Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why knitting is like dating

I was sitting knitting at Maudslay State Park the other day while The Mister was flying his kite and I starting thinking about how knitting can be a little like dating. But in a good way (Personally I'd rather stick hot pins in my eyes than date, but that's just me. Your mileage may vary.) I mean, you walk into the yarn store, which is a little like a night club for knitters. Or maybe more like speed dating, depending on your shopping habits. All those potential mates hanging on the wall, just waiting. And then one catches your eye. Maybe it's that certain shade of teal, or the way the light hits the silk content and makes it glow. It's different every time, but something about that particular skein calls to you. You approach and see if the effect is the same up close. You take the yarn down and feel it's softness and rub it against your cheek. Hell, give it a good sniff - you might as well, you're already in too deep to back out. Eventually you decide which one(s) have possibility, and the two (or 3, or 7) of you leave together.

Now is my favorite part - hand winding into a center pull ball.

I know lots of people prefer to use a fast, mechanical ball winder, but this is the time when I can really get to know my yarn. I can feel it through my fingers, watch how the colors blend and change through the skein, see just how knotty it is (a quality, by the way, which I cherish in dates; in yarn, not so much. But I digress...). This is usually the time when the yarn lets me know what it wants to be. Sometimes sock yarn doesn't want to be socks. Maybe it wants to be a baby sweater, or a pretty little shawl. Sometimes yarn I've intended for years to be a sweater for myself decides that, no, it's true calling is to be a sweater for another. Cheeky little skeins! But the yarn almost always gets it's way, and more often than not, it knows better than I.

The actual knitting of the item is sort of the relationship part of the process. There are good moments and bad; days you want to throw the project across the room in frustration, and other days that all you want is to sit on the couch working on it all day long. Sometimes you'll knit monogamously for long periods, or you might be tempted by a little quickie side project, just to spice things up. It depends on your style. Personally I am more of a polyamorous knitter - I usually have several things on the needle at once, but they all get fairly equal time. ;-)

In the end, you may end up with a hot little number that you wear one summer and never again, or you may get a beloved sweater that you wear constantly until it finally falls apart.

Just like dating...


Happy Anniversay, Mister Tim. You're my comfy sweater.... of pure cashmere.

Knitting like a crazy person

First, the FOs:

Lori's Comfort Afghan Square

Lori is a fellow Raveler who is facing a tragedy that I have a hard time even comprehending. Her husband was killed recently in a car accident and she's left with three little ones. The story broke my heart, seeing as The Mister and I are coming up on our one year anniversary. I just can't imagine what she must be going through. So being knitters, a bunch of us got together and are knitting her a comfort blanket. I plied the third skein of yarn I ever spun and made her this square. It's superwash wool from Sereknity in the colorway Fields of Summer. I just did a simple double moss stitch, but I think it shows off the yarn very well. It reminds me of a waterfall and I hope she finds it soothing. Lord knows she could use some comfort...

Annie's Surprise Knit it Forward

Annie's surprise is finally finished after some minor drama with running out of yarn - twice! But the mods turned out well and I'm quite pleased with the result. It's two skeins of alpaca yarn from Clark Hill Farm that I purchased long ago when I first started knitting. I won't post the photo here, because it's just gone into the mail to her, but if you click HERE, you can see the photo on Flickr.

Trevor's Baby Surprise Jacket

This was SUCH A BLAST to knit! It's like a magic trick and it tickles me every time. It's done in Araucania Nature Wool in Multy with a border of Ella Rae in tan. No buttons yet, as I don't really believe in babies+buttons. Maybe toggles will work better. A quick tea dyeing this weekend and this puppy is done!

Now for the WIPs

The Mister's American in China Socks

These are going along really well. The pattern is so cool with this yarn, and he just loves them. I had to do the heel flap twice to get it right, but I finally read the instructions thoroughly (ha ha) and it came out great. I should be turning the heel this evening and I'm optimistic that I can have the first sock done over this weekend.

Evie's Sweater

My co-worker Amanda is terribly yarn- and knitter-friendly, so I offered to knit her a Baby Surprise sweater for her impending little one. I took her to the yarn store to get a better idea of what colors she wanted (she has synthesesia, so I wanted to be sure I got it right!) and while my back was turned she bought two skeins of Araucania in a really pretty Multy of peach, pink, spring green and light teal for me to knit the sweater out of! How cool is that? Of course I cast on immediately, but I won't bore you with photos of 4 rows of garter stitch!

With a little more conversation I eventually figured out exactly which colors in the skein were working for her and contacted Heather to order some superwash roving in just those shades. The Baby Surprise sweater will be for the shower, but I have another secret plan for a pretty ruffled jumper in peach with green trim made out of my own handspun. She's one of the few people I know who will really appreciate it.

Now for the yarn:

I have been unable to stop adding to the stash. If it's not a sale through a Ravelry advertiser, then it's more yarn swapping with fellow Ravelers. I swear that place is just a den of temptation! ;-) I think I'm on the short road to being a Yarn Hoarder. Open a drawer - yarn. Open a closet - yarn. Pretty much yarn everywhere you look. I confess it may actually be getting out of hand. Just today The Mister likened me to a crazy cat lady. But I know he meant it with love...

New swap yarn for baby things:

New Little Knits yarn for a felting test:

It's very subtle but there are long color changes of varying shades of blue and blue/green. I want to make a Lizard Ridge-type block out of it, then felt it and see if that would make a good winter baby quilt for Trevor. If it works, I'll go back for more.

New Little Knits yarn just because:

Sue the Yarn Temptress recently reviewed this yarn on her blog and I fell instantly in love. It's called Yummy and they are not kidding, it is completely delicious. I had to have a skein to try, so here it is. And it's everything she said it was. And more. Squishalicious!

Thanks Sue. Keep 'em coming. There's still room in the kitchen. ;-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's nice to have friends

Yesterday The Mister and I had a lovely Saturday together. We made it a whole "date day. " We decided to head out to the Plum Island Reservation. Neither one of us had ever been out there, so we went all the way down the 6 miles to the very end of the island. It's awesome! The weather was fantastic and, although there was quite a number of people out tootling around, it was relaxing and quiet. The raptors are doing their yearly migration about now, passing over Plum Island in the process, so there were alot of bird watchers around, eyes glued to their binoculars and tally boards in hand. Apparently last weekend something over 400 hawks of various species were spotted passing in one day! Imagine that!

We went into downtown Newburyport to think about an early dinner and ran into blogless Sarah and her family and chatted for a bit. She has the cutest little boys. And her husband is no slouch either! ;-) I love a man who can sew...

We also ran into our friend Hillary and her husband on their way back from delivering a wedding cake. Hillary did our wedding cake for us last year and I can tell you that she is fantastic!

And then there was that strange moment of knitting stardom...

While the four of us were chatting on the sidewalk, a trio of very nice young ladies popped in and asked "excuse us, but did you knit that sweater?" Why...yes, I did! "Is that a Rogue?" Why, yes! Yes it is!

There commenced much happy conversation and greetings as the knitting sisterhood went public. It's so funny to run into other knitters in a crowd of muggles. The muggles always look a bit confused, and then mostly amused. You just never know when one of your otherwise "normal" friends could turn out to have the knitting skeleton in their closet. ;-)

The best part of the story - without even thinking about it, we introduced ourselves by our Ravelry names! ha! It wasn't until later that evening, when I got home and logged onto Ravelry, that I got her given name! So hello to wineNwool and I hope to run into you again soon! If you have any trouble with your Rogue, give a holler. I have a couple of good tips passed down to me from Julia. ;-)

Once on our way again we decided to stop in and have an early dinner at our friend Denise's restaurant Aquatini. We had been given a gift certificate for a wedding gift almost a year ago, and figured that it was now or never! The dinner was amazing, as always, and Holly's service just can't be beat. We had so much fun that we asked Denise if Chef Alex would like to make us a special First Anniversary dinner... and he said YES! I'm so excited! We had just a couple of little special requests, which he was happy to oblige, but the bulk of the menu is totally up to him. That's going to be the best part - the surprise! I hope Chef Alex has as much fun planning and creating our special dinner as I know we're going to have enjoying it!

Today started out with casting on for the American in China socks for The Mister. Five times. I'd never used Judy's Magic Cast On before, so that accounted for a couple of the false starts. But the main problem was the pattern. My toe just did not look like the toe in the pictures. I kept trying... still not right. I went onto Ravely looking for errata, and found one, but it was for much further up the foot than I was getting. Check other people's projects. Nothing. In desperation I went back to Knitty's site and...

...there were alterations to the pattern listed in red. Right where I suspected they might be. :-(

I cursed the site good and proper for sneaking those errata in after I'd printed out my copy, and never mentioning them anywhere. Darn you, Knitty! *shakes fist* Darn yoooou!!

But I got over it, annotated my copy, and carried on. In the end, I think I have beat it into submission.

The pattern is for a man's foot with a 8.5" circumference. The Mister, being a tall guy, has bigger feet than that, so some adjustments had to be made in writing on the pattern and on the fly with the linen stitch repeats to accommodate his 9.5" feet. I've tried them on him as best I can with the needles in and I think it will be alright. He also has a very high instep, so I think it will all work out if it seems a tiny bit large now. But the main thing is this yarn. It looks so cool in the pattern. It's Spunky Eclectic Beefy Sock in Good Morning. It looks so great, it deserves a closeup.

Everyone together now - Oooo! Aaaaah!

These are going to be soooo cool...

Friday, April 18, 2008

EZ, how I love thee!

I have been totally obsessed with the Baby Surprise jacket. I can't put it down. I think about it at work. I dream about it at night. It's this fascinating puzzle. You follow the directions, with the uneasy feeling that somehow you must be going astray because this... this... thing could never become a sweater. No way. Not possible.

And then...

Huh. Ole' EZ does apparently know precisely what she is doing.

You'll notice that the needles are still involved. Well I had been concerned right along that I may not actually have enough yarn to finish and, lo and behold, I was correct. I am literally about 6 yards away from having enough yarn. *sigh* Thank the Yarn God(desse)s for Ravelry - I have contacted two people there who have knit with the same colorway and I'm optimistic that someone has a scrap of leftovers I can beg.

Even in it's incomplete state it's a pretty impressive magic trick. I tried it on The Mister first thing this morning and he was totally enchanted as that messy blob of something magically becomes a seriously cute little baby sweater.

Probably helped that it's for his first grandchild. ;-)

The other thing that's been obsessing me is swapping yarn on Ravelry. It's addicting. It's enabling. I love it.

I've gotten rid of some lovely yarns that I just simply would never used, and they've beeen magically replaced, with no outlay of cash mind you, with equally lovely yarn that has a future as a baby sweater, or a summer top, or a sweater... all sorts of things! I have an outstanding swap now that clears my stash of random skeins of Shine and replaces it with enough Filatura Di Crosa Baby to make another baby sweater. Pure magic!

Speaking of which, spring has apparently decided to arrive today and there is a fire in the backyard that I'm late for. So get off the computer and go take a walk. It's gorgeous out there!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Who am I?

This is PumpkinMama's fault, but it's interesting!

You Are An INFJ

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.

Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.

You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.

You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.

In love, you truly see relationships as an opportunity to connect and grow.

You enjoy relationships as long as they are improving and changing. You can't stand stagnation.

At work, you stay motivated and happy... as long as you are working toward a dream you support.

You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

How you see yourself: Hardworking, ethical, and helpful

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Manipulative, weak, and unstable

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bits n' Bobs

First, an FO

Last weekend I reported seaming my Rogue and by Sunday afternoon it was finished. There was some minor drama involving me, a scissors, and a seam I was unhappy with, but a frantic call to Julia and by Monday all was again right with the world. I won't go into the gory details - let me just say this: Steam first. Rip Second.

Anyways, drama and all, here are the final results:

  • Pattern: Rogue by The Girl from Auntie
  • Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino in Evergreen Mix
  • Modifications: I didn't get gauge so I knit a smaller size than I needed, but other than that I don't think I did a thing.
  • New skills/tricks learned: hemming, joining the pocket, three needle bind off, steam blocking
As I mentioned before, this yarn is fabulous. I've worn the sweater several times now with naught beneath and it is soft and comfy with not a bit of "skritch". Love it.

Now, Some Other Knitting

Since finishing the one big project in the works (Lizard Ridge doesn't count. It's apparently immortal) I've had terrible knitting ADD. I'm still working on Annie's gift, but I've been itching to start a summer piece for myself, so I did. The Racer Back Tank from Joan McGowan Michaels' Knitting Lingerie Style. I chose to use Knit Picks Shine Worsted and give it a fun stripe pattern, since I really wanted something colorful and "Key West-ian". The Mister and I got into the design programs and started playing with numbers to get a good Fibonacci pattern going. We finally settled on one and I cast on. Twice. Note to self - Shine bears absolutely no resemblance to the cotton/elastic yarn suggested in the pattern. It stretches. ALOT. And it has very little "sproing". I got this far once

I got a few more rows in (okay, about a dozen) before realizing that what I was knitting was going to be at least 40" wide. Not so good. So I tried again knitting the smallest size... and forgot to switch from US6 to US7 after the first four rows. So it now looks like this:

And it's staying right there until it decides to behave itself!

So I cast on for the Baby Surprise Jacket I wanted to make for my soon-to-be-grandbaby, Trevor. I was poking around on Ravelry and saw some really nice results with Araucania Nature Wool Multy, of which I had a skein way in the bottom of the stash.

It's sort of forest and maroon and brown, so I think it will work well for a baby boy. I cast on last night but I'm only a few rows in, so I won't bore you with that nonsense. I'll get a photo up next week when I've got something to show for my efforts. It's a pretty color, tho. And it's not blue. The proud mom will be drowning in blue outfits, I've no doubt, so I hope this will be a welcome departure.

And Lastly, Spinning!

I also got back into the swing of spinning and made some good progress plying a few skeins of the Apple Butter.

I think I finally know what this wants to be, but since the recipient reads this blog, I'll just have to leave it at that for now. ;-) But isn't it pretty! It's coming out really well, at about a light sport weight, but it is much more "sheepy" than I had anticipated. The lanolin content is quite high, which causes it to stick to itself on the bobbins, making plying an... adventure. I'm anxious to get some nice warm, dry weather so I can give these a good warm soak and lay them outside to dry. This probably represents about half of the yarn I can expect to get out of this roving. Surely enough for my plans...

heh heh