Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Things are moving along. We've got both pair of Sarah's Supermerino Socks done(upper right), Leighanne's modular shawl (lower left), Aidan's Snakes and Ladders Gansey half done (top left), and Maureen is getting Ruffles from Scarf Style in Classic Elite Lush (lover right). I am bummed about the color washing out on the Gansey (#662, Denim). It's really very pretty, a closeout from Webs of an acrylic/angora blend and is not as cold as it looks here. We're going to juice up Moe's scarf by adding a second color, another red, randomly. You'll see, after Thursday when we go in for work and can fill our shopping list. Also will start six pair of felted clogs for family members later today. My mother in law's sweater is already done and was featured in a previous post. This morning is a little hectic already. Something is wrong with Gene's cat (ALERT: gross detail coming up)

This morning as Gene was leaving he stopped cold and said "Uh-oh...somebody frowed up!"
Yes, an adult man of 43 with four grown kids and a grandchild and a decent education said "frowed up." I got down to clean it up and saw a "coffee grounds" appearance, which usually means old blood. Hannah is 15 and had a rough life before she came here. So we look at the old cat and we think "Why three weeks before Christmas??" She's got mild renal disease, as does one of our dogs...and a few weeks ago had a UTI. She will be watched today closely. This could be a one-shot deal. She's had issues with vomiting in the past. It could be a fluke, and could even be coffee grounds (though I doubt it, she's a finicky thing. Persnickety even.)

As promised unrelated to knitting "baby" picture. This is Tut, the Boy King. He has no comb yet, but we assume he is a boy based on personality. He is a Delaware. Behind him is a Blue Orpington or two, and two Buff Minorcas. I think Tut'll replace my five year old rooster, Napoleon. They get along well so far, which is a good sign that Tut can stay and Nap will tolerate his presence. If Tut proves to be a hen, all the better as we're very attached to him now. The rest of the little cockerels will become soup/roast. This little guy is very outgoing, and reminds me of a person in a chicken suit as Napoleon did before him. Generally speaking I do not encourage emotional attachment to your food, and usually will be very attentive to the pullets and ignore the cockerels. Tut does not allow you to ignore him. He's been a pet since their first day here, when he assaulted and murdered a very ugly spider the size of his head that had been hiding in the shavings. I fell in love with him right then and there.

The Stupid Quiz said I am "Totally Smart!" How stupid are you? Click here to find out!

Monday, November 28, 2005

What's in Your Bag?

Peace is in my bag. He had a rough weekend. My oldest stepson (old enough to know better) is a fidgety boy. When he was sixteen and I'd take him someplace in my car he'd forever fidget with knobs and buttons and handles till I wanted to smack him. Then there were the candles. We can't burn candles when Brendon is home, or he plays with them. Sometimes he gets quite creative with the warm, malleable wax. This time it was Peace who got the Brendon Treatment. He's since been unbound, but he kind of represents how I feel today. I feel squashed.

Yesterday I got a pair of socks done for holidays. Today we'll start Moe's slitted scarf and finish another pair of socks, and swatch for felted clogs.

The weather is not kind to me. I think that when we hit retirement age (when Gene retires - I have no job) we will be SnowBirds, spending our summers here in New England and our winters in Florida or Georgia. The Christmas list grows while I sleep (literally). I wake up and say "Oh, by jinks, I need (fill in the blank with simple but time consuming gift idea) for (fill in the blank with name of family member or friend)". Anything outside of my personal plans feels burdensome. Taking Meg to driver's ed is now feeling like a chore. I suppose I can use the time wisely, sit and knit at Kristie's booze store while I wait for the kid, get my creme de cacao and creme de banana for pies...yeah. It'll be useful time well spent!

You know what...we have not put a picture of the chicks on here. We must. Later today I will update this and add a pic of the babies. They are such darlings. They're getting old. I can't wait for spring and eggs on top of eggs. Eggs galore! I love eggs. Cheap protein from vegetarian feather bearers delivered to my door every morning.

You are a wonderful fluffy novelty yarn. Take your
pick! Lots of fun and full of exhuberance. You
are very social and mix well with all types of
people. Very playful and endearing.

What kind of yarn are you really??
brought to you by Quizilla

I don't know...I don't see myself this way at all. I may have to take this I am merino. That actually makes more sense. I feel like hand-dyed merino, ala Artyarns.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wasted Morning.

Totally wasted. Big deal, the tree is up, the house is clean, the citrus trees brought in, cleaned and placed. Dishes are done and put away, counters cleaned. Everything is tidy and snug. AND I HAVE DONE ALMOST NO KNTTING ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!!!!!! Such waste. I did finish my modular shawl/scarf, and found a source for blocking wire (my dad is a welder and happens to have on hand a quantity of stainless steel wire for tig welding in 3 foot lengths)

Speaking of modular knitting....I love Iris Schreier's methods. I've spent a lot of time reading this weekend, and working on this scarf. I love the idea of learning to read your knitting. It appeals to me and to my style of teaching. I want my knitters to "read" their knitting. I think it's possible that all Christmas projects will be made modular so I can keep studying....

Also accomplished much plaid yesterday until I ran out of yarn. More will arrive soon. OR this will be the last project that Lark gets for
Annie Modesitt's Men Who Knit book. But it won't be for lack of trying. I can't wait till it's done, yarns run in, blocked and shipped back to NJ so I can feel some sense of completion...of closure. Me and that plaid, we've come a long way together. I have learned so much from the experience, and hope I get more experiences of similar nature in future...if I don't get fired first for bugging the boss lady for more yarn. I want to get working on Christmas socks and scarves, but feel guilt if I pick up anything non-plaid. Eh, it'll work out! The yarn will come and in the meantime I will go swatch for my sister in law's requested slitted scarf. I have no clue where we're going with this, but we'll see. She saw a picture somewhere, described it to me, and "wants one". We'll see if it's even close to her vision when it's done!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

God Called. Your Sweater's Ready.

People ask me where it comes from, the idea, the image of the garment. It feels as if at 6am you've got a sweater dropped into your head. Actually dropped may not be the right word. Congealed maybe.

Usually I see something. Maybe it's a garment, but more often it's tree, a car, a baby, a rock or a chicken. Or even my sushi last night. I think "You know, that'd be a cute sweater..." Sometimes I say that out loud and the people around me (husband, daughter, dog) look at me as if my cheese is slipping and they need to get me into the home with the fenced yard, pronto. More often I keep my mouth shut to avoid the funny looks, and continue on with what I am doing; shopping, having dinner, hiking. But somewhere in my dim little brain the seeds are planted. That rock/baby/chicken/car would be a great sweater, I just know it. Sometimes it's the color of the object, or the shape, or the line. It varies. And it's not always a sweater, but more often than not it is one. Time passes, days sometimes, during which I remember the thing, but there's no time spent on it. I may bring it to the front and turn it around a little, maybe change something, then growl inwardly at the lack of form or function and shove it back into my subconscious. Sometimes I forget about it completely for days on end.

Then, all of a sudden, usually between 4 and 6 am, it's as if my internal answering machine is blinking. I press play. "God called, your sweater is ready...". There it is! My sweater!! I lay there asking if this is for real. Then I start to see the method of construction and I can see it being knitted. I have to get up and scribble it down right now. So I come downstairs in the darkness, grab a pencil and start to scribble. I get a wretched rough scrawl, sometimes with notes about yarn type , method of construction, etc on the side; a thing that looks nothing like the finished sweater God delivered to my inbox, but enough that I can remember what it's supposed to be.

It gets added to the pile. (There's a pile!) Backs of grocery lists. Note pad from a hotel in
Portland, ME. Reverse side of a photo I tried to print that was too dark. Graph paper. There's even a couple in crayon. Most are pen or pencil. There's scarves, sweaters, vests. Someday maybe some of them will see daylight.

The whole thing is rather cool, and today reassuring. I had been struggling to "come up with something" and was really blocked. Nothing was coming and I was beginning to think it was all an illusion. Then suddenly at 6am on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when my mind should be running to pies and in-laws, there's a sweater in my brain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sixty-Six Percent Off

At last. Two down and one to go, 66% off my back, and the last one's half done. Maybe I should say 75% off? I completed my two store projects, and they go away today. The next time I see them they'll be hanging at Webs on dummys by the Berkshire stacks.

I can take a breath, a small one, before forging ahead into Christmas deadlines with three weeks to go, and no shopping done. Very unusual for me - by now shopping's usually done and ready to wrap. I did get my mother in law's sweater done though, which is always a relief. It's done in a JCA yarn, Devotion, an angora/acrylic blend that I picked up at their fall sale on my way to my sister's wedding in Maine. No other holiday knitting of merit is done, but it's mostly small things; scarves and bags, so I should be fine once Annie's Plaid is off to NJ. I can then focus on Christmas, and maybe something for me...just a little something....

First is the Knitting Pure and Simple Neck Down Hooded Tunic #244 in Valley Yarns Berkshire. Delightful. Super easy to knit, top down, finishes smoothly. It's cute as the dickens, and comfortable. I will get a button for it at the store today, and toggles for the tie and it will be perfect. If I had time I'd whip one up for my daughter in her favorite Berkshire color before Christmas. It bears a striking resemblance to her favorite Hanes hooded sweatshirt. She stocks the Berkshire and feels a particular fondness for it. I love it; knits smoothly and quickly, no distortion, shows stitches well, has a soft alpaca halo thing going on that I just love. Felts beautifully, and just is a wonderful yarn. We use it for anything that we would have used Lamb's Pride Worsted for in the past. I've used it with an old Lopi pattern, and it's perfect. It is a wool/alpaca blend, and is much softer than the LP Worsted as a result.

Last is Loop-D-Loop Corrugated Asymmetrical Pullover. We did it in Berkshire Bulky, also a wonderful yarn, same as Berk only...well...BULKY! After knitting between distractions all weekend I sat down last evening to block it before assembly. Teva Durham does not block the garment, but I found the curling of the edges annoying and needing a little puff of steam. First, my 15 year old flat iron will not steam anymore unless shaken violently. Now, we've had the conversation with Annie Modesitt about the Scunci steamer, and I KNOW I should have one but I don't. Yet. I laid and pinned the pieces out. But something was amiss. The diagonal portion of the sweater did not meet the schematic dimensions. I rechecked my gauge. I re-read the book. I stretched it a little more and gave it a bit of steam. I assembled it. Then I returned to the book and did some finer reading, and though still confused I am slightly vindicated. At the beginning of the pattern, the "Knitted Measurement" which I take to mean "finished dimension" states that the width of the thing will be 32 inches. That's good, because that's what I've got. The schematic says 35 inches. I have decided that the "Knitted Dimension" figure is correct, and will stand by that decision. This was a fast and easy knit. It made up like nothin'! If I had been able to focus with no distractions over the weekend it would have taken me a day and a half, including seaming. I don't dare try it on. I have not been 32 inches since grade school and fear my...urrr... assets might permanently alter it's shape...and not in a happy way!

Now it's onward and upward...More plaid for Annie, and some scarves for the holidays; one modular lace, one slitted special request no pattern but we'll just make it up as we go. Socks for my grandson's mom, his Gansey that's half done and he wants something with intarsia cars also (he's 2, but he wants, he said so), and maybe, just maybe, something for me to wear Christmas Eve!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I love presents. Gifts of things you can use, or things you lust after, just magically appearing in your hands. Like, for example, 11 skeins of Artyarns of various types and shades...Regal Silk, Silk Ribbon and UltraMerino8. Enough for two small shawls, two scarves and 3/4 of the vest in Modular Knits by Iris Schreier. I met Iris at Webs last weekend in classes, and loved her methods. No cutting. No picking up. No feeling like it's 1978 and I just crocheted 80 granny squares that now must be assembled. I wanted some of her yarn to play with...the Ultramerino (4, 6, 8...ANY!!) is amazing stuff. Buttery, boing-y, worthy of adoration. And the Regal Silk sings and comes alive with modular knitting. The technique has completely changed my view of variegated yarn. And then suddenly, poof, there in my hands is enough Artyarns to make my heart sing for weeks.

No, I don't have pictures of projects using that yarn in progress. Why are there no pictures? Because I am too busy knitting things for others to knit for myself (this is, alas, the drawback of knitting so you can knit...the time to knit 'just for you' becomes harder and harder to find). At the moment I have, five non-Melissa projects in hand. Four are for Webs, store samples, and one for Annie Modesitt. Ahhhh...Annie's sweater...

We call it The Plaid and it lives in my brain most days. For the past few it has sat, patiently waiting for an arrival of more yarn. The plaid and I have this love hate thing going on. It will be in Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them. This is an appropriate project for me on a lot of levels.

First and foremost, it is challenging. I love a challenge. Second, it is intarsia which I believe I hate, and slipstitch which I love. Third it has given me an insight into designing on a larger scale. As it stands now, I write a sloppy pattern on notebook paper, I knit it up and make changes as I go. Then I extrapolate the data and add four more sizes and put it into a legible document for proofing (thank you Tamara!!!). Off it goes to Kathy at Webs, and the next time I see it, it is printed, formatted, and lovely. The sample I knit hangs in the store, and all is right with the world. For Annie, that is not the case on this project. You dream it, write it, then send it off to be knitted by's like sending your infant off to camp. For weeks. With no family visits. She's entrusted me with this yarn, this pattern. She can't put her hands on it. She can't see and touch it, spend time with it, all the things that help you see what must be changed and how that change must happen. It's making me think, ruminate on the labor pains involved in design. Til now they've all been within my control.

Now as we head into the final stages of our poor buddy The Plaid, I realize that I love intarsia. Inspired, but lacking time, I plan for the future. Someday, I will knit the map of the world. Or maybe just the cat pillow my daughter wanted.

The intellectual gifts of the week - the unlocking of a new passion, the discovery of the pains of producing garments from afar - may outweigh the physical.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So We Begin.

Appropriately enough with Owen, in his Valley Yarns Shelburne Hoodie Man-Cho . . . just because I can. And isn't he adorable? I do not routinely dress my dog in ponchos. This was a test for a friend who needed a quick-knit children's hooded poncho pattern in fun fur at 3 sts/inch. I had no fun fur so knit it in Shelburne instead. Now he actually likes the thing, and comes running when we pick it up.
I'm feeling famous today. Twice mentioned in the Webs Holiday flyer with two designs, Berkshire Felted bag and Megan Shawl Collar Cardigan. But I flatter myself. The truth is, I got lucky. The question is can I follow up with more?