
I want to make Baby Bobbi Bear for a friend's daughter.
Husband wants me to make Saranac for him.
I want to make more lace for me.