Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still here...

... and still knitting. I'm rushing to finish a pair of lace gloves knit in cotton thread for the Soprano who sings with me in A Christmas Carol. I thought I'd have time to knit during rehearsal -- sort of forgetting that I'm on stage most of the time, and we only rehearse for about 9 days. Oops!

I'm doing okay, though - I think. I've got the first glove knit up to the pinky. So I need to do the other 3 fingers and the thumb. The 2nd glove is knit 1/2 way up the thumb gusset. I think I'll make it by our first audience preview. *gulp*

Sadly, it means I had to put aside the red pullover I was knitting for myself (Elizabeth I from Alice Starmore's "Tudor Roses" book,) which I was starting to become obsessed with. So, it looks like I won't be wearing that on Christmas Eve, as I was hoping. Maybe... but I don't see how. That's okay. It will get finish, I have confidence. I think. That is, if I don't get distracted by more socks.

So, there is knitting but life is crazy-making around here just now.

Oh, and I must share my latest thrift-store find!! I felt dizzy when I saw it!

Alice Starmore's out of print book "Aran Knitting." There's a copy on selling for $284. Which is silly, you can snag it on eBay for $175-$204.

Me? $2 at Savers in Daly City.

squee! Happy Christmas 2 me!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

FO - Summer of Love Lace Socks

I've finally knit up the Summer of Love Lace socks from Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Rockin' Sock Club". I seem to have a compulsion to knit them IN ORDER. The patterns, anyway - using the yarn in order doesn't seem to bother me. I still have my skein of Walkin' on the Wild Tide that I've not found the perfect pattern for yet.

I got the October shipment - a gorgeous black and red yarn from the new Raven series. The pattern is amazingly well-written and is by our own beloved Yarn Harlot. Both pattern and yarn are called "Lenore" and the pattern is gothic and beautiful. I could hardly wait to knit it!

It was truly the inspiration for me to just go ahead and knit up the second Solstice Slip sock. Almost as soon as I finished those I grabbed my yarn for the Summer of Love socks and cast on.

I didn't use the Sock Club yarn. I confess to trading it on Ravelry -- I just could not make myself like the colorway. (I did keep my keychain of "emergency yarn" though.) I traded it for a lovely skein of brilliant green and pink and grey yarn from Yarn Pirate. Which I used for these socks -- which is pretty appropriate, dontcha think?

I love the colors and the socks are great! They're the lightest weight socks I've knit. I worry about how well they'll hold up over wear. I tend to like my socks knit at a very tight gauge so they're like iron. But I did these all on size 1.5 needles in order to get gauge. Normally I would have knit this yarn on 0's. But they're nice - they have a nice drape, it feels kind of odd.

I like 'em!

Now I can cast on for Lenore!! The only problem is... after doing 2 pairs of socks in a row... I'm no longer in the mood to knit socks.

So, I picked up an old project that's been hibernating. Elizabeth I from Alice Starmore's Tudor Roses book. I ripped out the entire sleeve I'd knit. It took a year, but I've now accepted that my gauge was too tight and the sleeve was too darn small. So I started again on a size larger needle (size 4) and 1/2 way through that sleeve realized that my gauge was too darn big! Arrgh!

So, I've cast on again with size 3's. My knitting style has loosened up in the past year, so maybe I can get gauge this time. If not... I'll have to recalculate the pattern to fit the gauge that I'm getting.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Store closure...

Tuscany Yarn, in my town, finally opened its doors one last time for two days of shopping mayhem. The owner passed away from breast cancer in the Spring, I believe. Since then, her husband closed the shop and it has just sat there. I drove by it on my way to my husband's work and would gaze in at all the yarn and wonder what he was going to do with it all.

He did a really wonderful thing. He opened the doors for two days - advertised only in our tiny, free local newspaper with a lovely ad that showed a picture of his wife and family. He said he wanted to give back to the community with the sale. So, instead of collecting money for himself, we shoppers wrote our checks directly to one of 3 charities.

I went on Saturday morning and there was a small, not overwhelming, line in front of the shop. It got crowded quickly, though! Several friends showed up and I couldn't even chat with them much because of the small space and all the yarn-seekers.

I bought a gorgeous tote bag with lovely pockets all around the inside by Vera Bradley (the owner loved her bags and had her back wall dedicated to these purses and bags,) and an ID case and checkbook cover to match the wallet I bought a couple of years ago. So far I am loving the bag - it's fantastically roomy and lovely.

I bought 2 colors of Anny Blatt fine kid to use for shawls. I picked up some funky Noro Sakura to use for Rosaline's birthday cardigan this year.

I picked up a couple of books - a Debbie Bliss kids' pattern book and Rowan's Yorkshire Fable book.

I wrote my check to the breast cancer charity they had chosen.

Two friends I'd told about the sale were done shopping at this point, too. So we went and got some coffee together. It was lovely to escape the crowds and terrific to catch up with them. One of them is pregnant and is so freakin' beautiful you could just plotz. She truly glows and is more relaxed and content than I have ever known her. She's decided on a homebirth (woot!!) and getting to chat with her made me so happy!

Sunday, Mike and I went to his parents house for his dad's birthday brunch. When we got home, it was after 4:30 and I requested permission to see what was left at the yarn store.

And there was quite a bit left, and best of all -- the crowds were GONE GONE GONE. I decided to go nuts buying some of the books I love that never go on sale and you can't get them at Amazon. I took the time to go through the binders for some single pattern leaflets (like Fiber Trends and the like.) I had a big stack of books that I carried up to the counter for them to hold while I went back to look at the yarn.

I chose some Noro Cash Iroha in a gorgeous deep red color. Enough to make a sweater for myself. I found 2 lovely skeins of Alchemy bamboo hiding under some solid colors and snatched them up. I bought a bag of Southwest Trading Company's Karaoke - bamboo and wool - in a gorgeous heathered burgundy colory. Also enough to make a sweater for myself.

There were some gorgeous Frog Tree Hill alpaca scarves hanging on the wall that weren't there on Saturday. Gorgeous, hand knit, soft -- fantastic. Priced way too high for my blood, even 1/2 price. But I asked the owner and he told me he'd take $10 apiece for them, so I grabbed 3 for Christmas presents. Black, blue, and grey.

Then, as my total was being rung up, I had a lovely chat with the owner. We talked about losing someone you love, and how you always think of them every day. We talked about the shop and how nice it was to shop there, and how much his wife loved it. I told him that my mother had died of cancer, too. And it felt good to be able to indulge a hobby I love so much and know that 100% of the money I'm spending goes to cancer research.

But I knew I was in trouble when they told me the total! I'd have to do some fancy footwork to make sure my checking account (I keep a separate account that I fund with my eBay sales so that I can spend on things like this without pulling from Mike's income,) would cover both checks! Then I was told that -- oops! -- they had forgotten about the books!

I think I was turning green just as the owner told them to just give me the books. Which was pretty fantastic - I had an alarming stack of books, including a bunch of dog-eared copies of older Vogue Knitting magazines. And I really was financially maxed out... I don't know what I was thinking.

He locked the door behind me as I left and that is the end of Tuscany Yarn. I will really miss it.

And I am on a knitting diet now until Stitches West.

Monday, November 5, 2007

PodCast cleanup

I've been exploring new Knitting podcasts and discarding others. Shall we chat Podcasts? If you have suggestions on casts I may have overlooked -- please comment & let me know!

These are listed in the order in which I started listening to them.

Cast-On: Always and forever my hands-down favorite.
KnitCast: I'm still subbed. Why not? But she never makes episodes anymore. :(
Sticks & String: The accent was charming, but frankly? I got bored with it. When I found I was letting the episodes pile up and always choosing to listen to something else, I unsubscribed.
Lime & Violet: Okay, this one may get me in some trouble. I listened to L&V for quite a long time and just recently unsubscribed. I enjoy them and their banter. I don't mind the wandering off-topic or the off-color humor. Even the dog farts don't offend me. But they crossed the line for me when they started ripping apart an ex-boyfriend of Lime's. When they started making jokes about the size of his... how do I put this delicately?... manhood. That was too much for me. I mean sure -- they podcast to a niche market. But still... mutual friends probably listen. The ex-boyfriend may have friends who listen. They have a HUGE following in the knitting community and there are thousands and thousands of people across the country... nay, the world... who listen. That crossed a line for me. You just don't do that to someone. That is Not Cool. So, I unsubbed.
Stash & Burn: I tore through all their old episodes. This one is what I wish L&V could have become. They have their banter and their in-jokes and their friendship which it's fun to horn in on for a little while. But they do stick closer to knitting and I've never heard them say something unkind about someone else. They're entertaining and they live just down the freeway from me. So I know the places they talk about! Sweet! I'm there. When's the next yarn crawl?
Knit Picks' Podcast: This one gets boring for me sometimes. But I keep subbed. I keep it around for knitting emergencies.
Let's Knit2gether: At first I thought this was a little cheesy. But she grew on me and now I completely adore her. Who couldn't after her Christmas gifting episode last year? Her nervousness when her hubby opened the knit hat she made him? She's darling. I love taking my iPod to a coffee shop and knit while watching her knit on the tiny screen.
The Knitting Cook: I just discovered this one and I LOVE it. I even made the Spaghetti sauce from episode 1 (I've actually made it twice now,) and it's my new PodCast baby.
Math for Knitters: I like this one, but I always feel like I need to concentrate to listen to it. I need to give it a more regular listen. I think this is a useful cast, but I tend to like some bubblegum in my podcasts, kwim? This feels a bit like class. Which is good!! But...

I have Christa Knits, faerieknits, and WeaveCast downloaded and am waiting to give them a try.

Non -knit podcasts, you ask?

This American Life
Mark Gunn's Pub Songs Podcast
NPR: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
Renaissance Festival Podcast (another by Mark Gunn.)

I'm also listening to Anne of Green Gables which is available as a podcast, chapter by chapter. It's nice to knit to.

What do you listen to?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Solstice Slip - a FO at last!

I've been working on these for what seems like forever. I wasn't very happy with the pattern stitch or the way the color worked out with them.

My mistake, really -- I did the first sock working from both ends of the skein because I wanted to minimize pooling. It was a huge pain largely because of the way the yarn twists while I knit. I hated it! My daughter got very sick while I worked on sock #1 and so it was a consolation to knit on it, but it wasn't a consolation to knit on something I wasn't loving.

But I finished the sock finally. And decided to go ahead and start on sock #2. I just couldn't bear to rip it out and the socks were comfortable enough. And I still do love the "Lucy" colorway.

Anyway, blah blah blah -- I finished the 2nd. They don't match. I even accidentally did the tubular bind off preparation rows differently and so the cuffs don't look the same. And I don't care. They're done. And I am moving on to new patterns and new yarn.


*******Epilogue -- Yorick's fate**********

After Hallowe'en, Yorick (my crocheted & felted skull,) was mysteriously restored to us. He was left perched in a tree branch outside our back gate. So, though we didn't get to play with him on The Evening as we would have wished -- he has come home to us and will be washed and put away for next year. Hopefully next year, my daughter can be persuaded to let him stay and not fling him over the fence again.

I wish he could talk -- it would be fun to hear about his Hallowe'en adventure!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

8 hour Tinkerbell Costume

DH was supposed to be making a Butterfly costume for my daughter this year, so I was resting easy thinking I was off the hook for Hallowe'en! Woo hoo!

But things kept getting put off. Which worried me. 2 days before Hallowe'en, I brought home a pair of white wings I'd found at the thrift store for $2 -- thinking DH could use them to build the costume instead of starting from scratch with the straight wires he bought. Just to save time, since it was getting so close. But he rejected this idea, (with no little scorn,) and DD saw the wings and declared them fairy wings and started wearing them.

1 day before Hallowe'en, DH started work on the costume and it became clear after hours of his labor that it wasn't going to work out the way he had intended. The wire turned the fabric into a tangled mess and trying to repair it became hopeless.

Luckily, we still had the fairy wings and DD was content to be a fairy. But she wanted to be Tinkerbell. What to do??

Last month, she and I had Kool-Aid dyed some Aran weight merino green so that I could knit a mermaid tail for her. This was no longer necessary because a friend of ours has offered to sew her a tail (for Christmas,) and we accepted.

So I grabbed the green yarn and started knitting.

The first pass of points I knit 4 of and didn't like them. They were beaded and they had yarnovers in them and they were far too fussy. So I ripped them out and started over with plain stockinette points with no beads.

I worked until 2AM and got up to where I thought the waist should be. I started doing ribbing in the back because I was hoping it could be strapless just like Tinkerbell's.

The next day I was still struggling to get the dress to stay up on its own (which, had I only known, was pointless,) and I went down 3 needle sizes in the back with the ribbing. I did some short rows in the back to compensate for the change of height in the fabric (which was silly of me.) Did a few little short rows at the bust to give it a little sweetheart shape, which I liked.

Between the ribbing and my struggling with changing needle sizes and increasing and decreasing the # of stitches trying to find a way to get it to stay up... and of course feeding and entertaining my daughter all day... it took the whole day to finish the dress! But I did an i-cord bind off all the way around and then went off to find little bells to sew onto the bottom of the dress.

As I should have realized, the dress would not stay up. I forgot to factor in 3 year old wiggling!! So, I crocheted a cord to fasten it up around the neck, halter-style. Which made me regret that I didn't just do the whole thing in stockinette. It would have been much faster and the ribbing is bulky.

But she can't see the ribbing and she doesn't care and she LOVED wearing the dress on Hallowe'en! She shook her bottom so the bells would jingle and told us that "that is how Tinkerbell says 'trick or treat.' " She'd march up to people at their door and stand there and shake her booty. It was pretty cute (and often scored her gales of laughter and an extra piece of chocolate goodness!)


Pattern -- totally improvised. Basically 8 triangles all joined together and knit stockinette in a tube, decreasing as necessary up to the bustline. (There was ribbing, but it shouldn't have been done so why talk about it?) Short rows at the bust to make a small heart. Crocheted thread around the neck. Bells on the bottom points. C'est la!

Needles -- Sizes 9, 8, 7, 6. Next time I'd do it all on size 9s.

Yarn -- Recycled (reclaimed, really) 100% Aran weight Merino. Dyed green with Kool Aid.

Alas, Poor Yorick

R.I.P. Yorick...

So, I found this kicky pattern for a felted crochet skull (a free pattern from Lion brand yarns,) and made it for Mike to take to our friends' Hallowe'en party last week. He wore his Renaissance Faire costume and went as "Hamlet" holding the felted skull. It was a big hit.

Well, as Mike was getting ready to go to the Hallowe'en party for his work o
n Wednesday morning, we went to find poor Yorick and he was nowhere to be found. We searched high and low. Finally, we asked Rosaline and she confessed to disliking him.

She told us that she threw him over the back fence and onto the sidewalk yesterday. I don't know for sure that she really did it, but it wouldn't surprise me. I turned the house upside down after Mike left hoping to drive it over to him before his party if we could find it.

No such luck. Alas, poor Yorick -- I hope those that passed on the street and adopted you give you a good home.

Stats: Pattern: free Lion Brand Yarns pattern for felted skull
Needle: Crochet hook size P
Yarn: Recycled Aran weight merino