Tuesday, October 31, 2006


My mind is restless. Last night in my sleep I designed two pair of socks. Both are based on a class I took this weekend with Candace Eisner-Strick that should be lovingly called "Strickmuster: Why my Butt is Sore on Monday". In spite of some jumping in and out of my chair by Sunday night my tush was sad and sorry. Generally when I knit for hours on end, it's here in my own chair.
This is what we were learning; Austrian twisted stitch technique. First the practice piece in Amherst, which I am planning to convert into a wristlet and make a partner for at some point, as I have two wrists and don't want any jealous arguments about who gets to wear it.
Second the "project" which may take me forever and a day to return to. Initially I wanted to make a pair of mittens, and even bought the yarn for them; Jaeger Matchmaker, color 736, a closeout at Webs - and everyone knows I love a closeout! I may begin them at some point, but for now I content myself with the bag, recognizing that at this juncture of my life, time does not allow for fingering weight twisted stitch mittens Just-For-Me. I have bigger fish to fry right now. Big old sock fish. But more on that soon. So I chose a bag, a small and simple bag. The yarn is Ella Rae ($5.99 for 219 yards!) color 33, which I officially love (both color and the yarn itself). It is very much like Cascade 220, and a dollar less a skein, but convienantly in a ball which I really appreciate. I sense that this yarn will felt very well, and want to get a bunch of colors and knit up a bag to test that theory.
I love this technique. I already cable without a needle, so changing stitch position is a natural thing for me. I love cables, and wish there were more of them in my life. I came home and ordered Maria Erlbacher's Uberlieferte Strickmuster, "...a three-volume set of textural and twisted stitch patterns, each accompanied by a black and white photograph of the sample knitted. Although in German, the text is minimal as charts are used and English instructions on reading the charts is provided." I cannot wait for them to come so I can fill in the empty spaces of the socks in my mind.
I decided to make a brioche hat. I started it late Sunday when my mind sought something slightly less mindful than Strickmuster, but more mindful than, say, a garter stitch scarf. The yarn is Berkshire leftover scraps from Mittens from Measurements samples, and the pattern from Weekend Knitting. Like some other folks, I feel a sudden pull toward hats and mittens - New England Winter gear though not of bulky gauge. This hat is much shorter than the original. I don't generally wear hats and when I do I don't like them folded up. I actually wore this - unblocked and unfinished - around the house yesterday and I liked it. I think I wear more hats at home than out. The body of the hat went pretty fast. The decreases for the crown confused the living daylights out of me, so I faked it. I plan to make more for holidays and assume that as I go on more will be revealed. Here again, I have some Knitters ADD issues and can't stay focused on any one technique or project right now. I also started this, a capelet to wear on vacation.The yarn is Fiesta Rayon Boucle. I want to wear it with this beaded tank designed by Karen Minott in Deerfield, color: eggplant. This may be a big car project. I thought the two of them with black pants would be cute for a nice dinner out on our anniversary. I need beads. Soon. Maybe today. I have to run to The Big City for dog food. A bead trip makes sense today. First I have to write down the two pair of socks on their appropriate sock spreadsheets. Then I will be free to shop for dog food and shiny beads.
Good news for one lucky knitter - one brown tortise shell barrette, hopefully the right one. I don't know who found it, but someone told me it was there, perched happily on the keyboard of the bar-code computer at the cash wrap. It reached it's little barrette hands out to me and begged to be taken away. Fun, it said, seeing all that yarn, but lonely and sad with no curls to hold in place.As I have no curls to occupy it, it must be content to know that it will soon find it's way back home. Alternatively I could put it on the dog, who has loose curls...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Katy Kissed a Goat.

Or he kissed her, I am still not sure which.
But then it's Rhinebeck and people do crazy things at Rhinebeck. Some of them they'd never admit to in public.

I, for example, have been tempted in the extreme by this, the most amazing spinning wheel I have ever touched. Remember me, the Frugal Knitter who can take a cone of "something scary from the warehouse" and turn it into a wearable and lovable Rogue? Not just beautiful, although it certainly is that, an amazing machine lurks beneath the external beauty of this triple flyer high-speed wheel. The plan: a custom job, using the Welsh love spoon my husband got me as a basis for the wheel of my dreams - with matching chair! The experience of spinning on this wheel was amazing. Every spinner should own one. Go to Golding Precision Fiber Tools and order one today! They also have simply blissful spindles. Although not a fan of drop spindling myself, it's obvious that their spindles are as precise and perfect as their wheels. I am starting a Golding Wheel saving account. It can't take more than a few years...
Once again I failed to get any Brooks Farm Yarn. Being short on cash I had spent just enough to make the purchase of my two skeins of Harmony impossible. I could have cried. I did narrow down my choices. I want two skeins of Harmony in either Blush or Red Hot Salsa. I can't decide which. Or both, both would be good too. I was too busy being sad. But I got over it quick enough when I found these, penannular brooches from Ram's Horn Studio made according to ancient Celtic specification. I got the smallest one. Sine I want it primarily for shawls the little one made sense. Not to say that I don't plan another trip for a second, the medium. And some buttons, I love their clasps and buttons. They also have a variety of jewelry, but I don't wear it so it did not fascinate me like the buttons and clasps did.
I should mention here that I ditched my poor family just inside the gate and run off with Katy and Kristin who'd been there the day before and so had a better feel for the lay of the land, and things of importance - like where the Socks that Rock was, and Brooks Farm, and that sort of thing. Next year I really would like to go for the whole weekend, Friday to Sunday, and take a class or two in there somewhere.
I also found these beautiful circular glass needles, which are nothing like the straight glass needles I've used. These are lightweight and warm and I loved them. They are made by Sheila and Michael Ernst of Oregon. I'd love some of these, in the designer colors in sizes I use a lot, like 6's or 7's. They've got amazingly pointy-points. I love a pointy point. Unfortunately the designer colors don't come smaller than an 8. But I could be happy with that!
I tried square needles later in the day after Katy and Kristen had left and I was back with the Fam. I did not love them. They felt clunky, like my hands were forever trying to get them "straight" or hold them "right". It seemed like a possible, but ended up as a not-so-hot, IMHO. I also tried some wine later in the day with my mother in law, who's not into wine and certainly not into the kind of wine I drink! She tasted the strawberry and the sweet holiday wines while I tended toward Cabernets. There was nothing to write home about there really either. Nice, but not stellar. Not nearly as fun as when Katy gave Kristen the hot mustard on the cracker. I did buy some hot sauce, and also some garlic jelly (beyond fabulous!!) and garlic dill pickles from Spacey Tracy, as well as some garlic dipping oil mix (coming soon to a drop-in near you) from Awesome Specialty, who also had wonderful soup mixes and a fantastic garlic herb dip - are we seeing a trend here? I love garlic.
We stopped by Grafton Fibers for Girl's garbage box. I love that. 'Garbage'. OK, if you say so...looks pretty slick to me. It's a mix of leftovers of various batts in various colors, perfect for a felter. One woman's trash is a teenaged felters treasure. The colors are just painfully beautiful. Usually I walk into that booth and touch softly and lust over the batts. By the time we got there very few batts were left. It seems "bloggers" were to blame - having read the Harlot's blog and discovered the joys of Grafton Fibers they wiped it all out before we got there. The same was true of Socks that Rock...I got two hanks of Sock Candy, color Scaponia. I like it. But I wish I'd been able to see more. I did find one skein of Socks that Rock fingering. One skein. Amazing what can happen when bloggers unite.
Kristen bought a Lucet, a cool little device that allows you to make cords of varying weights from a skinny little thing to a big bulky cords suitable for bag handles. She bought it for her kid, but if I were the kid I'd watch out. I want one of these too. It just seems like the kind of ancient hand tool I'd need around here.
This blogger bingo thing? I totally missed the boat on it. I was sick for the two weeks leading up to Rhinebeck, not posting or even reading and missed out. That would have been fun. Yeah, next year we're going to do it right. A limitless budget, a recognizable face, and a big group of Webs people. Well, maybe the face and the Webs people, maybe not so much on the budget. Yet I believe in my soul that the words "budget" and "Rhinebeck" should not exist in the same sentence. Rhinebeck should be - and for many it was - an orgy of fiber shopping.
Lest you think I never knit...this is Mr. Wonderful's Rhinebeck Sweater that Didn't Make it to Rhinebeck. It needs a zipper - I thought to avoid a zipper and substitute button bands, but when he tried it on he said "Where's the zipper??" Sigh. It's Auracania Nature Wool Chunky, color 102. It's got Celtic cables up the sleeves, saddle shoulders, and is steeked front and armscyes. The body was worked in the round in English rib (K1, P1 first rnd, then K around the second)It was designed on the needles, based on the measurements of Mr. Wonderful's favorite fleece cardigan. And amazingly, it FITS! It needs to be blocked, zippered, and finished. It was a good try, and I came very close. I am not loving the pooling across the chest, but this is what comes of knitting while sick. It's a hit or miss proposition. But better there than in the cables where it would have wreaked visual havoc.
Katy and Kristen introduced me to the world's softest goat (truly. really and honestly. She'd been brushed and washed and brushed again for the day and was indeed the softest goat I have ever touched, and I have touched a few goats in my time. Not kissed. But touched.) Katy and Kristen need blogs I can link to so you can meet them. I also saw the smelliest - I mean the really coolest goats I've ever seen. Cashmere, baby, on the hoof. But man do they smell. In fact, they smell exactly like goat products taste to me, and it's not a pleasant smell. But it's a cool goat to look at, with it's huge curling horns and long coat.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First, the roofer came...

and it was good. The old shingles came off beautifully; one single layer removed from the garage in record time. They were in pretty bad shape, but we have been blessed. Underneath, the sheathing is as clean and pretty as the day it was put on some 20 years ago. This is the secret of a newer house - there's only one layer of shingles and it tends to be over a beautifully intact structure. It's a relief for us - the last roofing job we did was about ten years ago. There were three layers of shingle on some ugly rotted old stuff on our old house. In fact, the ease of maintenance had a big role in how we chose this house. "Imagine..." we thought "straight walls!" You have to understand we came from what was originally a corn-crib recycled into a four bedroom "house" (I use the term loosely) with one closet and one bathroom. And four kids. For us, one layer of shingles is a miracle. More than one bathroom is a gift from God. And the closets? I still hyperventilate when I count them, and it's been two years. There's...seven of them. SEVEN.

But the best laid plans of knitters and men sometimes go awry. Take for example our new handy roofing material slide-through door attachment. No easy way into the garage? Not a problem. Paul here will make one just the right size for sliding lumber, drip edge, and other items into the garage without the aggrivation of that whole annoying open-and-close the garage door thing. I think Gene was more worried about the glass on the garage floor by his bike than anything else. It reminds me of our old house, with the cracked siding from baseballs thrown too hard, and the three missing panes of garage door glass from who knows what that we never replaced because 'they'd just break them again'.
Dumpster delivery right to your front door is not a problem for this crew! Getting the truck back out of the front yard while leaving the grass intact? Well, a bit more of a challenge. All you need to do is dump 120 or so pounds of pea-gravel onto the grass. Voila!! A new driveway! See the kid? When all was said and done his father turned to him and said "See all this gravel? I want it all back in the buckets." I think he's still raking.
Think of me today, as you go about your work and play. I will be here, waiting for what thrills today may bring.

No, mother, the roof is not the surprise.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It all makes sense now!

It makes sense because it makes NONE! I am trying to write the patterns for the Radiance Cable Bag and the Super Stripe Socks. The time line on these two items plus Herman...oops...I mean Main Street Fair Isle from start to finish was two weeks? Three? I have decided that these kind of deadlines for these kinds of projects is a little narrow. I know this because my "sock pattern" looks like this:
Also on the "sock pattern" is some scrawl about finger printing Disney World passholders - all, not just annual passholders - a thing I find a bit intrusive frankly. But I'd go if you gave me tickets, especially this week when life seems surreal anyway. The weirder your life gets the more normal breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger seems. Then there is something about Oat Shortbread, which, I believe, goes back to the evening that Betsey brought in to drop-in the Oat Shortbread bars with the chocolate on top. The actual sock looks like this: Good thing for me it's at the store, since I apparently cast on somewhere between 52 and 56 stitches. I bet it's 52. I say that because at 6 sts per inch, 56 would be just over 9 inches which would be a bit loose even in rib. 52 would be closer to 8.5 inches, and would therefore make more sense. Confused? Well, join the club! I love the sock, by the way. I love the yarn, a 100% superfine merino superwash - gets no better than that. And a ton of colors even!
The "bag pattern" is worse, so bad in fact that I dare not show it. It's a sketch and some detail about what I did to make it into a bag. Really it's very straight forward, and includes information like cast-on, needle size and length of the bag, just nothing about gauge! There's notes about the attached I-cord bind off and the I-cord handle. But - students? - the teacher did not record her gauge. Feel free to use this against me for the next few weeks, it'll help keep me in line! This is all a marked departure from my traditional nursing type documentation method. It involves a little worksheet. There's columns for directions, numbers, and sizes, a space for schematics with detailed measurements, and usually one attached sheet of notebook paper with additional details. Radiance and Super have none of these things. Herman is on one of those sheets, and appears ready to be typed up - one size anyway. There's a page of color charts, and three of pattern details with percentages for yokes. The other sizes should be fairly straightforward to extrapolate. The moral of the story: Write First, Knit Later. I am going to apply this to all future projects, except maybe bags. They can, if simple, be written on the needles and not cause trouble later. Did I ever show you the bag lining?? It's perfect for the bag. I found it at Valley Fabrics and it is exactly what I wanted. There is a book launch at Valley Fabrics on Oct. 6 from 4-6 pm. The book is called Sew What! Skirts : 15 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics and is written by Francesca DenHartog who owns said fabric store. Cirilia in particular, take note! I have the book, and it is lovely!! Lots of ideas and styles, and a great deal of basic tailoring information including zipper insertion and waisband construction, as well as darts, and simple, fun hemming methods. I really try to stay out of Valley Fabrics. On the day I bought the bag lining, I had my husband take me. He was in a 15 minute parking space - double pressure - husband waiting in car AND a time limited space. I managed to get in and out with what I wanted in about five minutes. Don't get me wrong. I love fabric. I adore it, I would love nothing more than to take yet another great leap in crafting ADD and switch to some new fabric craft, or take up an old one obsessively. I've sewn forever. There's a quilted stained glass chicken in my kitchen on the wall. I never did top stitch him, but I love him just the same. I've made baby clothes for friends and family, many of which are still making the rounds even today. I've sewn costumes, dolls, you name it. I adore fabric. I lust after fabric. I retain a large fabric stash in my studio carefully stored in big plastic bins. If you say "fabric store" to any of the kids or Mr Wonderful, they instantly curl in the fetal position and suck their thumbs and can be heard to murmer "why..whyy???? whyyyyyy????". Wimps. A good sale day at JoAnn's was the best day of my week. Now JoAnn's has lost it's appeal. I'd have to haunt the Eastern Textile or Valley Fabrics...in fact, I could start right now, today...
Sunday at last pottery class I am going to take lots of pictures, even if I can only take pictures of the pottery - a lot of people seem all shy about being on the blog. Silly people. Then you can all sit back and know why I knit instead of wheel-throw stoneware!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I should say something...

It's been a week. I must think of something to say. Something knitterly. Something relevent. Something with meaning. Eh. Forget it. I can't think of a single thing! Nothing new, novel or knitterly. Really. Seriously. And I am so lying. BUT I am playing my hand close for a few more days; until I feel safe and secure in my news I am not sharing.

I am taking a pottery class with the stellar Malea. A genius with clay. Porcelain. She's having a pottery sale this Thursday and Friday from 6-8 pm at her house. I'd give you directions, but she didn't say I could, so I can't. I like pottery, in fact I like it enough that if I ever had more time to devote to it, it might become the next big thing. For now I must curtail my Crafter ADD. I shall limit pottery acquisitions to those made in class or bartered from Malea. Isn't it beautiful?? I really love the Diva vases, but it occurred to me that I don't actually ever have cut flowers in the house. I kinda find them a bit depressing as they die and get thrown away. I am more a spa basket, cheese basket, hardy plant sort of girl. I say hardy because I have murdered more tender house plants than I can remember. And I once read about where all those lovely flowers come from, and it also made me sad. I no longer remember why. It's probably something I should know more about. I do remember why I don't like latex balloons. They kill birds. From the time my kids were tiny they knew all about latex balloons and plastic pop-can holders - bird killers we learned while on a home school field trip, and none of us ever forgot. Now when we drive by car dealerships in Greenfield and see them cutting their balloons free from the vehicles and letting them loose? We want to get out and hurt the people with the scissor. It is, or should be illegal. But who do you call? The balloon police??