Friday, December 12, 2008

The Letter C

I've jumped on the 10-things-you-like-that-start-with-the-letter-"*". You get assigned the letter. I got "C" from CRMA, so here goes:

1. Cats. I love cats. I'd better after all, I have 4. They are endlessly amusing, comforting, and annoying.
2. Cheese. Especially melted, or on crackers. Yum (and I'm lactose intolerant!).
3. Cashmere. Soft, warm, light weight, expensive. I have a fantasy about someday being able to afford to knit a cashmere sweater. The closest I've come, to date, is 2 oz. of cashmere top to spin that I bought at Rhinebeck.
4. Chocolate. I have had a lifetime love-hate relationship with chocolate, mainly love.
5. Coffee. I don't drink a lot of coffee, but one good cup of coffee in the morning sets me up for the day. Coffee ice cream is also good anytime and gives you a lot of options for toppings.
6. Christmas. The sense of anticipation, family gatherings, Christmas lights, the planning and consulting that goes on. It's all fun!
7. Cookies. You do get a sense of pattern here? If it's sweet and starts with a 'C', I like it.
8. Clean. On the rare occasion that I get a room, or my whole apartment clean, I revel in the sensation of accomplishment.
9. Cowls. I have been collecting knitting patterns for cowls. They keep you warm, they are comfortable, and they don't take forever to complete.
10. Cameras. Especially digital cameras that let you take lots of pictures and then download them, print them, e-mail them, and edit them. A whole new world of remembering has opened up.

My "C"s.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've been having fun

I've wrenched myself away from Ravelry temporarily and have been reading blogs again. I 've come to the realization that while Ravelry is a great way to immerse yourself in knitting or crocheting, blogs let you share more of what's going on.

So, what's been happening? Well, I continue to be unemployed, which has allowed me to spend a lot of time looking at knitting on Ravelry, do a fair amount of knitting of my own, and fall into a more natural sleep cycle for me. Unfortunately, since I'm a nightowl, I tend to wake up late in the day and go to bed around dawn. This can sometimes limit my activities, since the rest of the world is on a more 'do stuff during the day' schedule. Banks and the Post Office, especially.

So, if Blogger will allow me to post some pictures, here are a few...

This is a sock that I test knit. The yarn, from Fearless Fibers, was the first skein that I ever bought online. I only had to knit one sock for the test knit, and haven't yet knit the 2nd sock, but I will. I enjoy wearing handknit socks too much to have only one sock to wear.

Now this pair of socks was knit from a KnitPicks sock blank dyed by FiberJewels as part of a Ravelry swap. I knit them up as an entry in the "Sock Put" category in the Ravelympics. The nice thing about knitting both socks at the same time from a sock blank is that the color changes will match.

This is 'Ziggy' from The pattern was also one of the five that I knit up for the Sock Pentathlon on Ravelry. I told you that I spend a lot of time on Ravelry. I love joining groups, especially for knitting challenges and for swaps. It's a weakness. For this pattern, I didn't use the Noro sock yarn recommended, since I didn't have any, but drew from my rather large stash of Lamb's Pride Sport. I changed colors for the ankle because I thought the turquoise and pink was getting a little too day-glo on its own.

Here is my version of the Noro Striped Scarf. It was a great deal of fun to knit, and, as you can see, I love bright colors. I call this my gypsy scarf.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Unfinished projects tend to wait on the edge of my consciousness, poking at my awareness. I enthusiastically jump into starting something and then just as enthusiastically move onto something else. It's annoying, and guilt-inducing.

Today I'm feeling guilty about the shawls that I have started. To list a few:

The faroese shawl for my friend's birthday for June, 2007 - about half-done.

Mystic Lights - about half done.

Spiral Shawl - I love spirals, have 'redesigned' this shawl to make it bigger and rectangle, and am only on the second spiral.

Icelandic Shawl - this was very popular, and Knitting Daily actually reprinted the pattern for the KAL group. I like the shawl, but it is 2/3's done.

Large Rectangular Shawl from "Victorian Lace Today" - another favorite, not a difficult knit, but I've only done a couple on inches.

To justify myself, somewhat, knitting for others, especially for gifts and for display items for Fabric Place, jumped to the front of my queue and displaced these projects. But I am also ADD when it comes to knitting. I start thinking about a project or a technique and I MUST start it.

That means there are similar posts to come on other UFOs.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Quest of "Finished!"

I am a serial knitter. I bounce from one project to the next. They all need to be finished, but they're not...yet.

There's the baby blanket for a niece, who's due in August - knit on the diagonal in five colors using Berroco Touche - a soft cotton/modal mix;

the kimono jacket from "Knit Kimonos" that I'm knitting in Sugar 'n Cream white cotton because I could get 1400 yds for $10;

the second sock of a pattern I test knit (Deaton Sock - check it out on Ravelry);

the second mitten of a mitten pattern I also test knit (Bubbles, also on Ravelry);

the pinwheel sweater in Lara cotton for my niece in New Mexico;

and the purse that I started as a Christmas present for her mother...

just to name a few.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Knitting Again (sung to the tune of "Drinking again...)

Well, you can't keep an addict away from her drug of choice, so I've started knitting again, but trying for a little less intensity...

So what was my first finished project? The third sock in the Sock Knitters Pentathlon 2008 on Ravelry - Rattlesnake Creek Socks:

There's nothing like a few cables to make you pay attention to what you're doing. Unfortunately, while I was paying attention to the knitting, I didn't read the instructions thoroughly, until I started the second sock. It was then that I discovered that there were supposed to be 1-1/2 pattern repeats on the cuff, not one - like I had done. I only thought about frogging the first sock for a nano-second, then I knew I had to come up with something else: Cut off the ribbing, pick back the stitches and knit the required repeat and ribbing.
So after the second sock was done, that's just what I did, and it worked beautifully, only took about 2 hours, and then I was done. I'd read about using this technique for adding length or making changes, but this was the first time I'd actually used it. It was a bit fiddly picking out the stitches back to the start of the cabling, and picking up the stitches was also a trial (partly because my eyesight isn't what it used to be, these were very small stitches, and I was tired.
Nothing like success to jump start your enthusiasm.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Can't Knit

I'm dying, here. Not with pretty colors and wool, but of absolute frustration. I can't knit. I overdid it big time with the heavy duty knitting, and now the carpal tunnel in my left arm has kicked in. Bummer.

On the brighter, not physically knitting side, I taped two really interesting podcasts for Knit-A-Yarn. Saturday, the crew drove out to WEBS to tape Cat Brodhi. We sat down to talk after she had been teaching all day. People, her energy is boundless. she was funny, concise, and extremely interesting. I was so inspired that I went home and worked up an idea for a sock, using her techniques (I had read New Pathways for Sock Knitters and knit up two of her try-it socks).

Then, today I met Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer (Woolly Thoughts, No Pattern Knitting, and Toilet Roll Covers). These tapings are so interesting that the non-knitting film crew at Knit-A-Yarn is being insidiously recruited into the knitting camp. Pat and Steve tell a great story, and bring a sense of humor and whimsy to knitting, but also their ability to take mathematical concepts and clarify them with knitting is just amazing.

Got to go take more Ibuprofen for the carpal tunnel.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Okay, so I've been busy...

I just finished these socks. I knit them for the Knitted Sock Pentathlon 2008. It took me a little over 24-almost-sleepless-hours (I grabbed about 4-hrs of sleep when the pattern started to get blurry). I am not normally a competitive person, but there is something about a time-trial that brings my competitive instincts to the fore. The plus is that I really like the way the lacy pattern looks (sock pattern is called Berlin). This was my first attempt at 'cotton' socks. Actually, they're made out of Panda Cotton, a bamboo, cotton, elastic blend. I don't yet know how they feel on, but I do know that they're drying more slowly than my wool socks.

Then there was the road trip to WEBS with my SnB buddies for the appearance of the Yarn Harlot. Road trip is definitely the way to go. We had a great time going and returning, yakking at 65 mph. Had two great meals in Northampton, and to top it all, got to listen to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, along with about 1000 other knitters at the Calvin Theatre. Stephanie is always funny, philosophical, and real. I am amazed at her composure. She signed hundreds of books at WEBS, before and after her talk, and she never appeared cranky or bored. Of course, I got a signed book! She even 'remembered' me as a 'repeat offender' at book signings. As you can see, I got to hold the Sock.

Lest you think I'm having too much fun, I also knit this toilet roll cover with gauge issues for the Fun Fur Smackdown on Ravelry. It looked even funnier when I put it over a jar full of tiny Christmas lights...

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Few Finished Objects

I haven't been posting much, but I have been knitting:

Rover had this lovely walking jacket kit for him for the "Teeny Runway Project" hosted by Mason Dixon Knitting. Although he was not a finalist, both he and I enjoyed our participation immensely. It just goes to show that if you offer knitters and interesting challenge, they rise magnificently to the occasion!

I also accepted the challenge of the 2008 Sock Knitter Pentathlon on Raverly. The first sock (Jacobean Sock) was knit in under 5 hours, and it sure wasn't by me. I pushed myself and finished the pair in 2-1/2 days. Finishing a pair of socks this quickly gave me a whole new perspective on sock knitting - they don't have to drag on forever, and the sooner you finish, the sooner you have a new pair of socks to wear.

I'm only showing one sock because this picture was closest to the color of the yarn (Aussie Wool in Faded Valentine). I've also worn them inside-out to see if the knit side felt more comfortable against the bottom of my foot - it did.

Then there was the Melon Stitch Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I used Malabrigo Lace in Orchid. The yarn was great to work with, and the shawl is very soft. I will get it back eventually, but now it is at Fabric Place in Woburn, MA, for their display.

I wore it for their Knitters Breakfast and I know that several people decided to make one after seeing it. The nice thing about this shawl is that although there is a lot of knitting, it is not difficult to do. This broke the "I can't knit a shawl because it's too complicated" mindset that I had.

I off-loaded lingering guilt and finally finished the Brioche Socks for my Hogwarts Sock Swap 2 (they were due in August). Fortunately, my pal hasn't finished mine yet, either, and we have been in communication. This sock pattern is in brioche stitch, which allowed me to knit in two colors and make each color the dominant rib on each side - which means that the socks are reversible! The short-row heel was a challenge, I think I knit and frogged on heel at least three times. But I love the socks and they are very cushy - they're an indoor, house sock, and I know I'm going to knit myself a pair because my feet have been freezing in my old, New England house this winter.

They are Gryffindor socks, and this is the yellow side...
and this is the red side. I hope my swap pal likes them!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Big and Little

I just finshed this pair of socks in three days. This is the fastest I have ever knit socks, and it changed my perception about the amount of effort needed to knit socks. These are the Jacobean socks that are sock #1 for the 2008 Sock Knitters Pentathlon on Ravelry.

On the other hand, I am just about to finish the Melon Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I've been working on it steadily since January.

The body of the shawl is a 6-row pattern, repeated 62 times. The border is an 8-row pattern knit all around the body of the shawl, with extra repeats at the corners.

I thought knitting this shawl was going to be difficult. It wasn't. And, despite all the repetition, it wasn't tedious either. It was very relaxing. I just kept going, keeping track of which row I was on, enjoying the process of knitting with nice needles (KnitPicks Harmony) and nice yarn (Malabrigo Lace).

It was the contrast of the pace that these two projects had that struck me. The socks were done in a concerted, focused rush. The shawl proceeded at an even, relaxing pace. They complemented each other, and highlighted, for me, the very different moods of knitting.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I joined the Organized Knitting Club. This didn't mean that I was organized, but that I wanted to be organized. So February was devoted to organizing my stash.
I had some great "before" pictures, but managed to accidently delete them (note to self: 'format' on a digital camera does not apply to the picture). I do have one for you to see:

I had started the process of clearing this rack and hanging my WIPs on it in clear plastic bags. The proceses continued and involved moving the rack to the other side of the room (after moving the microwave cabinet that was there) so I had access to both sides.

Top shelf has WIPs.

The lower shelf has designated yarn for WIP-to-be. I haven't figured out what's going on the lowest shelves yet.

All my free range yarn is will be in or on this sliding-glass-door cabinet, arranged by color.

Larger lots of yarn, mostly bought for a specific project, like a sweater, are still in labeled bins.

So that's what I've been doing. Still to come organizing the following: needles; patterns; books; computer area; and sewing area.
Buckle up. This may be a long, bumpy flight!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Space, Time, and Project Management

Change isn't easy. I've been 'unventing' this simple truth ever since I signed up for the February 30-day Challenge as part of the Organized Knitting Group on Ravelry. My goal - to organize my stash.

I got inspiration from many of the posts to this group. What I came up against was that I couldn't simply reshuffle all my yarn into a new set of containers or buy another set of shelves. I had to work with what I had, which meant I had to rethink how I wanted to access my yarn, and the best set-up for doing this.

I approached this on two fronts: the yarn front, and the space front.

I decided to separate my stash into 3 groups: the Works In Progress; the Designated Yarn for a specific project-to-be; and Free Range Yarn. First, I unearthed almost all my WIPs and piled them in my bedroom; then I identified Designated Yarn and moved that into the dining room; which left the Free Range Yarn in the Front Room (used to be the living room). While the rest of my apartment was in shambles, I now had room to look more critically at the space in the Front Room and could now try to come up with a plan for arranging "the stash."

It was important to me to keep everything as visible as possible, so I could see what was waiting to be knit up, and also see what I still had to play with. I told myself to think outside the box, and came up with the idea of hanging WIPs in plastic bags from a metal shelving unit I have. Ideally I should be able to walk around both sides of the shelving, so I will have to relocate it (thankfully, it's on wheels!). The cabinet for Free Range Yarn wasn't on wheels, and I first had to dismantle the shelf unit that was on top of it (for which I have plans in the dining-room-about-to-become-office/reading area). I emptied the cabinet (which is 6-feet long and about 3-feet high), removed the sliding glass doors, maneuvered sliders under each corner, and dragged it across the room to the outside wall where there are no plugs. The small computer desk was relocated where the cabinet had been, because both the telephone jack and an electrical outlet are on that wall.

I know this is not the most interesting chain of events, but in order to reorganize my stash, I needed to reorganize my space. And in order to reorganize my space, I needed a step-by-step plan. Even though I started working toward my goal of Organizing Stash at the beginning of the month, it took me almost 3 weeks to work out what needed to be done, and in what order things needed to be done, before I actually started the work.

This is the basis of Project Management - figure out what you have to do in fairly granular detail, and then do it. Don't leap in and start what you don't know how to finish. Always have a back-up plan for each step, in case what you thought would work doesn't (if it isn't obvious, I'm a Professional Project Manager, I can get points towards maintaining my certification for this project, if I wanted to).

I know there are no pictures, but it's embarassing to post pictures of messy chaos. I will post before and after pictures when this part of the paroject is done.

(Note: cross posted on Organized Knitting Club)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Challenging Work

I have started working on the February Challenge for the Organized Knitting Club on Ravelry, which was to organize one area is my stash. Following a suggestion from Janine, the moderator for Organized Stash, I pulled out all my WIPs and moved them to my bedroom, which gave me some room to work with the remaining stash...more on that at some later date.
As I extracted each project, I added it to an excel spreadsheet. I also ranked them A-E & S: A=finish this month.; B=next in line; C=medium importance; D=finish eventually; E=hibernating, but not ready for the frog pond; and S=sit-around projects that I pick up for a couple of minutes when I'm at the computer.
There are 42 Works in Progress on the spreadsheet - and each one has it's own set of needles!! I actually did frog a few things that I found that had been started but not worked on, or that I really didn't like. I even threw out one horrible ball of fluffy acrylic in pinks and purples.
I had a breakthrough last night, as I lay tossing and turning, about how to organize all the projects. I went and got some basic supplies today, and if the concept works, you'll be the first to know!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Latest Efforts

My niece and I were talking on the phone yesterday, and she suggested that I post about what I'm currently knitting. She's 7, and she's right.

So here's what I'm working on concurrently:

This is the half-done front to a long-overdue Aran sweater. It will to be an anniversary gift to Glenn from his wife, when it's done. They come and visit the sweater every couple of weeks. The good news is that the back is done.

This is my first attempt at hand spinning. The very first hank is on the left. Then the 2nd and 3rd hanks follow. There is a lot more Blue Faced Leicester fiber left to spin, so I'm hoping for enough for a hat and mittens. I really enjoy using a spindle, and not only want to get really good at it, but also want to learn how to handle different types of fiber.

This is the second Ice Queen from Knitty, that I've knit. This time I'm using purple Super Kydd and lots of beads. Here is a closeup of the beading:

There is something very addictive about adding beads to work. I like the weight and flow they give to the knitted fabric, not to mention the hint of glitz.
Next is the Melon Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, knit using Malabrigo Lace in Orchid 34. I have almost finished the body of the shawl, which was simpler to knit than I anticipated, but with enough pattern change to keep me from getting really bored. The next step will be to knit the border all the way around.

The Malabrigo lace is easy to work with and feels very soft. I'm going to enjoy wearing this shawl. Here's a close-up of the melon stitch and faggotting stitch used in the body of the shawl.

Just in case you think that I never finish anything, here are to two dishcloths I knit for the January Monthly Dishcloth KAL.

I find dishcloths fun to knit, very useful, and I like having a couple around to give as gifts with a nice, handmade (but purchased) bar of soap.

I tried to get Dilly to act as a model, but she wasn't cooperating.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Organizing MY Knitting Space

I'm part of the Organized Knitting Club on Ravelry. In fact, I'm moderating the Organized Space forum. My first task was asking people to measure their space and draw up a floorplan, so here's mine:

I use one room in my apartment for my knitting, tv viewing, and computer usage. The challenge is to analyze the space and figure out a plan to make the best use of it. This will include input from the other Organizing forums, to which Ravelers are contributing. My hypothesis is that the best storage tips in the world won't really be of any use if you can't fit the 'idea' into the space you have. I also plan to address issues of seating, light, and ergonomics. Whee!!

I don't yet have the courage to post 'before' pictures. There is some essential de-cluttering that needs to be done first (recommended reading: Jeff Campbell's "Clutter Control" - it changed my life, along with his book "Speed Cleaning").

Come back soon for my "before" pics...

Friday, January 18, 2008

It Felt RIGHT!

I picked up some knitting I was working on (an Aran sweater). I had set everything up: the pattern (my own design) was laid out in front of me, the light was adjusted, and I had a blanket to wrap around my feet to keep me warm.

I worked my way through the first row of the day, started the next row, and then it happened. Everything just felt right. I literally felt my body relax, my hands develop a flow as the yarn fed through and the stitches were knit. I was focused, but not obsessively so, on the pattern. Some might call it Zen knitting, but I would describe it as my ‘muscle memory’ taking over.

Muscle memory is what dancers and martial artists train for (I’ve been both). It’s learning to do something so well, that your body does it before you have to think about it.

That’s what happened to me while I was knitting. After the first row was knit, my body ‘remembered’ what it was I was working on, and cooperated with the process.

I’m sure that if you think back to the projects you really liked working on, you’ll find that, perhaps, one reason was that your muscle memory was making everything go more smoothly.

Since repetition and practice are needed to embed muscle memory, beginning knitters will not attain this state immediately, but I’m sure that one reason that so many knitters stick with knitting is that they DO achieve this relaxed, easy flow to their knitting.

So maybe knitting isn’t the new yoga, but the new martial art!

Monday, January 14, 2008

From Done to Almost Done

After shovelling snow for an hour, I got my car dug out (with help from a neighbor) and cleared the walk from the back door to the sidewalk. Then I looked at the pristine snow in my yard and threw myself down and made a snow angel.

I also have finished some belated Christmas gifts:

two ball band washcloths and a fabulous bar of soap from Frost Fish Cove Soaps for my sister and her family,

Ice Queen from Knitty:

for a friend (luckily, she was away for the holidays). There are beads on it. If it looks a little weird, it's because I draped it over a plastic pail. It took me three days of trying, frogging, leaving to calm down, and returning to get the picot bind off right.

And tonight I have to finish a pair of fingerless mitts to send off as part of a swap. I "designed" them myself, and they're simpler than they look, since there are only two rows of stranded color work in every 8-row pattern repeat. Part of what I was experimenting with was the way colors change based on what color they are next to.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My Roving Dog

I followed the directions in "Fleece Dog" and ended up with this cute little guy.