Thursday, December 28, 2006


Knitting has been accomplished in little bites - between cleaning, cooking, present-buying and the usual holiday stuff. I didn't knit any gifts this year, but I think I will for next year. Starting very, very early. Not January 1 early, but probably sometime in the first quarter of oh-seven.

Most of the progress has been made on the EPS sweater (body still chugging along, one sleeve nearly done, the second sleeve started) and the mock cable socks. People love to talk about how quickly they get through a pair of socks. Maybe I am a slow knitter, but they seem to take me a long time. I am creeping up on the toe of the first sock, and I have been at this for a while now. It is fine, though. I love socks, even if they take me longer than just about anything else.

I am in denial about the Noni bag. This one should have been superfast, but I can't knit at anything that uses multiple strands and big needles for very long. This is definitely one of those projects that is all about the finished product. Anyway, the denial is that I am nearly done with the body, but I am sure I will run out of yarn at some point soon - perhaps even before I start decreasing for the bottom. Apparently, the denial is some adaptive trait to keep me out of my LYS, which is silly. Just because I dropped $150 on Jade Sapphire Cashmere-Silk the last time I was there doesn't mean I should stay away does it? Everyone knows laceweight doesn't count as stash because it is so little.

I need to pick up the Floral Gathering Sac again - another one that is sort of about the finished product, although I am not hating intarsia... not my favorite thing because of the multiple pieces of yarn.... but not evil and horrid either. It needs to get done, though; I started it in August after all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Les Grenouilles

Trans: the frogs.

We have frogs hopping about our place and justly, if reluctantly, undoing knitting. I frogged the Cherry Blossom Shawl. It needed to happen. I made a couple of little mistakes that probably wouldn't have been noticeable, and then a couple of biggies right in a row - not really fixable after you've done a few rounds in mohair, know what I'm sayin'?

I am going to give it another go in the same yarn - but after I have finished up a few other WIPs and I can really focus on it.

I am slowly working on the North Sea Shawl from the Folk Shawls book. Doing the ends in my Schaefer Andrea (Renata Tebaldi colorway) and the center panel in a coordinating shade of Artfibers' Tsuki. I think it is going to look great. Both yarns, the Schaefer especially, are a little spendy, so I am going to work it until I run out - make the most of them.

In a more fun and happy vein, I have had a lovely time putting together a gift for the exchange we're doing on the Knitter's Review forum. The items in my package have added up to a lovely theme that I think my giftee will like. Good times.

Signing off for now - I doubt much blogging will happen until after the first of the year.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mojito Night at Casa Dickinson

So much going on, none of it knitting-related or suitable for retelling on the blog. Suffice it to say that I made mojitos last night and we sacked out in front of the TV until bedtime.

I finally broke down and bought a swift. My previous ball-winding system involved just the winder, a chair, and lots of cursing. Substituting the swift for the chair reduced, but did not entirely eliminate, the cursing. So, even that yarn-related activity was a touch stressful, since I decided to wind every hank in my stash in one go. I didn't make it all the way through.

I am a touch knitted-out these days, but I am sure I will get back into the swing of things soon. We were house-bound last weekend, so much, much knitting was accomplished. It was probably time for a break, so I can continue my projects with renewed enthusiasm.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Wow Moment

I realized I had forgotten to sew my "knitted by hand" label on the inside of my poncho. I did that, and then tried on again - the first try on after blocking. I ran to the mirror, where I had my Wow Moment. The poncho looked so cute, surely because it had been blocked, and probably because it was over a closer-fitting, smooth top (I had a thick, long sleeve tee on for the first, pre-blocking, try on).

I was so delighted with the poncho that I packed it for the office this morning, figuring I would be cold at my desk (I often am, plus I feel a cold coming on, and I am wearing a top I always feel cold in). Let me tell you, I am still delighted, and I am warm.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sometimes, Knitting is Hard

Not just from a technical standpoint, either. Sometimes, it is a grind. It was a mixed bag for knitting this weekend. Let's start with the good stuff:

1. The shawl had a night out on Saturday. She went to a play at Stanford, and took DH and I along for the ride. Alas, the theater was too warm for it, but she draped over me elegantly anyway. It was freezing outside, though, so she obligingly made a big, cozy scarf around my neck and over my coat for the walk to the car.

2. I finished the Very Harlot Poncho. I am pretty happy with it. I didn't really have a "wow" moment, like I did with the shawl, but I do like it, and I think it will be nice to have for those cold days in the office.

3. I made a beautiful swatch for Eunny's Print O' the Wave Stole. It is the most wonderful swatch I have ever seen.

4. I put in a few rows on the Floral Gathering Sac, EPS Sweater, and the Noni Garden Party bag.

The bad:

I frogged the scarf I am making for my mom. I lost my place on a row (which annoyed me, because it is a pretty simple pattern), and in trying to count to where I was supposed to be, I discovered an error. I also wasn't happy with how the edges were looking. The pattern says to slip the first stitch on every RS row. This side looked great, but the other side looked uneven and I couldn't stand it.

I overreacted - all I needed to do was frog back a row or two, but instead, I frogged back to the garter edging. It is just as well, I suppose. Now, I can slip the first stitch on the WS rows and both sides will look nice.

And the ugly:

I decided to wind up some KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud for the Print O' the Wave. It didn't go well. It went all tangly toward the end and I couldn't fix it. Most of the ball wound up just fine. But I lost maybe 3 yards in the tangle.

I wish I could say it as pithily as DH did - but after I summed up the weekend as "a complete waste of perfectly good knitting time," he said something like, our failures make our triumphs even sweeter. And he is right - it was just what I needed to hear, and I have a bunch of things on the needles that I really enjoy. It will be a wonderful moment to see each of them finished, too.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ohh, ohhh, it's magic!*

I finished the garter lace shawl yesterday. I am thrilled of course, but before I go into detail, I have two observations:

1. Yep, blocking lace is magic, as often said by lace-knitting aficionados.

2. It is also a massive pain in the ass, which is occasionally hinted at by lace-knitting aficionados, but is seldom said plainly. You heard it here first.

Let's rewind a bit. I had started an edging (Little Bit O' Lace from an obscure book of otherwise undistinguished patterns called 101 Knitting on the Go Projects**) what seems like ages ago. I knitted and knitted and knitted on it and made... some progress. I was about 3/4 of the way down one side, having, the whole time, worried that I had too many picked up stitches and the thing was going to be all wavy (I was winging the edging - as written, the shawl was not edged).

Unwilling to face the music, I picked the shawl up reluctantly here and there, knowing the edging would be all wrong, knitted a few desultory rows, and put it down again, in favor of my lovely, welcoming and non-judgmental poncho, or one of many small, quickly-finished projects.

Sunday, I cut bait. Sunday, I frogged the edging. I did a little subtle crochet around the edges and blocked it. After much fussing, pushing, shoving and, yes, swearing, it is now pinned out on my favorite beach towel, and two more towels, because the shawl is now quite large. Eminently wearable, but large. After gazing at it for a while, I realized, not only was frogging the edging a good decision in general, a big shawl like this one only needed a little something on the edges, not a major edging. Upon blocking, I am now sure that "Little Bit O' Lace" would have turned into "Ginormous Swingy Curtain of Lace."

I plan to knit lots more lace, this time with borders and edgings, all properly picked up. I will probably continue to swear during the blocking phase, but I can't deny that it is magic.


* You know? I hate that song. But it seemed an apt title.

**I am actually planning to do the Golden Ferns Counterpane at some point, but in a less startling color, such as sagey green. The model is in an insane yellow shade.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Knitting at Tiffany's

Another one from the I Wish I had a Camera Phone files. Note to self: maybe I really should get a camera phone.

I was coming back to the office from my dentist, at 490 Post. As is my wont, even if I take the bus to the appointment, I always walk back via Post Street so I can look in the windows at Sak's and Tiffany. This also reminded me that it is nearly time to take my rings in to Tiffany for their cleaning.

Just as I thunk that last thought, I noticed that the pieces in Tiffany's windows were displayed on balls of yarn and knitting needles!! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to go in and say how thrilled I am, but I will make a point of doing so when I take my rings in this week.

Maybe they are coming out with a knitting-related keyring.... Eeeep!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Onward and, uhm, aroundward

I love knitting in the round. Love it love it.

I started SBT2 last night and it is going swimmingly. Without giving too much away, let's just say that this will be good practice with a system that will generate a larger item of the same type using some yarn I recently bought. How is that for vague? Maybe I am too anal about the secrecy thing.

Anyway. Apparenly, I wasn't anal enough about my size 5 dpns, because I can't find the things anywhere. I might have to buy another set.

In other circular news, I finished a watch cap for my brother, to celebrate his move to Arizona, a new job, and starting school this month. I started it on Friday, finished it Sunday, and mailed it off to him today. It was a fun, easy knit, and something I'd been meaning to make for him for ages.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Famous Quote

"Honey, can we swing by Creative Hands on our way home? I just need a needle for a project I am thinking about."

-Me (and possibly knitters everywhere).

I got the needle. I also got 7 hanks of Lorna's Laces "Shepherd Worsted" for an EPS sweater, Kookabura Wool Wash (which, actually I don't count. Everyone needs laundry soap, right?), and the pattern and yarn for the Noni "Garden Party" handbag (green and blue version).

It must have been the delicious feeling of finishing two projects in quick succession: Secret Baby Thing ("SBT") 1, and a watch cap for my brother in Cascade 220 (black, of course. Pattern is the one from The Joy of Knitting). I also did several rounds of the poncho, and a couple rows on the edging of the garter lace shawl. That one, my friends, is slow going.

Having some gauge issues on SBT 2. I had chosen the yarn first, to coordinate with SBT 1 (same maker and fibers, similar colors, different weight), thinking that a pattern I had would make a great SBT 2. It didn't. I couldn't get gauge no matter what I did. I tried some other patterns, and had similar results. The only way I could get it even nearly right was to use needles so tiny that the fabric could have been used for a bullet-proof vest, or needles so big that it could have been a fish net.

So, I am making up my own pattern, based on the gauge I get for the fabric I like. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Review: Knitting Under the Influence

By Claire LaZebnik

"To live and knit in LA" - cover blurb.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It has all I am looking for in a light read (mostly funny, occasionally serious, fairly realistic, happy ending); and then some, because the main characters are (obviously) knitters. The book is better written than the usual offerings in this genre, and the characters were very relatable. I found myself identifying with Lucy, amused by Kathleen's antics, and sympathetic to Sari, but also wishing she'd let go of some of her baggage. All in all, it was fun hanging out with these girls for a while. And got me wishing that Charlotte on Sex & the City knitted in more than that one episode.

The best aspect of the book, from the knitter's perspective, is that the knitting was good. The girls' projects were described well, there were lots of knitting moments, as the girls met weekly just to knit. Their project choices sounded pretty cool, and I liked how they corresponded to each girl's personality, as well as to whatever was going on in their lives at the time.

I'd read Maggie Sefton's mysteries and found them just okay - which might be due to a number of factors. Being a former Los Angelina, Knitting Under the Unfluence definitely grabbed me, as well as the fact that these girls are all around my age. They knit a lot of the stuff that I knit and they do it constantly. I couldn't say the same for Sefton's novels. I didn't much identify with Kelly Flynn, the heroine (too anal), and even though the LYS they all hung out at sounded REALLY COOL, the knitting just seemed to be kind of an add-on, whereas for the girls in Knitting Under the Influence, it was a big part of their lives and their friendship.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Book to Hug

How I ever knitted without Elizabeth Zimmerman's wit and wisdom, I will never know. I started reading The Opinionated Knitter on the train home last night, and was so taken with it that I actually hugged the book. A proper hug, too, with a big squeeze and eyes shut tight. I wrinkled the cover, but that's okay. The thing is, her tone is so conversational, and she says things that make me exclaim, "ohmigawd, that is SOOOOOOOO true!!!!!" It's great. I love it.

I started Secret Baby Thing 1 the second I got home, practically. It is whizzing by, and I will probably finish it tonight. I am thrilled with it, and also knocked out by how tiny it is. The instant gratification of knitting small things with simple shapes is refreshing - especially with an endless shawl edging waiting in the wings. That's more of a weekend project anyway, right?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Saving Graces

There are two to this otherwise... uhm... less than stellar day.

1. The yarn I ordered for baby things for a Dear Dear Friend arrived today (decscriptions of said Things are a secret, to be revealed only upon completion of Things and delivery to DDF).

2. I scored the only copy they had at a book outlet of Knitting Without Tears. Only 10 bucks. It is the Crown Books outlet in Embarcadero Center no. 4. Most books only $5.00.

I am excited about the Things. This is my first baby-to-knit-for, and she is long awaited by her parents. It will be a wonderful experience, if you will forgive the vast and inadequate understatement.

And, obviously, the Knitting Without Tears was a startling gap in my knitting library. I am glad to have it, and to have gotten a good, unexpected deal.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wall-Eyed Knit Fit

It was a big weekend for knitting. Ironic, given how unseasonably gorgeous it was outside. We were housebound for most of Saturday waiting for a repairperson. DH got to watch some sports, and we watched a couple of movies while I quietly knitted away on my two most neglected UFOs, the Floral Gathering Sac and the Very Harlot Poncho. I made great time on the poncho - stockinette in the round with four increases every other row is pretty awesome, I have to say. The Gathering Sac, I worked until the intarsia got more complicated/tangly and then put it down to pay more complete attention to The Sure Thing.

DH was out most of Sunday playing golf, so I turned to the shawl. I'd finished picking up stitches during the week and was finally ready to knit on the border. I got up bright and early, walked the dog, made a pot of tea and settled in. I had neglected to swatch the border I planned to use (I know, bad bad), so when I sat down to do it yesterday morning, I wasn't prepared for the utter frustration that resulted in the scattering of my toolbox contents (owing to my sweeping it off the coffee table) and the consuming feeling of black hatred that I momentarily felt for the shawl. I actually couldn't wait to finish the !~$#%&*+=?!!!@ thing so I could get my revenge by blocking the living daylights out of it.

The chart was weird. I read it the way you're supposed to read lace charts, and it didn't look right; I figured (rightfully no doubt) that this was user error, so I payed really close attention and still messed it up. I read the chart the wrong way next time, and, unsurprisingly, the swatch still looked screwy. This was complicated by another issue. I was looking at the "wrong" side of the shawl; the chart I had only worked if I was starting on the "right" side. After going through a couple of other possibilities, I decided on the mega-easy but surprisingly cute "Little Bit O' Lace" from 101 Knitting on the Go Projects, which I can't remember buying, but for which I am now deeply grateful.

It had a set up row, and then a repeat of two rows, which put me in a good position if I still wanted to start on the wrong side. After a successful swatch, I got to knitting. The little rows seem to whizz by, but progress overall is slow. I am about 2/3 of the way down the first side, and I worked on it pretty steadily. Still, I am happy with how it is going.

And we won't tell anyone about my little temper tantrum. ;)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Step Away From the Yarn, Lady.

I finished the main part of the garter lace shawl last night! It turned out really well, and I am very happy with it.

Naturally, I immediately started picking up stitches for the border. I got about 2/3 of the way down the first side and was overcome by dizziness. Not sure if it was the enormity of accumulating some 500 stitches on the needle, the constant downward staring + intense focus, or the fact that I was still recovering from the wine tasting we did on Saturday. Anyway - I set it aside for the evening and have decided to take it slow, since this is my first shawl with this type of construction. I can't wait to see it after blocking, though.

The plan is to do a row of eyelets, and then a scalloped edging.

Also on the needles are a couple of neck cozies from the Koigu pattern - one in KPPM and the other in Artfibers' Liana. I had planned to finish these for Christmas gifts, but I started feeling all pressured and antsy about it, and fell into a vortex of "well, if so and so gets a handknit gift, then I need to do handknit gifts for everyone else, too." As the Yarn Harlot puts it, I could feel "It" coming on (in October!) and I just couldn't go there. If I finish them for Christmas, great. If I don't, they will be "just because" gifts. Or next year's birthdays.

The thing is, knitting is what I do to relax. It should be, you know. Relaxing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lexie, I Adore You.

I hope that doesn't weird you out. I just had to say it. I can't contain myself. I cannot hold back my utter delight at my new Lexie Barnes Lady B knitting bag (in Dutch Treat fabric), which just arrived on my desk. It is the most wonderful non-knitted object I have ever beheld.

(And they sent me a gift - a small pouch in the Little Miss Perfect fabric!).

The Injured List

I burned myself last night. Stupidly, which is the way I always burn myself. It's a pencil-eraser-sized wedge on my left thumb. Which I sortakinda use for knitting. I kvetched endlessly to DH about how I wouldn't get any knitting done, and then cast on a Koigu neck cozy (you can get the pattern free from Patternworks with any KPPM/KPM order) and worked 28 rows.

There was no way the thumb (which is better today) would have been able to take the now endless rows of the shawl, but I figured something little would be okay. And the cozy is a good commute project.

I massively overreacted to the burn, by the way. I often overreact to things, especially stupid things like using a potholder with a hole in, and consequently burning myself. But ever since we got back from Italy, it has been worse. Re-entry is difficult. Thank goodness for knitting therapy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Why, you're welcome!

From the "I Wish I Had a Camera Phone" files, I give you the following:

(Seriously, I don't have a camera phone - and never gave a damn until this happened.) On Saturday, DH and I took BART into San Francisco to have lunch at the Ferry Building, and then go to a tasting of 2005 Rieslings at Dee Vine Wines on Pier 19. I knitted both ways - the way back a little slower due to consumption of Rieslings, followed by glass of Champagne at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.

After searching, first, for a car which had functioning air-conditioning, and then for a seat on such a car, we ended up behind a crocheter. I, of course, whipped out my knitting (A Very Harlot Poncho, in Rowan Kid Classic) and got down to business.

Upon exiting the train at Millbrae, I noticed a sign above one of the seats - at first glance, it looked like one of the ordinary ads or BART promotional things. But this was extraordinary indeed. It THANKED Knitters, Crocheters and Needleworkers for riding BART. And it listed Knitters first. Wooo! I was so surprised and delighted that I stared at the sign for a good two seconds before DH had to remind me that we didn't want to go back to SF, but instead, to the grocery store and then home.

In other news,

1. The pashmina cobweb I ordered from kpixie was on my desk when I got in this morning. Somehow, the word "cobweb" failed to prepare me for just how tiny this yarn is. There are two hanks of it (totaling 2000 yards), and all cuddled up together in the tissue paper, they are no bigger than a hamster. Yup, two hanks = one hamster. Not sure what I will do with it yet. It needs to speak to me after I have some more lace under my belt.

2. I have a new FO - the flower pin from The Wool Peddler. With all the big stuff on the needles, I needed a little instant gratification. And it used up some remnants of Sanskrit (Artfibers' recycled silk) I had lying around. I finished one, and have enough to do one more. I am using a vintage glass button for the center of each flower. It took like an hour, which included watching bits of the Law & Order SVU marathon and sipping Charamba, a good and amazingly cheap red from Portugal. Will put pix in the gallery very soon.

3. I started Thackeray's Vanity Fair a while back, and just couldn't get into it. The story is fantastic, but I have issues with Thack's style - he does all of these little asides along the lines of "this being a novel, bla bla bla," and "I myself took this road and found it pleasant...." not actual quotes, but you get the idea. They irritated the daylights out of me.

There were bits in which the characters knitted, which I liked, and that gave me an idea. On Friday, I went to the bookstore and bought the three Maggie Sefton books they had - all mysteries, starring knitters as the armchair detectives. The first one ("Knit One, Kill Two") is pretty good. The writing isn't great, but the knitting is nice, and it is a perfect read for the commute, when I am not knitting.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Like the Fruuu-its of the Devilll.

Evillll. Yes, everyone, I am feeling a little evillll this week. But in a good way, I assure you.

This feeling has led me to a new knitting endeavor. What was once just a sardonic expression shared between friends will soon become a knitting project and, ultimately, an article of clothing.

I give you: the Bitch Cape. As in, "The Impatient Knitter really has her bitch cape on today."

It will be a basic black (of course) cape/capelet, with a colorwork design on the back, most likely featuring a skull, the letter B, and some flames. I am going to do sketches this weekend and see what I can come up with.

The very first finished Bitch Cape will go to my Best Friend, who I believe coined the phrase, and takes great pleasure in every utterance of it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hats Off To The Impatient Knitter

The Beatrice hat is done! I finished it on Saturday. It took practically no time at all - just a few hours over a couple of weeknights. I was good and blocked it pretty much immediately. I'll put pix in the gallery after it's dry; in the meantime, I am happy to report that it is adorable.

The shawl is chugging along. I probably clocked a good six hours on it yesterday. The model in the pattern measures 28 inches from point to top, and I am about six inches shy of that now. I tend to like bigger shawls, so the work could continue for a while yet.

In any event, it will be done in plenty of time to wear to the opera. DH got us tickets as a surprise. To see my very favorite, La Traviata, in San Jose in February.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

For Whom the Frog Croaks

It croaks for DH's socks. Or, to be precise, sock.

This, perhaps, might have been foretold much earlier in the tale. To start, I did 2x2 ribbing around the cuff and from the beginning, realized that I'd messed it up. There was a spot of 4 stitches in stockinette. I left them and went blithely on.

I am less appalled at my utter disregard for fucked up knitting/rookie mistakes than I am at thinking I was apparently willing to give substandard socks to my wonderful DH. I am also a bit perplexed at my willingness to do this from a marketing standpoint. You see, I have a wee suspicion that he might need some convincing that knitting is actually a worthwhile endeavor, and further, that once he gets a knitted gift from me, he will want lots of knitted gifts from me. Shitty socks will hardly advance my cause.

But this isn't the worst of it. I did a round while waiting for the train to the airport, and a curious thing happened. I am knitting with two circulars, and rather than switch needles, I just kept on knitting with the same one, putting all the stitches on that one needle (non-knitters be advised that this is not what's supposed to happen).

I fixed this immediately, and in fiddling all the stitches around, I noticed two conspicuous and inexplicable holes in the knitting. Not dropped stitches. Not moths (cotton socks only for DH). Just. Random. Perfectly round. Holes. From nowhere. In plain stockinette.

So, they must be frogged. I'd rather do DH's golf club covers anyway (in Wool of the Andes).

Next on the frog list is the sideways scarf I started and promptly crammed back into the stash. This is the one that was supposed to use up the luscious: Colinette mohair, cashmere remnant, and recycled silk. I am not sure what will become of these. Suffice it to say, DH's Socks Take Two, will probably be done before any of these become a project.

The Burning Question

(I was tempted to say The Purling Question. Is that too much? Too stupid? Too "huh?"?)

So. Did you get any knitting in?

I am happy to report that I did. In Praiano, I swatched the wool I got at Beatrice Galli. We were in our room, waiting for dinnertime, or, more precisely, aperitif time - when we could head down to the cafe with enough time to have a glass of wine, but not so much time that we were tempted to have two. Or three (restaurants in Italy open for dinner at 7:00 if you're lucky). DH was watching Polish TV, so it seemed like an opportune time for knitting. I'd had the foresight to pack my Denise kit, which, by the way, I adore. We're making a totally adorable hat with the wool. It's variegated pinks and grays, and knitted up it looks almost like girly camouflage.

I suppose the Polish TV requires some further detail. DH isn't Polish, and does not speak Polish, but happily, Polish TV speaks English. They had on some hilariously bad American cop show (which I don't recall ever seeing aired here), and left all the English voices in. A Polish guy talks over them, but you can still hear the English. It's the same guy for all of the dialogue, which I would think would be confusing, but maybe not.

We flew home from Naples, the nearest airport to Praiano. To get there, we'd taken a ferry from Positano - opting for a too early one because it was direct, rather than a later one that made lots of stops. This added up to a good few hours of knitting time in the airport, which I devoted to my garter lace shawl. I couldn't find my toolkit, but I knitted anyway and mercifully didn't drop a stitch (which would have required the crochet hook in the toolkit). After I'd put the knitting away for the duration, I went rummaging for my lip balm, and then found the tool kit.

I was, by the way, required to pack all of my knitting things in the checked baggage, so my 20+ hours in the air was spent reading, apart from a short nap on the flight out from SFO. Read some good books, though. I finished a Steven Saylor mystery I had been reading before we left, read all of The Devil Wears Prada (LOVED it), and bought a third book in London (Left Bank, by Kate Muir, which was brilliant) for the flight home.


We're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

We got in Sunday afternoon, and crashed pretty much immediately. We both went back to work Monday, and it's been a bit of an adjustment. ;)

We had a fantastic trip, and great weather, apart from a couple of days of rain in Rome - no big deal, since we could easily make those "museum days."

The highlights....


Most relevant to the blog, I made my one yarn purchase here, at the Beatrice Galli Yarn shop. She's on a little street just off the Ponte Vecchio (Oltrarno). She was SUPER nice, and although I hadn't really planned to buy yarn, I did, after all, wander into her shop, which I had looked up in advance. I did good - only two balls of a pink and gray wool/cashmere blend. It is wonderfully thick and thin, and squashy. It wants to be a hat.

We made it to all of the artistically/architecturally significant churches. My favorites were: San Miniato, dating to the 9th century and located on a hill high above the city. It was very quiet and peaceful inside, so when I dropped a Euro coin into the offering box, it sounded almost like a door slamming. It was one of those places you walk into and are immediately impressed with a feeling of how spiritual it is. Santa Croce, also very spiritual, and lots less crowded than the Duomo, had beautiful frescoes by Giotto, and wonderful stained glass. San Marco was notable for its old monastery, which you could visit. Each cell had a fresco by Fra Angelico, all of which were remarkably well preserved - they could have been painted yesterday.

We also saw some fantastic art, including Michelangelo's David, and some of his unfinished (and therefore all the more haunting) sculptures at the Accademia. For art, though, the best museum in Florence is the Uffizi, which was originally built as offices for one of the Medicis. Two of Botticelli's most famous paintings are there - the Venus, and Primavera, both of which are absolute knockouts in person.

We had some good meals in Florence, too - lots of pizza, each different and delicious in its own way, as well as a trip to the Mercato Centrale, where some of the city's best bakers, butchers, greengrocers, and other food artisans are gathered under one roof. We put a lovely picnic lunch together there, including wild boar salame (a local specialty), and the best focaccia I had ever tasted. It was wonderfully olive-oily and had red pepper flakes mingled in with the herbs.

We had a day trip to Fiesole as well, a small town outside the city. There is an old Roman amphitheatre there, as well as a museum. It is still an active archeological dig, but you could still walk around most of it! From there, we walked down tiny, twisty streets to another town, San Domenico, where we had a glass of Pinot Grigio in a cafe before catching the bus back to town.

Florence was a wonderful city to just walk around in. It is beautiful and feels like a smaller town. I loved the way art and a sense of aesthetic harmony were woven into daily life. We went nearly everywhere on foot, and after a week, felt like we had lived there, we knew it so well. It was very romantic, exactly as I dreamed Italy would be.


Rome was a bit of a shock at first. Its main train station, the Termini, seems as big as an airport, and contains everything you might conceivably need, from last minute postcards, to newspapers, even a grocery store. This is definitely a big city. I had dubbed it "Los Angeles on the Tiber," but this isn't quite fair. The top sights here are breathtaking, to say the least. I was stunned that they actually let you wander around ruins (we saw the Colosseum, the Forum, the Palatine Hill, as well as took a day trip to Ostia Antica). Ostia was amazing - the buildings are remarkably intact, and you can easily imagine it as the bustling port city it was before the Tiber changed course. In the market, there are mosaics outside each shop, indicating what was sold there.

Some of the most significant, and spectacular, artifacts of ancient Rome are housed in the Musei Nazionale, which takes hours to go through. We had a great half a day there, checking out statues, mosaics that are amazingly intact, and even a whole room that was re-assembled inside the museum, with walls painted to look like a garden.

We took a bit of a break from the ancient sights to see the Galleria Doria Pamphilj - this is a private art collection, in a beautiful palazzo. The family still live there, but the rooms containing the collection are open to the public. The collection is impressive for its diversity, including religious subjects by Italian painters, portraits, and my favorites, landscapes by Claude Lorrain. The rooms, of course, are beautiful too, with fabric-covered walls, ornate furniture, and parquet floors that creak quietly under your feet.

My favorite sights (besides our room's luxurious bathtub - a rarity in affordable European hotels) were easily the Vatican Museums (includes the Sistine Chapel) and St. Peter's Basilica. There are no words to describe the incredible collection of art, the exquisite painting of the Sistine Chapel, nor the sheer awesomeness of St. Peter's. So many of the churches we saw still served their nearby communities, and in my favorite ones, you could still feel how the spirit of these communities filled them, and welcomed you in too. St. Peter's, however, is meant to be a church for the world, and you feel that as soon as you walk in the doors. The largeness of it is overwhelming, but in a good way.

Michelangelo's Pieta is there, and we got as close as possible to it (it is behind bulletproof glass now because some maniac broke off part of it with a hammer; they were able to repair it with a piece of marble from an unseen part of the statue, but it obviously has to be protected). There is an unfinished one in the Accademia in Florence, too. The finished Pieta is, obviously, spectacular, but in a way, I preferred the unfinished one. You could get closer to it, and the fact that the figures aren't entirely revealed drew me in and gave the piece a certain emotional resonance.

In a sad, yet beautiful experience, we were also able to tour the tombs of the Popes, and saw John Paul the IIs, where a number of people were gathered, praying, crying (self included), or simply gazing in silence. Also there is the tomb of St. Peter, which us under the Papal Altar in the church itself. You can kind of see it from the church, but in the tombs, you can see right into it. Again, something totally indescribable - and amazing to think that the altar was built right above his grave, so many years later.

Our best meal of the trip was in Rome. A neighborhood called the Trastevere is home to many of Rome's most authentic restaurants. It has a lively, bohemian spirit, and it was a fun place to wander and people-watch. We had our quintessential Roman meal there, featuring one of the city's signature dishes: roast chicken and potatoes. This simple sounding dish was actually exquisite: the light and crispy skin of the chicken, the incredibly tender, moist meat, all infused with the flavors of rosemary and fennel. The potatoes were roasted as well, and so soft they were like butter. Fabulous. We paired this with a Barolo that was a perfect complement to the food. We followed it up with a cheese plate and a rich, decadent dessert wine from the wine bar next door. When I dreamed of going to Italy, this was what it tasted like.


The last days of our trip were on the Amalfi coast, which is dotted with cliffside towns along the Mediterranean Sea. We stayed in Praiano, which is one of the smaller and higher towns. It is beautiful and very quiet. Tourists do stay here, but many venture out to other towns, so it felt almost like we had Praiano to ourselves. The locals were the friendliest, kindest people we had met so far.

Relieved from itineraries, we found ourselves in a comfortable routine of breakfast, morning hikes or swims, late lunch with the house white (always light, crisp and citrusy), usually followed by a nap. Since dinner was on the later side, we hung out on our balcony before heading down to the cafe for an aperitif, and then to dinner. Being a seaside town, local seafood was plentiful, and the local wines were both delicious and a stunningly good value. After two days of this, I said to DH that we could easily retire here. :)

So now we are back, with our best memories of Italy, and our full endorsement for you to go there too, whether it is your first time, or your sixth.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

But before I go, I updated the gallery with some RFOs and my shawl-in-progress. I am taking that and DH's sock on the trip. I decided against the floral gathering sac, much as I love it, because I didn't want to deal with charts and have to take lots of yarn with me (I might be bringing some back, after all).

Will be back 9/25.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Official List of Current WIPs

This is it, a list of current projects that I will likely finish (and not rip out to do something else with the yarn).

1. A Very Harlot Poncho, in Rowan Kid Classic (color Peat).

2. Garter Stitch Lace Shawl from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls (Interweave Press) in Rowan 4 Ply Soft (a gray blue color).

3. DH's black socks, in Cascade Fixation.

4. Socks for me, in Shepherd Sock.

5. Floral Gathering Sac.

Recently finished: 24x24 inch Snuggle for the Peninsula SPCA.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shopping List for Italy

Our honeymoon is in two weeks. In addition to great meals, breathtaking museums, awe-inspiring churches, constant romance, and the enjoyment of Italy's natural beauty, I am planning some knitting-related shopping.

1. Better prices than in US on any Italian-made yarns?

2. Yarns that never make it to the US.

3. Subset of item 2 - if we happen upon a farm with fiber-bearing animals in residence, and yarn is for sale.... hoo boy.

4. Holtz and Stein needles. These hardly ever make it to the US. I am hoping they are more prevalent in Italy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Covet List

Here is my list of most-wanted yarns, kits, projects and other goodies. Some items more reasonable than others.

1. Ozark handspun. Lots of it, pretty much any colorway. It would be one spendy sweater.

2. Lorna's Laces: Helen's Lace, Heaven, Lion & Lamb, Shepherd Sock

3. Noni "Midnight Garden" Handbag kit

4. Lacey Lamb - a wide selection for many shawls

5. Carstarphen Sea Island Cotton - more shawls

6. Pretty much every shawl kit from Fiddlesticks Knitting

7. A Dale of Norway, undecided which pattern

8. Holtz & Stein ebony circular needles. I am going to keep my eyes peeled in Italy. I might luck out.

9. Lexie Barnes knitting bag

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Grace of Lace

Well, sort of. It generally went really well on Friday and Saturday. I knocked out over 100 rows of the shawl, and I am extremely happy with it. I dropped two stitches, and discovered exactly how difficult it is to rescue them when you're working lace. The first - eh, I probably should have ripped back and re-worked that row. But it doesn't look awful, and I think any unevenness should be resolved in blocking. By the time I dropped the second one, I was able to fix it pretty easily, and it looked much better than the first one.

I almost never drop stitches, but I am trying not to freak out over it. It happens to us all.

My more long-term concern is with my needles. I have used Clover bamboo from day one (except for my occasional dalliance with my Addi Turbos), and I really like them for most projects. But I am thinking that the tips are too blunt for lacework. It took some trial and error for me to be able to do the K2tog comfortably, because I had to keep digging the tip in to the stitch. I finally got it to work by changing my angle on the needles, and it isn't damaging the yarn. But it would be easier with sharper tips.

I recently fell in love with the Crystal Palace bamboo, and will probably acquire a major collection of them. Their tips are sharper, the cords more flexible on the circulars.... I am just not sure whether I should run out for a pair of size 6s to finish this shawl, or keep to the Clovers until the end.

Even with the little issues, I found myself enjoying the knitting at a deeper level than usual. I really got in to the feel of the wool (Rowan 4 Ply Soft, which is delicious), the rhythm of the pattern (fun, easy to memorize, pretty quick to work, even as the rows got longer), and the sense of accomplishment as the shawl started looking more and more like, well, a shawl.

The color is a soft blue-grey, and I think it will go with nearly everything from jeans to a black dress.

I did change the pattern a bit - I upped the needles to a size 6 (from the recommended 5s), and added two lace rows to the repeat, for a more open look. I am also going to add a smallish border.

In other news, I got in a few rows of the Snuggle, but only a few; I found that the chunky yarn and consequently larger needles made my hands hurt a bit. I also worked a few rows of the Floral Gathering Sac. We're on British Airways, so it is looking like our flights will be knittingless. I don't feel like I should "save" the work on this for the honeymoon, but I might bring a couple of smaller projects for our train travel in Italy. DH isn't looking forward to being bookless, either.

All in all, it was a quiet, nearly worry-free weekend, thanks to the knitting. Even so, when DH got home, I attacked him with a fierce hug, while the dog danced joyfully around us, bending herself in a "U" shape, head and butt being nearly parallel (which we refer to as Pepper being "beside herself").

Friday, August 11, 2006

Conserving My Energy

I haven't worked on DH's sock in a few days. I think it might be because I am planning to knit more or less nonstop for approximately 24 hours, beginning this evening, and I want to be completely fresh for the marathon.

It's just a theory.

DH's grandmother died, you see. With all of the travel issues, and our need to keep things calm on the homefront before our honeymoon next month, we decided that just DH would fly out for the memorial, and I'd stay home with the dog, keep an eye on things and all of that. He is coming back tomorrow night.

I have to confess, I don't do well emotionally when he is away. I probably do less well when I am away, and he is home. When I am at home, I just worry. When I am away, I worry and also become peevish. Not good. In either case knitting is, if not the cure, at least a very good homeopathic type remedy.

I ended up frogging the Snowdrop Shawl. I don't think the yarn was quite right for it (needs something more gossamer), and I probably wasn't fully ready to do a relatively detailed lace pattern and increases at the same time. Instead, I am using the same yarn for the Garter Lace Shawl from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls, by Martha Waterman (Interweave Press).

It will be pretty and satisfying to make, and hopefully give me a good foundation from which to move on to more complicated lace shawls. It is triangular, so I can gain experience doing increases with a simpler lace pattern.

The book is pretty good; I picked it up at the library last weekend. Waterman gives a lot of interesting detail on the history of making shawls, and includes useful tips, like how many stitches you should have on the needles if you're going to knit in the round on circulars. First time I had ever seen a list like that, and it is a great thing to have. She also tells you about the different ways shawls can be constructed, in a way that I found very clear, and easy to picture (I am very visual; I would have a hard time knitting something and being unable to see how it would evolve into the finish product).

I wasn't super thrilled with the shawl patterns, though. She doesn't chart most of them and gives the yarn requirements in ounces, rather than meters or yards. I suppose that doesn't matter too much, as the patterns generally did not appeal to me, the two exceptions being the Garter Lace that I am working on, and The Children of Lir. Lir is really beautiful and intricate looking (even though it uses only one lace stitch pattern, and a seed stitch border).

Whatever its shortcomings (which truly aren't that many or serious), the book is worth picking up, even buying, for the stitch library. It doesn't include every lace stitch ever invented, but they are all good ones (certainly enough to inspire you and get you started on just about any shawl you would want to make). Unlike the shawl patterns, the stitches include both written instructions and charts.

I am concerned about being able to knit on the honeymoon. Obviously, I am concerned about terrorist threats as well, but that seems more remote to me than being told to drop my knitting in the bin at the security checkpoint, and never seeing it again. If I don't knit.... I don't know what else I will do for 10+ hours (because I never sleep on planes).

Initially, I had wanted to fly through Heathrow and Gatwick, thinking that changing planes and going through customs would be easier in an English-speaking country. Now I am rather wishing we were going through Frankfurt instead.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Face of My Enemy

I have seriously slacked on the name change front. Wanting to be Mrs. Dickinson is easy. Making it officially so is a little more difficult, especially for the patience-challenged. I went up to the Social Security Administration office in Chinatown today, sans appointment, on the theory that… what? There wouldn’t be a line? Even I am not that delusional. I don’t know what my theory was. In fact, I don’t think I had one.

I didn’t bring my knitting and it hardly mattered. No amount or quality of knitting could have made that wait anything less than harrowing, long, tedious, awful, insane, epic and, last but not least, ridiculous (my favorite wait-related adjective). I could have been knitting the most complicated Aran sweater in the most gorgeous cashmere ever created, and I would have felt every second of the hideous wait. Even the security guard said, “it will be very long,” in the wise way of a man who knows of what he speaks.

Apparently, while appointments are theoretically available, it would require calling the SSA’s toll-free number. The wait on hold is the telephonic equivalent of the wait in one of the SSA’s offices. He advised me to come back later in the week, closer to closing time. If it is still intolerable, I will mail in my stuff and hope to high heaven that my original documents come back to me.

Assuming I don't run for the hills, I will probably need more than DH’s socks to keep me busy. I started the Snowdrop Shawl and it is going pretty well, I have to say. I think the Rowan 4 Ply Soft is going to work. It probably will be less gossamer than the original version, but still a nice shawl when complete.

I finally passed the halfway point on the Snuggle. We rented a couple of movies, and a garter stitch Snuggle is exactly the kind of thing you can do with your eyes on the small screen. I paid so much attention to the movie (Match Point) that I was able to predict quite a few plot points before they were revealed. And before I knew it, I was on the decrease side of my Snuggle.

As for the other movie, if I were a famous film critic/knitter, my review of V for Vendetta would consist of one sentence: “this movie is a perfect choice if you are working on a project that requires your fullest attention, such as The Yarn Harlot’s ‘Snowdrop Shawl.’”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Boat I Missed

Dude, I could have knit myself a wedding dress, assuming I’d started it before I even met my husband. Okay, maybe it wouldn’t have taken that long. But it would have taken a seriously long, long time. It sure is pretty, though. And I suppose if I start now, it would be ready in time for a renewal of vows ceremony.

A couple of boats I am planning to catch:

1. A wedding shawl for a dear friend. Maybe Eunny’s Print O’ the Wave?

2. Baby things for another friend, to be started the moment she announces those three blessed words (“we’re having a baby,” for anyone going “huh?” right now).

Some more lacy, gorgeous things on the horizon:

1. KnitPicks’ Adamas Shawl in Shadow (color is Vineyard).

2. Knitty’s Branching Out Scarf in Artfibers’ Tsuki (in a gorgeous, deep, mossy green).

In other news:

The sideways scarf is looking good, although I probably won’t use all of that mohair. I am not sure what else I might do with it. Maybe a headband, kinda like The Dream Swatch Headwrap.

I learned a very valuable lesson this morning. Knitting while half-asleep is a bad idea. I stayed up later than usual last night, was too lazy to make coffee this morning, and thus headed off to the city totally uncaffeinated. I don’t like sleeping on the train, so I pulled out my sock. It was easily the slowest knitting I have ever done, and I dropped a stitch, which usually only happens when I am sleepy. Note to self: if you want to knit in the mornings, set up your coffee the night before.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All the News That's Fit to Knit

Let’s start with the most recent. I believe I can say that I successfully overcame the second sock syndrome, as my second sock is nearly done! I am very much looking forward to starting the socks for my husband after these are finished. His are ribbed, black cotton, with an XOXO cable going down the front, until the toe shaping. They are gonna be fab. They are more or less Cat Bordhi’s “Simple Sock in Three Sizes,” but I am doing the cable in place of the ribbing for just that bit in the front.

Although this project is mostly for the long honeymoon flights and layovers, I did at least want to get a good start on Pam Allen’s Floral Gathering Sac before we left. I had started it, frogged it, and restarted, and now I think we’re in good shape. I did the first row of the color pattern last night and felt like a champion. Picture it: our couch, husband watching the A's game, and me: knitting in my lap, arms thrust in the air, hands splayed out, eyes squeezed shut, and the decisive utterance: "I rock!"

I am sure I will work a few more before the trip, but the main thing is, we’re working the sides back and forth (the bottom is done in the round), the pattern is established, and the bobbins are all set up. Believe it or not, this is my first intarsia project. Probably a little ambitious, but I have wanted to make this bag for so long, and I couldn’t really get behind any entry-level type intarsia projects I found. I think there’s value in cutting my teeth on something I truly love, and will use forever.

My first Snuggle is at about the halfway point. It is a little boring, but should go quickly when I am in the mood for something easy. I also have a few other things happening – a raglan sweater that I work a few rows at a time. I am (gasp) actually thinking of frogging in favor of doing something else with the yarn, even though I do like the style. I might not be much of a sweater person. We’ll see.

And now we come to the problem of the mohair. I adore mohair. Especially this particular Colinette Mohair in Mushroom. It is a random ball I acquired somehow, and never used. I really don’t know what to do with it at this point. I keep starting various scarves with it and frogging, tinking, frogging, tinking. This isn’t going to work much longer, either for my sanity, or for this lovely yarn. My latest plan is to use it with some leftover cashmere (oohhhhh, yuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm) and Sanskrit in a sideways scarf. I will probably give that a whirl tonight, with fingers metaphorically crossed.

Last but not least, I am beginning to understand how unflattering are public displays of impatience (hereinafter "PDI"). Sadly, I often find myself rushing to the train, or waiting, eyes fully a-roll, for MUNI. Sighing, tapping my feet, even pacing, while some unimaginable force delays my return to the place I long for above all others: home. In the future, I might try to restrain myself from PDI. Why, you ask, when I look so cynically cute tapping my feet and rolling my eyes? Because I have seen others of late engaging in PDI, and it was not pretty. In a flash, it was as if I was looking in a mirror, and saying to myself, "gawd, what is her problem?" I'll set a realistic goal, with a caveat (law school had to be good for something): no more PDI during the commute unless it is something so clearly reeking of incompetence on the part of public transportation authorities that everyone is engaging in PDI.

I will apprise on further developments.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Still working on my second sock. I turned the heel on Friday and did a few gusset rows over the weekend. I am aiming to finish it this week, so I can start socks for DH.

My Zen, TV-watching, had-a-few-glasses-of-wine-this-evening project is a dog blanket for the Snuggle Project (check out link on sidebar). I am making it up as I go. I had two partial skeins of Lion Brand Homespun leftover from another project. Without an exact length, it was difficult to choose what to do with them. Enter the Snuggle. I am working a triangle with increases until the first leftover runs out, and then continuing onward working a decrease triangle with the second leftover. Hopefully, I will end up with a good-sized square for a shelter doggie who will then be adopted because s/he looks so comfy on a handknit blankie.

On another note, I just realized that the collected wisdom of The Yarn Harlot has collected in my backpack. I brought Secret Life of a Knitter to re-read some favorite bits on the train this morning. I added Knitting Rules and Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much as a result of a pop-in to Borders. This was actually my second purchase of KR, as my otherwise lovely dog Pepper shredded the first one.

And, while I was at it, I figured I could use some meditation as well.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rapidly Finished Objects

Hat in pretty blue wool (Harmony): started Wednesday evening, finished Thursday afternoon.

Matching scarf: started Thursday afternoon, finished Thursday evening.

Recycled Silk Purse (Artfibers’ “Sanskrit”): started Friday morning, finished Sunday afternoon.

This is the end result of roughly three days of cathartic knitting, following my grandfather’s death. I tried to read on my way home Thursday morning, after getting the news at work. I wasn’t able to read, no matter how absorbing the book was and is (Rubicon, by Steven Saylor; a murder mystery set in Ancient Rome).

I have gotten into the habit of taking knitting with me on my commute, and most everywhere else as well. Knitting had become my reward at the end of almost every work day, and less often, a way to wake up on the way to work (I usually read in the mornings). Last Thursday, it had a more serious meaning. I pulled out the sock, and slipped into Zen. Fortunately, the sock is in the cuff phase, which is arguably the most conducive to Knitting Zen. It was literally the only thing that kept me relatively together until I got home.

Once home, I put my things away and walked the dog. After that, I sat down on the couch and knit and knit and knit, starting with the hat I had cast on the night before. Although I did not consciously think about my grandfather (actually grandfathers, as my other one had died a few weeks previously) in some ways, my hands did the thinking that my heart could not bear to do. A lot of that kind of thinking – productive, unfocused, healing thinking, took place over the weekend.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I have been bitten by the fiber bug, and I haven’t even spun so much as a thread yet. My fiber and spindle from Hello Yarn arrived today, you see. Complete with wonderful instructions on how to spin, and beautifully wrapped with a nice note from Adrian Bizilia, the proprietor. Oh, I almost forgot about the pin - she included an adorable little pin that says "Hello Yarn"!

I swooned. If it ever came down to such a desperate state of affairs, I believe I would rather have Blue Faced Leicester than food. I can’t wait to get home and try it out. The kit included hand-dyed BFL, and I ordered some un-dyed BFL as well. I think I might spin them separately and ply the two together. Or something. My mind is reeling at the possibilities. Or unreeling, as the case may be.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


“Me mum’s a witch; me dad’s a muggle. Bit of a shock for him when he found out.”
-Seamus Finnegan, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone

I sometimes wonder whether my husband was a bit taken aback by the whole knitting thing. Of all the habits, hobbies and idiosyncrasies that people can be equipped with, knitting certainly isn’t the oddest. It usually doesn’t interfere with other things we might do for fun together, and it hasn’t made me any less attentive to housework, my job, and other necessities of life. I wasn’t ever a particularly good housekeeper anyway!

At the time we met, I had been in a hiatus of probably 2 years, and didn’t pick up knitting again until after we were engaged, and I decided to knit a shawl for myself for our wedding. Even then, my knitting wasn’t out in the open simply because we weren’t living together yet. He had never seen the large and terrifying stash of yarn that even I knew I would never knit, because it was tucked in large plastic crates and hidden in the depths of The Closet.

(The Closet had been the location of the Murphy bed in my circa 1916 apartment; when the Murphy beds were removed for the building’s more recent inhabitants, giant closets with two doors were the result. Mine was stuffed with junk, which went to charity before my husband and I moved in. Much of the stash included).

But I digress. The period between moving in and the wedding was relatively calm on the knitting front. Just the shawl here and there, and then more frequently as the big day seemed ever closer. And then things changed.

As the shawl neared completion, I began scouting for other projects, thinking that once the wedding was over, I would want to keep busy. Naturally, I started some of these before the shawl was done (just to take the edge off, you understand); and these are among my FOs listed in my intro.

Shelving my knitting books and organizing my patterns brought inspiration. Surfing the web clued me in to a world of knitters and resources that was only beginning to form when I started knitting several years ago. It had all blossomed during my hiatus. I came back into the fold enthusiastically. I knit every day, even if it is just a couple of rows. I am constantly on the lookout for patterns and ideas. I talk about knitting more than I ever talked about the wedding. My modest stash sits proudly and neatly in a basket in the living room, waiting to be knitted. My life feels quite complete.

Sure, there are some guidelines, as there ought to be when you’re sharing a dwelling with a non-knitter. Stash containment/management is a priority. Yarn purchases are carefully considered. But I think all of this is making me a better, choosier knitter. I am investing more thought and more of myself into each project. As Stephanie Pearl-McPhee describes it in her book, Yarn Harlot: the Secret Life of a Knitter, I think that I am moving from being a knitter to a Knitter.

Wait until he finds out I am going to learn to spin!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I found the other size 8 needle! Lost in the sofa as I initially thought. My husband was right - it did turn up when I was looking for something else. I found it when I dropped a DPN, and it rolled into the narrow space between the cushion I was sitting on and the side of the sofa. Since I was sitting on the cushion, that space was a little more accessible; when I reached in for the DPN, the size 8 was easily found as well. Very nice! I promptly swatched the wool for my Aran, only to discover that, while I got gauge, I think the wool wants to be a little more drapey. I might have to find a different pattern for it. Most of my other Aran patterns aren’t charted, unfortunately, although I could certainly do a chart myself. Ugh.

The Turn of the Sock:

After an initial bout of confusion, I figured out the mysteries of the short rows and turned the heel. That was actually the easy part. After that, I somehow picked up the heel flap stitches in the wrong direction, and had to play around with a couple of DPNs in order to get everything divided correctly and going in the right direction. Everything’s great now in gusset-land, and it should be pretty easy until we get to the toe.

I really like knitting socks. It’s kind of like hiking. Even though you’re walking more or less as you usually do, the terrain and scenery vary quite a bit, and the going can get tricky here and there. Keeps things interesting.

More Project Updates:

I have three rows and the fringe left to do on the triangle shawl. I should be able to finish that tonight.

The funnel neck sweater will move up in queue after the shawl is finished. Since it is pretty simple (stockinette and shaping), I think it will be a good project to fit in between more complicated knitterly endeavors.

I am afraid I will need to frog the Floral Gathering Sac. I am not satisfied with the increases (yarn-overs) on the bottom. They seem too open to me for something that needs to be sturdy. And with yarn this beautiful, and such a great pattern, I am being an ultra-perfectionist. I am considering knitting and purling in the same stitch for the first few rounds of the increases – just on the bottom – and switching to yarn-overs later, when the eyelets will be prettier and not impact the structure of the bag. I am also considering doing just the bottom on smaller DPNs so it is tighter. Not a huge hurry on this one. I want to be ready to start the color pattern when we leave for the honeymoon on September 1.

Some new projects I am thinking of:

1. The Fake-A-Gamo. Check it out here. I am doing both the handle bag from new yarn, and using the same stitch pattern for a clutch out of stash yarn (two balls of Artfibers “Schooner” in a brown/cream tweed).

2. Reversible Cable Shawl (from Vogue Knitting, American Designers). I have loved this Lily Chin pattern since I first started knitting. I am probably going to do it in Lorna’s Laces “Heaven,” (one of the solids, color TBD).

3. Geometric Scarf (from Vogue Knitting On the Go – Scarves) in the specified KPM no. 2231 (pink).

4. Golf Club Covers for my husband (from – probably will do stripes corresponding to the club number, instead of the Fair Isle pattern).

5. Lots of socks.

6. Scarf in Colinette Mohair. As the Yarn Harlot suggests in her book Knitting Rules!, I am going to do a “halfway” scarf in lace – knitting each half in the lace pattern, followed by garter stitch, and grafting the two halves so the lace is symmetrical on both ends. I only have one ball in this color, and I want to use every inch of it. It should be a nice one to tuck into a coat or sweater.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Like looking for a needle in a leather sofa...

All was apparently well, knitting and otherwise:

1. I had gotten a major pat on the back at work;

2. I was really loving the sock now; just at the point when I could imagine what it would look like finished;

3. We got a congratulatory letter from Gavin Newsom (about our wedding);

4. The raspberry sauce for my father in law’s birthday cake was finished and perfect;

5. I had worked a few rows of the triangle shawl;

6. I cast on and worked a few rounds of the Floral Gathering Sac.

All signs pointing to productivity, I decided to swatch the yarn I planned to use for the Debbie Bliss Aran sweater. I opened my scrupulously organized needle case to get my size 8 straights.

There was only one in there. Just the one. All by itself. WTF??? Let my fingers do the walking through the compartments – all was in order, except for the glaring gap where that other size 8 should be. Okay. Deep breath. I felt around in the stash basket and in my project bags. Back to the needle case, this time emptying every compartment and re-sorting the needles. Sip of wine and back to the stash basket and project bag. I emptied both and re-sorted. I was really starting to get alarmed now, because my knitting stuff, apart from being an investment in creativity and preservative of my sanity, is impeccably organized. Usually. However, there was obviously a giant, gaping hole in my process if a needle had gone missing.

It wasn’t on, under or buried in the couch; there was no evidence that the dog had eaten it (you think I am paranoid, right? She has eaten photo corners, cash, gum, a stash of a different sort belonging to a former housemate…). Nor was it rattling around the coffee table or anywhere on or near the bookshelves.

Upon the assurances of my always calm and reasonable husband, I called back the search party for the evening. I am still perplexed, but I suspect I will find myself picking up another pair of Clover Bamboo Size 8 straight needles today. I have an unprecedented urge to swatch.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Impatient Bit

An example from as recently as yesterday evening’s commute.

I understand that public transportation in parts unfamiliar can be confusing. But there are times when it just seems that people refuse to understand and/or refuse to move through the system efficiently, even when they should be able to do so, thereby causing hassle for the rest of us, who use the system every day.

I take Caltrain and MUNI every day, to and from work. There is only one MUNI train that goes to the Caltrain Depot; and quite often, there is some delay or other f-wittage on MUNI’s end. And if there is one thing I am super, scarily, freakishly hyper and impatient about, it is taking my same Caltrain (the 270 ROCKS!) home every single day, without fail, exception or interference (unless, of course, I happen to get off work early and take an earlier train).

I headed down to MUNI as usual, where I noticed a couple with a double stroller speaking with the station agent. Mom and stroller paid their fare and entered through the side gate. Dad, with a giant canvas duffel, was wedged in the only fare gate that can be used by the folks with a Caltrain pass – since it is connected to a button in the station agent’s booth that manually opens the gate. Dad is fully and completely occupied in collecting his $1.50, one excruciating coin at a time, from the capacious depths of his duffel. Apparently having run out of the loose change that just hangs out in the duffel, he fumbled for a small drawstring bag within that (hopefully!) contained more change.

To be perfectly fair, the MUNI faregates only accept coins. However, even if you didn’t know this in advance, it seems weird to me that you wouldn’t have the change more accessible, either because you just changed a dollar, or because, like most normal people, you keep your change in (a) your pocket, (b) the change compartment of your wallet, or (c) a coin purse that is located somewhere more convenient than the very bottom of a large and probably disorganized duffel bag.

Meanwhile, I know that my MUNI train is due any moment, because I check before I leave the office. Just before I had my aneurysm, the station agent noticed me standing there; I showed her my pass, and she said I could go through the side gate. I went down to the platform, where my train was just pulling in.

I hopped on, pulled out my sock and started knitting.

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, calm.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


This is a great time for me to work on smaller, portable projects. I have the Simple Sock in Three Sizes (from Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles) on the needles now. This is my first sock ever, and I am just about ready to turn the heel. Very exciting.

Because the pattern yarn is discontinued, I substituted Koigu KPPM in color 627, which I'd originally bought to make the Koigu Fun Sock. I didn't do that well with the DPNs, and I am glad to be able to make socks another way with this yarn. It seems to be working well, and it is cool to see how the colorway ends up in the knitted project.

My commute actually isn't that long - about 25 minutes, but I can usually get several rounds in during that time. With bigger projects, I always felt rushed to finish just one more row! It is the best way to de-stress after work that I know of - maybe even better than that glass of wine at home!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Two Knitterly Lists... way of further introduction.


1. Knit for charity.

2. Buy yarn for specific projects/patterns only: avoid simply accumulating yarn because it is on sale, it is beautiful, etc. Perhaps this rule could be relaxed if I am on a trip and the yarn is purely one of a kind/locally produced, etc. In a perfect world, I would buy a pattern to go with it at the same time.

3. Try to have only 3 projects on the needles at once, e.g., a challenge, an easy/ knitting-as-therapy project, and a small project suitable for commute time and lunch hours.

4. Knit more gifts.

5. Gain more experience with lace.

6. Gain more experience with color work.

7. Join a knitting group, or at least, make friends with other knitters and occasionally chat about knitting.

Labeling myself. I:

1. Am a ‘continental’ knitter.

2. Work mostly from free patterns found on the web (such as Lion Brand, Knitty, and I have a big stack from Elann that I have yet to work).

3. Am a self-taught knitter.

4. Knit my socks with circulars, rather than DPNs.

5. Prefer bamboo needles over most others. I have mostly Clover needles, but have discovered Crystal Palace - their circular needles are awesome; a thinner and more flexible cord than the Clovers.

6. Save my old knitting mags.

7. Enjoy the ‘working’ stage of a project the most, when I have memorized the pattern and move smoothly through the project.

8. Also love the feeling of completion!

9. Think about knitting pretty much constantly.

10. Love to read about knitting (history, current events, other knitters/blogs).

Monday, June 26, 2006


Welcome to my knitting blog, and my inaugural post.

I am starting this for a number of reasons, in no particular order:

1. Everyone else is doing it.

2. I think it will be a great virtual journal of my knitting life.

3. After a knitting hiatus of maybe... 3 years... I am back into the groove in a huge way. I got back in the game knitting a shawl for my wedding.

So, what's up with the title?

I hate to brag, but I am possibly the least patient person in the world. As my husband so pithily observed, it is therefore somewhat surprising that I knit. I started to think about this lately - what is it about knitting that enables me to do it? I have had a number of hobbies over the years, nearly all of which have tried my very minimal reserves of patience - to the point of throwing things and having what my brother colorfully refers to as a "purple-faced nut attack."

I really haven't come up with a reason for why knitting has stuck with me. I just know that it has, and possibly, in the course of blogging and knitting, I will come upon the answer.

Where am I?

Recently finished objects:

1. White feather-and-fan shawl for my wedding in Lion Brand's "Microspun," from the label pattern.

2. Pink Cashmere purse for me because it was pretty. I thought I'd knit a second one (one skein makes two purses) for a friend. While the knitting was fun, assembling the purse elicited much cursing, to the amusement of my new husband. This was Knitty's "Best Friend," in Keja cashmere.

3. Criss-Cross shrug for me in Lion Brand Homespun, from LB's pattern.

On the needles:

1. Socks for me; my first pair. Socks Soar, "Simple Sock in Three Sizes," in KPPM color 627.

2. Raglan Funnel-neck sweater for me. Debbie Bliss, from Knitting Workbook, in Rowan Kid Classic, color "Peat."

3. Garter stitch triangle shawl (gift), in Lion Brand Homespun, from their pattern.

Planned Projects:

I am in major stash reduction mode.

1. Pam Allen's "Floral Gathering Sac" for me, in LaLana Wools' Obverse blend, colors are Monet and Apassionata. I am going to take this on our honeymoon - should be a great project for the flights and layovers. I had been coveting it ever since I saw it in a 2001 issue of IK; I decided to finally treat myself to it for the big trip.

2. Aran sweater for me, no. 4 in Winter 01-02 VK. I am substituting Lion Brand's Fisherman's Wool.

3. Socks for DH, the same Socks Soar pattern but in Cascade Fixation, color Onyx.

4. Socks for me, "Broadripple," from, in the specified Cascade Fixation.

5. Silver scarf, from 100 Knitting on the Go Projects. Gift for a friend, in Lion Brand's Glitterspun.

6. Bonbon, a bath pouf from, in Lion Brand's "Incredible." I should be able to get six out of my stash for gifts.

7. Several hats (gifts) in various yarns, using the Yarn Harlot's method, described here.

That should do it for now, don't you think?

Thanks for reading!