Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Leftover Shawl

There's no better way to celebrate a blog's facelift than with a picture of one cute kid. This is Julia, modelling the shawl I made last week while I was home on a sick day.

The piece is called the "Leftover Shawl" because it was a perfect way to use the extra Cotton Classic I've been accumulating for the past few months. The colors went very well together and when I was done, I knew it just wouldn't be mine. It has Julia's name written all over it. I gave it to her on the condition that her mother send me a picture to post.

The pattern is about as easy as it gets -- start with four stitches on size 10 needles. K2, YO, K to end. Repeat on every row. Easy as pie.

And cute as a button!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wendy on Wendy

Dear Wendy,

With much anticipation, I headed to Arundel Mills at lunchtime to pick up a copy of your book. I managed to snag the only copy on the shelf (not sure if they only ordered one copy, or if it was simply almost sold out -- I prefer to think the latter, as you do). And so I commence with my commentary ... after many scans and readings over my afternoon commute (stuck in traffic), dishwashing (not an errant drop fell), and sitting with my youngest while he finished his dinner (after spending the entire time the rest of us were eating complaining about his lima beans). Finally, after dinner, I found a quiet 10 minutes and read the introduction twice.

Now I admit, I was a little worried ... I read your blog every day, and it boggles my mind what you are able to accomplish with teensy tiny sticks on a regular basis. I was worried that by buying your book I was committing myself to a tricky Wendy design. I've admired you from afar (not that far, I'll bet we're less than 100 miles apart) after stumbling on your site from a feeble google search for "Wendy" and "Knit" (it's a name thing). But you did not let me down ... in fact, I'm feeling rather buoyed right about now.

To start, let me first say that I too am a "Quasi-Leftie-Untensioned-Picker-Knitter," which is not to be confused with a One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater. I'm no lefty (though my littlest is), but I was taught by a left-handed knitter who didn't know how to do a long-tail cast on. I too used to spend way more time than necessary casting on with two sticks.

I think we may be kindred spirits, and I really, really hope to track you down one day soon (perhaps at Sheep and Wool) or catch you one day on the subway.

I can't wait to start some of the patterns ... you just make even the most complicated seem so very, very doable.

You are truly the queen to the KOARC.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Classic Ending

The first project of Spring is complete.

I actually finished Fad Classic by Knit and Tonic Wendy a week ago, but haven’t felt well enough this week to blog. I think it turned out pretty well, even though in the time since I completed the vest she found some errors and re-issued the pattern. That's what I get for being so eager.

But, given the fact that I made some minor modifications on my own while I knitted this up, I think it's going to work. I may even hold it for a gift down the road. I have such a tiny chest that I think it may work better for someone with a little more. I just have to pick my victim, er, recipient.

The color is more coral than peach, but not orange. And the stitch pattern makes it seem more crocheted than knitted, which gives the vest a little more bulk than expected.

Fad Classic was a great project. The stitches were fun, and it knitted up quickly. And it made me remember that I really like to work with Tahki Cotton Classic. Back in the fall around the holidays, I made tons of facecloths to accompany the homemade soaps and bath salts that I make each year for Christmas, and the women at my LYS were calling "Wendy the Washcloth Woman" as a result. But then I switched to wool for the rest of the winter. This vest made me yearn for warm weather and spring. While I was working on this project, the weather warmed up nicely and the days were sunny. For the past week, the weather here in the Mid-Atlantic has been a little wet and cloudy.

In my feeble attempt to influence the weather by knitting more cotton, I cast on yesterday for a revised version of the Perfect Pie Shawl in Melanie Falick's Weekend Knitting. I'm making it in Tahki Cotton in a nice ecru -- and think it will be a great transition season wrap. Since I'm doing it on size 10.5 needles, it's very loose and lacy. Beach sand will shake out of it nicely.

Now ... for a big announcement. The name of this blog is going to change. A few months back, I thought that I would start a separate blog for my spinning exploits, and came up with what I thought to be a very clever name ... MUCH more clever than Textile Paradise. So ... I've decided to rename myself. The URL will stay the same for a few weeks, but visitors will notice that the blog has received a nice facelift before the URL changes. Comment and let me know your thoughts!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Random Snake Handling

After a busy, busy Monday at work, I came home and found Mrs. Frisby (our cat) playing with something interesting in the driveway. My young boys were quick to check things out and discovered that it was, in fact, a teensy little garter snake.

A garter snake that my littlest promptly named Erik.

I did what any mother in her wrong mind would do. I put him in a bin.

After much oohing and aahing by the boys, we went in the house. And the cat promptly took Erik out of the bin.

After dinner, little one headed out to check on the snake, and he was gone (of course). So he came to me, begging me with his little blue eyes -- endearing me -- "Mommy, you HAVE to find Erik. Frisby may have killed him." (He aspires to be Dr. Doolittle and sincerely cares about nearly every animal he meets -- except the springtime ants. He squashes them like the bugs they are.)

So, I went out to look. I took one step out the door, nearly stepped on the damn snake, squealed like the girl I am and then calmly said, "Found him."

I put said snake back in the bin. More oohing and aahing commenced, with little one begging to keep the snake and hubby coming out to see our reptilian friend for the first time. Rather than keep the snake (this is where I draw the line. We have two fishtanks, a beagle AND a snake-catching cat), we opted to let him loose in the woods behind our house. This was after a very long debate on the snake habitat ... and Christopher's insistence that he could put one leaf under him and one leaf on top of him to keep him warm at night (LOL). I even enlisted my father's help in convincing my son that Erik needed to go back to his tree stump (after reminding him that my cat is SO much cooler than his cat).

Then, being the truly cool mother I am, I picked Erik up behind the head (he was too beaten up to even curl himself up around my hand), and Christopher -- clad in pajamas, penny loafers and a baseball cap (you just have to picture it) -- joined me in taking Erik as far away from the house as possible and placing him on a tree stump. Christopher agreed that my picking up the snake catapulted me into "Coolest Mother in the World" status (I don't want him to ever forget that his mom wasn't afraid to pick up a snake).

I'm pretty sure he'll pass tonight -- Mrs. Frisby had a really good time with him before I got to him -- but in a way, I hope he doesn't. I certainly don't want him in my house or on my porch, but there's something just a teensy bit intriguing to know that there's a chance my boys may cross paths with a little garter snake again one day. Very Dennis the Menace, don't you think? As long as Erik doesn't end up in a jeans pocket, it's OK by me.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Reading, Knitting and Waiting for Spring

Hey Harlot,

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful daytrip planned for Saturday, April 8. I was planning on hopping in the car and driving to Doylestown, PA to see you in person and get you to sign my copy of your new book, Knitting Rules! But yesterday in Baltimore was dreary and rainy, and I just couldn't bring myself to lose nearly three hours of knitting time (I couldn't get DH and the Boys enthused about a drive in nasty weather. Curse the gods. If it had been sunny, he would have driven in a heartbeat).

Around 5 p.m., I found myself very sad about my decision. So I loaded up the band and we headed to Barnes and Noble and I picked up an unsigned (sigh) copy.

Less than 12 hours later (and a portion of that was devoted to sleep), I was done. In fact, I just finished.

I've read your other two books cover to cover, and keep them in my knitting basket in case I need a pick-me-up, and this book was every bit as entertaining as the others. This book, however, has an instructional quality that the others don't -- with Harlot patterns that make even a pi shawl sound easy. It has commentary on every knitting staple out there -- scarves, socks, shawls, sweaters [I left out hats because the alliteration would have lost something] ... and its done so plainly and with such humor that its a fabulous read. It's like Harot Touched By Zimmerman. And I absolutely love it.

Can you please come to Baltimore some day so us Marylanders can meet the woman who makes OCD a regular part of life? There are so many of us who thank you from the bottom of our stashes for making our obsessions with yarn and needles and tape measures OK.

And on another note...
Earlier this week, I was stricken with a major case of Spring Fever. The weather was warm, it was great to be outside, and I had serious hopes that I could put the winter coats away for good. I even cast on to make FadClassic. But then the weather shifted and I'm working on this nifty little vest that makes me lament even more that it's cold outside. But I'm moving along on it.

A few notes about the piece. Firstly, I got the pattern from KnitandTonic Wendy, who perhaps should get a platinum yarn medal for "Flash Your Stash" photo from April 1. What makes that shot even cooler is that her husband did the set up and that the picture doesn't include ALL of her yarn. You can read about that in her blog.

Anyway, I cast on on Wednesday and ended frogging the sleeves and starting over on Thursday (I didn't do a provisional cast-on for the sleeves like I should have because I DIDN'T READ THE INSTRUCTIONS), but I'm making good progress. It's a nifty little vest in Tahki cotton (she did green, I opted for coral because green makes me look sickly), and I think it's going to be cute either by itself or over a little t-shirt or even a blouse. Cute, cute cute.

BUT ... even though it's knitted in the round, there is purling involved. I would have known this going in if I had read the pattern from beginning to end, but instead, I made an assumption that will slow up my knitting. But that's OK. Especially since the weather has gone and gotten nasty again ... there's no real rush (at least until the weather warms again. Then I'll be driving myself mad trying to finish it in time).

In it's current state, it looks rather bra-like. My youngest son asked me if I was making "one of those funny-looking knitted swimsuits" yesterday. I assured him I was not. The honestly of children (and their knowledge about such things as knitted bikinis) sometimes boggles the mind.