Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Don't walk and knit.

Well, don't walk and knit when you're doing the gusset decreases on patterned socks.

I /so/ can't keep track of whether or not I'm on a decrease row at the same time as I keep track of what row of the 4-row (in Hedera's case) pattern I'm on. Hence, I remember the decrease on needle 1, get the pattern right on needle two, and forget the decrease on needle 3, and then don't realize what I've done for a row or two.

Tinkity tink tink tink, I'm back to where I was the other day. I'll redo it and hope to show you better tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It was an accident. Honest!

So I have a little addiction to deStash. I have a bad tendency to buy things there even when I don't know what I'm going to do with them. And there was this Soy Silk. Which I was curious to try. So I bought it.

At the same time, tempted by Dave's squirrels, I went over to Two Swans and ordered the squirrel pattern . While I was there, my eye was caught by another Fiber Trends pattern, so what the heck — I threw it in.

Serendipitously, the yarn and the patterns arrived on the same day.
The gauge for the yarn matched the gauge for the pattern. And the amount was good — 20 yards over requirements.
I swatched.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Summer of what?

I was supposed to be participating in Summer of Socks. I did relatively well the first month, but August? August was lost to Secret Yarnination. Which isn't really lost. And which, by the way, is FINISHED :-) Wish I could show you. Ah, someday.

Anyway, I got back to Hedera this weekend and made it as far as turning the heel:
I love this pattern and this yarn (Rowan 4-ply Soft). The pattern is fun and knits up fast, and this yarn fairly flies under the needles — even the crappy aluminum ones I'm using for this because I had my Inox #1s tied up elsewhere. I have already purchased further yarn (various brands) to make more Hederas. I am in a state of Hederadoration.

I made more progress on Mariner, too. I realize it's hard to tell, as it's just a vast butterfly-shaped expanse of magenta, punctuated by squiggly bits of marker yarn.

And I made jam :-) Mission Fig and Satsuma plum. The plum is truly out-of-this world.

Yep, that's right. It's on Mars. Stays cooler there without refrigeration.

Actually, it's all over my kitchen.

This was my sock yarn. Last week, I was ready to believe that this meant I needed to knit some more socks.

However, I chose to address the problem creatively:

Oh yeah. And the brugmansia is blooming.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Oh, wow. Oh, wow. And yet again wow!

My mailbox was bursting last night!

There was a pair of slacks from L.L. Bean, which I am trying out on my friend Colleen's suggestion. (Like the Lands' End slacks, they fit, but aren't terribly flattering. However, I desperately need work slacks so I'm going to keep them for now...) But that wasn't the exciting part.

First of all.. I got my final package from my SP8 pal, Melinda! (Who has now revealed herself to me.) Melinda blew me away with her generosity. Check this out — it would have been enough for the whole swap, but this is what I got in my final package...

Handspun. More of the delicious manycolored bluey/greeny fingerweight she'd previously sent, so I really do have enough for a wrap, now. And check out this lovely pink/yellow/green cheerful stuff on the right! It's just enough to make a little vest for Carson, and I am very tempted to do just that. Wouldn't her strawberry-blonde hair look just *great* against these colors?

From her vacation in England, a nifty felting kit. I've been wanting to try felting and been a bit unsure about how to jump in, so this is perfect. And the wool is both rare and wondrous.

And tea — I love tea (to a fault), as any of you who have seen my tea cabinets knows. This is pamplemousse bleu (blue grapefruit!), and it is delicious, as, thanks to the tea strainer, I can attest. Plus darling, irresistible sheepy magnets.

Sheepy sheep sheep!
They have little toes!

So I had to sit down for a while before I opened the next package.

This one is Sundara's latest Petals Club selection, and it was marvellously packaged as always, with coordinating tissue paper and cool pattern envelope etc. And the yarn and pattern are lovely:

Last but definitely not least, new sock bags and dpn case from trek!

You really should swap with her. These darn cute bags are also darned useful.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Needles DOWN!

I have actually finished the knitting part of my Secret Yarnination! What's left: some preparation and a few ends to weave in — not many, because I'm a weave-as-you-go kinda gal. Washing and blocking. Two seams and two crocheted chains. The crochet almost doesn't count to me.

I still stink at binding off. The right side of the front is bound off a little too tightly, so (compensatorily) is bound off way too loose. I left long tails so I can fiddle with it later if I have to.

What makes me NUTS is that I can't show it to you! I don't think the pattern releases until late September.

Obviously I'll have to do some other knitting so I have something to show you. And I shall. But I shall also make Mission fig jam (thank you Crys & Ronise!) and Satsuma plum jam (thank you Ditty!) Someday I will darn it have my own fruit trees, but in the meantime I'm very grateful for their generosity.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"We're gettin' the band back together.."

... we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.
Seriously, the band I'm in had our first practice in two months last night. It wasn't bad. (But it wasn't really good, either. Among other things, I invented some new consonants.)

Our lead guitar quit a few months ago, so we've been learning to play with a lead bass instead. Plus with only one guitar, the songs have been changed around quite a bit. We're all learning, figuring it out. But... it's still fun! I haven't started taping our practices again yet, but maybe I'll post an mp3 of a song or so when I do.

For the curious, this picture is approximately what we looked like before we lost Joe (from left: Wade, Joe, me, Karen). I think we need to work on a slicker look :-) (Also, while I'm at it, I could lose some weight, and also maybe not have a mysterious flash reflect off the middle of my thighs — hee hee.)

On the Secret Yarnination front, I actually knit during band practice. (It's easier to do this when you're the vocalist than, say, the guitar player ;-) .) I have 31 rows left, and am on track to finish tonight. Whoop!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On the home stretch.

I have just 54 rows left (and short ones at that) on the Secret Yarnination. I'll likely finish Weds. night. Then just blocking and seaming... and WEARING. Mmmm.

This sweater is unbelievably soft. I have never had a sweater that was hand-knit of wool before (I have some commercial-knit wool sweaters, and some hand-knit acrylic ones from my grandmother). I certainly have had nothing as soft as this sport-weight merino. And the colors! They are just blindingly rich. This darn sweater makes me want to cry, it is so soft and beautiful. I don't even care whether it fits or not when I'm done. I'm just going to curl up with it and pet it.

I know I sound like a kook. But hey, it's my first adult sweater. And I think it's going to fit. And it's so so beautiful.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Secret Yarnination Update, etc.

So today was the original due date of the Secret Yarnination for Sundara.

Is it finished? No. But that's chiefly because I took a lot of time off to try to let my arthritis calm down. Could it have been finished? Yes. But just barely.

I estimate I have about 6 hours of knitting left, or less. (Sorry, can't show you pictures yet.) Then, of course, must block and seam. Done by end of this coming weekend for certain.

It's good to know what my limits are. In future, I'll know that 4 weeks is going to be pretty tough for me for a full sweater; that 5 would probably be fine.

I forgot to talk about another craft I worked on this weekend, making soap. Actually I was double-milling some soap that I had already made and grated. I haven't worked with soap in a while and I'm afraid my casting technique has slipped.

These will be trimmed, of course, the edge bits are normal, but you can see the soap didn't perfectly fill the molds and the seashell detail is soft. Ah well. Practice, girl. Practice.

You can also see that I lost my ability to measure color. The purple is probably only appealing to children. There's a LOT more of it. There's also a lot of a similar shade of pink that I made a while back. I'm going to grate it all up, rebatch it, and marble it in with some plain white. But I have to wait until this cures!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

In other "crafting" news...

My literary journal, Grasslimb, has just released an issue — vol. 4, issue 2. This is actually the ninth issue, because I started the journal mid-year and published a lone "issue 3" to get the volume to line up with the year-start. (Am I anal-retentive? Hmm.) I'm so pleased I've kept it going for nearly five years! Anyway, if you like high-quality poetry and literary, somewhat experimental fiction, copies are just $2.50.

On the downside, if you like good proofreading, I'm afraid I did not do this issue proud. I've had to make four (4!!!! that is a big fat pain, trust me) hand corrections in every copy I send out. And that's just what I've caught so far. My only excuse (and I used to copyedit professionally, so this is little excuse) is that I was ill and panicked at the time I was doing the proofread. But. Yeah. Ugh.

And I did swatch. Sigh. I could not resist a little swatch. This is the handspun with size 2s. The colors are knitting up gorgeously.

I think if this were going to be socks, it would need to be on size 0s given my loose knitting, and I think I'd tend to split it a lot if I were using size 0s.. but I don't think it's going to be socks. I'm going to try lace next.

I'm going to rip this, because We Do Not Waste the Handspun. No no no no.

And on to the craft of gardening, which I've mostly slacked on for the last couple years...

A few years ago, at the Balboa Park botanical building, one of the gardeners gave me some berries from the beautiful Ophiopogon jaburan vittatus "Striped Lily-Turf." This looks like green/white striped grass; it blooms with simple white flowers, which later turn into flourescent deep blue berries that seem to glow from within.

I planted the berries (after appropriate scarification), and after many months some of them did sprout. I've had three lovely plants for about five years, but nary a bloom. This year I gave all my potted plants a little more attention, fertilizer, etc....

Today they started blooming for the first time! This is exciting — it means the berries are likely to follow. Trust me, they are so beautiful it is worth this excitement. I will show you pictures later this fall. By the way, this looks sideways, but it isn't — the flower spikes are a little droopy.

Finally, my frangipani, late as usual, has started blooming too :-)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sure. I can hold off. I'm JUST WINDING...

I rationalized that hey, winding isn't knitting, so it's not cheating to wind some yarn. Plus, it uses different muscles than knitting. Plus I really wanted to look at that Ms.-Pal-handspun again.

And behold the glory. There are so many colors in here, it makes me dizzy, and yet the overall effect is harmonious and peaceful. A contradiction in terms.

I just don't know if I want this to be socks or maybe Sandi Wiseheart's "Summer Shawlette" design (one of the Staff Projects in Interweave Knits, I forget which issue). Sandi's a friend of mine, plus her designs always rock, so I'm tempted. This yarn is thinner than that called for, so it would come out a bit different than shown. But I think it would look lovely in Little Arrowhead lace. It's more sockweight, though. But. Hmm. Hmm.

While I had the equipment out, I thought I'd wind a couple other hanks of yarn. First, the Schaefer Anne that was a(nother!) gift from Ms. Pal (do my Secret Pals rock the Casbah, or what?). I learned why it is a Bad Idea to leave hanks of yarn loose in your overcrowded sock yarn box. When it looks like this on the swift, you just know it's going to be a bitch and a half to wind, constantly catching on things and yelling and throwing dishes around the room and stuff.

But when she was all wound up, Anne was lovely...

Just my colors. Ahhh. The socks made with these are going to be all mine.

Finally, having learned the lesson on the Schaefer Anne, I decided to wind up the Cabin Cove Mercantile Merino-with-Tencel sock yarn I just got (argh, thanks to April, who is bad, and shows me things I shouldn't buy).

This yarn is grey in the sense that fine silver is grey.
It just glows.

Itchin' for swatchin'

So I'm doing well on Secret Yarnination. Really I am, and enjoying it too. But doing one project without distraction for four weeks is very challenging to this attention-defective chick. I'm being good, really I am, but I keep taking Ms. Secret Pal 8's handspun out of the box (you remember that, right? SOOOO gorgeous) and, ya know, just LOOKING at it. Because who does it hurt just to look?

But I really, really want to swatch it. So I'll know what it's going to be when it grows up.

Soon, soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

To answer some comments, all at once:

Ms. Pal — no, it's true, I can't argue that I NEED more presents from you. But I can argue that you have fabulous taste!!!

Sundara — the trick with Sock Wars is die fast! Then you get a free pair of socks; no harm no foul. Though I admit I'm going to attempt to stay in the game a while.

Jen — I think you should probably wish I die fast, despite my good intentions ... ;-)

April — You do have to buy more sock yarn. You know you do.

Ms. Pal (again) – It's true that I have a lot of sock yarn. But if I do well in Sock Wars, I'll have a excuse to buy MORE!

Marisa — Thank you!!

Gratuitous Carson pictures so this post isn't too boring through want of photographs:


I took a break from knitting for about 40 hours or so, to let my hands unkink a bit. Last night I got back to the kimono and knit a few rows on it, then worked on some (slightly sloppy) i-cord I'd started a few days ago. The i-cord (for you new or non- knitters, this stands for "idiot cord"!) was a gift to my new friend, the Mini Kacha-Kacha from my Other Secret Pal.

Did I tell you how much I love the Kacha-Kacha?
Me love ze Kacha-Kacha. I think he looks very nice in his new tie. (And no, I care not that the colors match le Kacha Kacha not. It's Brooklyn Handspun Instant Gratification in Deep Elemental. How can you complain?)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I just signed up for Sock Wars.

I tried to resist! Really I did! And I held out for a while.

Like, two days.

Monday, August 14, 2006

SECRET yarnination.

Most of what I worked on while I was away was a truly secret yarnination project.

I've been asked to be a test knitter!

This makes me very bouncy.

For those who aren't familiar with the term: When a designer completes a pattern, he generally has the pattern tech edited to make sure there are no errors (e.g. if the instructions say "CO 45 [55, 65, 75, 5, 95]" there is probably a typo in that second-largest size!).

If said designer is able to (and conscientious enough to consider it), she arranges for the pattern to be test knit in one or more sizes by various knitters. These knitters uncover problems with the fit, clarity issues in the pattern, and possibly catch typos the tech editor didn't catch.

Sundara Yarn (y'all know I'm a huge fan of her yarn!) is working with a designer, Melissa Wehrle, to develop custom patterns for her yarn. The first pattern is a kimono-style cardigan using her sport-weight yarn. I was extremely lucky to be asked to test knit, presumably because I'd bought a lot of Sundara's yarn before and because I'd sent her photos of various things I'd made. Sundara dyed yarn to my color specs and gave me the yarn; I get to keep the sweater, I just have to knit it and send my comments. This, my friends, is a screamin' deal for a process knitter like myself. Heck, I don't even care if the finished sweater doesn't fit me or doesn't look good on me — I'm loving this project!

I was originally supposed to finish the garment by August 21. I got a bit nervous this weekend, because I had only hit the 50% point last Friday. I knit like a madwoman all weekend and was beginning to get a little cramped in the hand, when I logged in on Sunday afternoon and found out the deadline's been extended! This is a huge relief (I think I'm about at 65-70% done now), but I'll still get the thing done soon — it's very fun to knit. The stitch pattern is just complex enough to keep it interesting, but just repetitive enough to do while chatting, watching TV or even reading. PERFECT.

I'm not allowed to show you very much of the project, so here it is in a blurry pile. The thing insisted on flash, so this is a bit lighter/brighter than the reality, but it's probably close to what the colors will look like after washing:

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What did I knit while I was gone?

Well, the truth is that most of the work I did while I was gone was Secret Yarnination. I'll tell you more about that soon, but in the meantime, here's what I did during the days when the Secret Yarn Project Pattern had been accidentally locked into a car in Los Angeles and when we, and the keys, were on a train, the airport, a plane (the train trip did not succeed), and then in Renton, WA:

First, I just had to do one of Dave's Garterlac Dishcloths. There had been that big sale at Michael's on cotton yarn... I've been itching to learn entrelac, and this was a fun introduction. It's rather seductive to knit, though the results in this case are a little prosaic, of course!

I left it with Felice and Chris as a house contribution. They assure me it will get used.

I started a Mason-Dixon Ball Band Dishcloth, but got very little done before getting distracted, so no picture.

Then I started Hedera, with some of the pattern-specified yarn purchased directly from Cookie in her destashing effort! I am LOVING this pattern. I might use it for one of the brown sock yarns, too.

This picture sucketh, but trust me that the yarn is lovely and soft, and the pattern is totally fun to knit, and the lace looks really pretty when you spread it out. Yay. Cookie is a Sock Queen.

And more on my Secret Yarnination... soon. Meanwhile — gotta knit! I'm on a deadline. Yipes.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Stashy wonderfulness

I had made a rule for myself regarding yarn purchases: only buy yarn for which you have a definite project in mind.

Okay, that went right out the window a while back when I discovered deStash and various online yarn sales.

So the rule's been modified: no yarn purchases at full price unless I have a definite project in mind. Or socks. Sock yarn is always fair game. Other yarn can only be bought on sale. :-)

I was trying to be restrained about visiting yarn stores on vacation. Rob hates shopping, and I didn't want to drive him dotty. But I did go to three yarn stores in/near Seattle, one in Vancouver and one in Portland. So I wasn't as restrained as I thought I'd be!

Sundara recommended Churchmouse Yarn on Bainbridge, where we went, along with the lovely women we were staying with in Seattle, Felice and Chris, and their two kids. Felice wanted to learn to knit (she bought yarn and needles and I taught her the basics; I'm a lousy teacher, but she's a very fast learner!), and I poked through the sale yarns. I ended up with these five balls of Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora in black.

A downside of being barrel chested is that it takes a ton of yarn to make a top for me. This is not enough for a top. However, hopefully I can find something to mix it with, either in my stash or via another sale. It's lovely and soft and I think a short-sleeved top would be nice and very useful. I love DK and sport weights.

In Seattle, my Secret Pal and Sundara had both recommended the Weaving Works. Felice ran me out there and to another shop, whose name I've now forgotten. The second shop wasn't useful, but I picked up a few things at the Weaving Works. The yarn is two different types of sock yarn, both in gorgeous, slightly-multicolored browns. I wear a lot of brown socks, and I have a number of patterns I'd like to try on these.

In Vancouver, BC we headed up to West Vancouver to go to the marvellous store Knit-n-Stitch, where I lost my mind. And my wallet. But not too badly. They had huge mixed bags of yarn to rummage through at $CAN 2.00 per ball! That's about $1.80 US and I did go a bit bananas. And sock yarn on sale for $CAN 4.95/ball!

So this is seven sale balls of Scheepjes Delfi, a Slovakian blend of 50% cotton, 50% acrylic which is irresistibly soft and just cries out to be a little scoopnecked top. I am not quite sure if it's enough (barrel chest, like I said), but this was all there was and I had to have it. Then there's the Cantata, a cabled cotton yarn. I was desperate for something in the right gauge to go with the Katia Jamaica (color 4000) I bought a while back — I designed this cute top which called for the Jamaica and a coordinating white cotton, but then I couldn't find white cotton in the right gauge. Sirdar cotton DK would work, but it's hard to find outside England. Debbie Bliss Soho Summer is the right gauge, and I ordered some that I thought was right, only to find when it arrived that "Oyster" is, not too surprisingly, a pretty pearl grey and not white. And Soho Summer doesn't come in white. So I've been scouring shelves, and was really pleased to turn this up. It was full price, but it counts because I have a project in mind! Then there were three sale balls of the Eco-Wool, which I'll put into use for a baby sweater, and finally lots of solid-color sock yarn — my favorite, and on sale! I haven't knitted this brand before, but I'm sure it'll be fine. Love the colors.

In Portland, our friend Francine's boyfriend Rich turned out to be a knitter, and he sent us to the Yarn Garden there. The store is lovely, but nothing really appealed to me on the sale shelf. I might have been a bit shopped out after Knit-n-Stitch, though!

Er. But then we went to Powell's.

I had to repack my bags at the train station because I'd put my biggest bag over the weight limit. Already finished Wendy Knits (great fast read) and am deep into Zen and the Art of Knitting. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, but so far I love it.

Ah, the dangers of vacation.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

While I was gone, my secret pals rocked!

I got a great postcard from my Secret Pal 8 pal, plus a couple of e-mails, letting me know a great final package is in the works for me and generally being a great person :-)

And I got TWO goody packages while I was gone from my Other Secret Pal — now revealed as the wonderful Cheryl Perry. Feast yer eyes on these:

The yarn cutter is very cool -- will be good for future travels as well -- and the linen yarn is a wonderful greeny-grey soft color; I'll have to find something to coordinate with it and make a top of some sort. THANKS CHERYL FOR A GREAT OSP EXPERIENCE!

Oh and yah, I bought a lot of yarn on vacation. More about that tomorrow :-)

I'm back!

Unfortunately my office computer doesn't work, meaning that until I can fix it, I can't post photos. Lots more upcoming soon, including why my secret pals rock, why train travel is interesting and all my stash enhancement... AND some truly SECRET yarnination!