Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I am feeling frisky and unburdened in the WIP dept. as I have recently finished two long term projects that were clogging my Ravelry projects page and making me feel mentally ill. Kiri is finally done and blocking as I write this, but the big news is that I completed Kirsten Kapur's (love her) Dr. G's Memory Vest at about 2 am on 12/24, just in time to give it to my dad for Christmas.
Pattern: Dr. G's Memory Vest by Kirsten Kapur at Through the Loops
Yarn: Kraemer Yarns Naturally Nazareth in Moonlight, 6 skeins.
Needles: Size 7
Time: Sept. to Dec., off and on.
Mods: Only that I didn't put ribbing around the arm holes. The pattern is a gem.
This gift was important to me for a number of reasons. I seem to have been in a small accessories/baby knits phase these days, so finishing an adult sized garment has significantly raised my knitting stature in my own eyes, whatever that's worth. "That and a dime will get you a cup of coffee", as my dad used to say.
More importantly it allowed me to contribute to a cause--Alzheimer's Research--that has touched my life in ways that I wish I could pretend it hadn't. My dad has an advanced form of the disease and is fading away before our eyes. He was a whipsmart titan in his day, but the disease has taken away so much--it's like watching someone you love on a dimmer switch, and soon the volume will be turned all the way down.
Another added bonus to this pattern is that it is a vest--and my dad is a huge vest enthusiast. I shed a few tears as he tried it on, his gratitude and pleasure overwhelmed me. He said it was "a real honey." Thanks to Kirsten for creating such a gorgeous, gorgeous pattern.
Some of you know that my dad was a bit of a showman in a former life. As a curator of a museum of quack medical devices, he had many opportunities to do his W.C. Fields routine for the public, and enjoyed this part of the job immensely. Here is a link to him firing on all cylinders and holding his own on late-night television with a tough customer.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Isn't it great that no matter what age you are, coming back to your parents always means reverting to adolescent behaviors like eating potato chips, stealing beers from under the stairs, taking pictures in locations where it is strictly forbidden (see shots of Walker Art Center above) and picking fights with everyone in sight? You can add settling a score to that list of puerile behaviors, as today I was able to exact payment from the recalcitrant Curmudgeon for the Koolhaas-on-windshield incident. He was willing to shell out the cash for more yarn but still doesn't quite get why his actions were like a hot branding iron on my soul. Luckily for me all the knitters in Needleworks Unlimited were aghast at his infraction and showed their scorn and disdain with sighs of disbelief and disapproving glares. Did I mention shaming and piling on as another awesome teen age behavior in my arsenal of immaturity?
Don't let the smile fool you, he's not sorry. He is holding in his very un-contrite hands two hanks of Jitterbug and several skeins of J.Knits. He is very lucky that I wasn't in a spendy mood, don't you agree?
I had the pleasure of hooking up with old friends from high school during my visit and was able to quickly whip up a pair of mittens for their five year old for another greenhouse FO shot. Mittens are so satisfying to make and give away.
Pattern: Basic Mittens from Ann Budd's Basic Book of Patterns
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in Vermilion
Needles: Size 5 and 7 addi turbos
Time: two days, lickety split!
Next up for me in my cavalcade of finished objects will be my finished Dr. G's Memory Vest, a project that caused me to shed a few tears when it was opened on Christmas Day...
Monday, December 22, 2008
We have arrived safely in Minneapolis for some Family Holiday Funtimes™, a place where it is currently -8 with a forecasted wind chill of -36 later tonight. Seriously. Well at least I'll have my fingerless Evangelines to keep me warm. Oh wait.
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted in 'Prairie Goldenrod', i.e. the most amazing color in the history of the world.
Needles: Size 7 addi turbos.
Since arriving, my brother and I have been trying to cook up schemes for making extra ca$h during the economic downturn. He suggested making batches of fingerless mitts as they seem so hobo-appropriate for these hard times.
This is a special photoshoot as is is brought to you from my parents' greenhouse. During the much more prosperous 1970s, my parents presented the family with two options for an addition to our house: a pool or a greenhouse. You can imagine what the kids wanted, but for maybe the only time in our family history, my mom got what she wanted instead. Looking back this was such the better decision as it has brought so much joy to everyone.
The drive here from Pennsylvania was truly special with a personal highlight being watching my husband take the Shokay Koolhaas I made him last year off his head at a Wisconsin rest stop and wipe the windshield with it. Yes, he rendered a hand knit into a rag. I informed him that for this infraction he would be taking me on a shopping spree at the Twin Cities LYS of my choice, which I am now plotting. Yes, he will pay. Happy Holidays everyone!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I know that I frequently joke about having a big Irish head. It's one of my go-to self-directed barbs in my arsenal of self loathing criticisms. It's sort of convenient to have flaws that you know you can't change, right? I mean, if you have a big head, you just do. End of story. But if it's good enough for Conan O'Brien, well then I suppose for me it will have to do as well.
One of the outcomes of having a magnum sized head is that patterns that are supposed to be très slouchy in a carefree, boho sort of way end up looking just le tight on folks like me. The jaunty beret becomes beanie-esque rather quickly. That's fine. I was the Brownie scout who hated the sash and the vest (I did love the outdoor cooking badge, however) but was all over the beanie. Beanies are deeply cool. And warmer!
Pattern: Opus Spicatum by Kate Gagnon. I am two-for-two with her hat patterns! After the national craze that was the Selbu Modern, this one a huge winner and knits up fast like nobody's business. Adore!
Yarn: Naturespun worsted in Mango (202) and A Bit of Blue (115), a third of a skein of each. I had this yarn forever in my stash and am pleased to have used it--it's like a slightly less soft version of Cascade 220 (the gold standard for this price point), however the superwash angle kind of scares me like it might have been dipped in a vat of toxic chemicals to get it that way. I'm sure I'm wrong about this, however.
Needles: Addi Turbo, size 6 and 8. The pattern calls for a size 9, but I got gauge with the smaller needle.
Mods: None whatsoever.
All in all excited to wear this hat later today, although I cringe at the thought of the 'wintry mix' that is in the forecast. In my opinion those words should never been combined under any circumstances.
What's next for me on my own Magical Mystery Tour of Color, you ask? Well we'll be taking a break from the stranding for the next day of two so we can get a pair of Evangelines in Lamb's Pride off the ground. I feel that conjuring up the power of the word combination 'Prairie Goldenrod' will cancel out the two heinous words mentioned above. Ha!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Yes, you read that correctly. My Big Ass Project #1 is finished, although I admit that I had a head start as one half of these mittens had been skulking around for over a year in my Ravelry 'zzzz' pile , a wretched, interstitial black hole from which projects rarely emerge to see light of day. Usually it's just a resting place until I get around hitting the 'delete' button, but not this time!
Pattern:Herringbone Mittens by Elliphantom Knits
Yarn: Cascade 220, two unknown colors, let's call them 'sky blue' and 'brown'.
Needles: Size 4 and size 6 addi turbos
Mods: Oops, didn't read the directions and did the 'cat butt' finishing up top rather than the grafting, which is a crying shame because I made kitchener stitch my b*tch a long time ago. Oh well. You'll also notice that the pom placement is way off, but I can live with it.
Time: A year-ish. Sheesh.
If you can wrap your head around this, please note that this is the first time I my entire life I have ever had the pleasure of making a pom pon (pom pom? pon pon?). Luckily I had some help from Youtube:
This video really excites me, to the point that I posted it to Facebook (don't judge me) and more than one friend privately emailed me wondering "umm, what the hell is going on with you? Are you ok?". Sort of sad really that they had to email me to tell me that and couldn't post it, because isn't Facebook one giant snarkfest anyway? I'm not that fragile, am I? No matter. I love watching that crafty individual snip that pom within a hair of its life!
You'll see that I am also off and running with my next Big Ass Plan project, the Opus Spicatum. I've only done a few rows and am already head over heels. I am hoping that the determination I feel to work on this hat spills over to other parts of my life and helps me grade like a banshee this weekend...
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Due to the nudging and encouragement I received from you all I decided to go ahead and finish the thumbs on the Morehouse Merino
Yarn: Morehouse Merino Two-Ply
Needles: Size 8
Pattern: Morehouse Merino Striped Mitten Duo kit
Mods: The only modification would involve traveling back in time and not buying the kit. How's that for a modification?
However I will say that finishing these mittens has put me on a color jag that I am very excited about, and once I finish my dad's Dr. G's Memory Vest (awesome pattern from a GORGEOUS knitter and designer), I will be ready to dive into what I am calling BAP 'The Holiday Edition' : Big-Ass Plans for 2009. These big ass plans involve lots and lots of color work due to the following events:
-seeing Ashley's Bea Ellis Traditional hat on Flickr and remembering that I myself wanted to do the Bea Ellis Ufserud. See Heilo above.
-queueing the Opus Spicatum hat and getting some more Naturespun in the stash that will be perfect. If you were interested in the Selbu Modern, please take note as this hat is a worsted variation. Yo!
-speaking of the Selbu, wouldn't I sort of rule the world in one made of these new Jitterbug colors, Apricot Smoothie and Pastures New? I know, I'm on a roll.
-resurrecting my Herringbone Mittens from the bowels of my Ravelry zzzz pile and deciding that they completely blow doors off any current mitten pattern and finding some Naturespun in my stash that will do quite nicely for another pair.
-making a trip to Kathy's Kreations in Ligonier and finding a copy of Kristin Knits and nearly falling over gobsmacked by her use of color. For a split second while leafing through this book I do believe I felt a portion of my brain open up, and I haven't felt that feeling in a long, long time. Think of this book as sort of like poppers, for knitters. Her use of color is quite simply stupendous. Amazon Wish List this mother now! See the Julia collected above for two insane projects (Checks and Dots Mittens and Wild and Wooly Socks) that I just know I will complete...
-queueing the Matrix Mittens and finding the perfect Naturespun color combo for them. So. Excited.
-getting my grubby hands on what is perhaps the greatest shade of Lamb's Pride in the history of the world: Prairie Goldenrod. I am cribbing this color choice from Purlfriend and just know that mittens this color will stop traffic.
See? Big Ass Plans. What are yours?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
In case you're wondering about how the whole potential post-election family meltdown went, I am here to tell you that there were no blow ups, slammed doors or shout fests. Just knowing, furtive glances and a smug feeling of superiority and self-satisfaction, which anyone who knows me can tell you I do really, really well.
Luckily our visit was filled with what linguists call 'varied input', meaning there were plenty of different experiences, including a surprise encounter with New York's rollicking Spiders on Friday evening at Brooklyn General. In I walked and there they were. Can you believe that Minty was even there making a special cameo celebrity appearance? So. Much. Fun. I was thrilled to see knitters I've known a while (Katy and Virginia-woot! woot!) and meet for the first time Stephanie, Jess, Lisa, and Carrie, knitters I've admired from a far. I celebrated the occasion with, well, what else:
The thing that just slays me about Malabrigo is that there are so many damn colors. Seriously. Some of them I'd never heard of and have quite inscrutable names. Rhodesian? Roanoke? Molly? I don't see the relationship between the name and the color, but... ok, yes please. Also pictured are Violetas, Cactus Flower and Tiger Lily, three other major winners.
I also got to meet the girls' baby sister Aifric who is a brand new resident of Brooklyn. She and her mummy have emigrated from Ireland, just in time for me to gift the Baby Surprise Jacket and Tween Thing's Juliet, because you know, the sweater made Tween Thing look 'fat'. Luckily the girls' step-mom is quite small in stature so I now have the perfect person to knit for, although I hope the knitting gifts don't weird her out in a Single White Female kind of way...'Who made that sweater for you? 'My husband's ex-wife', 'WTF?!!!'.
Since I had all that Bridge and Tunnel time to kill, I was also able to complete a project, and if you can believe it, I have no complaints about it. Not a one. Maybe that's because I've road tested it many times before--I believe the Koolhaas is now my go-to pattern when I'm in need of restoring my knitting confidence.
Pattern: Koolhaas by Jared Flood
Yarn: Malabrigo in Indigo. This yarn was repurposed from a Gloria cowl that just wasn't working for me. I unravelled it and reknit it, lickety-split.
Needles: Size 6 and 8 addi turbos
Time: I-80 to the Garden State Parkway, GW Bridge to the West Side Highway, Verrazano Bridge to the Jersey Turnpike and then the Pennsy Turnpike. For real!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I don't know what my problem is these days, maybe it's because I reside with a curmudgeon who just has his first colonoscopy (Good times--luckily men are such stoic patients. Heh.) or because the economic downturn is making me wake up at night imagining myself as a hobo eating beans out of a can, huddled around a burning oil barrel, but I seem to have turned into quite the complainer. Nothing is quite good enough for me these days in my knitting world, I'm rapidly becoming a Leona Helmsley-like figure where my knitting is concerned. Or maybe I'm just off my game. Not quite sure. But all I know is that I might not finish the above picture mittens.
The Backstory: I bought the Morehouse Merino Striped Mitten Duo kit at Maryland Sheep and Wool in May, 2007 and recently found it again on the third floor, a geographical location that is soon to be deemed 'where perfectly respectable yarn goes to die'. I took it out earlier this week and thought it would be fun to make some mother/daughter matching mittens, because I still have one daughter that doesn't tell me things like "when we're in public, don't speak to me".
Well right away I knew there was trouble--winding the yarn went at a snails pace as the yarn kept breaking. Upon further inspection it seemed fine, but once knitting with it, even the slightest tug made it come apart. I also noticed that the yarn felt drier than usual, almost as is if had decomposed and broken down, composition-wise. If you look at the green ball up close, doesn't the texture seem moth ball-y? Is my scientific vocab just flooring you at this point? In any case, this little incident has me wondering whether yarn has a shelf life or not. I remember my grandma drinking Tab from the late 1960s in the early 80s and there not being a problem, so I guess I'm just wondering whether yarn has the same....er...resilience. Does it?
I will finish this post with another little riddle for my American friends who are getting ready for family funtimes at Thanksgiving.
Q: What's the only thing worse than spending Thanksgiving with a right wing relative after an Obama defeat?
A: Spending Thanksgiving with a right wing relative after an Obama victory! Happy Thanksgiving everybody...
Friday, November 21, 2008
The above pictures mitten represents a minor misstep, half of a project that is so underwhelming it will neither be completed nor put on Ravelry. Sometimes you see someone else's project, realize you have the yarn for it, cast everything else aside and go for it. And the end result is not at all what you had hoped for. This is the EZ Mitered Mitten, a project that I am so theoretically down with, but rather than looking funky and free-wheeling, this garment looks like something that would have been found next to the preserved cadaver of a Viking in a peat bog. Not a look I am going for normally, although I do give major props to the Lindow Man whenever I can. Something about the shape is bugging the shit out of me. Sometimes the Noro is just too rustic looking, you know?
What better antidote could there be to this slight fiasco than a small knitted accessory in Malabrigo? Thanks Leslie for this pattern, it was just what I need to set things right again in my knitting world.
Pattern: Toasty by Leslie F.
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Sealing Wax. Lord Have Mercy.
Needles: Size 7 Addi Turbo
Mods: As if!
These are for my friend Sandrine who wears fingerless mitts year round in order to protect zee hands from zee damaging rays of zee sun-isn't she a knitter's dream?
Pictured below you see another knitter's dream: Three skeins of Silky Malabrigo in Burgundy, perfect for another Forest Canopy Shawl, maybe?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Remember that post earlier this fall where I was all "omg I'm so busy blah blah"? Well now I'm looking back on that halcyon period and just WISHING that my life were as carefree as it had been back then. Because right now I am so overwhelmed with work that my family has basically had some variation of cereal and/or ramen noodles for dinner every night this week. Don't you wish you were my kid? Luckily I finished my new favorite hat before the onslaught...
Pattern: Selbu Modern by Zeitgeist Yarns
Yarn: Shelridge Farms Ultra Soft in 'Brown' and 'Robin's Egg'
Needles: Size 2.5 and 3 addi turbos
Time: about a week
This pattern has "obsession" written all over it. If you're a stranding newbie, the two colors are super manageable and the pattern is quite easy to handle. I seem to say that about every FO, don't I? The finished size fits my giant melon head, and the pattern looks, well, totally bitchin'. I am so happy to have used some yarn that I purchased last year at Stitches East from the nice Canadian Shelridge Farm booth. This yarn is deceptive--it looks quite ordinary in the hank but knit up it is at once ultra soft (heh) and quite sturdy. Go Canada!
Many were interested in the Malabrigo sock yarn. Here is my review: it is everything you love about the regular Malabrigo (mind-bending colors + nice price point) plus an unexpected sturdiness and shimmery sheen à la Silk Garden Sock yarn (minus the caterpillar poo). So--big thumbs up! Pictured below are several repeats of an Embossed Leaves Sock:
One of the reasons I just love this conference in Chicago is because I get to see my pal Dolly who is one of the funnest people to pal around with. She is the total package of super smart, make-you-wet-your-pants hilarious and very kind. As a non-knitter she was good humored enough to accompany me to the new Loopy Yarns location AND helped me justify my purchase. Added bonus? These words: "You really didn't spend that much...". Yes, she is a gem. Below you see a portion of my booty, just some really predictable Malabrigo and Jitterbug.