Thursday, September 28, 2006

Knitting DRAMA!

I have been trying, unsuccessfully, for the past hour to add my blog to YouTube so that I can make it easy for you to watch "The Last Knit". You simply must check this out. Edge of your seat, nail-biting, knitting drama!

For those interested in your garden-variety daily drama, I have had a total airhead day. I was running late to work (as usual), wondering the entire time if I had turned off the bathroom heater (yes, it's that chilly in the morning). Mr. Strange is out of town visiting his mum, so I had to come home for lunch to check. Yes, I turned it off - phew! I take an hour lunch every day. Before leaving to come home, I looked at my car clock and saw that it was 12:50 pm. 'OK', I thought, 'I have to be back by 1:50'. So what did I do? I left the house at 1:48, thinking that I had to be back at 2:00. Helloooo!? It's a 12 minute drive from my house! I made it back at 2:05 (don't get me started on traffic). Several hours later, as I was walking back to the parking garage after Pilates class, I remembered that I parked on the street, instead of in the parking garage paid for by my employer (why????). Yes, I got a ticket. It's in my glove box where it will stay until I throw it away. Our benevolent City gives us one freebie every 6 months. When I finally arrived home without incident, I started cooking dinner only to realize that I had left the front burner of the stove on low since the night before! I heard on the local news teaser that there was an earthquake in Maine today. Maybe that's it. Maybe I am super sensitive like animals and sensed the tectonic imbalance; maybe I was just a dingbat today. Either way, at least I managed to finish the cable section of the back of Ivy (again). More on that later.

BTW: I happened to see a wooly bear caterpillar tonight while taking out the trash. It was almost totally orange with only narrow bands of black at either end. According to farmer's wisdom, the proportion of orange to black stripes can be used to predict the weather of the coming winter. More orange than black = severe weather. I think it means I need to buy more wool.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

10 Knittery Things

Believe it or not, I have been knitting. I finished the back of my "secret" project and have recovered from my snit over the Quechua and am once again working on Ivy. You may be wondering why I am being so mysterious with the other project I have going. It seems that since I started blogging I haven't had much knitting success. I don't want this to become my whine forum - I really do enjoy knitting and have obviously been able to finish a number of things - and am conducting a little experiment. If I don't write about it, will the experience be different? As for Ivy, now that I've cut my teeth on something really satisfying, I don't feel so invested. Yeah, the yarn is still splitty, but I'm less irritated about it.

I had a very strange dream last night that I broke several of my coveted size 1 Brittany sock needles. The were tucked inside a sock that I was working on and I accidentally broke them all! I was really upset about it until I realized that they weren't my Brittanys after all, but some new Japanese needles that I had somehow acquired. The cool thing is that they came with a little plastic sock needle organizer/stand and cute point protectors and other gadgets that I couldn't quite figure out. Don't ask me where this came from.

Since I don't have any new photos to post, here's my answer to the meme started by Grumperina:

10 Knittery Things You Don't Know About Me

Since a few of you know me REALLY well, this applies to those of you who don't ; -)

1. I keep all of my patterns in plastic sleeves in 3-ring binders organized by type: one for felted things and critters, one for hats/mittens/socks and scarves, one for summer sweaters and one for winter sweaters. I also have them broken down by arans/cardigans/fair isle/turtlenecks, etc. I know that this is very anal, but it makes me happy and keeps me sane. According to Stephanie in her book, "Knitting Rules", this makes me a "Martha". If I am ever lucky enough for her to read my blog, I hope she forgives me. My house is a mess, really.

2. If #1 didn't make me a "Martha", this will: I keep a knitting scrapbook with a label of the yarn used for each project, date started and finished, and pattern notes. Until I started blogging, I also added photographs of each finished object. It's no surprise, then if I also mention that I keep all yarn tagged for a project in giant (2 gallon!) ziploc baggies.

3. I *could* knit continental if I set my mind to it, but I refuse. I know that it's more efficient, blah blah blah, but it feels weird. Call me lazy, call me stubborn, but I'm a thrower and proud of it!

4. I have never washed any of the sweaters that I have knit. Never. Someday, if they get smelly, I will. (I am afraid, very afraid)

5. I have tried intarsia, so I never have to do it again. Seriously. See my Funky Chicken Pillow from Interweave? The entire time I worked on this (1 year, start to finish), I called it the "F**king Chicken Pillow".

6. Even though I admit to being a fiber snob, I have a soft spot for Encore Worsted Weight yarn. Maybe it's the low price or the wide array of colors available, but I have a fair amount of it in my stash.

7. I long to master the bi-color brioche stitch. So far, I am an abysmal failure.

8. Whenever I use a cable needle, I slide the stitches back onto the left needle before working them. Somehow, I cannot quite get the hang of knitting from the cable needle. I also keep the cable needle in my mouth on the entire cable round.

9. Try as I might, I cannot figure out how to make the left side of my knit stitches look even when followed by a purl. For this reason alone I hate ribbing. You would not believe how much time I have spent obsessing over this and experimenting with tension and alternative knitting methods (Norwegian purl? Fuget-about-it).

10. I have no desire to learn how to spin. Now I know that this isn't a "knitterly" thing, but so many people ask me. The answer is a resounding "NO"! I love the look of handspun yarn and would gladly accept some as a gift, but that's one dark path I cannot travel.

Monday, September 25, 2006

No more knitter's block!

I am having so much fun knitting these days that I can barely manage to stop and take photos! I't amazing how different the colors look in real life. The blue isn't nearly as bright and that grey color is actually a pale sage green.
My knitting funk is officially over! Woo Hoo!!

Now if I could just find a way to knit all day and get paid for it....

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Having somewhat recovered from my little crisis with Ivy yesterday, I made a major decision: I cannot be on a weekday beer diet, a yarn diet, a no bad carb diet, and a knitting project diet all at once, so I am cheating on one of them. Bet you can't guess which.....(hint: it has something to do with wood and wool). Yes, I am breaking the rules and am officially off the wagon as they say and have cast on for a new project. I'm not ready to share yet, mostly because it is black right now and will be very difficult to photograph until I use the other colors. Yes! There are other colors! Tee hee. I love having a secret!

In other news, my friend Charlie, who is doing the peace project I wrote about a while ago, has created a blog to post the images to so everyone can view and participate! Check it out: peace is the word. There's a wide range of styles, so no need to be shy about sending one of your own!

I've been holding out on telling you about a little gig I have going that I am excited about: tomorrow night I will be judging afghans and knitted items at the Cumberland Fair. One of my quilting friends recommended me to the coordinator. I have no idea what to expect (this is my first time), but I'll give you the inside scoop! I anticipate a wide range of materials, patterns and skill levels, so I will be kind and fair. Fair. Ha!

BTW: I nearly broke something when I saw that Glenna C., designer of Ivy, left a comment on my last post. Holy Sheep! I feel like Sally Field accepting the Oscar "Somebody read my blog!!!". (By somebody, I mean someone other than my friends, who are the best "somebodies" a girl could have)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Five Step Program for Knitaholics

Everything is hold while I work on Ivy, and I mean everything! Poor Chloe is out of food, I have no Diet Coke to drink and the house is, well, no worse than usual - the one benefit of shorter daylight hours is that I can't see the dust for very long before the sun goes down. In spite of all this, I am having some doubts about my sanity decision to knit this sweater. Having committed myself to yet another project that is becoming less desirable the more I knit it, I wonder: how did this happen? I think I may have invented a Five Step program for Knitaholics!

Step one: Refuse to accept responsibility

It started with the new Knitty. It's really their fault (shame on you Amy Singer for interfering with my fall knitting line-up). I was perfectly miserable forcing my way through Olive, when they had to publish a new issue with a really cute sweater knit with an inexpensive yarn that came in a color I have wanted for a long time. It was at this moment of weakness when I rationalized the purchase by telling myself that the yarn would sell out really fast because of the Knitty pattern [so far, only the color used by the designer has sold out]. To top it off, my usual knitting and lunch buddy left me alone in the office on a day that I didn't bring any knitting with me. It's her fault too!

Step Two: Rationalize

Knowing that this yarn was coming and all jazzed up about starting something new, I threw myself into finishing the sock and getting as much done as possible on Olive (the body is done, only the sleeves remain). This resulted in a very high level of expectation. All summer long I have worked with fibers that are not very pleasurable to knit with (cotton, bamboo, silk) and have longed for the feeling of wood and wool. In anticipation, I purchased large quantities of it for fall and winter projects, but what have I been knitting with lately? Mohair! I somehow imagined that the Peruvian Quechua would be wool-like - it is a fuzzy animal after all - but it is not. Even though the yarn is plied, it has no give and splits very easily, and knitting with it is much like working with cotton. I have wrist pain. I have finger numbness. I am not having fun. It would be one thing if it looked fantastic despite the discomfort, but the truth is that I think Ivy would look better in a different yarn. The Quechua is sort of "stringy"

When I knit a project because I love the fiber and the pattern, I enjoy the whole process. This is the ideal combination, and it doesn't really matter how the final product comes out. I started out this year with a number of projects that were like this: Mavis, Dibs on Ribs, Scoop Neck Cardigan, Ruffled Edge Cardigan, Caftan Pullover, Bonita Shirt. Wow! I was on a roll! No wonder I knit so many sweaters! If I really love the color and pattern, but the yarn is somehow difficult to work with, the goal of the finished product keeps me going. I don't mind product knitting as long as it is balanced with something else done for pleasure. I have been doing way too much product knitting and not enjoying it very much. Gypsy Mesh, Soleil, Nautie, Olive, and now Ivy are all about the end result. If I spend all that time and energy on something just for the end result, it's such a disappointment if I don't actually like it!

Step Three: Whine (not to be confused with Wine, which has it's uses)

This leads to my current dilemma. I love the color of Ivy, but I do not like the yarn. I love the way the sweater fits the designer, but am concerned about the proportions on my body. Tilia flashback!! This is that crucial moment where I could forge ahead, despite my hesitation, or stop and frog and modify the pattern. I'm afraid that if I stop now I will lose momentum and that this will become stash yarn.

Step Four: Denial

But wait! There's a third option! I could do nothing! I could just pretend it never happened! What yarn? Ivy who?

Step Five: Avoidance

I really should go to the grocery store, the litter box is chunky, shouldn't I put away the laundry and gee, it's getting late. I'll think about Ivy tomorrow.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Orange you glad?

What could possibly be better than receiving a check for a million dollars in the mail from Ed McMahon??

Receiving a box of yarn from Elann! Not just any yarn, mind you, but 12 skeins of the most perfect color of burnt orange that I have been lusting after for Ivy!! I even found a KAL ("Knit Along" for those who don't know the lingo). It will my first since blogging!

I could barely make it through my quilt group tonight until I could rush home to knit my gauge swatch. As you can see, I tend to skimp a little on the 4 inch size...but you get the drift.

I can already see that I'll be making a slight modification to the pattern by starting my first row of the twisted rib section on a purl row - Row 6 in the pattern. I don't like the way the cast on edge looks from the right side.

Can you tell that I am in love with this color? Check out the polish on my unadorned toes.

Poor Olive, she may be taking the back seat for a while....

Mairzey dotes and dozey dotes and liddle lambs eat IVY!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Weekend update

Finally back from my weekend at Mum's and I have a few interesting things to report, though not all are knitting relevant.

First and foremost, much was accomplished in the knitting department. I finished the first garter rib sock (lovely) and am making speedy progress on Olive. It's amazing how much I can get done when I eliminate distractions, such as a room full of "future projects" all bagged and calling my name. It occurred to me that if I hurry up and finish Olive, when the special package arrives in the mail sometime soon, I can begin Ivy without guilt. In many ways, this kind of speed knitting cures me of the ho-hum attitude that often takes over once I get beyond that first love; the feeling of newness and possibility is rarely sustainable all the way through a project. While racing to finish Olive, I am once again reminded that it takes nearly as many stitches to finish a pair of socks as it does to knit a sweater and that, if I set my mind to it, it's no less effort.

Secondly, whenever I visit my hometown I am at a loss to find good beer. By now you know that by "good beer" I mean fresh and tasty microbrew. Most often, I go to one of the local gas stations or grocery stores and hem and haw over the poor and predictable selection available. They always have the standard Bud/Coors/Miller trio with the occasional Heineken/Rolling Rock/Seasonal Shipyard, but I am always on the lookout for the hidden nugget. This time I struck gold, twice! Happy brew news! I have tried and now love: "Cadillac Mtn. Stout" by Bar Harbor Brewing Company and "Dogfish Head Chicory Stout". Yum!! Both of these rate a 5 on my score card! If you click on the link, it's at the end of the post.

My mom and I usually spend time shopping when I visit. Though I did manage to stay clear of yarn stores, I confess to purchasing a purse which is, contrary to my hairdresser's advice, larger than my head. I rationalized the size by saying it could double as a yarn tote: one section for purse stuff and another to hold portable knitting. There is something to be said for carrying such a large bag: it creates the optical illustion that your body is smaller. Really, why else to you think all those Hollywood waifs do it? So they can carry their books around? I think not (Meoww).

Speaking of books, I also scored two titles that have been on my wish list for some time: "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde and "The Effect of Living Backwards" by Heidi Juliavits. Too good to pass up at $1.99 each.

Lastly, just when you thought you couldn't find anything positive in the news about Iran, Mr. Strange found this story on Anousheh Ansari, soon to be the first female Iranian born American to go into space. As a side note, if you are interested in reading another heartwarming story about Iran, I highy recommend "Honeymoon in Purdah" by Alison Wearing.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Great minds...

As promised, a better photo of my spanky new hat is in the knitting gallery - without the devil horns.

Today a friend gave me a list of the 25 Best Beers in America as featured in the October Issue of Men's Journal. She got the list from a local television website, so I started searching the site to find the link to post here (you know how I feel about beer) when I came across this article: Knitting and Beer: Two Great Ideas Save Planet. OK, so he got the "little old ladies" thing all wrong, but how bizarre that I would find this while looking for a beer list to link to my knitting blog!

Anyway, about the beer list. One of my hands down favorite beers is #2: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA! Obviously, whomever compiled the list has great taste (heh heh), so I will be trying as many of the others as I can find locally. But not on weekdays. And not while knitting.

I'm off to Mum's for the weekend, so no posts for a few days. Ta Ta!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Devil Wears Berrocco

I feel like I have been knitting every day without much to show for it, so here's the big payoff: a fuzzy red hat.
I have no idea why I knit this, other than the fact that I loved the yarn and to prove Chloe wrong. I'll post a better photo when I can get some natural light. Until then, try this stupid human trick: While sitting at your desk, make a clockwise circle in the air with your right foot, then, at the same time, draw the number 6 in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change directions. Try it!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Warning! Contains Crow-shay

Since I was so link happy yesterday, I thought I would do the work for you today, so here's lots of pics. (Like a good blogger, I did it the "right" way and didn't steal any bandwidth.)

True confession: For a while I have secretly been harboring the desire to crochet. Before becoming a full-time knitter, I used to crochet here and there. In college, I made a few doilies (just because) and somewhere in this house I have a paper bag full of granny squares worked in purple variegated acrylic (no idea what I was thinking). To be honest, I associated it with bad church fair goods, but recently I have been seeing more and more crochet patterns that I like. It all started with "Loviselund" from Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's Collection Book Number 2 when I saw a shop sample at my LYS knitting group. If I'd had the money that day, I would have bought the yarn and started right away. But after the initial rush passed, I forgot about it until I got the book for Christmas. Now it's become one of those "one of these days" projects. Since then, I keep seeing more and more crochet that I like. Debbie Stoller's new Stitch'n Bitch book has some great simple stuff and has quickly risen to the top of my list (LOVE the title!!)

Other than edging on a sweater or the occasional flower to jazz up a hat, I haven't wielded a hook for fun in a long time. To be honest, I don't even like doing it. Not to whine, but it hurts my hands. I don't know if it's the kind of hurt caused by lack of use or over use, but it's not pleasant. Is it worth the pain for this?

I really love both of these sweaters, which are ranked "intermediate". I'm an over-confident knitter, but the last time I looked at a crochet chart, my eyes crossed and I could swear that drool was involved. The stuff looks like Braille!

I already have a few crochet resources, namely "So Simple Knits" and "The Crochet Answer Book" that I 'accidentally' acquired through Crafter's Choice. I'm wondering if they contain enough information to get me through something beyond over-confident beginner? Maybe I should start out with something simple, like a flower motif scarf. If Happy Hooker is anything like the other S'nB books, I'm it will be the most helpful.

Now that I'm done with my confession, here's the juicy bit: both of those crochet sweater patterns are free (!) patterns from the Lion Brand website!!! I know! Isn't it just shocking? I received their catalog in the mail today and was blown away by the quality of the patterns and the photo layout. I still dislike most of their yarns (Homescum phooey!), but this is pretty cool stuff! Maybe they got the hint that there is a huge knitting community out there where Fun Fur is the butt of many a joke. Maybe someone read "You Knit What". Whatever the reason, someone is paying attention, and now they have mine! If crochet doesn't turn you on, check out these patterns, also free, on their website:
But wait! There's more! The little cabled cutie (below) is one of the patterns available for sale.

So many projects, so little time....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gotta get me some of that

Lots of things to ramble about, but not much knitting going on. Well, not much that is worth showing at this stage. I mean how many times do you need to see my garter rib socks before I actually finish one?

If you really want to know, I managed to turn the heel tonight and am quite pleased with myself, thank-you-very-much, because the heel is so perfectly pink and distinct from the flap, and when I picked up the gusset stitches they matched the same color where I left the instep before working the heel. Trust me, it's very cool.

I guess it doesn't take much to get me giddy these days. Speaking of which, here are a few other things I'm worked up about, good and bad:

  1. The new Knitty is up! Finally! I am all over Ivy and have some lusty feelings for the Quechua in Smoldering Ember (stay tuned). I'm mildly interested in some of the other patterns, but Intolerable Cruelty, is well, intolerably cruel to anyone who has a booty. Sing with me now: "Boom chicka boom boom." I'd rather have the pattern for the cute wrap she's wearing! Ordinarily, I don't read all of the other articles, but today was the exception; I love the Frankenbags! I think a trip to the local thrift store might be in order.
  2. The September issue of Mag Knits is also up, but nothing there I want to knit right now. Check it out for yourself.
  3. I recently had a chance to devour a copy of Knit 2 Together at Borders, and it is at the very top of my knitting book wish list. I love everything in this book! There are patterns for knitted pants and a dress that I would actually make! Not to mention that Tracy Ullman has always been a favorite ("Hi, it's Kaaaay", boy do I miss her show). I wonder, however, if she is a knitter or a Knitter. In most of the photos she is playing with yarn, but I don't recall seeing any where she is knitting anything other than simple garter stitch (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm guessing she is Mel Clark's Oprah. That's OK. Ms. Clark's designs are fresh and fabulous!
  4. Ever a fan of cute skulls (but not pirates - Hollywood ruins everything), I saw this in the newest issue of "Knit1", the only thing in the issue I would consider. Love it! Must have the one with knitting needles!
  5. You know you are old hear a wishy washy version of "In a Big Country" coming from the television and look up to see an add for Kohl's department store. GAK! I have to admit that Iggy Pop's sellout to Carnival Cruise didn't bother me nearly as much. Maybe because it was his version and not some schlocky cover; plus I get a little groove on every time I hear the ad. If I ever hear "Sunday Bloody Sunday" used to promote football I will stick knitting needles in my ears and burn all my U2 CD's. Now, if I were an ad exec, I would use Bongwater's "The Power of Pussy" to sell Tampax. That would be funny!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ham in Olive with cheese (and beer)

On the sidelines, I have quietly been plugging away at Olive (f/k/a Project Walkway) with fingers crossed. Tonight, about 6 rows shy of the final row before putting the sleeves on hold, I decided that it might be a good idea to count stitches. Good thing! I was off a few here and there, and closer to the magic number than I thought! Was it bad math? No matter. The proof is in the pudding.
Voodoo or not, it fits! Since this was the most crucial part, I figure it's smooth sailing long as I don't run out of yarn! I don't know why, but this color is so hard to photograph. No matter what light I'm in, it always looks like something you'd fish out of the drain. It's really not that ugly. Really. I must admit, though, that the texture makes me think of muppets...

Here's the ham and cheese... (but not a good representation of the new hair).

Since beer goes good with all of the above, I just happened to pick up some "Gritty's Black Fly Stout" (funny how the grocery store knows that I can't buy popcorn without beer!). Since I have given up on the autumn ale taste test, I am instead turning my attention to porters and stouts. Now, to warn you, I'm fussy about these dark brews. Here's my criteria for a good one (you may disagree):

  • Must be dark as night with no possibility that light will shine through.
  • Must have a full bodied rich chocolate/roasted coffee flavor and aroma.
  • Must have a creamy head without too much carbonation.

Based on this criteria, Gritty's version is a little too thin for my taste. It has a good head, but too much and more fizzy than creamy; it must definitely be poured to be enjoyed. The color is just right - I can hold it right up to the light and it's black as tar. The flavor isn't strong enough, though, and it smells a little sharp and sour. It was worth a try. Good thing I bought a bottle of "Stonecoast 420 IPA" as a back up!

Guess I won't be knitting any more tonight!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Victory Dance

I remember the first time I figured out a knitting pattern that seemed impossible. It was a hat from Knitter's magazine constructed out of mitered squares using only a graph and no written instructions. I worked on my first square for hours. When I finally "got it" I shouted and danced around the room. I was so excited that I wanted to tell everyone I knew that I had done this really hard thing, but I knew better. Good friends would have made the appropriate sounds, maybe a "what's it going to be?", and total strangers would have given me that 'hmm, doesn't take much to get you excited' look. I wanted more than that. I wanted affirmation. Thankfully, I now have great knitty friends (and a new audience) to share these victories with. Mr. Strange is very supportive, but it's just not the same, and sharing knitting victories with non-knitters is like wearing a big neon sign that says "I am a huge geek".

This weekend, I actually did something that is a recognizable achievement to the rest of the world. I climbed up Pleasant Mountain with my good friend and fellow troublemaker knitter, Lori.! OK, it's only 2006 feet, but it is the highest mountain in Southern Maine, and it was the first one I ever hiked. Here was our view about two-thirds of the way up. We were sweating our asses off and saying "why are we doing this?". Despite how dark it looks, the sun was beating on us and it was very warm. At this point, Lori was really hoping that those dark streaks were rain. "Naw", I said, "They're crepuscular rays!" (miss big fancy words). She was right.

Here we are at the summit, as the drops just started to fall. Oh yeah, there was thunder too. "Get off the mountain now!!"

I don't know what I expected to see at the top, but I was surprised at this stick tepee structure. It made me think of The Wicker Man (the real one, not that Nick Cage thing). Kind of creepy with the thunder.

Several hours and a real shower later, I enjoyed the lightening show the safe way: in a pub.

Isn't it funny that I am embarrassed to brag to non-knitters about spending 3 hours knitting on a Saturday afternoon, no matter how complicated it is, but feel that this was a legitimate use of my time? I wonder how many of them spend at least 2 to 3 hours watching television every day ? They are usually the same people who say "Oh, I wish I could knit, but I don't have the time/patience". Oh yeah, like TV is so engaging. To think that I have actually felt guilty when I have knit inside on a sunny day.

Today it was cool and sunny, and I spent many guilt-free hours knitting without the TV on (actually, I listened to public radio the whole time) and made this little Nautie from Knitty - go here for more. That figure lurking in the background is Mr. Strange. He really wanted to be photographed with Nautie, but in a naughty way, if you catch my drift. What can I say? He's a guy.

If the hiking and the Nautie weren't impressive enough to earn bragging rights, Lori and I also visited an alpaca farm yesterday where they sold yarn. Very soft yarn with the name and photo of the alpaca that grew the yarn on each label. And we didn't buy a single skein. Now that was hard work.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pimp kitty

Look what she made me, a new toy. Isn't it pretty?

Really, I'm only pretending to like it because when she leaves the room...I'm going after this:

It's not like she's going to use it any time soon...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Alone at last

I spent a number of hours knitting with other people today and it made me think about the difference between social and solitary knitting.

Much has been written on the meditative qualities of knitting. At various times, while knitting alone, I have achieved that state of being, identified as "the Zone" by someone (can't remember who), where time, space and self disappear and all of your attention is on the creative process. While this is very pleasant and often sought after, it cannot be produced at will; it just happens.

More often, I am ruminating on a variety of subjects and observing my thoughts. Depending on my mood, I could be revisiting old conflicts or events, or simply replaying conversations and thinking about how I feel about them. Unless things go horribly wrong, I am usually find this very relaxing. It is certainly a way to engage in passive thinking. Angry knitting is not only bad for the soul but can have disastrous results. Have you ever knit while angry? Tight-ass stitches!

On other occasions, I am simply repeating a pattern in my head such as "knit one, slip, slip, knit, yarn over, knit two together" or "I'm on row 9, row 9, row 9". Not the sort of thing you want to tell someone when they ask the loaded question: "What do you think about while you are knitting?". It may sound inane, but at particularly stressful periods in my life I have purposefully chosen a complicated pattern to keep from obsessing about my problems. Lace scarves with 27 row repeat patterns are perfect for this sort of diversionary knitting as there are too many rows to memorize and allow your mind to wander to the sore spot.

To outsiders, knitting is a passive activity, especially when performed alone and in public. They see us sitting quietly, working away and think our minds are blank slates. One person even said that it must be boring! While I will be the first to admit that row after row of stockinette stitch will kill my interest level faster than you can say "yarn sale", I am rarely bored while knitting. I actually find knitting alone in public somewhat intimidating. People very rarely talk to me. If they do, the most popular question is "Is that knit or crochet?". I think others view it like reading, which is actually closer to the truth than it would seem, and feel that it would be rude to interrupt. This is especially helpful if you are prone to eavesdropping on other people's conversations; it's like wearing an invisibility cloak. While knitting, I am definitely engaged in the process, but not in the same way I am when reading a book. Both effectively serve the purpose of allowing you to look like you are doing something rather than having the aura of loneliness that seems to surround people dining alone. I am much more comfortable, however, reading while eating in public than I am when knitting. It seems too revealing, as though in a strange way, my knitting is a too personal and private pursuit to share with strangers.

Social knitting is a whole different animal. The talk may certainly be animated, but inevitably, one of these conversation stoppers will be uttered:

"Hold on, I'm counting, 2, 4, 6, 8 ...oops lost count 2, 4, 6, 8..."
"Damn, dropped a stitch!"
"Crap, I lost my place!"
"OH NO! I have to rip it all out!" {Everyone groans}

After a bit, someone will also say (mockingly): "Knitting is fun! Knitting is so relaxing!".

The fun thing about social knitting is that you can say these things out loud and know that everyone in the room knows exactly what you are talking about. No one will say "Huh? What does that mean? Why do you do that if it's so difficult?". This is also the time when those boring old stockinette stitch patterns really come in handy, especially if they are knit in the round. If I know I am going to be knitting with someone else, I will bring a simple project to work on or start (one more excuse reason to have multiple projects on the needles). Maybe it's just me, but I cannot knit and fully engage in a meaningful conversation at the same time; one always suffers, even if just a little. This may also be why knitters in groups frequently bitch about their spouses: it's like a bad sit-com, everyone knows the punch line. (Multitasking is over-rated anyway. It's just a way of bragging about how little you're paying attention.)

Truth be told, I actually prefer knitting alone. I feel that it allows me to completely relax and focus on what I am doing, and maybe, just maybe, it will turn into one of those rare moments where I really do disappear and all that exists is knitting, knitting, knitting a beautiful thing for eternity... even if it is only for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Avoidance knitting

It's amazing what lengths I will go to avoid doing something that I *should* be doing. Right now I should be working on my image for Charlie's Peace project, and, if I were smart, I should be working on Project Walkway (which I have re-named "Olive") since I am a little concerned that I might run out of yarn before the sale ends (didn't I learn my lesson with Tilia?). Instead, I cleaned the cat box, did laundry, cooked, and oh yeah, started another sock.

Funny thing about socks. They are so small that you can trick yourself into thinking that they don't count and that it's just something to carry around to work on in a traffic jam. Yeah. Right. My intention this evening was to just "get it started" so I could work on it at lunch time, but these self-striping yarns hook me in every time. I keep working just one more row to see how it will look. Then one row becomes 35. But gosh, can you blame me? Look how yummy! The pattern is Garter Rib, another from "Sensational Knitted Socks" and the yarn is Meilinweit Fantasy by Lana Grossa.

Every time I go to a new yarn shop I look for short (as in 5 inch) metal sock needles. You see, I love my Brittany Birch needles, but I am afraid of breaking one - knock on wood, it hasn't happened yet - and I've been told that metal needles are "better. Well, I have visited over 20 yarn shops in the past year and have yet to find the "perfect" metal replacement. On a lark, I decided to try some 7 inch Susan Bates needles ($1.75 on clearance!). Four tries later, after rejecting the notion that it was the yarn, I decided that they just weren't working. The sharp pointy tips constantly split the yarn, poked me, and stuck out at unmanageable angles like a porcupine. After switching to my trusty Brittanys, I zipped right along and realized that it's probably because I have very small hands (6.25 inches from longest finger to base of palm). While knitting, I noticed that I use my palm to push the needles as I go. So, while I will continue to look for 5 inch metal needles with a nice dull tip, Brittanys are my Cadillac.

That little pink stitch counter I am touching? It's stuck on row 46. That's where I am on Olive, 18 rows before putting the sleeve stitches on hold {sigh}. So many stiches, each one exactly the same ~ yaaaaaawn.

Like any self respecting knit blogger, I took it to the beach with me yesterday to photograph (too much green around my house, and I'm so sick of my back yard). There's a bit of seaweed to the bottom of the photo that is exactly the same color as the yarn. Cool eh? I could have re-named the sweater "Seaweed", but Olive sounds more like a sweater name, given that they are usually named after women. Why is that? Boats and Sweaters? The only obvious connection is that sailors have been known to "spin a good yarn". Nyuck nyuck.

In closing, since I'm really grooving on orange right now and to make up for my bad joke, here's one of the last blossoms on our Flowering Maple to tickle your eyeball:

Edited to add: NEWSFLASH! Check out Yarnival!

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Memorial Day

I always get confused about which Monday holiday falls in May, and which one falls in September, but I do know that today is Labor Day. It's just that it is a "Memorial Day" for me.

I was taught to knit by my Nana at a very young age (6 or 7) along with the other needlearts: crewel embroidery and crochet. I remember watching her and my mother knit and wanting desperately to do it too. I was given the little tube knitting tool and, after making a 12 inch tube, complained that it was too babyish. Eventually Nana gave in and decided to teach me. For some reason, she treated knitting more seriously than other stitching, so I felt that it was more grown up, perhaps because it required two needles instead of one. She gave me a "Learn to Knit Book", some colored metal needles and scrap yarn that was probably acrylic.

I would love to say that I remember it very clearly and fondly, except that I tried hard to forget it! What a disaster! You have to understand something about my Nana: she was a perfectionist who wanted only to instill perfection in me. If I made a bad stitch (knit or otherwise) it was torn out and I was made to do it over "properly". This would go on and on. For some reason I was able to crochet and embroider to her standards, but knitting was just beyond me. I would start out OK, but my tension would tighten so much that I could barely jam the needle into the stitch. I think we were both relieved when I finally gave up. In later years, I would try again and again. My mother funded each pathetic but well-meaning attempt, but she would only buy the cheapest acrylic yarn available, in case I didn't finish it, which I never did.

On Labor Day weekend 5 years ago, my mother and I were shopping in Boothbay Harbor and visited a favorite needlework shop that had recently started carrying yarns. They were having a trunk show of Colinette yarns and a "fiber snob" was born! I fell in love with all the colors and textures and finally became aware that acrylic wasn't the only game in town! I decided to try again, but this time I bought myself a big expensive skein of "Isis" and my own bamboo needles to make a simple, garter stitch scarf. I finished within 2 days. The rest, as they say 'is history'. I still have the scarf, but unfortunately, my Nana died 10 years ago (also on Labor Day Weekend) and never did see me knit properly, but I think she would have been proud.

So, in memory of Nana, here's my first knit and last knit. Isis scarf above, finished September, 2001 and Baby Cable Rib Socks, finished September 2006:

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bloggy rainy day

From my lack of posts you may be thinking that I've been lounging around knitting and weeping over my hair. But No! I have been doing neither! I have been tinkering with my blog for hours. If you are new to this site, you wont know what I've done, but I added a graphic banner (hours I tell, you it took hours!), added new stuff to my side bar and rearranged it, added a footer, and even took steps to join the New England Knits web ring. I'm still "in queue" as they say, but I put the link up. I'm finally starting to feel like the place looks like it's mine!

I found this great site if you are interested in creating stuff for your blog or website: Cool Archive Logo Generator (ignore the fart button thing). Because there is a 500 pixel width limit, I couldn't quite figure out how to make a completely new banner, but it was a lot of fun and it would be great to create buttons for the sidebar. If you try their programs, be aware that there is no "undo" option; use your Back button if you don't like how something came out. I also discovered that I can save images in my Kodak program as thumbnails! Hmm. I can see lots of possibilities!!

In other non-knitting news, I found a new definition of hell: "Clothes shopping in Freeport the Saturday before Labor Day". Holy cow! The parking! The crowds! It was unbelievable! I went there to get a birthday gift for someone and of course had to do a little shopping for myself... to go with the new hair... you know....

OK, so new yoga pants didn't do a thing for the hair. I'm not terribly impressed with the new fall fashions so far. The 80's are everywhere. Gak! Skinny leg jeans? Leggings with mini-skirts? Over-sized Flashdance tops with big wide belts? I'm barely 5'1" so this stuff looks ridiculous on me. My only concession was this cropped corduroy jacket (it's more brown than it looks in the photo). I do feel kind of hip in it, given that I now look like Meg Ryan before botox.

Maybe tomorrow I'll knit!

In case you need something else to entertain you, check this out! (trust me, it's fun and cool)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Shorn like a sheep

On complete impulse, and once again seduced by a photograph, I had inches cut off my hair. Suffering from hair shock, I am rendered speechless.