Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Fondue**

I've been pretty incognito lately, sorry for the absence. It's hard to write about knitting that you can't show off on the blog, so knitting content will resume after gifts have been given. Somehow or another during this time, I also managed to miss my blogiversary. Oh well, right?

Enough about my absence... I'm ready to chat about holidays and traditions.

When I was a child, the 23rd of December had a certain mystique. I can't quite put my fingers on it, but in so many ways it was almost as magical as the 24th. School was over for the break, there were large tins of cookies all over the house and always there seemed to be a stack of LPs on the turntable that played holiday music all day long. Some of those LP covers really stick out in my memory ... the old Gene Autry Rudolph album, the Royal Guardsman's "Snoopy's Christmas" (that was my dad's) and lots of others, including one of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing all the holiday traditionals. By this time, we had already watched "Babes in Toyland" (while my mother burned the chocolate cookie press men) and "White Christmas" (while we trimmed the tree). We had already spoken to Santa on the direct-line phone at the firehouse, which was trimmed to the hilt and had a huge room FILLED with electric trains racing over snow-filled landscapes and little model references to our small town. There was a promise of visitors throughout the next day, a church service and a very giddy night when I swore I could hear sleigh bells and see Santa on the horizon through my bedroom window. Forcing myself to go to sleep so that he would actually arrive (I knew he was nearing our state because the local radio station had a direct line to the "official" Santa radar).

On Christmas morning, my parents would make my brother and I wake them before heading downstairs to the tree. I remember it was tortuous to wait while my father went first and made his instant cup of coffee and a cup of hot tea for my mother. (In retrospect, I was glad it was took less time.) He would also get the old camera ready (it took flash cubes, remember those?) and lay in wait for my brother and me. He'd call up the steps to my mother, who was ready in her terrycloth slippers and pink robe, and she'd go down the steps first. My brother and I would follow, and we'd stop at the foot of the steps before going down the long hall of our A-frame into the living room. Again, Mom would go first -- this time not to stop us from dashing in, but to make sure that we. kept. our. eyes. closed. You see, my folks had a ritual of taking a picture of us as we opened our eyes and saw the tree and our stockings. Every year we did this ... and I honestly don't remember when we stopped. I'm sure it had to do with a discovery of a certain something. All I know is that of all the traditions of my childhood, this was the one I liked the least.

Traditions are funny things, and its equally odd to see the merging of two very different cultures into a single family. You see, my husband had a very different Christmas experience ... no less loving, for sure, but he was a city kid living with his grandparents without his mother. I've heard the stories of the years that his dad went whole hog at Christmas ... the year of the "Mighty Casey" electric train that carried a four-year old around the house on a large track, and tales of him racing downstairs in the morning and then running around waking everyone in the house (some of whom had only just fallen asleep). Christmas was more materialistic in his house than in mine, for sure. I kid you not when I say that I've heard stories of the year the presents were piled to the ceiling (his dad was dating a sales clerk at the toy store) . That was the year he and his bro got an air hockey table and a arcade-size "Happy Days" pinball machine. These days, his family has a huge Christmas Eve party with a bushel of oysters and steamed shrimp and everyone opens their gifts at midnight. We duck out long before then with the kids but there is always much alcohol and revelry (unfortunately, someone always manages to drink too much and shoot their mouth off at the wrong person ... like I said, we duck out early). All I have ever heard music-wise on Christmas Eve (with the exception of the year that his dad drank too much and made us listen to Kenny G over and over) was rock music.

My husband and I have managed to meet halfway on the kids' gifts (they get plenty -- more than my relatively sparse years but way less than his "up-to-the-ceiling" year. I still watch "White Christmas" every single year while I decorate the tree, but not until after my husband puts the tree up to the backdrop of The Who's "Tommy." I make the cookies, but there aren't 10 tins (and I don't dare make the chocolate men for fear that I'll burn them and be destined to suffer the merciless teasing that my mother has endured for years).

Another tradition that has transferred -- and grown in a way -- was the legend of the elves. When I was little, a conversation like this was not uncommon in our house in December:

Dad: "Wen, quick -- look at the window!"

Kid: "What? I don't see anything."

Dad: Oh, it was an elf. Checking in on you to report back to Santa. You missed him."

Now of course this only really worked for a short time. But I carried the tradition to a pair of two little spirited girls that I babysat for one evening in December when they were out of control. I spun a yarn about a gentle-elf named Harold Holly who was watching them and reporting back to Santa. They snapped right into shape, and after they were asleep that night, I wrote a note to them from "their" elf. I explained the whole thing to their mother and father when they got home, and thankfully they loved the idea. In fact, the Legend of the Elves grew and grew. Shortly after that fateful evening, an elf doll arrived at their house one night. The same elf doll kept coming each year and after a short time, he grew up into a bigger doll. He kept coming, though, and I'm pretty sure that two young adults (the youngest is nearly out of college by now I'm sure) still have a great memory. Not to mention that their friends' parents joined in on the game, and a local boutique eventually stared a whole elf section in their holiday decorations.

Harold Holly and his brother Howard come to our house each and every year. They arrive shortly after both children have exhibited good behavior and they leave when Santa picks them up on Christmas Eve night. Harold (who is red) started coming when Z was a very little baby, and his brother Howard (who is green) started visiting when The Yarn Sniffer came along. We're hoping that they'll come tonight ... for you see, they come together and the Sniffer hasn't been a very good boy these days. School is wreaking havoc in his life and he can't stay on the green light. I'm confident they'll be perched somewhere in our living room tomorrow when I wake up.

But they'll be gone by the time we awake on Monday ... and I make my husband wait upstairs with the boys while I make the coffee and get the camera ready to take their picture when they come into the living room and first open their eyes and see their gifts ...

Share your traditions with others. Tell me about them. But above all, have a wonderful, magical holiday!

**My husband participated in the creation of this entry. His thought processes can sometimes be quite abstract... hence the use of "fondue" instead of simply saying, "melting pot."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Quickie Update

I've been really bad about posting lately, but car problems, work and household stuff (i.e. holiday decorating) have been keeping me busy. Not to mention a super-secret family project that has absolutely nothing to do with knitting. Only two people know about said project, and I'm afraid that you all will have to wait until after Sunday when it makes its debut. Only one of the people in on the project will be there at the party; the other person is my mother (my folks are divorced and this project involves my father's family). It's gonna be really great.

On to other things ... like my knitting. Progress has been reasonably slow here at Chez Spinneas, particularly because I've made the command decision to not drive myself wacky with holiday knitting. This time last year I was scrambling to finish facecloths and scarves and all other kinds of things, and I hated every minute of it. Knitting for me is therapeutic, and the holidays are stressful enough without turning my cherished hobby into an instrument of torture.

Following car problems leading into Thanksgiving, I started just about every project imaginable trying to find on special piece that would give me solace. I ended up ripping out just about everything and filing it away in the "not the right time" category (rather than leave a bunch of UFOs on the sticks). With the exceptions of a few pairs of socks and a clapotis (sorry, can't show you those right now because I'm not sure it won't make it into the the Santa bag). I started the clap right before Thanksgiving, and only just finished it on Sunday. Got REALLY bored on those straight rows, ended up cutting it a few repeats short because I'm a small person, and then wrapped it up. It turned out well; I'll post a picture after Christmas.

I also de-stashed. I can't believe how much fuzzy stuff I had in my stash. I pulled out all of that, along with some single skeins and my bits and pieces ('cept the Koigu -- even scraps do not leave my house) and took it to the wonderfully enabling director and assistant director of my kids' aftercare school. They are knitters and dutifully working on scarves and other things for the holidays, and they've already dived in and are hard at work on even more projects. The director there is an absolute doll -- she loaned me her wool cards "indefinitely" and I adore her for it (though I'm really hoping that the holiday elves will see fit to bring me my own). The assistant director took it upon herself to teach the kids how to finger-crochet this summer. Not my first choice, but the boys loved it because it was easy and they made necklaces. The smaller balls of yarn? The end bits of projects? Well, doll drawings need hair and all of those macaroni ornaments need hangers. Kids love yarn, and I'm happy to share.

So what's on the sticks for me? The latest pattern from Courtney at the Smith Island Pattern Factory: Parthenope. I ended up screwing up my first start and ripped out the entire first repeat of the chart last night. I'm nearly back where I left off.

Hopefully I can get it right this time!

Monday, December 04, 2006


I interrupt this unscheduled hiatus with a post to let everyone know I'm alive. Just busy, and going through some issues that have taken my mind from knitting (though I've had a serious case of castonitis, I just can't find a project to fit, you know?)

Soon, I promise.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


As it turns out, 10 minutes in the dryer was all Maude needed to perk up. A short run in the dryer also gives Koigu a nice sproing.

Photos by "Crazy Woman" Jenn on a break from work. Sorry, Wendy, but your poses were winners, so I copied.

From the front:

And from the back:

All in all, a fab knit. If I had it to do again, I would limit the skeins and make it smaller (I'm pretty short and thin, so she's big -- but I love her anyway). Other than that, no major issues. In fact, I would do it again in a snap.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


In the not-so wee hours of a dreary, rainy Sunday, a lone knitter and her cup of coffee bound off a single stitch.

And Maude was complete.She waited a day to block it, and then managed to totally screw things up. Maude, blocked, is gargantuan. That said, I have only a lone picture to show.

Close-up of the lace:

Because you see, Maude had to be blocked doubled over on herself, she was so big when wet (that should have been a HUGE hint). Maybe I should have just left her alone and not worried about showing off the lacy edge to Jenn tomorrow at work. 'Cause when I came home tonight, ran upstairs and unpinned her, draped her over my shoulders and looked down, I realized that her ever-so-graceful arms were dragging. the. floor.I have to go back to the blocking board tonight (maybe I shouldn't have pinned, but rather just laid her out to dry).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bald Bird.

Now that I have your attention, let me show you the (unblocked) featherless Swallowtail:

Why is it featherless? Well, I ran out of yarn. My plan was to do this shawl in Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool ... on #10 needles. Plan was on track until I realized that I was running critically short of yarn so I stopped at the end of the second Lily of the Valley border chart (just before the peaked edging). Either way, this bald bird is a big one. It's lovely, too ... and warm. Despite my resolve to put it in the holiday gift box, I've found myself wearing it. To Stitches on Friday. Picking up the boys from after-care. On the sofa while knitting. It ain't goin' in no box.

That' s not a bad segue into my Stitches post.

A few months ago, I bought my ticket for the Marketplace on line and took a day off work. In October I went on a yarn diet (except for Santa Fe) with the understanding that I was going to drop big bucks at Stitches with one major rule: No buying anything that I can get at my LYS. That said, here's the rundown of the purchases.

Koigu. No yarn store in the vicinity carries this, so when I see it, I must buy it. In bulk. And kill the wallet in the process. Koigu is one of those yarns that TOTALLY lives up to the hype. I bought five skeins and some mill ends -- all from Rosie's Yarn Cellar. Rosie's was my first stop at Stitches ... I wanted to make sure I bought the patternfor Maude and enough Koigu to go with it. The mill ends were a bonus and will go in the bag with the ends I picked up at MS&W. One day I'll figure out what to do with them.

Socks that Rock. I have NEVER been able to score this. I don't know if it's been a situation where they've run out or whether I haven't been able to find it, but now it's mine. Three skeins. Harlotty, Lucy and Downpour. It seems way too succulent to put on my feet, so maybe I could take the Harlotty and Lucy colorways and make a shawl. Knitblogger's Shawl. Fun.

Other Miscellany. The STR, Koigu and Maude were my three major goals. The rest was icing on the cake. Some beautiful roving, some merino/tencel from Ellen's Half Pint Farm and some doo-dads from the Mannings (had to avoid the Koigu there -- it runneth over). I also picked up a book on dying with natural ingredients and a book on Shetland lace motifs.

One of the coolest things I picked up, though, were two sets of sock-needle covers. Check them out:

So what in the hell has taken me so long to get this posted? Well, I've been hard at work. That tencel/merino blend? One skein is destined to be the second Swallowtail ... this time with feathers. I'm on repeat nine of the second chart with plenty of yarn left. While this one wil be a much smaller piece (more like a "shawlette" most likely), this one will be more true to the pattern itself, which is designed to be small, and it. Will. Have. Feathers. I think I cast this on immediately to assuage any guilt I feel over not putting a shawl in the gift box. I cast on for this almost immediately after I got home on Friday from Stitches. I'm thinking that the other skein in this colorway could just be matching socks :)

But I'm not just working on the Swallowtail. Yesterday, I cast on for Maude, which I heard about from Wendy. I met designer Courtney at the Rosie's Booth at Stitches, and I have to say this pattern is really something. Not only are there no long purl-back rows, but it's done in such a way that you aren't stuck with a zillion stitches at the end -- it's knit from one wing to another and the lace is hypnotic. There's elegance to the edging and, put simply, I'm totally loving this pattern. I bought a very-Thanksgiving colorway of Koigu ... which gives me a serious deadline for this project. But here's evening one progress:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

Some weeks, I even surprise myself. This week has been one of those weeks. Not because I've been particularly busy knitting, or that I've made significant progress. Just because I'm in severe cast-on-itis mode and I have a raging case of PMS. Not a good combination ... because very little that I've cast on has been right and I've been spending quite a bit of time in the frog pond.

Actually, I need to move the dates back a little. I've been fiddly for a while now (other than that second Widdershin and a few scarves). Remember that peacock homespun that was Navajo plied? I hated it and unplied it. Ugh. I hope I never do that again. However, I managed to salvage enough singles to make a short stockinette scarf so the spinning and the fiber weren't a total loss.

And then there was the matter of knitting a new sock. Have you ever bought a skein of yarn that you fell in love with at the LYS, put it in the stash only to pull it out later and wonder what in the world you were thinking? I did, about a year ago. I pulled the Mountain Colors "Crazy Woman" out of the stash on Sunday thinking I wanted a new pair of socks. There's a lot of cherry red in this stuff. Too much for me. I spent four hours that day casting on and ripping out cuff-downs, only to realize that what I wanted desperately was another Widdershin. Problem was, I didn't want to waste this yarn. And then it hit me. These could be the Jennifer socks.

My friend Jenn is one of those people who just gets the whole crafty thing. While she refuses to learn to knit (she's a graphic designer, a painter, a jeweler, a scrapbooker and a great decorator -- there's already a lot in there), she's ALWAYS on board with a new project. When I was hanging outside with her the other day at work and we were talking about dyeing with pokeberries and black walnuts, she starting theorizing on the other things I could dye with ... pointing out this and that. When I'm working on a new project, she investigates, touches, sniffs ... just as though she were a knitter. We've done some very cool things craft-wise together and to boot, she's one of those gals who can pull off two patterns in the same outfit. Very cool.

She also never once judged me when I burned myself with hot enamel a few years back when I was in jewelery mode. No one else could understand why in the hell I was playing with enamel or why I'd want to in the first place. (Note: A few weeks ago, I bequeathed the melting pot to her ... I haven't touched it since that fateful day two years ago and for the record, she's been melting and dipping up a storm and hasn't yet seared flesh.)

I knew these socks were for her. Because she, like me, is also a Crazy Woman. The colors are much more jewel-toned than shown in the picture. I showed her the sock in progress, deemed them hers and she's psyched.

In other news, here's the color that Kool Aid Arctic Apple makes:

The picture makes it look sickly, but it's actually a very pretty pale green. Modeling the green is a skein of singles spun this weekend from the washed-in-the-tub fleece. Not too bad.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fruity Goodness (and another scary thing)

Last night our kitchen was a busy place. I made cupcakes for The Yarn Sniffers Halloween/October Birthday party for his kindergarten class.

So while I was in the kitchen, I pulled out some roving that I've had forever, two pots and eight pouches of Kool-Aid. Four Tropical Punch and four Black Cherry. I mixed up the Kool-Aid in the pots (one for each flavor) and then added the roving. The Yarn Sniffer FREAKED when he asked what in the world I was doing and I told him I was making dinner.

Heated the pots for about 20 minutes (not boiling, but close) and turned off the pots and waited for the wool to soak in the dye. I then rinsed the yarn in a bath that was the same temp as the water in the pots (110 degrees -- I used my meat thermometer). Then I hung it up to dry.

This morning I wound it (tropical punch on the left, black cherry on the right) and took its picture in the early morning light outside.

Tonight, I spin.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scary Stuff to Share

Halloween is two days away, and it's time to start thinking about scary things. There's plenty in my fiber world that can be pretty alarming, so I thought I'd share.

But first, the second Widdershin is nearly complete. A few more rounds on the cuff and they are done. The jury is still out on whether they will be for me, or for the holiday box.

Scary Thing #1: The Shark Scarf
OK, so this isn't frightening or anything, but since it's dubbed "the shark" and those guys can be scary, I dub this #1. I finished it this a.m. for The Yarn Sniffer, who has been waiting a whole two days for me to finish (I was late starting after the spinning ... yarn's gotta dry, after all).

Scary Thing #2: Oreo
In and of itself, the yarn itself isn't scaring me. What terrifies me is that I have about 900 yards or so of this delicious homespun and now, quite frankly, I'm terrified to cast on for anything for fear of destroying my largest spinning endeavor ever. If anyone has any ideas for 900 yards of bulky yarn, or a pattern that is virtually indestructable, let me know. I could make a bunch of scarves for the holidays, but something just tells me that Oreo (the CVM darling) is destined for something much greater than a simple scarf. Truth is, I'm really freaked about the challenge.

Scary Thing #3: Fleece Among Us
I may be completely in over my head on this one. A few months ago, I went on eBay and purchased 8 oz of raw fleece -- I honestly can't remember what breed -- and started processing it bit by bit in the sink. No fun in the sink, let me tell you. Lock by lock, 8 oz takes FOREVER. So this past Friday night (in between cleaning my house to prep for my mother in law's visit yesterday, which is why I am still a ghost at spinner's group) I threw it in the tub (before I got to that part of the cleaning) to scour it. Worked very well, I must say, and I just threw what was left in there. I don't completely scrub each lock ... if there's a little dirt at the end of the lock it usually brushes out during carding.

So what's scary about that? Well ... there's the fact that I have to card it all still ... that's going very, very slowly. There's also the small problem of my subsequent order of 18oz of Targhee/Merino cross wool that is awaiting processing. What have I done?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wild Kingdom

I'm not a big dreamer, but sometimes when I do have them, they're doozies. Last night I dreamed that I was heading to a fiber festival (it wasn't specific, though when I got there it turned out to be Maryland). It was cold, windy and rainy but there were tons of people and I was desperate to get to the Koigu mill ends and the Socks that Rock. So I was going behind pavillions and racing -- jumping over things (small things, don't think The Matrix or anything) and going in pavillion after pavillion from the back doors trying to get to Building A. I was ahead of the crowd (I was peeking through between the buildings to check as I ran) ... and just as I was reaching Building A, my damn alarm went off. Ugh ... I hope it's not a prelude to the Stitches East marketplace next week (I have a ticket to go on Friday).

Anyway, in fiber news -- in my last post I showed you all the fluffiest puff of fiber that I've ever held in my hand (I can't say "fluffiest puff ever" because I've touched quivet but never really held it in my hand...). No it isn't quivet, and it isn't guanaco and it isn't camel.

No guesses? That fluff I showed you is yak. That's right ... hair from one of these. It's the most beautiful heathery gray and oh so very soft.

Rather than risk f-ing it up with a ply, I (literally) took a page from a recent article in Spin Off and starting spinning with an energized single straight from the bobbin and letting this yarn work with its twist.

Here's the bobbin:

And here's the scarf I'm working on for my husband:

See that center part? That's where the biasing is. (Look closely where the stitches are slanting to the right.)

It's garter stitch all around (note: it's doesn't bend and angle in garter, just stockinette) on #4 needles with a stockinette panel in the center. I probably should have gone with #5 needles just to open it a bit ... and honestly I'm going to consider that today while I'm at work. I think frogging a charged single will be a real pain, though, so I may just grin and bear it. If I leave it alone, it will still be super-warm and it will stay a little thick (though overall thin and light). He was actually worried that a single would be too thin and perhaps too delicate for him. Come to think of it, I'll probably just leave it alone.

I got approximately 18 wpi with this, though there are definitely slubbies here and there. All in all, I'm relatively content so far. So content that I ordered four more ounces of the stuff. Why? 'Cause Mama needs a yak scarf too.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Very Un-Rhinebeck Post

This past weekend was my husband's birthday, so I didn't push the Rhinebeck issue. However, I got into the spirit of a good fiber festival from the comfort of my own desk (and the internet) and ended up spending considerably less than I might have had I headed up to NY for its wool festival.

It all came yesterday. Perfect timing ... it's as if I shopped all weekend :)

From Spunky Eclectic:

I read about this fiber shop on Janine's blog, and I was not disappointed. What you see are the Sangria and Carribean colorways. These already have holiday recipients once spun and knit. The notable roving, however, was in the Shark colorway. The Yarn Sniffer has a thing for sharks. I spun it up last night and remembered to take pictures:

Roving, singles and yarn. In that order. The yarn needs a good soak, but then I'll be a'knittin.

Secondly, I headed over to Vicki's Kendig Cottage for some exotic fibers and fun. I ended up coming out with two things. The first is a lovely colonial wool filled with dark greens and reds.

The other fiber purchased is something you have to guess on. I'll tell you it's exotic, that I'm making my husband's scarf out of it, and I promptly ordered two more ounces last night after getting a feel for this stuff.

Any ideas of what this is? I'll spill the beans tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Colors on Parade

I've been so into spinning this past week or so that I haven't thought to take time of the pre-spun roving, the process or the singles. Hell, I haven't even taken the time to note ratios or pre-drafting activities to repeat myself later. I've just been a whirling dervish.

Spinning has been an activity of mine for about six months now ... I got the bug back in the pre-Spring months when I ordered a spindle from eBay. That one spindle multiplied and I ended up with my fair share of spindles, which allowed me to tackle multiple fibers at once. In the meantime, I stocked up with more than my fair share of fibers at MDS&W. Then i got my wheel in June, and it's been nuts ever since.

But I've never actually knit with any of my homespun. Until now.

Earlier this month, the Harlot posted a beautiful story of a Grafton batt of fiber that she spun up, Navajo plied and then knit into a very simple, one-row scarf. I was inspired, and I took to the wheel with a passion, tearing through my MDS&W fiber like a madwoman, spinning and spinning and spinning. Then I went to Cloverhill and discovered Mama E's roving, and got some of that and took to it. I showed you what I Navajo plied earlier last week (that peacock colored yumminess? I'm unplying it to do a double -- Navajo makes a three-ply), but late last week I hit the Cherry Garcia colorway.

Now I'm no pink girl, and I doubt these pictures will do it any kind of justice, but this colorway is like ice cream. No joke -- it's smooth and luscious, the color transitions are subtle and if I could get naked and roll in it, I would. I wish I could show you the process, really I do, but I spun it up, hung it to set the twist, and then made this:

There it is, all wound up. I'll note here that there were no fancy steps taken to preserve the colorway ... I wasn't about to f#@* up another batch of roving trying that. Instead, I let it go the way it wanted to, and the transitional result is (I think) pretty darn nice. See?

I like it. The only question is, is it mine, or do I put it in the holiday bin?

And I'm on to Fire. Mama E makes one hell of a roving, and I'm really looking forward to knitting with this once the twist is set (the plan is to soak it this a.m. before work and then hang it up in the hopes that it will be dry by tomorrow).

I have a child who wants an orange scarf.

In more spinning news, I'm dealing with some singles that I spun up last week in my frenzy -- a beautiful yellow merino/llama/silk concoction. I only bought four ounces of it and was hoping to get a fine yarn out of it. I did, soaked and hung the singles (they were very twisted) and now I have approximately 230 yards of singles to work with. I'm torn ... do I make a modified Melody (I cannot tell you how long the finished product is--it's ginormous) or something else. Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm speechless.

Yesterday at lunch, I ran over to my LYS to pick up some more fiber to spin, and got my hands on some Alpine Meadow Artisan Fibers. It's wool with some little sparkles in it. I bought four ounces -- two in the "Mount Cook" colorway and two in "Black Lake" -- and last night sat down with Mount Cook and got started.

Here are the singles:

And here's the two-ply result:

Something clicked last night with this fiber. Now I'm an average spinner (way below average when it comes to Navajo plying), but for some reason this just blew me away. There's nothing fancy here ... just a very fine single done as a two ply. I could have done more color separation, but that's not what the fiber wanted to do. I let it do its thing, and it did it well.

I'm head over heels in love with the yarn. I can't wait to spin up the other colorway and then get started on the Mama E's "Cherry Garcia" braid that's also in the wings...

Monday, October 16, 2006

As the Whorl Turns

And boy did it turn this weekend. No knitting of note, but man, was I a spinning fool.

Now let me clarify. I haven't spun anything on my wheel in, literally, months. I've been so busy traveling for work and preparing for a new boss (started last Tuesday) that knitting has been about all I've had time for. I hadn't planned on spinning this weekend, but I got started and than couldn't stop.

Remember Oreo? I finished it. All 20 ounces of it. I have a lot of yarn to show for my efforts, but it's bulky, and so I must do lots of calculating and measuring before I make something with it. I don't want to run out. It's a delightful yarn -- sproingy and soft.

Once Oreo was singled and plied, I tore into some Caroline Homespun (picked up at MDS&W) to play around, and spun two full bobbins of singles and then plied it up into two two-ply skeins. I bit nubbly, but nice nonetheless for a nice bulky scarf. It's Merino superwash, and the drafting really was difficult and hurt my thumb, so at 2 a.m. I called it quits for the night, soaked and hung the skeins and hit the sack. Can I tell you how nice it is to wake up to see this?

Then yesterday morning over coffee, I picked up a big ball of fluff (again from my MDS&W stash... if you look at the post there's a two-tone varigated skein right in the center -- that's it) and spun that up into four two-ply skeins of itchy wool. I'm not sure what to do with that.

And then, as if I hadn't already done enough (have you lost count? I'm up to 13 skeins already) I picked up the four ounces of Mama E's Cyber Roving that I grabbed at my LYS a few weeks ago. Decided to spin that up and then try my hand at navajo plying. I love the colors and this merino superwash spun and drafted like liquid gold. It was a pleasure to spin and now I want more, more, more. Another bulky result (partly because it's a three-ply), but the holidays are coming and there are more than a few people who will appreciate a scarf with my own handspun. This one, however, may just be mine.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I certainly hope that this isn't the one day that my best friend decides to read the blog. Because I'm about to show you this past week's opus all completed:

This is the Baby Surprise Jacket, aka, the blob of the blog I showed you all last week. I have no idea what was going through Elizabeth Zimmerman's head when she designed this, but boy I'm glad she did.

Since I was in Albuquerque the day the annual Balloon Fiesta kicked off, I decided to commemorate the sweater and the trip with appropriate buttons. I think they personalize the sweater just a bit more (though how much more can you personalize a hand-knit sweater?!?)

Here's a close-up:

More about the rest of my trip later.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Whole Lotta Knittin' Goin' On

For a reason unbeknownst to me, I was a knitter crazed last week. I'm not sure if it had to do with it being the end of the month (has the yarn diet and wild passion to finish projects before a deadline carried over from August?) or the fact that autumn weather seems to be setting in, but I've been a busy girl. I'll post pictures in my next post.

Swallowtail is progressing, and it's here with me in Santa Fe. Since I finished the top-secret baby gift (see below) on my flight here, I'm thinking serious progress will be seen since it's now the only knitting I have with me on my trip. I'm still in the second lace chart, but I hope to make it to the third soon.

I've bound off the Melody Shawl. This project was been way more like the pi shawl than I actually care to admit ... tedious in so many ways but at the same time so very, very pretty that it's going to be difficult to give it away for Christmas even though I started it with very selfish motives. For you see, as I knit it and contemplated the colors and the drape of the fabric, a different owner manifested itself in the expectation. It's a lot easier to leave something languish if there's no hard deadline. I'm glad it's done.

The vest, of course, was started, completed, unravelled and lengthened. This took a week or so to knit, and then a day to lengthen. Total of about eight days or so. I wanted a vest. No doubt about it, that one was for me and honestly it was so easy I just couldn't put it down. Not to mention that I used my new KnitPicks needles for it and I was anxious to try them out. (Note: These needles are nice, nice, nice. Very pointy.)

Second Widdershins heel has been turned. I was really suffering SSS on this one. I'm not sure why it was so difficult for me to get the heel done. I mean, I like the pattern and all, but doing that heel sure is awkward. It's having all the gusset stitches together on the needles, I think.

I've also been sidetracked by another project ... a top-secret one for my "nephew" ... who turns the big 1 on Friday. His party is on Saturday, and since I'm out of town I'm going to miss his party. But his mommy will have her birthday on Monday and the three of us will do lunch to celebrate. The present?

Experienced knitters will know what this is. I'll show you after I give the gift. There may even be a cute baby shot to go with it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Harlot was Here

On the blog. Friday. Read my post about Ottawa and left a comment. I was thrilled. My husband thought I was crazy. I was a happy girl that day.

So happy, in fact, that I decided to go ahead, damn the torpedoes, and lengthen that sweater vest I designed. It's been sitting in my basket all week screaming and pleading with me to finish it off, and well, I didn't want to call it done until I made a call on the length. It needed to be longer ... I really don't need a knitted cotton belly tank. It's hard to see just how short it is in this picture, but trust me ... it would have worked, but an extra couple of inches would help big time.

So I embarked on my great lengthening adventure. First, I picked up the 120 stitches around:

I made sure I had them all, and then took the scissors to it. Just below the start of the ribbing. Oddly, this didn't make me weak in the knees or ready to vomit. I'm not sure why I was so confident.

Lots of yarn carnage, too. Little bits of Debbie Bliss denim cotton aran floating all over me and my living room. Then came the unraveling, which was a bit nerve-wracking with the start of the ribbing. Note to self: Just hack the ribbing off and unravel plain stockinette. Because once I got through the ribbing, it unravelled lickety split.

I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of the actually knitting-to-lengthen process, but you all know what knitting looks like, so why bother? I added an extra 2-3 inches of stockinette to the bottom of the vest and then did the ribbing. And I must say this: the transition was SEAMLESS. You simply cannot tell where the original iteration stops and the expansion begins. All done in a weekend and the pre-blocked vest (which looked fine w/o blocking) made its debut last night to a friend's birthday party. I'm very content, and my husband was even impressed with the collar ribbing and sleeves.

Progress also continues on Melody, but I'm holding pictures for today. Knitting this shawl is kinda like eating a never-ending pasta bowl ... this yarn ball never gets any smaller, I swear, even though I'm looking at a solid 11-inches (slight stretching to block in order to measure the finished product) and no end to the yarn in sight.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not Much to See Here

Seriously. My husband obsconded with my camera. I think he took it to work and hasn't brought it back yet.

It's too bad, because I just finished up a self-designed basic sweater vest and I'm kinda proud of it. Maybe tomorrow. I'm going to require some feedback on the length ... if all agree that it's a tad too short then I'm going to have to slice and dice a little since I knit it from the bottom up (ordinarily I do top down, which would make this crazy-easy to fix, but alas ...)

Progress continues also on Melody and the Swallowtail Shawl. I'd like to note here that schoolteachers were taken care of with a single visit to Morehouse. Since they don't look at the blog, I can tell you what the elementary school teachers are getting. Click here to see. These are too damn cute not to make them. My youngest son's teacher is a first-year, so I think she'd get a kick out of it.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggedy Jog.

I got home from my whirlwind business trip to Canada yesterday, and I'm still tired. But there are lots of things to catch up on. Firstly, I finished the second ponchette, and it turned out fine. TYS took pictures but they aren't worth posting. So you'll have to just trust me. So on to Ottawa.

Let me start first by saying that I've just managed to fall in love with Canada for the second time in my life. The first was a few years ago when we drove into Windsor on a jaunt to Detroit to see the Baltimore Orioles play in the old stadium before they tore it down. Going from that grimy city into Windsor was like going into Oz. It struck me in a way that I've never quite been able to describe or forget. I was thrilled to find that the experience wasn't unique to Windsor. I felt that same amazement when I walked out of the airport terminal into Ottawa, the nation's capital city.

So what strikes me about Canada?

It's clean. Even in a metropolitan center like the capital, it doesn't have the urban dinge or decay that you see in the States. People use the public wastebaskets. They take pride in their environment. The air is clean, the city is clean, the people seem clean. And you see signs like this:

It mixes old and new. The "old" architecture that you see in the U.S. has NOTHING on Ottawa. This was what I saw every morning from my hotel room:

This was the view if I looked to the right. In the right foreground is Le Chateau, a hotel, and in the background is their Parliament complex -- a massive set of gorgeous gothic buildings filled with amazing iron and stonework.

Here's what I saw if I looked to the left:

Modern-ish architecture, looking very comfortable a block away from Parliament.

Interested in more Parliament? Here's a closer shot:

Other than the architecture and history, there are lots of other things to enjoy.

Like Beavertails.

Very yummy. The one on the bottom is garlic butter and cheddar, and the top is cinnamon and sugar. Fried pastries that are both light AND filling all at the same time. If you're ever there, you must go to Byward Market and get one. My associate and I split each of these for a complete experience.

We also attended a work event at the Canadian War Museum. Even wore boas for the occasion (yes, it was an event that called for costumes!)

OK, I admit no yarn stores were visited on this trip, but that's OK. I didn't see much in Canada that I couldn't get in the U.S. Besides, next month's trip is to Santa Fe, NM. I'm actually flying in to Albuquerque (home of the Fiesta outlet store) and there are some cute little yarn stores there and in Santa Fe. I'm imposing a yarn diet until then ... and plans to get a much bigger suitcase for the trip.

Note: Even though no yarn stores were graced by my presence, I did make quite a bit of progress on two WIPs: the Melody Shawl and the Swallowtail Shawl. Pictures later.