on the needles

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Santa Tracker

For everyone who celebrates Christmas check out NORAD'S Santa Tracker. Needless to say NORAD has the highest technology available in the field of Santa tracking. Their data is extremely accurate and up to the minute - so you kiddies out there be sure to hop into bed and get your eyes closed before Santa gets too close to your house! You seriously don't want to get on the naughty list on Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Again with the massive needles!

Episode Two of the Knit One Purl Two shows I have seen. In this episode Edith Eig attempts to teach Tracey Gold and two other unidentified celebs how to knit a baby jacket. Again she uses the massive needles and three strands of worsted weight yarn (Silk Garden) held together. Why must we persist with the idea that learning on huge needles is easier? It surely is not easier to learn while trying to deal with three strands of yarn - as if you can't find a nice bulky weight to work with?? Maybe she was stuck on the Silk Garden for some (product placement) reason.

At least she did mention that you should do your increase & decrease one stitch in from the edge in order to make seaming easier. That is useful info for a new knitter. But again with the 'orrible camera angles. I couldn't see ANY of the increases she demonstrated - her hands were in the way the whole time. The demonstration of the three needle bind off for the shoulder was fairly visible but again hampered by now having three massive needles in her hand at the same time. Is Edith's theory here with the huge needles that she is making the stitches MORE visible by making them bigger? I don't know because the hands, and the needles are mostly in the way - if we can't see the stitches on camera it doesn't matter how big they are! She also showed picking up stitches for a collar. But never showed WHERE you insert the needle, WHAT to pick up. I remember this being quite confusing the first time I tried it. Everyone understands the concept of picking up a stitch but WHAT to pick up is not very obvious - especially to a new knitter.

This show gets a D.

It's Podcast Day at OTN

Well - I listened to my first podcasts today. Being over 30 it takes me awhile to catch on to all of these newfangled technological trends - I'm still not quite sure how my iPod works! But since I heard that my online friend Alice did her own podcast I decided it was time for me to make another leap into the strange and scary world of what I call - "computer stuff" and take a listen! Alice's podcast is called Astronomy A Go-Go. It was fun to listen to but here's my warning - Alice has a VERY soothing voice - seriously, she could do yoga meditation podcasts that would be wildly successful - so make sure you are wide awake and alert before you tune in. ;) Maybe the round and round of my simple 2x2 rib sock knitting (the one I'm pretending I didn't cast on for) added to the hypnotic effect. Kudos to Alice!! I will be tuning in next time...

I also listened to three of the podcasts Tim Gunn does for Project Runway. It is interesting to hear some of the behind the scenes things that go on and to get the real scoop on Tim's feelings about the designers. The big news from the podcasts is that Santino's rant/argument with the judges this week actually went on for 90 minutes - not the two they showed. That's NINETY minutes folks, also known as an hour and a half. Now, I support the right of the designers to disagree with the judges and to stand up for their designs - I applaud them for doing so. But for ninety minutes? Tim Gunn said that Santino hurled abuse at the judges and that he thought they were going to have to put Nina Garcia into a witness protection program because of Santino's behavior. I hope the rest of the teams and models who were stuck on the runway with him got to take a pee break, have some latte and a sandwich during that time. You know those models can't stand upright for more than twenty minutes before their blood sugar crashes and they keel over. I know I wouldn't have lasted ninety minutes! After the first ten minutes I would have stopped trying to politely ignore Santino's display of crazy, by twenty I would be muttering rude comments at him, by thirty my stomach would start growling as I began to think I would never get off that runway or see food again, by forty I would be hopping up and down with my legs crossed because I was desperate for a pee, and by fifty I would lose my cool, tell Santino to shut his piehole and pop him in the face on my way to the nearest portajohn!

Santino is a very talented designer but that lingerie collection was HIDEOUS. It was a disaster in every sense of the word. And yet poor Daniel Franco was the one who was out. Granted his designs weren't the most original but they were fairly pretty and mostly functional and his behavior was impeccable. Maybe the judges were too afraid of Santino to vote him off. But I think it is because on reality tv, crazy will kick the nice guys ass every time. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Year in Knitting

Amanda asked a good question on her blog. She asks: What was your favorite project this year?

That is actually a hard one for me to answer because for me, this year was less about specific projects and more about all the different techniques I learned and explored. This is really my first full year of knitting, the year in which I became a competent knitter. I no longer look at patterns and think that anything is too hard for me. This year I learned: cables, fair isle, sock knitting, lace knitting and entrelac. I learned ssk, yo, many different ways of increasing, how to use dropped stitches as part of a pattern, how to weave in ends using the duplicate stitch, how to seam a finished project together, the kitchner stitch, grafting, turning a heel and short row knitting, how to pick up stitches and make it look good, how to knit in the round on circular needles, how to use double pointed needles, how to make i-cord, how to alternate balls of yarn so that colors won't pool, the Twisted German cast on (which is all I use now), how to fix a dropped stitch (and all kinds of other mistakes!), and many other things which I can't remember right now! Wow! When I think about it - I have had a very productive year. These days my Mom (who taught me to knit in the first place) actually calls me up when she has knitting questions. Crazy!

So - my favorite knitting project is discovering the constant challenge of the process and always being curious about what new thing there might be around the next corner for me to learn. :) I've already got a class on knitting socks on two circs lined up in the new year.

For the future, I'd like to knit some mittens and gloves, try some felting, do a fair isle project, design my own project (probably lace), and to finally, FINALLY knit a sweater for myself!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

DIY Channel Couture Knitting

I just saw my first ever episode of Knit One, Purl Two hosted by Edith Eig, and I have to say - Eet was 'orrible.

I'm at home, the kids are out of school and all the Christmas presents have been purchased. I am - essentially - having a day off. Imagine my excitement to discover (after a quick cruise through the tv guide) that I can finally catch an episode of one of those fabled television knitting shows. Knitting! On television! I'm so there! I settle down with my sock and get ready to watch. (No it's not the second Conwy sock - I caved to my simple ribbed sock impulse, okay? But we're not discussing that now....)

Well, I know nothing about this woman Edith Eig except that she is very obviously French. I gathered that she owns a knitting shop somewhere - somewhere where there are minor celebrities like Nora Dunn who stop by and try to learn to knit. A quick peek at the DIY site and you find out that in fact, Edith is no ordinary knitter - she is actually "Hollywood's knitting GURU"!! The celebs like Edith Eig's shop because at HER shop - unlike other shops - they can learn to knit "couture" projects. Wow! I am prepared to be impressed.

So what was Edith's snazzy project today? A tie scarf. Knit out of two strands of Berroco Plume Fx and some other piece of shiny crap held together. And because she obviously doesn't want to frighten the knitting celebs she has them knit this ugly hairy yarn on size 15 needles. Big needles = easy, right?

The stitch is garter. Nothing wrong with garter stitch - but how would the tv audience know that? It was impossible to see how the stitch was formed and what it should look like with all of those strands of yarn, the hair and the huge baseball bat needles coupled with the crappy camera angles. So anyone who was watching this to actually learn something was probably pretty frustrated.

And according to Edith, the "most common" knitting mistake was adding a stitch. Who knew? I would have thought dropping a stitch was perhaps a tad more common - but you learn something new everyday. Thanks, Edith!

Don't get me wrong - I am happy that there are ANY shows on tv with knitting related content! I wish the whole world would knit - I love to share the fun! But I am fervently hoping that no aspiring knitters saw that show today. If I had been presented with that nasty crap as an example of "couture" knitting and forced to knit it for my first project it would have also been my last.

In fairness, I did look at the back episodes of Knit One, Purl Two and they seem to at least feature some less disgusting yarns and even a feather and fan stitch. I know that beginners need to start somewhere but that is no reason to dumb down everything. And I don't care how many hairy tie scarves there are on the red carpet this season - you won't catch me wearing or knitting one! Maybe the show is so bad BECAUSE of the celebrities. It must be difficult to do all of that handholding and ass kissing AND teach someone to knit at the same time. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Frenzied Knitting, Project Runway and Little House

I have pretty much finished all of the holiday knitting I intend to do. I have to weave in the ends on the Leaf Lace Shawl (which I think I am eventually going to be gifting to someone) and fashion some sort of a tie for the spiral shell (which is also a gift for someone down the road) but neither of these NEED to be finished anytime soon.

The next frenzied knitting "season" is will be in January for the things I need to/want to make to donate to my children's schools for their auctions. I have decided to make a Harry Potter scarf for each auction & if I do that I have to make one for my son as well. How sick will I be of Harry Potter scarves after three of those things?? They are enormous! But thankfully pretty much mindless. I have ordered the yarn - some Unger Utopia - so I will probably get started on them as soon as the yarn comes. I'm sort of hoping it will come soon so I can work on the scarves over Christmas break - it seems like perfect sitting around with the family and chatting type knitting.

In the meantime, all of the recent finished objects around here have inspired me to - gasp! - get some WIP's off the needles. I picked up the Conwy socks, finished the leg, worked the heel flap and turned the heel, got halfway down the foot and then burnt out on them again. I really love working with the hand painted sock yarn and watching the colors change and I also like working on double points (even size ones) but I think I am finding out that I dislike working teeny weeny cables on double points! I like the whole construction of a sock - the process of it, all the different techniques you have to use to create one - I just think I don't like working a pattern on the sock. I think that is why I stalled out a bit on the second sock. This is my first pair so maybe my opinion will change as I do more socks but the whole time I am working on these I am wishing I was knitting a simple ribbed sock. I'm really proud of myself for not casting on for another pair because it would amount to abandoning the Conwy socks. But I have TONS of very pretty handpainted sock yarn that is just calling to me...so as soon as this pair is off the needles I am casting on for the ribbed sock in Charlene Schurch's book. Then I can sit back and knit with my mind on cruise control, hypnotized by the colors flowing into each other as I knit round and round...that's my idea of a fun sock! :)

When I put down the socks I picked up the Shoalwater Shawl which was little more than a snippet of knitting when I put it down last time. Wow! What an easy (knocking wood), fast and fun pattern. I remember I had a heck of a time with the cast on (despite having done it once before!) but after that it has all breezed by. The pattern calls for four repeats and I'm in the middle of the second after only a few hours of knitting time. It helps that you are only really knitting a pattern every fourth row - the rows in between are all garter with seriously minimal yarn overs. This is a great pattern for beginners and I like that it forms a fabric that doesn't really have a "wrong" side. My only advice is don't try to knit this while watching Project Runway. Even the easiest lace pattern is too much when you are trying to watch a runway show and all of the backstage "drama". I was pretty much addicted to Project Runway last season and there is no point in trying to resist it this time around - I was immediately sucked in. :)

What I DO like to "watch" while I am knitting is Little House on the Prairie. Okay, I'm a geek but seriously, talk about "comfort knitting"! I probably know all of these episodes by heart, so simple, so sweet, so completely unrealistic. I love it. I am working my way through the seasons on dvd. Whenever there is nothing good on the telly I pop one in and start knitting - Little House seems to stimulate my knitting, probably because I don't have to pay any attention to the tv at all. I've seen these episodes so many times that I never have to look at the tv screen, unless there's a good catfight between Laura and Nellie of course. In fact, I'm on season seven and there has only been one episode I don't remember very well, probably because it was a completely un-PC story involving Laura and Albert posing as Native Americans, was really badly written and involved the most ridiculous wagons and Indians chase scenes I have ever seen. I doubt it got much airplay!

Back to the knitting....:)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ok - some photos....

This is the Kureyon scarf. I really like the way the colors worked out on this one - it's bold and fun. The hat I just finished is to match.

And the Manos scarf. It has a subtler effect which I think goes well with the softness of the yarn.

Specs for these are in the original post below. The knot patrol was pretty happy with both of these yarns. :)

Knitting News (creative title eh?)

Thanks for all of the nice comments on the new look. :) Krista asked if the background was a Clapotis. Yes it is! It is the orange one that I knitted for my sister earlier this year. I just photoshopped until I got a color I liked better for the blog which ironically turned out to be the color of yarn that I had bought to make a Clapotis for myself - so go figure. :) Grace pointed out that some of the links to the finished objects are broken, (Thanks!) I think this happened when I cleaned out my photos from one server and switched over to another. I will work on fixing those over the weekend.

Still haven't taken photos of the scarves & the spiral shell I posted about a few days ago. But I did CAST OFF the Leaf Lace Shawl!!! I can't believe the thing is actually off the needles at last. My first shawl *beam*. It seems fairly large - which makes sense because I opted to knit the larger version (although I thought it was getting big enough so I left off the last pattern repeat). I hope it doesn't get too much bigger in the blocking process. I'm still figuring out how I am going to block it since I don't really have a big carpet to pin it out on.

I also finished another hat and I'm adding some ribbing onto the Fair Isle hairband I made for my daughter. That's my solution to keeping the edges from curling.

So I'm not too lazy to take photos - just too busy knitting. :)

I also finished reading Persuasion. Doing NaNoWriMo has me looking at novels in a whole new way so all through Persuasion I was thinking...someone needs to tell this story from Captain Wentworth's point of view....hmmmmm...... :) Call me crazy!

To make up for the lack of FO photos I will share this one that was submitted by a KTC member for our classic knitting photos contest. Two little Dutch girls knitting - check out the wooden shoes. :)

I love these old photos!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Look

So - here it is....the new look On the Needles. How do you like it?

I was (obviously) inspired by the conjunction of the picture of Grand Duchess Anastasia knitting, my recent (and ongoing) experience of writing a historical novel about the Romanovs and my love of history in general. I think the new look is ultra-girly which is a little strange for me but I do like the colors & they sort of fit with the history of the Anastasia photo because she is knitting on the piano bench in her mother Alexandra's famous Mauve Room. I wanted something that hinted at the histroy behind the photo but wasn't matchy matchy.

Anyhow - let me know what you think. It is an ongoing process...

And thanks to my sweet hubby for all the blogging help. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes...

Since I refuse to go to the Mall anywhere near the Christmas holidays (flashbacks of being jostled and smashed by crazed hordes of shoppers whilst heavily pregnant prevent me from enjoying the Mall at holiday time) - soooo...since I won't go to the Mall it's a Very Merry Online Shopping Christmas around here. I'm proud to say that near 100% of the gifts I am giving this year were bought online - at lower prices then I could get at a "real" store and usually for free shipping. The rest of the presents were handmade by me - with a pretty large percentage of online purchased yarn!

The natural consequences of all of this online shopping are lots and lots of packages coming to my door.

The other day my son saw me carrying three huge packages upstairs and said, "Oooh, is that Christmas stuff OR MORE PACKAGES OF YARN?"

He is so accustomed to big packages arriving and disappearing into my craft room hoard that even the Christmas package deluge looks pretty much like what is normally going on around here. I'm so busted....

**Ok - I admit it. One of the packages WAS more yarn. But it's okay because it was GIFT yarn for a GIFT which I have already dutifully knitted up. And I didn't even sneak in any OTHER yarn with the GIFT yarn which I think is pretty well behaved of me. :)

The Real Tess

Our novel this month at Knit the Classics (my other home on the web!) is "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy. In doing the research for the links for the novel I found this picture:

It is Agatha Thornycroft and apparently she was Hardy's "visual inspiration" for the character of Tess. I'm so glad to see this photo. I've never been a big fan of Hardy's - although I hope that will change with reading this novel. I have always disliked how much space he devotes to descriptions, of landscapes, people and places. Having an actual picture to think about as I read is so much more inspirational to me. I think the historian in me likes the idea that we can actually identify the sources for Tess. I found tons of pictures like this one in my research. They are all on the sidebar at KTC. When I am reading Tess I will be making liberal use of these pictures to "flesh out" Hardy's writing for me. Maybe I will get to like his style a little better this time around. :)And as one of the members mentioned - it will be nice to have this photo of Ms. Thornycroft to blot out any creeping thoughts of Nastassja Kinski...ugh! There was just something so jarring and exploitative in that movie version....I much prefer the Justine Waddell version. She is a brilliant actress! She also played Molly in Mrs. Gaskell's Wives and Daughters which was one of our previous KTC books. She was also in Mansfield Park, Anna Karenina, Great Expectations and The Woman in White. All books which I hope we will someday get around to reading at KTC. :)

*I haven't forgotten the pictures to go with my last post. Just haven't gotten around to them yet. I am working on uping the bling bling factor on this blog. I'm tired of it looking so boring!