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.