Friday, December 28, 2007

For reals, this time.

With apologies to Leigh Hunt.

The Impatient Knitter (may her stash decrease!)
awoke one night from a deep dream of fleece,
And saw, next to the night light in her room,
Making it large, and like the Leaning Tower, loom,
a pile of yarn, tumbling to the floor of wood.
Contain the yarn though the Knitter should,
she lacked the space, not an inch under-bed.
"What thinkest thou?" she asked within her head,
And, with a sigh made of all things woolly,
Decided, "It is time to embrace it fully..."

.... and knit only from stash in 2008, and not buy any more freaking yarn in 2008. I have a fabulous stash, and no need to keep buying yarn when I could easily knit and crochet for years on what I have. I fell off the wagon spectacularly this year. Somehow, the resolution to not buy yarn except for the Knit and Crochet Show turned into not buying yarn until the Knit and Crochet Show, meaning that, after the show, I continued on blithely purchasing yarn.

And no more fiber. I don't spin enough to justify the mounds of fiber I have.

Resolved, I will:

1. thoroughly examine the stash and determine if anything is suitable for donating.

2. actually donate any yarn designated pursuant to item 1, rather than just take it to work so I can ship it during lunch, only to take it back home skein by skein when I decide I still want it.

3. review the status of all WIPs and UFOs and determine whether I will actually finish them or not, and frog those I don't plan to finish.

4. finish all other WIPs and UFOs, and only start new projects when an existing one is completed.

5. allow myself one final splurge in 2007 before the new regime kicks in (complete with pix for you, dear readers).

5. Air the stash and re-sort into bags by weight/project type.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Now THAT explains it.

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

"Born in England sometime in the second decade of the nineteenth century, you carved a notable business career, in South Africa and later San Francisco, until an entry into the rice market wiped out your fortune in 1854. After this, you became quite different. The first sign of this came on September 17, 1859, when you expressed your dissatisfaction with the political situation in America by declaring yourself Norton I, Emperor of the USA. You remained as such, unchallenged, for twenty-one years.

Within a month you had decreed the dissolution of Congress. When this was largely ignored, you summoned all interested parties to discuss the matter in a music hall, and then summoned the army to quell the rebellious leaders in Washington. This did not work. Magnanimously, you decreed (eventually) that Congress could remain for the time being. However, you disbanded both major political parties in 1869, as well as instituting a fine of $25 for using the abominable nickname "Frisco" for your home city.

Your days consisted of parading around your domain - the San Francisco streets - in a uniform of royal blue with gold epaulettes. This was set off by a beaver hat and umbrella. You dispensed philosophy and inspected the state of sidewalks and the police with equal aplomb. You were a great ally of the maligned Chinese of the city, and once dispersed a riot by standing between the Chinese and their would-be assailants and reciting the Lord's Prayer quietly, head bowed.

Once arrested, you were swiftly pardoned by the Police Chief with all apologies, after which all policemen were ordered to salute you on the street. Your renown grew. Proprietors of respectable establishments fixed brass plaques to their walls proclaiming your patronage; musical and theatrical performances invariably reserved seats for you and your two dogs. (As an aside, you were a good friend of Mark Twain, who wrote an epitaph for one of your faithful hounds, Bummer.) The Census of 1870 listed your occupation as "Emperor".

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, upon noticing the slightly delapidated state of your attire, replaced it at their own expense. You responded graciously by granting a patent of nobility to each member. Your death, collapsing on the street on January 8, 1880, made front page news under the headline "Le Roi est Mort".

Aside from what you had on your person, your possessions amounted to a single sovereign, a collection of walking sticks, an old sabre, your correspondence with Queen Victoria and 1,098,235 shares of stock in a worthless gold mine. Your funeral cortege was of 30,000 people and over two miles long.

The burial was marked by a total eclipse of the sun."

Only thing I would do differently is up the fine for utterers of the foul and blasphemous "Frisco."

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Winter of Our Mishegoss

Eh, I couldn't come up with anything appropriate that sounded like "discontent." So mishegoss, dear readers, is what you get.

Long story short, I am back. I took a break to devote some time to thinking about some career-related stuff and ultimately decided that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I am happy with my life over all. No one is 100% happy with a particular aspect of their lives 100% of the time. What matters, in this case, is the big picture. And as I am very nearly perfectly happy with my life most of the time, nothing of consequence needs to change.

And then Thanksgiving happened, which was delightful, but also involved me dashing about making appetizers, and then I got an inexplicably hot nut to do Christmas shopping which, you won't believe it, is pretty much done.

And now, brains unscrambled, I shall get back to my knitting. As usual, I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many WIPs crammed into various baskets and hideyholes. In fact, my Ravelry notebook claims that I have 9 knitting projects and 1 crochet project in various states of undoneness. That is an unprecedented 10 WIPs and I am thinking of starting Clapotis, well, pretty much now, since I have taken to carrying my Plymouth Bamboo Sister Set everywhere for just this sort of eventuality. It might not be that great of an idea, given my obviously chronic startitis.

While you're here, I thought I'd let you know of some upcoming features on the blog:

- Product review of the Lamb's Tail Strandholder for you spinners out there. I am forever getting up to get more fiber (ok, and another glass of wine) while spinning and I thought to myself, "there has to be a way to keep the yarn from going all crazy while I am doing that." Turns out, there is. When next I take to my wheel, I will let you know how it works.

- A special and revealing 100th post!

- *gasp* Crocheting!

- A handbag lining tutorial!

Happy crafting to all, and to all a really awesome weekend!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sushi, Johnnie Red and Sierra Nevada

Every once in a while, we have occasion to reflect on what sorts of behavior are truly unacceptable, and which are more like petty indignities that, while offensive or unpleasant, are unfortunately part of living and/or working in a big city. It sucks that we have to put up with them, but there's nothing you can reasonably or safely do about them without being a jerk (or worse) yourself. Pushy people on the train? MUNI late (again!)? The woman who won't stop discussing the ailments plaguing every single member of her large extended family? Fellow citizens who are as yet unaware of the wonders of deodorant? The scary dude two seats away? Let it roll off your back and stand at the other end of the car. It isn't the big deal it feels like, and besides. You haven't had your coffee yet.

Being yelled at by someone, especially at work, is an obvious example of something that is truly outrageous and unacceptable. Beyond the pale. Fortunately, it only happened to me once, and it was one of those things in which the yeller had clearly lost his shit and made himself so ridiculous, that even as a fleck of spittle flew in slo-mo out of his mouth and toward my forehead, I was very tempted to laugh. I had no qualms about rearing up to my full 5'2" inches to get nose to chin with the guy and tell him he was wrong, I was quitting, and P.S., telling a colleague that you and I are running away together is sexual harassment. Done.

Here's the thing I think is worse than that: being spoken to as if I am the dumbest person in the world. In the tone you would probably reserve for the one you think the most dull-witted among your household staff. The one whose mopping skills you would viciously criticize even though you've never mopped yourself. You on your cellphone, walking next to one of our colleagues, and me at my desk in total stupefaction. There's really no defense to that kind of tirade. I went for a sincere-sounding but not obsequious apology with a dash of genuine astonishment. After hanging up, I cried. I dried up. I went to the train station, whereupon I asked the guy at the shop which of the Johnnie Walker minis was better, and by the way, I'll have a Sierra Nevada as well.

I was still too rattled to read (I'd also left my ipod at home), but I happened to have knitting in my bag -- another sushi wallet for a gift. I brought it to find a matching zipper at Britex, and now it was here to keep me occupied until I got home.

I don't talk much about work on the blog, so you'll have to trust me when I say that the phone episode is one facet of a larger issue. I feel better now, but I think I'll take the cue from Rabbitch's sandwich.

Good weekend ahead, though. Tomorrow is the baby shower for the recipient of the BSJ and Embellished Hat, and I can't wait to watch her open them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

FO: Sushi Wallet

Yarn and Pattern: Sushi Wallet kit by Pick Up Sticks
Purchased at: The Knit and Crochet Show, Oakland CA 9/30/07
Needles: Clover Size 10 Straights
Lining: Britex Fabrics, San Francisco, CA (from stash)
Beads and findings: General Bead, San Francisco, CA (from stash)


Unable to decide between the "mini sushi" and "maxi sushi" versions, I did a little bit of both, embellishing the sushis with orange and yellow beads (like the roe that sometimes tops sushi). I actually decided to make lots of sushis in one go for future wallets and in case of felting weirdness. There is plenty of yarn included in the kit, so go nuts with the sushi.

I always line bags, however small, so I chose a kinda-coordinating fabric from stash and went to town. The final addition was the bead-charm zipper pull. When I found the "sorta looks like sushi" one in my stash, I swooned.

It was a fast, fun project. The kit would make a great gift for a knitter, and the FOs nice gifts for your friends. Roomy enough for a little evening clutch, methinks.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Did you know that I got an A in 11th grade geometry? This is the only math class in which I got anything higher than a C. In fact, I am sure I earned (yes, earned) a D at some point in some horrific math class. I had to drop out of Pre-Calculus senior year to avoid an F.

Despite that solitary A, there is apparently one fact of geometry which eludes me: pentagons have five sides. This is how I know Norah Gaughan is a scientist. She knows pentagons have five sides and designed her capecho accordingly.

This is why, when I cavalierly took out one pentagon in the top row of my capecho to make it smaller (thus more fitted), I failed to realize just how drastically I was throwing off the configuration of the lower row and, thence the sleeves.

I still think I can save it. It might look weird and be a bed jacket forevermore, but as soon as I take it out of the naughty basket, (a) I will take pix, as damning and laughable as they may be; and (b) try to fix it.

In the meantime, I will finish up my Sushi Wallet (felted and awaiting zipper and sushi sewing-on), continue on the Cap Shawl (pic below) and promise never ever again to bend the laws of geometry.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Weekend in Pictures

I went to the Knit and Crochet Show in Oakland this weekend. It was momentous not only because I took Friday off for the occassion, but also because it was the one exception I made to my yarn fast. I fully expected to gorge myself on all the yummy yarn I could stuff into the ginormous goodie bags we were given -- there were plenty of opportunities to do so -- but I did pretty well. I bought only things I really wanted, after thinking about them carefully. All but the laceweight are for projects I had been kicking around for a while. [ETA: Oooh, I just figured out what to knit with the laceweight! Muir. Totally.]

Back: 4 skeins of Rio de la Plata, hand-dyed, handspun wool from Uruguay (for Adult Surprise Jacket)

Right: Two skeins of Argosy Zen 4 Ply, hand-dyed cashmere (for feather and fan scarf of my own devising - kinda like the chevron scarf concept, but lacier). The lone greenie behind them is a ball of Moda Dea washable wool, the one gem from the goodie bag. I am going to use it in the Knitted Ruana from Folk Shawls.

Left: Weavette hand-held loom

Center-ish: Sushi Wallet Kit, Yarn Place "Graceful" Laceweight in a subtly variegated green.

Front: Unfortunately you can't see these too well. These are Abalone shell buttons, one of which is destined for my Capecho. I couldn't decide between them, so got both.

The three tweedy hanks are Peruvian Tweed, 100% alpaca, light worsted, for a Pi Are Square Shawl. I got tons, actually, so there is at least one other project in there too. On top of them are a hank of Tilli Tomas "Rock Star" with glass beads, and a hank of Tilli Tomas "Pure and Simple," both going into my Knitted Ruana. The needles are Asciano rosewood, handmade and absolutely gorgeous. I am saving them for the cashmere f&f scarf. On the plate are antique pewter buttons for my Juno sweater, a Gita Maria sheep shawl pin, and an Abalone/ebony shawl pin.

I also had classes on Friday (Fine Finishing with Nancie Wiseman) and Sunday (Disaster Recovery with JC Briar). Both were excellent. I had never taken a knitting class before, and being a self-taught knitter, I had a lingering belief that there was no knitting skill I couldn't teach myself if I wanted or needed to do so. However, there is something about being in a classroom setting that forced me to do things step by step, and not try to devise shortcuts for doing things by the book. I found I got better results than I might have done on my own. I also found that I have a little more confidence and less resentment about finishing things properly, now that I have seen for myself that it can be done, and isn't as painful as I imagined. The excellent results are worth the additional effort.

Among other things, the Disaster Recovery class inspired me to finally recondition some yarn I'd frogged a few months back. It is the Andean Silk I am using for my Capecho. I doubt I will need it for the Capecho, but it would be a nice addition to the Knitted Ruana when I get to that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Debut and FOs

Introducing, our first (yes, first. Yes, we're Luddites.) digital camera! Today, it will be bringing you three FOs and my latest WIPs.

In Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted (color Layette), we have:
BSJ (two skeins).

Be-ribboned hat (less than 1 skein).

In Blue Sky Cotton (pale pink), we have an embellished hat (less than 1 skein).

The hats are all basic roll-brim hats, no pattern required. Calculate your gauge and you're off to the races. The embellishments were unearthed from my ribbons & lace stuff stash.
I don't know about you, but Startitis hits me in the fall. Something about the weather change and the knowledge that, very soon, I will want to be warm and snuggly in wool. And so I give you three recently started objects. Top to bottom: the Icarus Shawl by Miriam Felton in Schaefer Yarns Andrea (Renata Tebaldi); Cabled Bolero (aka Capecho) from VK Winter 06/07, by Norah Gaughan in KnitPicks Andean Silk (Cornflower); shortie socks in Sophie's Toes (June Wedding).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Georgia on my Mind

Just back from my Virtual Vacation to Georgia, courtesy of Anne, who sent me a marvelous box of yarny goodness, treats and souvenirs.

The highlights of my vacation:

- A beautiful hank of Alpaca with a Twist's "Fino," in the very color I would have chosen for myself from the famous Knitch in Atlanta;

- Also from Knitch, their signature coffee from a local roastery, which is wonderfully smooth tasting. It was perfect for our Labor Day Blunch (this is the meal that takes place when we wake up at noon on weekends).

- The coolest souvenir keychain ever;

- Box of Toblerones, which was opened pretty much immediately for medicinal purposes when the packaged arrived on Friday morning;

- Peach salsa, which beat my previous favorite (Mollie Stone's Chipotle Salsa) in a comparative tasting this weekend;

- An array of postcards, the one of the Georgia Aquarium was a big hit. DH and I will have to make a point of going in real life -- he said it is the best aquarium in the country;

- A cookbook chock-full of southern deliciousness. Just the inspiration I needed to finally make fried chicken. I keep saying I am going to do it. And hushpuppies. I adore hushpuppies;

- A fabulous large (as all mugs should be) mug of Atlanta;

- Sweet Pea-scented body lotion. Sweet Peas are among my favorite flowers (I had them in my bridal bouquet), and this lotion smells absolutely lovely;

- A gorgeous-smelling sachet, which shall grace my office.
Thank you, Anne! I loved my package!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Into the woods

In which I no longer have to reach for upsides and get in a plug for my favorite basketball team.

I have been experiencing the onset of acute Germanophilia for a long time now. It all started with the innocent charms of German Rieslings, which led us to joining the San Francisco Chapter of the German Wine Society, and then to planning a trip to Germany (probably looking at 2009 for that one).

Closer to home, we have been seeking out German restaurants. Ideally, authentic German restaurants. With good atmo and a traditional feel. It was starting to look like a tall order. Not, like, Tim Duncan tall. But taller than the average dude.

So, when DH happened upon the Tyrolean Inn on the internets, our ears pricked up and we decided to head down there in the very near future. It is far enough away that we booked a room in a B&B for the weekend as well. The restaurant and the B&B are walking distance (okay, staggering. I like to end the meal with a nip of Goldwasser) from one another, and tucked among the redwoods. I cannot wait.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hump Day

Thanks for the contributions to the list of bay area yarn shops. I have gotten a bunch from several quarters and just need a good stretch of time to plug it all in. I will try to roll out an updated one early next week.

Speaking of updates, isn't it weird that life updates tend to fall into the same three categories, i.e.:

The good;

1. My mom is doing much better, and could be back home this weekend. There were some issues with her blood chemistry/compatibility with the anti-coagulant medication that have kept her in where they can observe her progress more closely.

2. Haven't been knitting nearly as much as I would like, in an effort to not stress my wrists. I am focusing nearly all of my energy on the BSJ, which is much much fun:

The cows are loving it. Look how cute they are. You can get a herd of your own here. This is from a couple weeks back; I'm actually just about to the bit where you knit on the center stitches for a while, and then do the picking up bit.

3. My poisonous mood of early morn has given way to a slightly sunnier disposition. This is probably to do with going to the gym (finally!) which I hate to admit because I rather dislike going to the gym and eagerly await the day when doctors come out of the woodwork telling us exercise is bad and we should all stop doing it.

4. I scored lunch (nice made to order turkey sandwich, banana, diet coke) for five bucks and change! Am I overreaching for good stuff? Probably.

The Bad (in which I nevertheless look for upsides);

1. Laundry night. Well, actually, laundry night has a shiny new allure since we started bringing a bottle of wine and glasses to the laundromat. We usually bring some K&L find that wasn't very expensive and we have never had before... and often turns out to be very good. And it is togetherness time which has been thin on the ground lately. So it's mostly goodish.

I am leaving it here anyway, because if there is anything as tedious as going to the gym and hamstering away on a cardio machine, it is doing laundry.

2. Our disposal de garbage decided to stop working for the second time this year. So, I get to sit around on Saturday waiting for someone to swing by and fix it. Nice that, as renters, we don't have to fix it ourselves though. Also, knitting and/or spinning time!

and the Ugly.

Ah, MUNI (San Francisco's craptacular public transpo, now styling itself as SFMTA). To me, it will always be MUNI, which is onomatopoetic for that foul stench that sometimes hangs out at the Pine/Davis/Market street intersection.

Ironically, I take MUNI to and from California's greatest public transportation thingy: Caltrain. Caltrain, where civility mostly reigns, you can have a drink (spirituous or not), and generally remain un-annoyed/appalled from San Francisco all the way to Gilroy if you so desire. MUNI, on the other hand, is the transpo equivalent of experiencing a deep, burning rectal itch during a refined social event. There's nothing you can do, so try not to think about it and hopefully it will go away.

I am considering getting a bike and riding from home to Caltrain, and then from Caltrain in SF to work. I have never been a fan of the two-wheeled torture device present-day humans call the "bicycle," but I think I could get used to it, considering the alternative (which is MUNI. I already ruled out hiring a car and driver).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Knitterly Tour of the Greater Bay Area

As part of a whole other project, I wound up compiling a selected list of yarn/fiber shops in the San Francisco Bay Area (to include San Francisco, the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Monterey).

I do not have any entries for the north bay counties (e.g., Marin, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, etc.). If you have any recommendations, I'd be delighted to include them.

In the meantime, HERE is the first draft of something I hope to continue updating. Enjoy, and happy shopping!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Thank you for your kind thoughts!

My mom had a stroke a couple of weeks ago. At first, we weren't sure what was going on, so there was a lot of panic and worrying about what It was. Fortunately, as these things go, it was pretty mild and the prognosis is excellent.

With all the long BART and car rides, ER sitting, ICU sitting and waiting room sitting, I finished that herringbone lace scarf I have been "working on" for months. In progress pix are on ravelry (jendickinson is the name), and FO pix coming soon to the blog and ravelry. It looks great. I even put beads on the fringe.

My mom is still in the hospital, and my jenny-do list is long. More later!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Offline for a while

Just letting everyone know I will be offline for a while -- taking a break from blogging, Ravelry & the KR forums while we deal with a family emergency. I will still be checking email once a day, but that's about it.

I am hopeful that all will ultimately be well, but if you would keep us in your thoughts and prayers....


Monday, July 30, 2007

Believe it or not....

The yarn fast is intact. With encouragement from Jessi and some friends on the Knitter's Review Forums, I rescued some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted (in square basket on right) from my box of yarns to destash, and it is slowly but surely becoming a Baby Surprise Jacket. I had worried that the colors were too girly, so I didn't even consider using it until the KR folks urged me to rethink my stash and see if I could come up with alternatives to falling off the wagon.

Why slowly on the BSJ? Because I am consumed by reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It didn't arrive until FRIDAY due to some shipping slo-mo. I thought I was being smart, the whole pre-ordering thing, getting it cheaper than I thought I could locally, avoiding lines and stuff. Turns out, all of my local bookstores had it at the same price as online, and as long as I waited a day or two, I easily could have avoided the crowds. Oh well.

I actually didn't start reading in earnest until Sunday, though. I went to a party on Friday and spent most of Saturday recovering from the party (and going to the SF Zoo with DH). Sunday after our errands, however, I dug in and read nearly 400 pages from the afternoon to bedtime.

Anyway, the yarn is working up so nicely in the BSJ (pix to follow soon, promise), I can't imagine why I wanted to destash it. I am actually rethinking a couple of other things in the destash box. I am embarrassed to say, all Colinette yarns I bought on an expensive whim (a ribbon I loathed working with, and a chenille that I semi-disliked working with, and a mohair I liked well enough, but didn't see using on its own). I am now thinking they would be nice ones to include in the Ruana from Folk Shawls - just a little bit of sparkle amid some more traditional wools/wool blends.

Not only am I fasting, I am on the verge of actually using things that were firmly in the layer of stash I might not ever use. I can't believe it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is it kosher?

We just found out that some friends of ours are pregnant! YAY! Naturally, the happy parents divulged all of the pertinent details with little prodding (boy, due in January). Now, I have a question for you all.

Can I make an ex post facto exception to my yarn fast and buy something boyish for a baby surprise jacket? I am not exaggerating when I say I don't have anything remotely appropriate in the stash. I swear on a stack of addi turbos that I won't buy anything else. Just something lovely for the new boy in our lives? What do we think?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Shawly, you jest!

If there is some kind of therapy for compulsive punning, let me know. I will voluntarily check myself in, as long as I can bring my knitting with me, and DH can visit any time.

I have three shawls on the go. Is that crazy? I cast on Icarus (scroll down) last night, with some Schaefer Andrea that has been burning a hole in my stash ever since I bought it on impulse at Urban Knitting Studio several months ago. As impulse purchases go, a 1000 yard hank of laceweight isn't a bad deal, even at 60 bucks a pop. The thing that sold me is that the color is called Renata Tebaldi. I love yarn, I love opera. It was in my basket faster than you can say "La Boheme." The colorway is a beautiful blend of deep pink, red and greeny-brown, and I think it will work up nicely, since Icarus has those bands of stockinette before you get to the lace edging.

The Cap Shawl is going well. I am nearly done with the center spiral -- only 18 more rounds to go before I start the second chart. In a way, I think of this as my first "real lace" shawl. The others were in heavier yarns on bigger needles, and this one is true laceweight on smaller needles. It even looks different: more rumpled and Ramen-like than my fingering and sportweight shawls. I think the magic of blocking will be even more evident with this one, and I am looking forward to it. I might give Russian string-blocking a whirl this time.

Finally, my Alfabeto shawl is a nice, easy one to pick up when I don't feel like concentrating, but really want to work on a shawl. I am following Clara's pattern in plain stockinette until I get bored with stockinette, at which point I will probably switch to dear old Feather and Fan to create a lacy, scalloped edge. I adore how the colorway is working up: no flashing or pooling, just a pretty shaded, dappled effect. It's gorgeous.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Resistance is Successful

No new yarn will be assimilated.

I frogged the Cardigan for Arwen. It is a lovely pattern, and I surely will get around to making it one of these days. I liked the yarn, too (KnitPicks Andean Silk in Cornflower), but after I blocked the back (ages ago, mind you) and realized it blocked out way bigger than the size I was making, I knew I was courting, if not outright disaster, than at least a really humongous sweater.

No, I didn't swatch. I cast on 20 or so stitches, did a few rows, and measured that. I didn't block the swatchlet, because I pulled the thing out and cast on the back.

In thinking of what I would do with the yarn (because, y'know, I don't have enough WIPs...), it occured to me that I could make EZ's Surprise Jacket (adult version), but wouldn't it be more fun with some other colors of Andean Silk for stripes? Off I go to the KnitPicks website, to check out the other colors. And, miracle! I didn't buy any. Even I couldn't stretch the "to finish a WIP" rule to cover additional yarn for a project that was not truly in progress, and indeed, I might not actually follow through with. Also, I didn't think any of the other colors went that well with the Cornflower.

I want to do the Surprise Jacket in a hand-dyed multi anyway. From stash.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Viva Las Vegas!

Cheesy as it sounds, that might be my favorite Elvis song. Not on its merits as a song (which are admittedly few), but more for the celebratory sense of a trip to Vegas.

We're back. We left Wednesday night and got back yesterday afternoon. It was a great trip. In no particular order, nine highlights:

1. The room was great. We had a spa room at the Excalibur, which in addition to the joy of soaking in our own hot tub whenever we darned well pleased, is a perfect location for other attractions.

2. We saw a baby dolphin at the Mirage. He was.... just ridiculously cute. They named him Sergeant Pepper, which... eh. I guess you would have to be a Beatles fan (which I am not). We nicknamed him Boing Boing which definitely fit his bouncy, playful demeanor.

3. We got to pet stingrays at Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef. They were sooooooooooooooo cute! Not that into being petted, quite honestly, but most of them were okay with a little stroke on their backs. I think the handlers trim their barbs so they can't sting people. The Shark Reef is actually a very cool aquarium, with lots of interesting creatures. The eponymous sharks are plentiful and scary, but there are also sea turtles (huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge!) and a lot of pretty little fish.

4. Finally went on the Manhattan Express, the roller coaster at New York New York, which I hadn't gotten to on any previous trips to Vegas. It is scarier than it looks. Not the scariest coaster I have ever been on, by any means (I famously repeated Hail Marys on one at Six Flags), but pretty freaking scary for a 30-something who hasn't been on a roller coaster in about a decade. I was totally game up until we sat in the car, and it occurred to me that this might not have been such a hot idea after all. The same thought occurred to me as we approached the foot of the first hill. I stated, very matter-of-fact as if discussing the weather, "oh shit!" and off we went. After two big drops, a corkscrew thingy, and two sets of several little hills, we wobbled off the ride, with jimmy legs and a powerful thirst after screaming ourselves dry.

5. Had quite possibly the best dinner of my life at StripSteak in Mandalay Bay. This is a Michael Mina restaurant that very successfully marries haute cuisine with classic American dishes. DH's prime rib was a perfect example: accompanying the meat were a demi-glace "au jus," and horseradish creme fraiche. DH asked me what the au jus was, being thicker, richer and glossier than the usual au jus you get with prime rib. I tasted it and geeked out on how you make demi-glace, why it tastes like that, and why it is so shiny.

Me, I got a big filet mignon with a veritable slab of foie gras on top. Not just a wee little slice, but a piece the size of a toddler's fist, grilled just until the inside was gooey and plopped atop my steak.

They started us off with a complimentary appetizer of french fries deep-fried in duck fat, which I must sadly report were absolutely fabulous. There were three versions, each with a different seasoning and paired with a coordinating dip -- the truffled one was my favorite, of course.

6. Agent Provocateur makes the best bras ever (Forum Shops at Caesar's). So beautiful, such a perfect fit, and so expensive that I was nearly moved to tears.

7. There are wine bars on the strip, believe it or not. The best one is 55 Degrees at Mandalay Bay. Details will follow on our wine blog later in the week.

8. We aren't big gamblers, actually. Other than a couple of sports bets, we didn't do much gambling. We finally resorted to it in earnest to kill time before dinner at Stripsteak on Saturday night. I played video poker for about an hour on the same 20 bucks. We didn't win anything, but it was a good run.

9. We saw Jubilee at Bally's, which was very good. The production was high quality, and it struck me as a very classic Vegas show. And, really, when all the showgirls line up and do that kicking thing in perfect unison, it is quite impressive.

And now, for the obligatory knitting content. I haven't been knitting much lately. I have had some wrist and hand pain, and am trying not to stress them more than is strictly necessary. Accordingly, I didn't bring any knitting for the plane, and I am probably going to be knitting less over the coming weeks until I get some strength back.

I am also officially on a yarn fast, due to the aforementioned shopping at Agent Provocateur and the decrease in knitting. I will not be purchasing any yarn for myself for the rest of the year. Two exceptions: 1. running out of yarn on a WIP; 2. the Knit and Crochet Show in September , for which I already registered, and then only for a (as in one) planned project. No impulse buys. I will keep you posted!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Monday. No, Thursday. It's Thursday, right?

Free Online Dating

Really? I am pretty sure I have said the F-word, and there is a pic of a middle finger, too. Hunh.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Whinge

If you don't mind, I need a bit of a whinge.

Has everyone's week just sucked? It can't just be me. It can't. The only solution for now is yarn shopping, more yarn shopping, Rishi's Citron Oolong, and refocusing on happy thoughts like the weekend, and vacations (virtual and actual). Rescue Remedy Pastilles don't hurt either.

Thanks to my VVS pal for making contact -- I am so excited I can hardly sit still. I loved your e-card!

Actual vacay is a long weekend in Fabulous Las Vegas, week after next. As for knitting, I am taking nearly the same projects I took on my last trip, which was to Las Vegas as well (actually Henderson, for a friend's baby shower): the Sylph scarf, and a sock, albeit a different pair. Airport/airplane knitting is the best. Nothing passes the time or relaxes the nervous flyer like knitting. EZ was right.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Yes, folks, a year ago today, I created this blog and posted my first entry. I perused that entry in a "taking stock" sort of way, and was amused to discover that I only completed one of the planned projects (Pam Allen's Floral Gathering Sac) and one of the WIPs (Koigu socks). The rest, I either didn't start, or unceremoniously frogged for various sound and good reasons.

But I have done a bunch of other things that I truly love and enjoyed knitting. My favorites include EZ's ribwarmer, the Children of Lir Stole, and Stefanie Japel's minisweater. It's been a productive and wonderful year in knitting. I am a better and choosier knitter than I was a year ago.

A huge thanks to everyone who has read the blog this year, and to everyone who has taken the time to comment.

Now, for some updates:

1. Moth

The be-moth'd yarn was not able to be dry-cleaned (it was actually going to be a gentler wet-cleaning process, according to the guy on the phone). This was deeply annoying to me when I first learned that they weren't going to be able to do it after all (despite calling ahead to avoid this very result), but whatever. I had begun to question the need to dry-clean anyway, and I think another round of dry ice-bombing will do the the trick. The yarn that was in other, moth-free, areas has been sucked into space bags and even more liberally salted with lavendar.

2. WIPs

The stuff on the needles is largely progressing well. Juno, especially, is chugging right along. The back is done, and I have both sleeves on the needles now. I plan to do the collar next to break up the monotony of 2x2 ribbing, and then do both fronts simultaneously to finish her up. It's a fast knit, and I am looking forward to wearing it when the weather turns cold.

The Cap Shawl is in the naughty basket at the moment. How simple eyelets can screw me up so badly, I will never know. I wanna say to it: "I did make Children of Lir, you know. I am not an idiot." I do like the pattern, though, and especially adore (ok, worship) the yarn, so this is still definitely a front-burner project destined for finishing. I'd like to have it done in time for the upcoming opera season, which starts in September. For anyone else, that would be plenty of time. But with me and my WIP proliferation, you never know.

Artfibers' Tsuki ROCKS, by the way. I have never (!) used Kidsilk Haze, so I can't compare. But when you can get a whole cone of Tsuki for less than the called-for amount of KSH and support a local institution, why even go there? It's a lovely yarn to work with, with a pleasant silky hand, and just enough of a mohair halo (not so much that it's really hairy). Also, working from the cone means the only ends you have to weave in are your cast on/off tails, and the bit where you broke the yarn to cast on the edging. I might try to fiddle my way out of that one, though.

Everything else is on the backburner, though I will always pick up a sock when I want something small to work on -- either to take on the road or just to fit in a couple of rows.

3. Yarny goodness

If you are in or near San Francisco, head on down to the Ferry Building (which you should do anyway - good gourmet shopping, the Farmer's Market, bay views, good eats...) and grab some organic wool yarn from Big Belly Farm, available at Capay Organic. According to the description on the band, the wool is "washed, dried and spun through a gentle, natural process." The yarns are undyed, so the colors are wonderfully sheepy creams and browns. The wool is a blend of Merino, Rambouillet, Lincoln & Suffolk sheep.

The yarn I bought is a 2 ply, probably DK weight, 250 yd/4 oz hank for 14.95. They also had a chunky 2 ply, and I thought I saw a lighter weight singles as well. I didn't closely examine them all (I was too excited for that), but I think all of the weights were sold in hanks of the same yardage for 14.95.

The yarn is soft, but durable-feeling: not like buddah, but not scratchy either. Me, I think it would be perfect for an Aran or gansey, so that's what I will be making. Leaning toward gansey, as I think the brown I chose would be more suitable for that, for some reason.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BSJ Ideas? **Picture Heavy**

1a. Rowan 4 Ply Soft, wedgewoody blue (2 balls in front; 4 total in stash) and sprucey green (on top of the yellow Lisa Souza on left; looks more blue in pic). There's some KPs Memories in there too (3 cakes stacked next to the blue 4 ply soft).

Not pictured: a deep orangey Rowan 4 Ply Soft that is very close to one of the shades in the KP Memories.

1b. KPPPM, the blue and green are potentially boyish, and could coordinate with the blue and green 4 ply soft in the pic above (would not use the KP memories in that case). What about the two skeins on the ends? Could I mix coordinating multis and solids in an appealling way? Downside, I originally bought these for the Charlotte's Web Shawl (although I have been reconsidering that project).

2. In basket on right -- Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Layette (this was a WIP but since frogged). Is this too girly, though (cream, yellow, bluey lavendar)? Upside, I have PLENTY, no plans for it (was considering de-stashing it to a charity) and it is superwash.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Step 3: Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin and Tonic!

What did you do last night?

Why, I waged war on moths.

Step 1. Empty accursed basket onto floor. Take yarn out of doors and beat each skein senseless over a beach towel.

Step 2. Pop newly-tenderized yarn into 20 gallon heavy-duty ziploc bags. Toss in (with BBQ tongs, please) 1/2 lb chunks of dry ice. Close bags LOOSELY and transport GINGERLY to bathtub. Go here for a more scientific (albeit gin-less) explanation of this step.

Step 3. Prepare gin and tonic to desired strength in pint glass. Sit on couch with the Yarn Harlot while the ice does its thing. You will find the chapter entitled Moth particularly relevant.

Step 4. When the ice is nearly gone, zip up bags and watch (hand rubbing and evil laugh optional) as the gases slowly fill them, thereby annihilating the wretched, horrible, foul moth**f***ers that had the unmitigated temerity to take up residence in your beloved stash.

Step 5. Go out to dinner with your husband. Try not to natter on and on about the moths. Note that your husband was very supportive and totally willing to help you carry out step 6 the following day.

Step 6. Though the fumigation should have killed any adult moths, their festering eggs and (permit me a small gaaaaaack here) larvae, I am not taking any chances. Tomorrow is Peninou day. After which, I plan to get an ice cream at Foster's Freeze.

The dry cleaning will not only clean the yarn and assure that the skeins are totally moth-free, their spanking cleanliness will help repel moths in the future. As soon as the skeins are back home, they will be popped into space bags, and then into some other container that has yet to be purchased.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rolla-coastaaaaah.... of yaaaarn.

What a week! On the best and most fantabulously wonderful end of the spectrum, today is mine and DH's first wedding anniversary! We're heading to one of our favorite neighborhood haunts for pizza that reminds us of Italy (Pizzeria San Remo in the charming downtown of San Carlos). Saturday, we will be heading to Harris' in San Francisco for steaks, martinis, and wonderful wine. He sent me the most gorgeous roses I have ever seen and sniffed.

The yarn front has been so upsy downsy, I might be motion-sick. I fear all the wonderful and good might be offset by the enormous emotional weight of a teeny wee beastie. To wit, a moth. One floated drunkenly out of my stash last night. The main stash in the living room, which is, in the horrific 20/20 vision of hindsight, stupidly stored in a wickery hamper thing with nary a bit of armor. I salted my precious lovelies with sachets of lavendar and blocks of cedar without a thought of these foul winged invaders. I cavalierly failed to vacuum as much as I should, and dusting? Pfffft!

My shoddy housekeeping and careless ways have come home to roost in my beautiful and expensive stash. My hope is that the fluttery bastard I saw was just leaving after freaky moth sex with his chick (later babe! I'll call ya!), and no eggs have been laid, or if they have, none have hatched. For it is the absolutely revolting-looking larvae that eat the yarn. If the evil poxy eggs have hatched, I hope it hasn't been for long.

In any event, the entire stash is being picked up by Peninou for careful inspection and gentle (but effective) moth-killing and cleaning. There are no limited wars, people. The costs will be high, but the yarn must be saved. It is tempting to go the DIY route to save a little money and have the satisfaction of actually doing something about it with my own two hands. Until my own two hands touch. Ohmigod. Lar. Lar. Larvae. But this way lies folly.

I did cry, by the way, when the enormity of the danger to the stash dawned on me this morning. I am not ashamed to admit it.

Let's turn to the good stuff, shall we?

Rheingold arrived yesterday, my kit being in the Dunkeld colorway. This will likely be the only yarn not going to Peninou since it was nowhere near the scene of the crime.

Jessi sent me the most stunning array of hand-dyed loveliness ever collected in one box. Also not going to Peninou, as it is sitting under my desk at work. These shall be my sole comforts.

Got my shawl pin from Romi. Thank heaven there aren't any sterling moths.

Today is the Yarn Harlot's birthday. I am hoping that the gift of her presence to the yarn world somehow renders all moths sterile.

Off to wage the moth war. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yarn for Thought

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged as well! Answer the following questions in your blog, and leave a link in the comments. Here's where it all started. I was asking myself something like these very questions when I was walking Pepper last night. Something about dog walking leads me to ruminate. Hmmm.

#1 Is it about the finished item or about the process of knitting? Some of both? Has your focus changed one direction or the other over time?

It used to be about the FO. Getting it done, and if it was done imperfectly, or even bizarrely, that's ok. Now, it is still kind of about the FO. I still want something to show for all the time I have put into a project, but the journey really is half, or even more than half, of the fun now. I find myself enjoying the process more, and wanting the experience of new techniques. Not just learning them, but feeling the subtleties of a given technique in my hands.

What is really funny to me now is, I enjoy the long middle period of a project more than anything else. That part in which you are knitting and knitting and knitting, and finishing is really far off. It is my favorite part. Starting is exciting, but comes with frustrations, like trying to get gauge, or worrying that the yarn isn't working out as well as you'd hoped.

As I get nearer to finishing, I get antsy and obsessed about finishing RIGHT NOW, often struggle through the finishing (especially if there is sewing up involved). And then, when it is all done, I have sort of a post-project depression until something new seizes me, and the whole thing starts anew.

The only truly perfectly enjoyable phase for me is the middle. So, I think it is mostly about the process of knitting for me these days.

#2 How do you view mistakes? Do you think they give your project character? Is it important to have one, as my Aunt says, because only God is perfect? Or would you rip all the way back to row 5 of your husband's finished sweater knit on size 3 needles to eradicate a mistake no one else would notice?

I will let a mistake go if all of the following are true: it isn't structural (i.e., the garment won't fall apart because of it); it is unnoticeable; and it is several rows back. I don't shoot for perfection, but I do shoot for something pretty close to it. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing correctly, and to the best of my ability/sanity, that is what I try to do.

#3 Would you rather knit a project that is comfortable for your skill level, or do you prefer a challenge that requires you to figure out new things?

Challenge. I will ease into new things, but once I feel I am ready to try something new/more difficult I don't hesitate to do it in some form or another. I will often return to something simpler, though, and find that return very refreshing. I also try to do simpler projects in an innovative way to keep them new and interesting. EZ's garments are great for that, and I have (re)discovered how much I like garter stitch if it is done in an unusually constructed garment. I recently made a ribwarmer and was amazed at how quickly the knitting went because I couldn't wait to see how it all worked. I am looking forward to making a Bog Jacket for a similarly eye-opening experience.

#4 What is something you really want to make but haven't yet? What holds you back? Is it money, skill level, time, fear of the unknown or something else?

Nothing specific. I think I am on track toward making everything I feel I really have to make. I know I won't hit all techniques/projects in my lifetime, and it is unlikely that I will truly master any one in particular. I love the idea of being a master knitter, the one who knows nearly everything there is to know, but I started too late for that, I think. It makes me a little sad, actually, but I am realistic about it, and just keep knitting.

If there is one thing I feel I must do and haven't yet, it might be a wedding ring shawl. I don't think I am held back on doing it. I get a little closer with every lace item I make.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Virtual Vacation Swap Questionnaire

1. If you could visit any state in the US, which would it be and why? That's hard. Maybe Montana. I always thought someday I'd have a big ranch with sheep and alpaca and that might be a good place to do it. It is supposed to be very beautiful. I love big open spaces and outdoor activities.

2. If you could visit any country in the world, other than your own, which would it be and why? Germany. That will be our next big trip, so it is pretty all-consuming/at the forefront of my mind right now. We love German Rieslings, and are anxious to check out the regions where the grapes are grown. Also, just generally, I love traveling in Europe, and it's one country there I haven't been to yet. The people you meet, the different foods, architecture, arts/culture are all appealing to me.

3. Have you ever driven across several states/provinces/countries? Yes, on road trips from Greencastle, Indiana to Austin, Texas. We did it a few times (from our college town, to my best friend's home town and back) and I don't think we did it the same way twice. My favorite stop was Memphis. It's a cool town. The people were nice, and the BBQ was superb.

4. Have you ever visited someplace you consider exotic? Where was it? Eh..... not really. Going to Costa Rica in January, and I think that will be exotic, because we will be in the rainforest for most of it.

5. What was your favorite "travel" vacation? Why? Easy. Our honeymoon to Italy in September of 2006. We were gone a month, and I felt like, in each city, we saw nearly everything we could have seen, and it was very well-paced. We weren't rushed at all. DH planned the entire trip, and did a great job. More details on our trip here and here.

6. Have you ever played tourist in your own home city/state (if international, country)? Explain. Yup. When my best friend visited me, we did the tourist thing through San Francisco, CA, which no native SF-an would ever dream of doing on his/her own. It was great fun. Chinatown was probably the fave. We had great dim sum on the cheap, and you can wander in and out of shops forever.

7. Are you a museum visitor, beach comber or an amusement seeker? Museums if in a place with great ones. Amusement seeker everywhere.

8. What's your favorite type of yarn? Wool. Animal fibers generally. Aran/Worsted and lighter for weight.

9. What's your least favorite type of yarn? Synthetics (except for smaller amounts in blends, e.g. nylon content in sock yarns) and novelty yarns.

10. What items do you like to knit? I knit a little bit of everything, but my favorites are lace shawls, socks, hats and sweaters.

11. What do you pack, knit-wise when you go on vacation? Shorter trips: socks and a scarf or hat(s). Longer trips, might add a shawl or sweater piece. Any trip that involves the possibility of yarn shopping, I pack my Denise set for swatching new purchases.

12. What other crafts do you like to do other than Knit? Spinning and needle felting. Occasionally sewing and beadwork.

13. Are you allergic to anything? (Yarn wise or treat wise). None to yarn/fibers. Allergic to walnuts.

14. What is your favorite color? Least Favorite? Absolute favorite color is pink. Close favorites are blue, green and purple. Least favorites are more a matter of tone, e.g., love rich browns and moody greys, but not blah ones.

15. Sweet or Savory (Treat not personality)? By a hair: savory.

16. Anything else we are forgetting to ask that you think your partner desperately needs to know? Nope!

Weirdest thing

Last night's commute, I didn't get mad, even though MUNI was having problems. And it wasn't because I was happily knitting away. It was because I was listening to the freshly downloaded greatest hits of Journey.

I blame it on VH-1. On Sunday, we were flipping through the channels and landed on VH-1 during a countdown of the "40 most Softsational Soft Rock Songs," or something like that. Naturally, Journey was on the list (with Open Arms) and DH and I started naming Journey songs -- DH even sang a couple. I made myself a mental list of songs to download at the next available opportunity.

So, on Monday evening, I listened happily. Though I tried my best to be visibly frustrated and annoyed at the transpo delays, I JUST COULDN'T DO IT. Every time I tried to make a scowl and roll my eyes, I smiled instead. It was the weirdest thing.

The other weird thing that happened was a massive cleaning binge last night. Not only did I dust furniture, I dusted the objects that sit on said furniture. *boggle*

But tonight, tonight my friends, will be all about knitting. Jessi and I are going to knit Cookie A's German Stocking together (both in Champagne , which we chose completely independent of one another), so I want to wind those skeins tonight and swatch. I am also hoping to successfully swatch (again) and cast on my Dale of Norway, since I finally tracked down some 000 circs. That's how loose a knitter I am, people. A sweater on 000s.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Here she is.....

Children of Lir. Finished. I am beyond words. I really love it. I actually got all misty watching her dry. Which I did, for a good 10 minutes while DH watched Law & Order reruns. The horrible cramp I got in my legs whilst blocking was totally worth it


Pattern: Children of Lir Stole, from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls (Martha Waterman, Interweave Press)

Yarn: Lisa Souza Sportweight, 2 balls (some leftover) in Violet's Pink Ribbon

Needles: Clover Bamboo circulars, size 10

Measurements: before blocking, approximately 22 in. wide by 49 in. long; blocked to 26 in. wide by 72 in. long. Blocked with wires and T-pins.

What I learned: stitch markers between repeats is very helpful. Put in your lifeline before you screw up the first time. Don't knit lace while watching the Masters Tournament.

Changes I made to the pattern: used garter stitch for the borders instead of seed stitch. I slipped the first stitch of every row wyif to create a smooth edge. I also worked it end to end, rather than start in the center with the provisional cast on.

Smartest thing I did: wrote out each line of the pattern repeat on an index card. I then punched holes in and put them on a ring (I used a massive shower curtain ring because that's what I had handy) in order. This helped me keep track of rows, and I didn't get bogged down reading the pattern, which is not charted. I used a paperclip to mark the next row to do when I put the project away for the day.

Concluding thoughts: I really enjoyed this pattern. The results are smashing, and though it looks complex, the pattern repeat is really very logical, and do-able for someone relatively new to lace. The yarn is gorgeous - very soft and a joy to work with.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ahem. MemeMemeMemeMeeeeeeeeemeeeeee.

Bold for stuff you've done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you're not planning on doing.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire - never again. Ever.
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with bananafiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting - WTF?
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffitti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Knit lefty style (backwards)
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dyeing with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies, coasters...)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars
Olympic knitting!
Knitting with someone else's handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dyeing yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting - isn't all knitting textured? But if you mean, like Ganseys....
Kitchener BO - insert movie reviewer from In Living Color: "hated it!"
Knitting with beads
Swatching - as in have I done an actual, honest to God swatch, bound it off and kept it? Once.
Long Tail CO
Entrelac Knitting
Purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere
Darning - as in weaving in ends? Yes. As in socks, I use the yarn harlot's method.
Jewelry - never again. It was hell. Hell, I tell you.
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern - still working on it. It is harder than it looks.
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Monday, May 21, 2007

Jury Duty: a Knitter's Verdict.

I was on jury duty last week. It was a very knitterly experience for me. I made excellent progress on my mock cable sock during our breaks. This is the second time I have made this pattern, and it might well become my "standard" sock pattern (NB: you may need to register). I have so much trouble getting gauge with socks, and this pattern has been a winner with both STR and Knitpicks' Memories, which are totally different yarns. I've heard a lot of knitters say they get weird looks or comments when they knit in public, but my fellow jurors were pleasantly curious and interested. It was nice.

And, there is a yarn shop near the courthouse by the name of Cottage Yarns. Go now. You will love it. The owner, Kathryn, is very welcoming, and we had lovely chats on both (!) of my visits. I came home with some Euroflax linen for the tuxedo blouse in the new IK, and two skeins of Mountain Colors "Bearfoot" probably destined for a pair of knee socks.

She stocks an interesting variety of yarns. Some things I'd never seen (Karabella Lace Merino), a vast selection of basics (Cascade 220, Galway, lots of Brown Sheep, Encore), and some seriously yummy luxury yarns (Joseph Galler Alpaca, oh mah gawd; lots of Karabella, like Boise and Margrite). She also had the Malabrigo laceweight; this was tempting, but for some reason, I didn't see myself using laceweight singles for a shawl. I am not sure if it would withstand the vigorous blocking I like to inflict on lace.

The actual work of jury duty was worthwhile, too. A very interesting experience. It is a pain to be taken away from the regular routine, but if you can set aside the time, I'd recommend doing it when you have the opportunity. For me, it was a valuable lesson in how 12 reasonable people can disagree, and that doesn't mean anyone's an idiot. It is totally possible that we can all hear the same story and have a different take on it. Getting everyone to come to an agreement can be difficult, but it gets done all the time. We did it. The most surprising thing was that I truly did go into the deliberations with a totally open mind. Usually, I am snap judgment girl, and I fully expected to have an opinion as soon as the closing arguments were done. In actuality, it took a good 20 minutes of talking with everyone before I could form an opinion. Everyone else's thoughts were really helpful to me in figuring out my own position, which is an absolute first. Working collaboratively was a refreshing new experience.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Delicious Anticipation

There's a priority mail flat rate box sitting under my desk. It arrived this morning, brimming with a delicious sense of anticipation and possibility. It is a box full of pure potential, and one big knitting dream so close to realization. Oh, and several balls of Daletta and the Emilie cardigan pattern. It will be my first Dale of Norway sweater, and I am actually choked up thinking about how beautiful this sweater will be, and how much I am looking forward to knitting it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Atkins for knitters. P.S. It doesn't work.

Perhaps inspired by the hyper-specific fad diets we're seeing these days, in which one obsessively (and, dare I say it, irrationally in some instances) denies oneself one category of food, I considered going on a sock yarn diet. Socks seem to take a me a long time, and I have quite a few lovelies stockpiled already. So, it seemed logical that I might reduce my purchasing of just sock yarns and see how that worked. Unlike dieting with food, for me, a holistic approach to yarn dieting would be doomed to a spectacular and public failure.

It has probably already occured to you, dear readers, that I've got this bass-ackwards. Most people don't even consider sock yarn stash, so why on earth would I attempt a sock-specific yarn diet?

The Universe is wondering the same thing. She proved either your point or mine, when she waved this under my nose and made me buy the last skein of the Bordeaux colorway. I nobly resisted for approximately three seconds before cavalierly dropping the skein in my cart. The thing that's bugging me is not that I bought yarn when I wasn't supposed to but rather, does it mean that:

1. Sock yarn doesn't count as stash, so what on earth was I doing trying such a specific diet (which, by the way, only lasted the four hour span between getting up this morning and happening upon the yarn)?


2. This kind of thing is exactly why I shouldn't be buying any more sock yarn for awhile.

Vote in the comments!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Okay, everyone! Back to your knitting!


Dateline: Bay Area, CA, approximately 5:05 pm Thursday, where a local woman has just recovered from opening a package labeled "Rockin' Sock Club." Mrs. Dickinson, along with thousands of people worldwide, have received similar packages over the last few days. Reports of hysterical whooping, fainting, and even running naked down the street waving hanks of hand-dyed sock yarn have flooded newspapers and police stations in villages and large cities alike.

Mrs. Dickinson stated that she had expected the package at her office, and reportedly stalked the mail room guy until he threatened to get a restraining order against her. Efforts in this regard proved futile however, as in order to comply with the order, Mrs. Dickinson would not be able to come to work at all.

Accordingly, she was stunned to arrive home, and find the much-desired package in her mailbox. She yanked it out, scattering junkmail, and ran upstairs to her apartment, keys at the ready. She even turned off the Cast-on podcast mid-essay in order to be completely ready to open the package and bask in its contents the second she entered the apartment. Mrs. Dickinson stated that she "never turns off Cast-on" unless and until she "absolutely [has] to."

When Mrs. Dickinson opened her package, she was left with only two words: "Holy crap," which she uttered so reverently that a flourish of trumpets could be heard in the background. The beautiful Merino/silk yarn then emitted a golden glow. The next thing Mrs. Dickinson recalled was being awakened from a deep swoon by her dog Pepper, a 60 pound Blue Heeler, who was more than ready for her w-a-l-k.


My pinky has healed. I will commence knitting the April socks tonight. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Wrath of Pinky

I dissed the Pinky in an email to my brother. Who, as it turned out, is a Pinky. He replied saying, "hello, Middle Finger. I see the assassins have failed." But I was not without injury. The assassins succeeded in breaking a wine glass in my hand as I was washing it. As a result, I sustained a frighteningly deep cut to (oh, the irony) my left pinky finger.

It gets worse. I knit in a more or less continental style. Though the index finger and thumb of my left hand play the starring roles, my left pinky is a supporting actress in that it curls inward around the working yarn, providing the gentlest bit of tension. Though the cut has mostly healed, my pinky is sore and doesn't like to curl as much as I need it to curl. I cannot knit until it is in complete working order.

Sunday night, while DH watched the Warriors game, I twitched like a little kid hopped up on Mountain Dew and Halloween candy and then dragged by her parents through The Large Museum of Deeply Boring Things That You Can't Touch. Ordinarily, I would have been knitting.

I have resorted to scrapbooking. Which, by the way, I dislike. It isn't a craft. It is essentially a chore, much like weeding or tidying the drawer I call "the tool drawer," and DH refers to as "that damned drawer full of junk." I am buoyed by two facts: (1) that this particular endeavor is the organization of our honeymoon photos, and revisiting them truly is enjoyable; and (2) unlike our wedding albums, I have dispensed with the hardcore scrapbooking methods. The vast majority of the pages are devoted exclusively to the photos, and I am making separate pages for the relatively few scrappy bits I saved from the trip. I am nearly done.

However, in support of my longed-for return to knitting and consequent avoidance of the hardcore, cult-of-scrapbooking wedding albums, I propose the following list of reasons...


1. Knitting requires very little set-up or take-down. Pull it out of your bag or basket, and you are ready to go.

2. Knitting does not require a vast array of tools and materials. You need yarn, needles and a relatively small selection of helpers like crochet hooks, stitch markers and cable needles, all of which can be comfortably contained in a box or basket.

3. Knitting is portable. You can do it almost anywhere, which also means that almost any idle moment can be filled with crafting.

4. Knitting requires very little space in which to work. You can do it in one small corner of your sofa, or a cozy chair. Scrapbooking takes about half of a dining room table at minimum, with papers, templates, photos and scissors scattered about.

5. You can't wear a scrapbook.

6. Knitting does not make your fingers sticky with glue, or involve papercuts. Though we joke about knitting-related injuries, I do not personally know of any actual person who has been injured by her tools or materials.

7. Knitting does not resemble tidying, organizing, sorting or cleaning in any way, shape or form.

8. Knitting consists of a small, compact series of rhythmic movements, often creating a feeling of relaxation and calm. You can watch TV or let your thoughts wander, if you're working on a simple project. Scrapbooking is all reaching, cutting, gluing, placing and sorting. There's little rhythm to it, and if you want it to look halfway passable, your complete attention is required.

9. You can wing knitting and undo bad execution without ruining your materials. Wing a scrapbook, and your mistake often renders your materials unusable.

10. Scrapbooks tend to look best with a lot of planning ahead, i.e., choosing coordinating papers, building around themes, and designing specific pages. This is optional in knitting. If you don't like this much planning, most of it can be done for you by an expert in the form of patterns, the selection of which is vast and readily available.

If I missed anything, please add more reasons in the comments!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Well, duh.

You Are the Middle Finger

A bit fragile and dependent on your friends, you're not nearly as hostile as you seem.
You are balanced, easy to get along with, and quite serious.
However, you can get angry and fed up with those around you. And you aren't afraid to show it!

You get along well with: The Index Finger

Stay away from: The Pinky

Two comments:

1. For some reason, I am overcome with hilarity that The Pinky is my nemesis.

2. I have a working hypothesis that 80% of people who take this quiz suspect that they are The Middle Finger, and look forward to confirming same. 10% are disappointed that they are, in fact, another finger.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ask the Impatient Knitter

Q: I am knitting a lace shawl. When is a good time to put in a lifeline?

A: I shoot for about the halfway point, but typically end up putting in the lifeline before that, inspired by having to painfully tink back a bunch of rows, obsessively counting stitches at the end of each, to the last row I did correctly, whereupon I emit a sigh of relief and stuff the project back in its bag. If all my knitting instincts are in good working order, I put the lifeline in the next time I pick up the shawl. If I have failed to learn my lesson, the next time I pick up the shawl, I brazenly knit on, sans lifeline, until I need to be reminded again.

We shall see what happens tonight, when I hope to pick up my Children of Lir Stole again. DH is meeting a friend for drinks, and to watch the Warriors-Trailblazers game. It will be an ideal time to get in some mileage on this project. The last time I picked it up was during the final round of the Masters tournament, which was not a very good choice on my part, as I actually wanted to watch the tournament. One good birdie putt is a recipe for dropping stitches, forgetting your place in the stitch pattern, or missing yarnovers. Take my word for it.

In the meantime, I have been knitting mostly on the Ivy sweater. The Karabella Breeze is working out beautifully. It's crispness shows the stitches to great advantage, especially the cabled section at the bottom. I am about 3/4 of the way up the back. Here's what I love about this sweater. The first few cable repeats were like getting to base camp: "are we there yet?" Then, I got into the rhythm of it and became positively addicted to the cables and couldn't wait to start the next repeat. By the time I got done with them, I was ready for a little rest, and the stockinette started right there. I expect that if this gets old, it will be just in time for the armhole shaping, after which it is a quick trip to the neckline and bind-off. Yay!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

For Kurt Vonnegut

Lots of knitters out there already missing you.

Peace on your journey, friend.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Until today, the last time I won anything, it was a gigantic bag of fertilizer at the county fair when I was 5 years old. My parents were thrilled, as they'd been wanting to re-do the lawn, but I was S-O-L.

I chose the handspun. Very much worth the 28 year wait.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The minds, they are a'changin'

(With apologies to Bob Dylan: Sorry, dude. I can't resist puns. Or whatever it is that's in the title).

Sarah would like to know whether I've changed my mind about anything.

It is a worthy question. I am a pretty rigid person, usually. My mind, once made up, will generally stay that way, if not forever, close enough to it that you'd have to wait around a really long time. The times I have changed my mind are so rare and golden that I should start a hall of fame for them.

1. Ch-ch-ch-changes

One that leaps most readily to mind was my prejudice against science fiction books. I liked some TV shows (okay, just Star Trek, the Next Generation) and movies, but for some reason, the concept of the science fiction book conjured up all sorts of childishly mean-spirited images around the theme "dorks reading bad fiction." My husband once pointed out that, sure, there's a lot of crap out there, but some good stuff too, and anyway, Jane Austen was no great shakes, either.

After I recovered from this (!), he handed me a copy of Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut. With its finely drawn characters, acerbic wit, and a dog who travels the space-time continuum with his master, I was happily engaged in this book from page one. What sets this book apart, however, are the grand themes that surface as the plot unfolds. The denizens of have given it a much more knowledgeable and thorough review than I ever could, so I shall direct you there for more information.

But Sirens probably isn't true sci-fi. Certainly not as I defined it in my knee-jerk aversion to sci-fi. So, I stuck my toes in a little deeper with the Ender series, by Orson Scott Card. There are a bunch of these, starting with Ender's Game, which in the grand tradition of series, is probably the best one. It certainly got me hooked enough to read up through the fourth book. After that, I was a little Ender-ed out, but I could see myself re-reading some of these, or continuing at some point.

Very basically, Ender is a young boy, and an outcast in society, for a big reason that is clear from the get-go. He gets recruited into an elite military school at younger than the standard age, where the kids train to be the best warriors possible in order to kick the butts of the aliens who kicked our butts a decade or so previously. From this fairly simple premise, Orson Scott Card got 3 really good books, and 1 mostly good book (and the rest I can't speak to) without having to thoroughly exhaust his bag of writerly tricks.

Though less in the way of grand themes, there is definitely a lot to hang your hat on intellectually, e.g., dystopia, family dynamics, ethics of war, cultural differences (esp. in Book 4)... and so long as the action is interesting, the characters are engaging, and the writing is good, I am up for pretty much anything.

2. Turn and face ...

More significantly, answering Sarah's inquiry got me thinking about why I had this prejudice. There is no logic to it at all, which makes it a true Capital-P Prejudice. I never had any highfalutin standards for my reading material, and though I do read what you might call literature every once in a while, I never thought of myself as being literary. I have read romance novels. I have no business talkin' smack about people who read sci-fi, y'know?

I will readily confess my other ____-snobs, i.e., wine snob, music snob, yarn snob..... But a book snob, I am not. If DH asks you where his Star Trek novels went, don't tell him they're in my book basket next to the bed.

3. The strange...

As for yarn, I am changing my mind about cotton. My second sweater was a white cotton tunic from a Spring/Summer issue of VK, maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I believe the pattern called for Classic Elite Weekend Cotton. Back then, I was a new knitter, and pretty much everything I made was either a Lion Brand Pattern or kit, and I used the requisite Lion Brand yarn. When a pattern didn't call for Lion Brand yarn, I substituted. This wasn't a conscious thing. It was an access thing. I didn't make much money, there weren't lots of yarn shops where I was living, so I knitted with what I had.

For this cotton sweater, I chose a Lion Brand cotton (and I can't remember the name - it might have just been called Lion Cotton), and knitted away at K1P1 ribbing (ouch!) for ages until the sweater was done. It looked good, actually. Not as light and summery fabulous as in the magazine, but respectable, especially for one's second sweater.

It was also massively heavy and had all the drape of a hunk of siding. It wasn't very soft to knit with or to wear, so into the closet it went, until I ended up packing it into a bag of clothes I donated after losing my "living at home during law school" weight. I never touched cotton again. I bypassed it disdainfully in yarn shops, and found the Spring/Summer issues of knitting mags to be utterly devoid of anything knittable. I might have liked the pattern, but I wasn't touching cotton with a 10-foot needle. Nope. Not me.

That might have all changed. A few weeks ago, while browsing in Urban Knitting Studio for a light pretty something to make into a springy shrug (I was thinking silk, or maybe microfiber), I fell in mad crazy love with Blue Sky Cotton, from the wonderful folks who make Blue Sky Alpacas yarn. It was the shade that called out to me: a very light petal pink, so delicate it is only found on babies' toes. I had to have it. I didn't care what it was made of. Okay, I did kind of care, but when I picked it up and felt how soft it was, I was sold.

I started knitting with it this weekend, for another iteration of Stefanie Japel's Minisweater (made my first one a couple of weeks ago, and now I am addicted). Ladies and Germs, it is like knitting with cotton balls. I love it. I love that stitches don't squish up together like wool does, and leaves the fabric uneven. It really is just a touch uneven, and in such a charming way that I am not sure I want to block it.

I probably won't change my stance on eyelash yarn any time soon, but stay tuned for further developments.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stitch 'n Bitch Calendar: a Quarter in Review

Toward the end of last year, I got it into my head to buy a page a day calendar for my desk at work. Naturally, I gravitated to the two geared to knitters: The Stitch 'n Bitch Calendar (hereinafter "SnB"), and the Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar.

I dithered between them; an informed decision was hampered by the fact that none of the places I went to had them out for display. I asked other knitters what they thought of previous editions, and got a few general opinions. I ultimately settled on the SnB because it was more than just patterns, and I figured that even if I didn't knit any of the patterns, I might get some useful tips.
Given my moderate expectations, I am pleasantly surprised thus far.

1. Patterns

Patterns appear on Fridays, and of the 13 that appeared this quarter, I liked about 1/3 of them and am currently knitting 2: a simple lace scarf (the one in Artfibers Sylph that is helping me keep the shreds of my sanity together), and a feather and fan wrap that uses three gorgeous Colinette yarns and was designed by Helen Kim at Urban Knitting Studio.

Ordinarily, I am a big one for planning projects in advance, and usually consider the yarn purchases extremely carefully. This is certainly true for long-term, "big" projects. I am a little more spontaneous when it comes to "on the go" and quick projects. So, it was fun to have suitable patterns at hand and feel inspired to look for yarn and start them soon. When the scarf pattern appeared, I bought the yarn the same day on my lunch hour, knowing that I would want something both simple and entertaining for some upcoming travel.

There is a third pattern that really stands out for me, which was a big surprise. To my way of thinking there are two types of knitters. Those who knit entrelac (or are willing to give it a whirl), and those who don't (or aren't willing). I was firmly planted in the latter category until the entrelac pouch pattern appeared on the calendar last week. As soon as I saw it, I said, "I have to knit that. It is the perfect first entrelac pattern and I love it." It uses one ball of Noro Silk Garden, which I have yet to try, and I think it will be fun.

For me, that kind of inspiration - something that gets me to try something I never thought I would try - is worth the price of admission.

2. Tips/Techniques

A number of useful things, but the best aspect of this is that I can take the ones I want and file them, and recycle the rest. It is very convenient. By way of comparison, I get a tips and tricks e-newsletter that is chock-full of great information. Frankly, a lot of those tips are more amazing and fabulous than some of the tips in the calendar, but I tend not to print things out right away, and I hate slogging through old email. As a result, I end up just deleting these emails when my inbox gets full. I have to hope that the most relevant of the email tips somehow stick in my head.

3. Favorite Yarns

I like this feature more for the yarn pr0n factor than anything else. It isn't particularly useful to me, as I am unlikely to go out and just buy yarn without a pattern in mind. Although I filed a couple of these pages away because the yarns were unique or particularly lust-worthy, for everyday knitting it is far more likely that I will either use the yarn specified in a pattern (if I like it), or look for a substitute in my LYS before turning to my very slender file on yarns. It's gotta be pretty spectacular to make it into that file -- those are yarns so rare and fabulous that I could see myself buying them in reasonable quantities if I happen upon them.

It was really cool, though to see mentions of my favorite yarns, especially Artfibers Kyoto.

4. Websites

This would have to fall into the "meh" category for me. Most were sites I already know about, and the few new ones weren't that interesting to me. We can all search the internet to find what we want, or get recommendations from other knitters. A calendar page featuring a website doesn't seem like much of a value-add.

5. Other content

The calendar also features quotes and knitting-related anecdotes. I LOVE quotes, and there were a number of good ones in Q1. The thing I liked about them was that most were not specific to knitting, but had to do with creativity or happiness, or something else that most crafty folk would identify with. Two were destined for my refrigerator, which is a good ratio for these things. Realistically, you don't want to collect loads and loads of quotes because then you have too many to display (and it is a little dotty to keep a file, unless you're a writer or something). A few pithy ones are all you need.

Similarly, the stories weren't the sort of things I would save or file away, but they did provide a pleasant moment between tasks at work, or first thing in the morning over my cup of coffee.

Overall, I'd give the SnB calendar a B+ for Q1. I probably will post a review at the end of each quarter, much more concise than this one, since there won't be much background. Just the highlights.