Thursday, August 31, 2006

In over my head

In case you are wondering where I knit, this is the place: at the end of the couch with all of my necessities (Diet Coke, remote control, knitty notions, knitting magazines) all within arms reach. You can also see why I will suffer from knee and back problems in years to come. (I am wearing shorts by the way and am not bottomless despite how it might appear.) While you are at it, take a good look at those roots folks because tomorrow they will magically disappear!

I've never been one to admire other people. I admire certain abilities, personalities and characteristics, but I've yet to find one person that embodies all of the qualities that elevates them, in my opinion, to the level of total admiration. That's why I hate those questions posed as "Name the person you most admire". I always feel like I must be too critical or shallow because I can't just name someone. Maybe I'm too judgmental, but I see flaws in everyone (including myself) and am holding out for the "perfect" person. More often than not, I find fictional characters more admirable than real people. Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird" comes to mind. He was so noble.

That said, here are some qualities/traits that I admire:

1.The ability to know what to write in a greeting card.

2. The woman who picks one hairstyle/fragrance/look and sticks with it for the rest of her life so that it becomes her signature.

3. The ability to say the right thing at any given moment.

4. The ability to figure out how to recognize mathematical patterns and draft a knitting pattern as easily as breathing.

OK, it's that last one that ranks highest on my list right now, so maybe Elizabeth Zimmerman, mother of the "just do it" approach to knitting, is my hero of the hour. I have fiddled with numbers so much over the past few days that I am convinced that it's all voodoo. I've read patterns written for top down and bottom up. I measured stitch gauge and row gauge (3 swatches just to be sure). I calculated. I counted. I measured and re-measured. I wrote out my increases row by row (all 63 rows), and then ~deep breath~ I cast on. So far I have knit 15 rows, and if this all turns out right and actually fits the way I want it to, I will attribute it to nothing more than sheer luck. What am I doing? "Project Walkway"? More like "Project Crawl". This is nuts! I did take my friend Aimee's advice and used a provisional (crochet) cast-on and am knitting top down. Right about now I am hoping that I will be able to unkink my left pinky, which is permanently cramped from holding the needles. It's enough to drive a woman to drink.

Speaking of drink, and being the booze hag that I am, I am sampling Samuel Adams Octoberfest and rank it a 1 (see my rating system in yesterday's post). Too smooth, too mellow and too sweet. Mr. Strange thinks that my quest for the perfect seasonal brew is futile. Maybe he's right. Maybe it's like knitting a swatch with the wrong yarn over and over and getting the same result. I want the gauge of a worsted weight and keep knitting with DK and wondering why it isn't working. (If you don't knit and are scratching your head, just think apples and oranges, it's the same analogy.) According to Mr. Einstein, this makes me insane!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What kind of yarn are you?

Too late and too many beers to post or knit, so here's something just for giggles:
(I am mohair! )

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Mohair.You are a warm and fuzzy type who works well with others, doing your share without being too weighty. You can be stubborn and absolutely refuse to change your position once it is set, but that's okay since you are good at covering up your mistakes.
Take this quiz!


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tops and bottoms

First, I present Tilia. Done done done. This sweater is such a disappointment to me. You see, the top half of it wants to be roomy like a sweatshirt (a really comfy one), and the bottom wants to be a dressy fitted garment. I wore it all day, and the two halves were at war with each other the whole time. I kept tugging and fussing with the hem which crept up with every movement creating a blousy/frumpy/poochy look. I loved the way it looked on the waif model in the cover shot of the book: straight up and down and casual looking - the way I would like to look in this sweater. I thought it would be a good beater (as in something to wear everywhere). Instead I got LL Bean meets Dynasty. Poo! The sad thing is that I think shoulder pads would actually help (no, don't worry, I won't do that). While this isn't going to the frog pond, it won't be a favorite. Maybe if I stretch the hem out enough, I can make it a sweatshirt.
Here's what really gets to me, though: I have no one but myself to blame for this mishap. You see, there were warning signs right from the beginning: The ribbing and lace section seemed impossibly small (I stretched it out and said, "it will block to the right size"); the body, after ribbing/lace, seemed disproportionately large ("It will block out"); and the sleeves were looking a wee bit alien in length (OK, I did try to rectify this one, omitting the last increase round and had to modify sleeve cap to accommodate). Bottom line: The writing was on the wall from day one. Why didn't I listen to my inner voice? Blocking cannot fix everything! Repeat after me: "knitting is fun! knitting is relaxing! I love knitting!". See the Gallery for more thoughts.

I have taken to carrying the baby cable socks around with me for mindless knitting. This evening (after my photo shoot - thank you Lori) I had over an hour to kill before my Pilates class. Here's proof that you can knit in the car (no, I wasn't driving) and that a bored knitter with a self timer is a recipe for total geekiness. I won't even tell you how many ways I tried to photograph myself knitting.

I have made some progress on Project Walkway. I took out my favorite boxy sweater and measured it and then tried to sketch out an approximation of what I want to knit with the pea soup yarn (I can't help it, the name stuck). Knitter's math is better than say, algebra, or quilting - all those fractions - but it still stretches the limits of my right brain abilities. I want to knit it from the top down to avoid seams, but I can't seem to figure out the math. I'm thinking bottom up may be the easy answer, but I don't like the whole business of adding the sleeves to the body all at once. Help! Since this isn't a yarn I can just rip out easily, I don't have much room for futzing around.

In the meantime, I am conducting a taste test - but not while knitting. There are a slew of Halloween and Octoberfest ales out there and I decided to sample a few because autumn is my favorite time of year and it only stands to reason that there should be a celebratory brew. Here's my rating system:

1 = will only drink it if there's nothing else available besides the Bud/Coors/Miller trio
2 = will drink it if it's the $2.50/pint happy hour special
3 = may choose it if I'm in the mood for it
4 = will order it no matter what else is available
5 = will buy in cases and stock up while it's still in season.

So far, I have tried Gritty's Halloween Ale and Harpoon Octoberfest. Both rate a 2. What can I say, I like dark and nasty beer and these are a little too mellow for me.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Plan B:

My husband, who shall henceforth be known as Mr. Strange (see below * for explanation), is fond of saying "If you don't like the view, change your way of looking at it". So, with that in mind, I have decided to change my view of the pea soup yarn (also known as "Petite Boucle" by Knit One Crochet Too). In the spirit of "Project Runway" I am going to set a little challenge for myself - more like a "Project Walkway". I am going to make this yarn into a garment that I will wear and love! If those designers can make dresses from recycled paper and plastic, I can come up with something for this yarn!

I am forever saying that I would like to design my own sweaters. I sort of did it once, using the Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, but I wasn't really keen on the result, and I didn't give much thought to what the yarn wanted to be (I made a very itchy fitted wool turtleneck). This time, I know several things about the yarn:

1. It is already highly textured, so there's no point in adding any frills
2. Because of the texture, I don't want to fuss around with much shaping or seaming.
3. It doesn't have a lot of drape and is a little bulky (hence fitted garments are out), but it is cozy

I'm envisioning either a boxy (but not huge) cowl neck pullover, knit from the top down (no set-in sleeves) or a retro cardigan with giant buttons. It would be the perfect sweater to wear with a white T-shirt and faded jeans. Here's the surprise: I love this yarn! It has a 'railroad track' construction with fine mohair ties suspended between nylon rails. As a result, it feels very soft and silky. I just need to use needles with a duller point because it's easy to catch those loops. The bamboo was OK, but I'm going to try some Addi's just to see how they feel. Hopefully I won't have to frog it at any point (mohair mohair mohair). In my swatch, I used a k2, p2 rib just to keep the hem from rolling, and I think I'll use that in the sweater.

Tilia is completely finished. I'm only giving this sneak preview until she (it is a girlie sweater) can be properly photographed. I'm also not going to say much about it yet, except the observation that I tend to knit sweaters that I don't really want to wear. If you are not a knitter, you are probably thinking that I am completely nuts - why spend all that time and money and then not wear it? The answer is that I really prefer to wear simple garments. My favorite winter sweaters are a plain grey turtleneck and a fine gauge brown cardigan. Do I want to knit that? No! Why? B-O-R-I-N-G! (Oh, and the fine gauge thing - if I knit with anything smaller than a size 2, I really would go insane). That's why this pea soup Project Walkway, is going to be such a challenge: designing a sweater knit entirely in stockinette stitch!

* Mr. Strange (formerly known as Tim) likes to surf the net for strange and esoteric information. When I told him how much I suffered under the control of my over-caffeinated, under-nourished and sleep-deprived brain that resulted from his absence and general watchful and loving eye, he printed out this. [Isn't he just the sweetest?] It was obvious to both of us that of the different pairs of quarks, we are charm and strange. Bet you can guess which one of us is charm.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


So long Soleil, I bid you adieu! (for all the juicy details, visit here).

I'm busy finishing Tilia so no time to write anything else.

BTW: My podmate is home and I am a much happier little pea. I seem to get a little nutty if left to my own devises for too long...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lessons to be learned

I must have lost my mind today. I know I had it in the morning when I left the house. I had it when I bought a large iced mocha, and I had it when I went to the first yarn shop to buy one last skein of Silky Wool to finish Tilia, but then I must have lost it somewhere after that. It's time for intervention folks! I am having blackouts! Because how else to explain how it is that I bought 11 skeins of pea soup colored yarn with acrylic in it?? This yarn shop was selling pure cashmere for 50% off and I bought this? The worst part is that I left (empty handed) and drove home - 12 miles - to look up the yardage I needed to make Aimee and drove back and never even got the yarn for Aimee! I must have had some sense, because I did manage to score 9 skeins of Paint Box for Klaralund. I also picked size 1 and 2 double points for socks and 24" size 10 circulars. I am otherwise more than a little disgusted with myself. Let this be a warning to you! Do not go shopping for anything when you are nearly dizzy from lack of food and high on caffeine; especially not to a store with a 50% off sale!

After beating myself up over the yarn gluttony, I finished Soleil and hated every single minute of it. Not only did I have to weave in way too many ends, I had to crochet the armholes and neck. The horror! To top it all off, the stupid thing is baggy on me. I already made this sweater once before in a different yarn and it was fine; in fact I loved it and that's why I made it again! As a consolation prize, I went out and bought a pint of Indian Pudding ice-cream and ate the whole thing!

After I had changed into some comfy elastic waist pants and finished beating myself up over it all, I finally realized why I have been having such a hard time with my knitting of late. It's not bad karma. I've just been pushing myself so hard to finish all the projects that I planned out in the spring that I haven't been enjoying it! I need to quit doing that. I already have all my fall and winter projects lined up, each one in it's own 2 gallon ziploc bag. Granted, I do love each project and look forward to doing them, but this is supposed to be fun, not work. No one is paying me to knit. There are no deadlines and there are no knitting police. So, I'm going to go upstairs to my sewing room and pick out something that I feel like doing, not something that I should be doing. Who knows what will happen. Maybe I'll make a hat!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


All talk and no photos makes Tarilyn a dull read.

Sorry for another unillustrated post, but I've been a little busy somewhere else tonight (cheeky monkey!).

Not much knitting going on. I am nearly finished with the back of Soleil. Tim is away for a few days, so I stocked up on beer (Geary's Hampshire Special Ale, it's all they had that was decent), Diet Coke and Hunan Pork, extra HOT, from my favorite take out. Just the bare necessities, thank you.

Here's something that might get your heart a pumpin': another somewhat local yarn shop is closing it's doors and is having a 50% off sale on all inventory. Oh. My. God. I am already thinking about the least amount of money I need to get through the next 6 days before payday and still buy yarn. If that weren't enough, I got a postcard in the mail yesterday from Hubs Mills in Lowell advertising a Labor Day sale: 20% off all yarn, bags and sweaters. This is torture! What's a yarn ho (no, make that yarn slut, I don't even need to get paid for it) to do? Is there any wonder that I haven't had my hair colored in like 5 months and have 3 inch roots? [Before you start thinking that knitting is dead in Maine, you should know that this shop (much like the other one not too far away) opened it's doors in the past year or so within a 15 minute drive from Korner Knitters in Standish, a well-established yarn shop (my personal favorite) with a loyal customer base, terrific prices and great inventory.] Notice that I haven't told you where this closeout sale is?? I admit it. I am a greedy Golem.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Busy little bee

This is what a late afternoon iced-latte will get you:

  1. Clean dishes
  2. A swept floor
  3. One clean cat box (Chloe is very grateful)
  4. 4 loads of laundry
  5. An updated blog - yes! I added links (see Wormholes) and a gallery! Check it out! (The gallery is still a work in progress. It takes a long time to upload that many pictures and I am still having issues with Blogger. Grrrr) BTW: when you create a new blog for yourself, be sure to check the spelling of the URL that you want to use before you actually commit to it. I misspelled my own blog name when I created the gallery and couldn't figure out why the link didn't work! >dingbat<
  6. World peace

OK, so I didn't actually create world peace, but I did spend a fair amount of time thinking about it. My friend Charlie is doing a project "Peace is the Word", see his call to action here, and has requested images on the word "peace". Since I need to have a solid idea before I make an image, I've been contemplating what peace means to me and how to represent it in two-dimensional black and white. Here's what I've come up with so far. (I'm really into lists and bullets tonight).

  1. Peace is a desired state of being. We all want to have peaceful lives. Well, I think most of us do. It takes a lot of work to create and maintain this over time: learning to let go of petty emotions and old resentments, respecting people who have different views, avoiding conflict, figuring out which battles are worth fighting, choosing priorities, yada yada yada.
  2. Even though peacefulness is ideal, once you get more than two people together (like in an office or a country), if everyone in the group isn't committed to it (individually or collectively), it's hard to make it happen. There will almost always be a bully or someone who just wants to stir things up. How everyone else deals with that person (or country) depends on how much power they have and whether or not they actually use it or even know that they posess it.
  3. Even in the natural world there are conflicts and wars (I'm thinking of ants in particular), so is it even possible to have peace among humans?
  4. If "unpeacefullness" (OK, let's just call it violence for my purposes) is the norm, then wouldn't it be cool if peace could act like a virus that infects people and neutralizes the violence? Hmm. Sort of like the theme of that movie (which I didn't like - the movie that is, not the theme) Pay it Forward. If each person commited to having peace in their own life, theoretically at least, it would spread to other's around them. OK, this is a bit Pollyana of me, but I am an idealist.
  5. Peace has to start on an individual level.

So that's what I've come up with. Now to create an image to express this idea....

Oh yeah, in response to my bad knitting karma, I frogged the entire front of Sunburst, fixed the mistake in Soleil and am working on finishing it. Just in case you think I am a total nutcase, I did that last night, not today.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bad Knitting Karma

I have given myself some bad knitting karma (def: a series of unfortunate knitting events caused by having too many projects going at once). Case in point:

No, that isn't spaghetti, it's the number of rows I have to frog on the front of Sunburst back to the stupid mistake I made. I am supposed to have 144 stitches and I have 146. Trust me, I counted them many times. In what I can only describe as overconfidence in my ability to follow instructions and count stitches after an increase round, or at the very least repeat "increase every other stitch" over an entire round, I apparently increased two times too many in a row resulting in the extra stitches. First Soleil, then running out of yarn for Tilia, then the glitter incident, now this. Now I'm not superstitious, but this is not the first time I have had too many (ie: more than 2) projects going at once and noticed that things aren't going so smoothly. The cure? I must finish up something or I must give something away. Don't ask me why, but this always seems to work. Since this all started with Soleil, I think that's where I went wrong. Then I need to finish Tilia - it only needs to be blocked and seamed before finishing the neckline. Since that involves buying another skein of yarn, I'll finish Soleil first {sigh}. I guess it wasn't enough that I gave all that yarn away...

I have finally recovered feeling in the right side of my face and mouth after getting a filling (in my wisdom tooth of all things), and I will save you the ghastly details. But, you know how dentists, like gynecologists, have figured out that patients have nothing to look at during the procedure other than the ceiling and mask covered faces and torture devices while laying on their backs in a vulnerable position and have taken to putting things on the ceiling? Often it's a picture of a cute baby animal, but my dentist has posters with inspirational quotes. In honor of my newly repaired wisdom tooth (which had better last me a good long time) and the wisdom to learn from my own mistakes, I leave you with this little ditty spotted on the ceiling today:

Do it now. From the moment you begin you are successful.

PS - Happy Real Birthday Lori! Now minimize the screen before someone reads this!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Something's Afoot!

Since Tilia is technically "off the needles" I decided to stop flirting with socks and start making them again. I just happened to have this lonely little skein of Cherry Tree Hill Super Glitz in the colorway "African Grey" just waiting around for something worthy of it's yummy fall colors with just a touch of bling. It doesn't show up so well in the photo, but there's a glittery strand woven in the yarn. The pattern is the first I've tried from "Sensational Knitted Socks" by Charlene Schurch: it's the Baby Cable Rib, a four stitch pattern knit on size 3 Brittany needles. The pattern is well written and easy to follow unless, like me, you skim through it and say to yourself "I know how to knit socks" and confidently start knitting until you realize that she divides the stitches on the needles differently than most sock patterns, and that failing to follow the directions will cause some serious head scratching when it's time to divide the stitches to knit the heel flap. Doh! (Yes, I bought a new little yarn tote. I know, it's a sickness, but isn't it cute??I'm a sucker for back to school supplies and this one came with a matching notebook! So Twee!)

So here's where things get interesting. There's something wrong with this sock.... you can't see it in this photo...

Heck, I didn't even see it until I had turned the heel and finished the gusset.... but if you look very closely, you'll see that I ran out of bling!! From the end of the leg to the beginning of the toe, there is no glitter. Not even a glimmer! Not what I expected from a skein of yarn that cost more three 6 packs of good micro-brew! Is this what I get for breaking my self-imposed "two project" limit? Bad knitting karma? I plan on contacting the company, because this just isn't good! It sure is pretty though. Heck, it's the foot part. No one will ever see it.

Like a good little knitter, I also worked on Sunburst this weekend. The back is done and on hold for the gusset and the front is in progress. Another beret/jellyfish/booby next to a giant sand dollar. (Yes, that is a different tote, but I made it 3 years ago!)

I tried to get Chloe in on the action, but she was not feeling very photogenic. Note the little feet pushing away the yarn as in "Get this thing away from me!". She was one irritated cat. The tail was thump thumping away so hard that I'm amazed that it isn't a big blur.

The only bad thing about spending a rainy Sunday knitting at my mother's is that I gorged myself on bad cable TV. I can't tell you how many brain cells died, but I can tell you that it would almost be worth it to put up with Flava Flav and Celebrity Fit Club and get cable so I could watch Project Runway every day!

In non-knitting news, I found a new brew (new to me) to try: Magic Hole I.P.A. by Kennebec River Brewery. OK, the name is kind of a rip-off of Magic Hat, and I wouldn't choose it over my current favorite (see On Tap in my sidebar) but it would definitely win a contest over Bud. Not quite as hoppy and crisp as I like, but worthy of a mention. Not everyone likes the bite of bitter.

Since my life is more than just doing things for myself, I spent this evening at my local quilt chapter meeting doing something really worthy. This summer, a good friend of ours, Betty, died after a long and graceful fight with cancer. Sad, yes, but she was a wonderful lady and enjoyed every minute of her life as much as we enjoyed her company. To celebrate her, we put together 2 quilt tops in one evening from 6 inch blocks we all made. (I would post a photo but I haven't quite absorbed this idea of documenting my thoughts and day with photos). The larger full-sized quilt, will be donated to one of her favorite charities for auction, and the smaller, lap sized quilt, will be given to her daughter, Dee, who is also a member of our chapter. We made so many blocks that we still have enough left over to make several baby quilts that will be donated to one of the local charities that our chapter sponsors. What an amazing feeling to be part of this group of kind and generous women. Bottoms up to you Betty!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Perfect moment

I spent part of my lunch today sitting in one of the small parks near my office listening to a little jazz band and knitting on a bench that was partly in the shade. There were lots of people around, doing their thing: tourists, other office people at lunch, mothers with little kids, and young slackers with their funky hair and clothes and pets. There was this dry peppery smell that I recognized but couldn't place until I saw the yellow leaves that had already fallen from the trees and were laying around the bench. It struck me suddenly that summer is almost over. The light is less bright and even though it's still warm, the air smells and feels different. I'm actually grateful that I live in a climate where we have seasons (Winter, snow, ice, rain, fog, rain, Spring for like 2 weeks, more rain, Summer for about 6 weeks, Fall and then Winter all over again) and autumn is my favorite.

I have balls to wind so I can work on Sunburst while I visit with my mother for the weekend, so no posts for a few days.

Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever you do. Ta ta!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Unravelling Stash

I've been thinking a lot about "stash" these days and what it means. Not just what it means to me, but what it really means. Because if you think of the word "stash" outside of it's use by knitters and other crafty hoarders, it means a lot of other things. The first definition that comes to my mind is to hide something (a castaway, drugs, money) usually from other people. The second connotation I associate with "stash" is to save something so you wont use it. Like money for a vacation. For some reason, there is usually a secret involved. Finally, there's hoarding behavior - stuff you don't need, but covet (this one has the aroma of mental instability). So when I am buying yarn or fabric (or buttons or ribbon or beads) that I don't need, am I hiding, saving or hoarding, and what's the big secret? Do I need professional help?

Something I commonly overhear at yarn and fabric stores goes like this: "I have to hurry up and get home so I can hide this from my husband". I have even been known to say this myself, even though my husband, Tim, is unusually supportive of my habits (mostly because I pay for it myself). It communicates volumes about our dedication to the craft, our buying habits and our relationships! A code for the sisterhood of compulsive shopping.

I don't hide my stash from Tim or my friends (I show it off as soon as I can, mostly because they are stashers too) or even myself. I like to look at, smell and fondle my yarn, and I like to pull out pieces of fabric and put them together in interesting combinations. Sometimes, I'm so inspired that I make something with it. Other times, I put it all back and sigh and think 'some day I will use it'. When Tim first noticed my habits, he expressed concern (he hates shopping more than drinking water). I told him that artists don't paint with one color paint and that I needed a palette for inspiration. Obviously that's not entirely true anymore because let's face it: if they stopped making yarn or fabric (God forbid) I would be set for a very long time.

There seems to be no secret surrounding this stash behavior. Here I am, like many other crafters, posting photos of stash for anyone to see. There are even bragging rights! I've seen all sorts of products designed for us that sport the sayings "My stash is bigger than your stash" and "Whoever dies with the most stash wins". I have also read articles on how to dispose of your stash when you die, compete with legal advice! (I kid you not). I've had more than one conversation with friends regarding who has first dibs on what.

I guess there are people who have stash that they keep a secret or that they are saving, but most of the time, I think it's about getting caught up in the moment (or maybe a really tempting sale). Usually when I buy something, it's because I'm in love. Maybe it's the color or the texture. Maybe it's just that time of year (Right now I am seriously lusting for the perfect burnt orange yarn which is a sure sign that fall is coming). I have very good intentions. It actually makes me sad to look at yarn that I don't want anymore, which is way I am learning to give it away.

Leftovers are the exception.

These automatically become stash because you can't just throw the extra stuff away, it would be wasteful! For a while, I was saving all my clippings to throw out for the birds and squirrels to use in their nests. It was cool to see all that yarn and to remember what I made with it, but it got to be a little too much and I imagined the mess it would make on the lawn. Besides which, we use biodegradable trash bags and the birdies can still find it in the landfill (don't burst this bubble for me, please, if it's not true).

I don't think I need psychiatric help. I am keeping things under control. I practice safe shopping habits like staying out of stores, only buying for a specific project, and not using a shopping basket. The one habit that drives some other people a little nutty is that I carry things around with me in the store for a very long time, testing to see if I am really in love or just smitten. If the feelings wane (or if I recover my sensibilities) I put it all back. Try it!

Edited to add:
I just bound off the second sleeve of Tilia!!! It is truly a miracle. I still have to buy another skein to finish the neckline and sew seams, but that's nothing! PHEW!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Post Script

At last, here's my sassy new tote: Knit side (above) and Purl side (below). The letter brads don't show up so well in the photos. "What's that yarnish looking stuff peeking out" you ask? Stash? Just a little wool and cashmere somethin somethin I have waiting in the wings...
Still trying to work out photo issues with Blogger. See my first post "Friends" below.


I spent the evening with my dearest friend and fellow Yarn Ho, Aimee, catching up on all things knitting and otherwise. Here she is with her (just barely) finished third (?) Clapotis (she insisted I let her weave the ends before taking a photo). We spent some time hanging out in my sewing room, which is mostly a place to keep all my stuff. She finds it comforting in there, surrounded by fabric and yarn. It does smell like wool! I'm starting to find it a little crowded though and may undertake an extreme makeover. As a tiny step in that direction, I sent Aimee home with a bag of stash: 6 skeins of Nashua Handknits Creative Focus in a lilac color that I bought to make Blackberry and changed my mind and later planned to use for this pattern from the Nashua's "North American Handknits Collection". Anyway, it's her stash now (with pattern), so I don't have to feel guilty that I don't really want to knit it anymore. That felt good!! Now for some of that other stuff...

Speaking of makeovers, I'm finally feeling confident enough to make some changes to this site, so things might look different the next time you visit...until then, another dear friend Charlie asked me to post some yarn porn, so here it is:

In my Fall line-up is this "Fair Isle Pullover" designed by Cathy Maguire from Vogue Knitting Winter 2004. I have wanted to make this sweater for a long time, and found this Jo Sharp DK wool on super clearance at my LYS - actually, I've been dying for an excuse to buy some of this yarn for a while and finally found it. Except for the body color (I am using black, the original was a deep eggplant from what I can tell) and a few extra colors, I am mostly sticking to the original pattern.

PS: I had posted a photo of my new bag here and accidently deleted it, but now I can't seem to upload any photos! That happened last night too and it's making me very crabby.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Don't try this at home

I'm getting a little panicky about the rate at which I am running out of yarn for Tilia, so I decided to do a little avoidance sewing. I started this bag the other day and put it on hold until I could figure out what I wanted to do about handles. I found the fabric at Jo-Ann's (on sale). In real life, it's a little more pastel and reminds me of those meltaway candies. It's an Alexander Henry print from last year!!! [If you are not a quilter, imagine finding Adrianne Vittadini yarn or Prada bags at Wal-mart.] Anyway, I needed another bag and didn't have any fabric (liar liar) and wanted to play around with these cool letter brads I found. The pattern is modified from a quilted bag that uses double-sided pre-quilted fabric. I was feeling too lazy to quilt it myself, so I had this "brilliant" idea that I would fuse it to some cotton duck cloth (a light weight canvas). That part was OK. The trouble started when I actually tried to sew through 4 thicknesses of it. My sewing machine beeped and flashed this message at me: STOP FOR SAFETY PURPOSES. It then refused to work (Oh, I tried!)

How many other computerized gadgets in your life look out for your well being in this way? Can you imagine getting into your car after a few too many Mojitos and receiving this message? It would probably stop quite a few accidents.

I couldn't ignore the message, but I could pull it out and start again, and again. Must have been more than the fabric that was too thick. Eventually it must have given up on me because !pop! the needle broke. I could have lost an eye! (That's how these things happen).

Despite my bad intentions, I never was able to sew over the problem areas. Let's just say that there's some glue involved and leave it at that. I'll post a full size picture when there's natural light - otherwise you would see the chaos I call my sewing room and that is not a pretty sight!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Knitting Monogamy or Monotony?

As recently as last year, I was a knitting polygamist (pardon the abuse of language here): I would cast on for a new project, grow bored within a day or so and start another, and another and another. Socks! Hats! Scarves! Mittens! I spent so much time starting that finishing became a big issue. Lots of people can live with that, but it started to stress me out and cause guilt to creep in every time I saw the lonely project stuffed in a ziploc (hmm, didn't Wendy just write something about this?). So I made the decision to make RULES for myself about knitting. The first one was to finish up all those UFO's or frog them forever. Several second socks and a pile of yarn later, I then decided to focus on one project at a time. That lasted for about a month. Now I am living a moderately comfortable life as a bigamist knitter: two projects on the needles. (I still haven't decided whether or not socks actually count in this relationship so I only flirt with them.) Stash is a whole other subject.

That said, here's Tilia in progress, provided with help from my lovely feline assistant, Phoebe. Note that the waist seems impossibly small and the sleeve a little on the long side? Only time will tell if these proportions will actually work on my body.

Since I am so close to finishing Tilia, I decided it would be an appropriate time to start something new:

Hmmm, is it a jellyfish? A tiny beret? A funky booby? If all goes well, it will be Norah Gaughan's Sunburst Pullover from Interweave Summer 2002 (It's the cover photo). Reynold's Mandalay has been discontinued, so I'm using Ole Ole instead. I love the construction of this sweater, but starting out was not so good: 8 stitches on 4 size 10 dpns {{shudder}}. This puppy had better block flat because otherwise there will be whispers about baby bumps when I wear it. I'd be working on it now if it weren't for the fact that for some reason I do not have any 24 inch size 10 needles. (The only thing worse than a second sock is a second sleeve. Yeah yeah, I know I could do both at the same time, but it gives me agida.) It must be bad knitting karma, because after all that horn tooting about self-restraint, I must confess that I have about 3/4 of Soleil on hold because I messed up when dividing front and back and have to tink back several rows.

When it comes right down to it, I always have cheating on my mind.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New kid on the blog?

This is going to be way more complicated than I thought. Already I see that I need to learn how to design my own template (little miss fussy pants has to have everything "just so"). Oh well. Here I am. So far I have lost 2 hours of knitting time, trying to set up a blog so I can talk about knitting. The irony of it all!

This is Gypsy Mesh from Interweave Spring 2004 knit in TLC Cotton Plus (a surprisingly nice inexpensive little yarn) finished last Sunday. For some reason I lost interest after knitting the back and had to slug through the rest, but it was worth it and I love the sweater. I don't think I made any modifications to the pattern except maybe to shorten the body.

Currently on the needles (and being neglected) is "Tilia" from Elsebeth Lavold's "Enchanted Garden Collection" which I scored (together with all the yarn in the natural beige color) at a yarn shop close-out sale last month [It was a Yarn Ho's fantasy - all yarn, books, and notions were 50% off. I nearly hyperventilated]. I'd never knit with the Silky Wool before and I am loving it! Sort of like Rowan Summer Tweed but less squeaky and mean. Right now I am on the second sleeve (the home stretch!!) and doing the "please-don't-run-out-of-yarn" prayer. There's also the usual peccadilloes: Will the sleeves be too long? Will it fit? Will I look like an 80's throwback? You see, unlike the little nymph in the photo, I am have hips and some girls to accommodate.....