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.