on the needles

Monday, February 27, 2006

Pattern Review

What's a girl to do when shes on a yarn diet??

Buy patterns of course!

Here's about half of my recent pattern acquisitions:

Two Schoeller Stahl - nothing terribly interesting in these. One or two cuteish cabled jacket thingys.

Gedifra 53 - I love/hate Gedifra. There are always some fabulous designs and a few WTF?? head scratchers in every book. They seem to come out with new yarns and discontinue last seasons yarns with alarming rapidity. AND my super pet peeve - the yarns usually come in VERY skimpy skeins sometimes with only about 33 yards. They do have some really unique yarns - some of their ribbon type yarns are so cool, very soft fleecy things, nice to knit with. But usually, at least around here and as far as I can tell from the internet all over the USA, the coolest yarns are very hard to find. AC Moore used to carry some but have discontinued that - I assume because KFI has taken over the Gedifra distribution. (What will come of THAT I have no idea. The whole ugly atmosphere surrounding KFI and their practices have me thinking we may never see any Gedifra yarn in the USA again.) Also, sometimes the yarn seems ridiculously expensive - like $17 for a 33 yard ball. I can't even afford to make a hat at those prices! And unfortunately the yarns are so unique that I could never get the same look out of any substitute yarn. :( All of that said - I still love their designs. They really do push the limits and come up with creative ways to showcase their yarns. I get a lot of inspiration just looking at the designs and seeing new ways of manipulating knitting. Of course this is the same experimental attitude which leads to some of the greatest fug I ever seen outside of a Berroco book - but I forgive Gedifra because their fug comes from the true pursuit of knitterly art, not just a compulsion to cover the world in eyelash boas.

Anyhow - this one was low on fug. I liked most of the patterns especially -

Very classic & I like v-necks. I love Gedifra's use of color. They make me think of using colors I wouldn't naturally gravitate to.

Of course the jacketaholic loves this jacket. I love the texture of the yarn.

In front is a Dale stranded knitting ABC jumper which I thought about knitting for my daughter. I would have to seriously change the color scheme though - probably to pink and purple!

I also got the Rowan 39. I pretty much liked this overall. In fact I probably liked the whole tribal section a lot more than most people did. I liked all of the men's sweaters. They were really very unisex which may have added to the perception problem! Aside from the jacket I've already gotten the yarn for, I also liked this:

Minnie. Feminine and romantic. Not sure if it would really look good on me or not though. It may look too costumey on a real person.

I also got - late on the bandwagon here - Rowan's All Seasons Cotton collection. I doubt I will knit any of these in cotton - but if I do ever use cotton I will probably try the All Seasons. It's very soft but has body. I'm just never sure that I really like the drape of cotton. But the designs are classic. I liked:

Called "Fruity". Dumb name but nice design. I am always complaining that sweaters aren't long enough. So this really suits me!

And of course I liked the jacket:

called "Caribbean". These were my favorites but the whole collection is pretty good.

Next is Jo Sharp Book 2. Mostly bland. A nice plain unisex jumper and a cabled stole thing were okay but I bought the whole book really just for this:

You guessed it - another jacket/wrap. It's called Bridget and has really pretty soft, celtic looking cables.

Last we have Jaeger Men's Collection. Almost everything in this one is really nice. Comfortable, classic and functional. All the basics for a great collection of sweaters that a guy would really wear. Maybe hubby will get a nice sweater if he stops being such a smart-aleck. (Did you see his Life of Pi comment?? Mr. Smartypants said he wanted to join the KAL and knit dried meat strips for Pi. I told him that would be easy since that's what his knitting looks like anyway. Oh - Snap! That's right I said it! LOL!)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bookish and KTCish News

Hooray! We're doing another swap over at Knit the Classics. I would have thought that KTCers were all swapped out after the last couple of swaps but heck no! Sue suggested an April Fool's Day Swap which by majority rule turned into a Mystery Book Swap. I truly love the members of KTC - they are always full of great ideas and creative projects. :)

I'm totally psyched about this one and I already have the book I'm going to send all picked out. It will be Donna Tartt's The Little Friend. This book quite possibly isn't what one would normally think of as a "mystery" book. But there is a mystery which is central to the plot - however, as whole, this book is so much more. I thought there were strong echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird and I really found myself identifying with the little girl at the center of both books. And both books were ones which I continued to think about and mull over well after I finished reading them. That's my personal litmus test for what makes a book a classic.

So I'm happy that I will get a chance to share this great book AND I'm happy I get a chance to BUY SOME YARN! Woohoo! the only reason I haven't completely crumbled on this Stashalong is because I have had swap buddies to buy yarn for. The Stashalong been a journey of self discovery. And the first thing I discovered is that I should take the time to read all the rules BEFORE I sign up for an "-along"! LOL!

Also - our project contest for our reading of Woman on the Edge of Time is going along really nicely. I've been happily surprised by the great diversity of projects which the book inspired. And I really enjoy hearing about the reasons why each person chose their project and how it connects to the book. I have no idea how we are going to choose just one winner - all the projects are really that good!

In fact, I like this project challenge/contest so much that we are going to do another one for our March book which will be The Life of Pi. I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with for that book!

In my personal reading I'm continuing to chug along with The Perfect Prince. If you are at all interested in British history I would recommend this book. It doesn't read like a "regular" history book - but in this case that is so much the better. Come to think of it - The Perfect Prince is a mystery book as well. Who Perkin Warbeck really was remains unsolved in my mind - to this point at least!

And last but not least - Whit has a new podcast out in which she has interviewed Jennifer aka Craftylilly! Jennifer (and Whit for that matter!) is a longtime KTC member and super crafter extraordinaire. She is a lady of many talents - go over to her blog and check out her stitchmarkers. Oh - and she was also my buddy for the last KTC swap we did. Hi Jennifer! :)
On the podcast Jennifer reads her poem which was chosen as the winner in a contest over at Laura's blog. Of course Laura was also among our first members of KTC. She is a really talented knitter as well. I'm always amazed at her project loyalty and secretly wish I had less knitting ADD so that I could turn out as many beautiful knits as Laura does. Sigh... :)

I'm so glad Whit joined KTC. Aside from the fact that she's just really cool, she also has mad photoshop skillz and now that she has hit the virtual airwaves with her podcast she is really helping KTC along with it's secret goal - world domination. LOL!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Socks and a hubby that rocks

This info is making the rounds of knitting blogs like wildfire. But if you haven't heard, Blue Moon is starting a sock knitting club - involving getting new colors of Socks That Rock before they are available to the public. If you are addicted to STR or just wish you were then this is the club for you. You can read all about it here.

And speaking of socks....

A few weeks ago hubby delivered one of those unforgettable knitting moments.

He asked me what I was working on in my knitting.

I told him I was finishing up a sock and if I finished it I was going to immediately cast on for the next one.

He said, "Yeah, because you don't want to get Second Sock Syndrome."

I about spit my drink through my nose. Hubby has officially joined us on the dark side! He has read enough knitting blogs, listened to enough knitting chatter at the LYS, and involved himself enough in my knitting life to have picked up the lingo. He gets full technical points for using the phrase in the appropriate situation and extra style points for the casual delivery and lack of mocking or irony. Gold medal for hubby!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Here's the damage done...

...on the official day off from the Stashalong.

I tried to keep the frenzy to a minimum. I knew it would be tough because I was lucky enough to be getting a special discount on that exact day at the LYS. They give a sweet birthday discount and since that only comes once a year I may have had to bail on the Stashalong if it hadn't been a "free day"! There's no way I'm missing my once a year discount. But I did try to go in with a plan. Ahead of time I decided what I would buy.

I liked this pattern from the new Rowan magazine #39:

I know this is a terrible picture but you can get the vague idea. It is called "Maggie" and is a Fair Isle technique jacket done in Summer Tweed. I have been just dying to do some Fair Isle & use the skills I learned when I took that class months ago. I don't think I am going to jump into this pattern as my first big Fair Isle project though. For one thing it is NOT knit in the round and I'm NOT going to try purling in Fair Isle. Instead I'm going to let this marinate in the stash until I feel confident enough to translate this pattern into being knit in the round. So the search is still on for my first big Fair Isle project...

Here is the yarn I got:

It is Summer Tweed in Raffia and Toast. I had to order the other colors: Sunset, Summer Berry and Torrid. I love these earthy colors. I think they are perfect for the slightly bumpy imperfect look of the Summer Tweed.

I also got 10 skeins of this:

It is Rowan Harris Aran in Lavender. I have been eyeing this yarn all year but since it is around $16 a skein I was waiting until discount day to get some. Thank goodness they still had it. I guess the price tag discouraged other people too! Luckily it does have pretty good yardage at 186 per skein. It will probably become a cabled jacket - something classic. Sirdar has some nice patterns... Anyhow - this yarn isn't being marketed under the Name "Harris" anymore. I think it's being called Scottish yarn now. The gossip is that St*rmore threatened to sue over the name. So maybe I should keep these as a collectors item?? LOL!

And, at the last minute this jumped in my bag.

It's more Rowan...Felted Tweed this time. In Dragon, Whisper and Billberry. I guess the LYS isn't going to carry this yarn anymore (wah! I love this yarn!! So soft and light!) I think this yarn is a bargain. It has about 190 yards and sells for around $10. So since I got the discount I thought it was a pretty good score. I think I might make a sweater with an argyle pattern or something.

Whew! Well there you go. Not too bad eh? Only the Felted Tweed was unplanned. I don't know what it is but I have really been into the Rowan lately. I didn't like it much when they went through the "Big" phase a few years ago. Everything was super extra mega ultra chunky and I just got tired of that. Skeins that cost beaucoup bucks and only have less than 50 yards each. But lately I've fallen off the Noro wagon and hopped on the Rowan train!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'm still here....

Sorry for the lack of posting lately - I hope you haven't all forgotten about me. I've just had one of those weeks that happen every now and then when you've got kids and work and not enough time... :( I'm pooped out.

Anyhoo - there has been some knitting going on. I took the first half of my socks on circs class. Who knew it was so easy? I think I'm going to like this technique. I'm all about the Addi's so anything I can do on then I will. I'm pretty sure it's much faster then DPN's as well. The only thing I can see that might be less satisfactory so far is the possibility of laddering stitches between the two needles. We'll see how it looks when it's off the needles. I have the second half of the class next week and I'm interested to see how picking up stitches at the gusset is handled.

I've also knit quite a bit on the Warm the World charity blanket. I sometimes wonder where my head is at when I decide on these projects. What am I doing trying to knit lace in acrylic? Will it even hold a blocking? I sort of doubt it. Also, Lace + Olympics = Tinking. I actually haven't had too much of a problem with mistakes - but much more than I would have if I didn't keep pausing to see what the athletes are doing. Why couldn't I have chosen a nice basketweave pattern and called it a day? I mean, this is a blanket for charity, not a family heirloom in the making. Why do I always have to get fancy with things? Sigh. I think it's a fear of boredom. If I choose something simple I'm afraid I won't finish because it gets boring quickly. Oh well... Hubby insists that the lace pattern looks nice even without the blocking so I guess it's all good. I haven't knit every day of the Olympics so far though, my hands have been feeling sore. Probably because of the abrupt changes in the weather we've been having. From 60 degrees to over a foot of snow and back again all in a week. Global warming anyone???

I also have some people I need to thank!! Whit sent me this lovely bunch of goodies as part of the Romance Swap we did over at KTC. She sent: some cotton yarn for making dishcloths and a pattern book to go with it, the Yarn Harlot book, a book thong (love those! I really wanted one!), some chocolates (which didn't make it into the photo because I took them to my class to share with the other knitters), and the book Rebecca (I think I have read this before but it was a long time ago so it will be good to read it again. I love both of the film versions too - Joan Fontaine is just fab & Emilia Fox is not so bad either.) But the best thing of all was a crocheted flower pin! Love it! Thanks so much Whit! You're a great book swap buddy and even better new friend. :)

I also unexpectedly got a package from Karen for participating in the Show Your FO week. There was some Knit Picks sock yarn inside. Thanks Karen! Sock yarn is always welcome in my house. :) Especially now that I'm rocking TWO sock knitting techniques. LOL! I had no idea I was getting anything, I think Karen was just being sweet. So everybody go over and visit her blog and be sweet right back at her. She happens to be working on some socks on circs right now too.

Speaking of recent FO's - the nephew really loved the Alien scarf. He called me to say thank you and we ended up actually having a pretty long and animated conversation. If any of you know or have a fourteen year old boy then you know how inarticulate they can be sometimes, especially on the phone. Often conversations on the phone with the nephew are a bit like pulling teeth. I guess chatting with your auntie is not so cool. Sigh. It's funny because in person he's totally different - easy to talk with, has plenty of ideas and opinions of his own, but on the phone...not so much. So I guess this is a good example of the effect a handknit gift can have. :) It's encouraging.

Come back tomorrow when I hope to have photos for you of the serious damage I did during the Stashalong free day...It's pure Rowan gluttony!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

KTC: Warm the World Project

Amanda is always posting pictures on her blog of things she has knit for Warm the World which is a great charity organization that provides handmade (knit, crochet, quilted etc) blankets to children in need all over the world. A few days ago Amanda stated that she intended to do a huge amount of knitting for this charity this year and declared it her own personal "Year of the Square".

I instantly thought - wouldn't it be cool if we got together enough squares from KTC members to donate a KTC blanket?! I suggested the idea to Amanda and she put out a call on the KTC site.

Details of the project are:

1. Have fun, go wild, make as many or as few as you like
2. Please make 7 inch squares
3. No yarn specifications, or gauge specifications
4. They can be knit, crocheted, woven how ever you choose to make them but please make them out of some sort of yarn
5. Please have a "white" border around each square (I think it will help with making the blanket look more uniform) this is included in the 7 inch square
6. Oh and if you can (no worries if you cannot) maybe incorporate KTC into the square (either the letters, the whole phrase or something that you feel represents KTC).

Tentative deadline for squares is April 30, 2006. By the end of May I hope to have the blanket together and I will take tons of photos (of each of the squares too), I think I will make a flickr album just for the KTC 2006 blanket and ship it off to Nan at Warm the World sometime late May early June.

I thought this was a great project to help use up old stash for the Stashalong I joined. I started going through the stash and found some beautiful yarn. But then I started thinking about the practical aspect of things. I realized that this blanket really would need to be washable, which means either a superwash wool (which I don't have much of) or a washable acrylic. I'm also in a bind over the idea of the white border for the squares. I don't have any white yarn in my stash - white just isn't a color I like much - and I don;t want to add to the stash by buying anymore yarn. However, I do have TONS of a very pretty, very soft acrylic that I bought super cheap at AC Moore. I think I had the idea of making a cabled coat or jacket with it but later realized that the yarn is possibly too soft to really make a crisp cable (I like 'em crispy!) and being acrylic, it may not block and hold it's shape very well.

So, since I have tons of this yarn I decided just to make an entire baby's blanket to donate to Warm the World. I have picked out a design from one of my knitting stitch books. The first pattern I tried out tonight didn't work out - I decided that the coloring of the yarn was too subtle and the stitch pattern was too subtle too. So I'm a froggin that one. Unfortunately this is all I knit tonight - all through the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

(And yes - I supposed to be knitting for Team DPN, and no, the blanket is not being made on DPN's. So, what am I doing knitting a blanket instead of socks during the Olympics?? Well, that's why I also joined the Eddie Along - because I'm a free spirit, a knitting non-conformist. Plus I basically like to just do as I damn well please - I'm the Bode Miller of Team DPN. I'm sure I'll get around to the socks sometime in the sixteen days.) :)

Anyhoo - that's it on the knitting front here. We are supposed to be getting up to a foot of snow over the weekend. Hooray! I LOVE being snowed in!! So it looks like I'll have plenty of time to make up for lost ground.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Go Team DPN!

Well - I am either breaking the rules or a two timing Olympic ho because although I am officially doing Margene's Eddie Along, I also joined Whit's Olympic Team DPN!

I figure I can better fulfill the Eddie Along brief of "Enjoy the Process" if I am also following the Team DPN rule of "Poking as Many People as Possible With My Sticks". (LOL) I think I am going to knit some socks as my Olympic project - stop yawning! I found some cute patterns over at Sockbug that I hadn't seen before so I may try one of those, or not. Or I many stick with the patterns in Sensational Socks. Who knows?

See how relaxed I am about it? Don't you all wish you were Eddie Alonging instead of freverishly swatching/training for the Olympics? (LOL!) It's pretty impressive that Yarn Harlot says we have MORE Olympic knitters than there are actual Olympic athletes! I love the idea of all of us knitting - all over the world - at the same time. Someone call the local news! That's a great story!

Whit is going to be attempting the feat of knitting two socks AT THE SAME TIME on DPN's. I'm rooting her on - I think she can do it - but she may have a crazy look in her eye for the next couple of weeks! (LOL) If she does it, maybe I will try it.....

And hey guess what? Whit interviewed the Yarn Harlot for her podcast. Cool! I think it's a great idea to interview all of the "knitting Stephanie's" you can find. Well done Whit! (LOL)

And - since Sockmainia has hit blogland like a mac truck, me included - I decided to join the:

As a Red Soxs Fan I couldn't pass that one up. No knit along or anything, just a declaration of my submission to the sockmadness. Thanks Bonne Marie!

I'm glad that a few of you commented that you liked the Sharon Olds poems. I hope more people will discover her. :)

PS - Book Swap Buddy watch your mailbox...the package went out today and should arrive in about 3 -4 days....:)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Silent Poetry Reading

Grace's Poppies is doing a silent poetry reading today. Initially - although I thought it was a great idea - I wasn't going to post one. I'm not the type of a person who is really "into" poetry. Too much of it seem too contrived, too self-conscious, too precious. It is generally off-putting. But I have read several poems I have liked on the knitting blogs today so I finally decided I would share some as well.

This is the only poet whose work I have consistently liked as a whole. Most poets I like a few things here and there but with Sharon Olds I have pretty much liked everything. She writes about being a woman and all of the experience of a woman's life without making me feel like it is a clever gimmick.

Here is probably the first poem of hers I ever read. It speaks to me as a (hopeful) writer who has to live in the real world.


Coming in off the dock after writing,
I approached the house,
and I saw your long grandee face
in the light of a lamp with a parchment shade
the color of flame.

An elegant hand on your beard. Your tapered
eyes found me on the lawn. You looked
as the lord looks down from a narrow window
and you are descended from lords. Calmly, with no
hint of shyness you examined me,
the wife who runs out on the dock to write
as soon as one child is in bed,
leaving the other to you.

Your long
mouth, flexible as an archer's bow,
did not curve. We spent a long moment
in the truth of our situation, the poems
heavy as poached game hanging from my hands.

I also like this one because of it's sheer exuberance and the way it expresses the possibility, power and mystery of femininity in usually masculine terms.

The One Girl at the Boys' Party

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they'll plunge into the deep end, she'll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang it's pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
and their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
on each, and in her head she'll be doing her
wild multiplying, as the drops
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.

Go read some more Sharon Olds! :)

Just Random Stuff

Woohoo! I got the rest of the things in the mail today that I had bought for my Valentine Book Swap buddy. All I can say is that I hope she thinks the package is Flippin Sweet! I'll be mailing the package tomorrow....:)

And now that I don't have the yarn buying safety valve of getting things for my book swap buddy what will I do?? Now the Stashalong gets hard!

Also, what is up with my Weather Pixie? I think she's kind of a tramp. She almost never puts on a coat - even when I am freezing outside. Most of the time she is completely inappropriately dressed - and not just for the weather. Sigh. Maybe she is expressing my inner Rock Star.

Aliens Rawk!

Now you see 'em:

Now you don't:

The Stats:
Pattern: Alien Head Illusion Scarf from Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted 1 skein each of Pepper 601W & Spring Green 109
and believe me you need every inch of it. I only got 5 heads when the pattern calls for 6.
Needles: Susan Bates straights size 7. Next time I might use one size smaller - a bit tighter might make the illusion pattern stand out even more.
What I learned: Well - Illusion knitting for one thing! I think once you understand the idea you can substitute any pattern you'd like.
Overall: It was very fast, very easy and very cool. It only needed a very light wet blocking. Too much pulling and stretching would probably flatten and distort the pattern. If I do this type of thing again I might make a garter stitch edge so that I wouldn't (hopefully) have to block it at all. I only blocked it this time to keep the edges from curling.

Over the shoulder shot:

It's done and in the mail. Happy Birthday Nephew!

This is also my project for "Woman on the Edge of Time" which we are reading over at KTC.

To make it tripple duty - this is also my second FO for Show Your FO week. Can I crank out a third? I don't know.....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cool Quiz

I had to take this quiz because it came with awesome Edward Gorey art. :)

Being sucked dry by leeches isn't so bad.
You will be sucked dry by a leech. I'd stay away

from swimming holes, and stick to good old

cement. Even if it does hurt like hell when

your toe scrapes the bottom.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Are We Ourselves or Alien Heads?

I did it! I overcame my block against blocking and blocked the Alien Head scarf. Maybe I just have to assume that I will only do these things at 2:00 am? Things get crazy at 2:00 am. :)

So tonight, fringing - which I am at bit unsure of because I only have a TINY bit of the green leftover. So I am try to decide if I have enough to include just one green strand in every fringe. If not, it's all black fringe. Which will be fine since this is going to a teenage boy. Teens love black yah know. ;) (Remember your own wearing black phase? You had one, I know you did! Likely drove your parents nuts too.)

Anyhooo - aside from being on the podcast - which earned me a "My Mom is COOL!" from Sir Lancelot - the Alien Head scarf has been the most popular knit with the men in my life. They just can't get over it. I think it is enough like legos, iPods and other mechanical type gadgets to capture their interest. And if you don't "get" that last sentence then you should knit your own illusion scarf & you'll know what I mean.

Continuing with my last post about honesty in naming ourselves, I asked my husband what his nickname would be and he said - prepare for it - The Cobra. I'm pretty sure he's only a teeny bit joking. And now he will KILL me for putting that on the internet. So in fairness I said mine would be The Willowy Goddess/Muse of Pure Wisdom and Supreme Harmony. I try to cover all my bases, ya know? (LOL)

So I hope to have a FO for the Show the FO week by tomorrow. And I also got sucked into another stash type thing:

I got so many horrified reactions when I flashed my stash on my blog that I just couldn't resist giving my obscene stash a wider audience. ;) Last time the horror seemed to be evenly divided between the sheer hugeness of my stash and the compulsive way I have it organized. Let's see what happens next Monday when it goes up on the Mama-E Show Your Stash blog. LOL!