Thursday, February 22, 2007

Trip to Knitter's Underground and temporary loss of good sense...

After work today I took advantage of a little extra time in my schedule and a break in the weather and drove 20 minutes out of my way to go to a semi-local yarn store in Centre Hall, PA. Driving there had the added bonus of taking in the inspiring wintry landscapes of the area. It was a magical drive that cleared my head of preoccupations and stress. My destination: The Knitter's Underground. If you are anywhere in the area, by all means, check it out. If you are at all interested in color stranding, they have every possible color of Jamieson and Smith you could imagine. Not to mention all sizes of Addis at any given time. Major massive amounts of magazines and books. More Regia sock yarn than you can shake a stick at. Cute adorable knitting notions for the junior set. Plus the owner is a former nuclear physicist from Los Alamos who has a second career as a fiber maven. How cool is that? I made it out of there with the only thing I came for: more Addis for my maniacal two-circular sock drill.

Knitter's Underground was not the site of my temporary loss of good sense. That came afterwards, in the privacy of my car...

Now, we all do inappropriate things at times in our lives. There is garden variety inappropriate: speaking out of turn, jaywalking (not the socks), not recycling when no one is looking, not observing the three-second rule. And then there is inappropriate. Like, knitting while driving inappropriate.

Yes, today I gauge-swatched behind the wheel. I am a hideous human being.

I have talked about the obsessive urge to knit on this blog before...but today was an egregious transgression of safe driving and appropriate stitching guidelines, even for me. I mean, how did I get to this point? How does a reasonably sentient human being suddenly reach for her needles while operating a moving vehicle?
I know that there are plenty of knitting fools out there, so tell me this: what is the most inappropriate time/place/moment that you've ever knitted?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Children's Yoke Sweater

This sweater was a low cognitive demand project (got that phrase from a hilarious knitblogger here) that I managed to finish in two weekends, despite the interference of work, children, housework and people generally getting on my nerves with various needs and demands (see first two in list). After a brief jaunt to the local mall earlier today (don't be jealous, it sucks and doesn't even have an Orange Julius. Yeah, it's bush league) with my elder daughter who needed to get a birthday present for a friend, I sat down and completed the yoke of the sweater. All that remains is the odious weaving in of underarm strands, and I'll be done and ready to file this project under 'baby shower gifts that seem nice unless you look really closely'.

The sweater is officially a stash-buster as no yarn was purchased in the creation of this garment. Here are the professional knit blog specs:

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Children's Yoke Sweater, Knitting Around

Yarn: Cascade 220, random discontinued colors (yeah, that's what happens when they stay in your stash over 3 years...)

Needles: Addi Turbo 8 (16 and 24 inches)

Elizabeth Zimmermann will do you right, every time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow day

What two words strike joy in the hearts of all those, be they elementary schoolers or middle-aged college profs, who find themselves in a northern town and beholden to the strictures and constraints of the school drill? SNOW DAY! Yes, today a little bit of magic poured down on Nascar, PA. and Penn State gave its peeps a blessed release from the work day grind.

Some of us found time for frolicking in the white stuff, with the requisite hot chocolate afterwards...

The Darling Resident Marxist Curmudgeon spent part of the day indulging me in one of my favorite (non-NC17) activities, a special little game we call piano lounge singer!I cue up the cd player to a song of my choosing.He has to play accompaniment on piano, no matter what the song is. Note: we have divergent musical tastes. I am an indie alt pop tart from way back and he's a fool for prog rock, so he always balks at my selections and feels compelled to add his own cultural commentary that usually includes phrases like 'shallow' and 'music for a totalitarian state'. I love that part. This afternoon he was forced to play along with several totally 80s hits from Squeeze ("Oh oh Black coffee in bed...") and my personal favorite,"Video Killed the Radio Star". Did you know that any pop song can be broken down into like three cords? Please also note that those facial expressions are ones that he makes in real life and have not been photoshopped in any way.

After that all-too brief moment of Valentine's Day musical hilarity, I did exactly what any of you would have done. I spent the entire afternoon knitting, and finished my koigu socks. Let me take this opportunity to once again tout the two circular needles drill--I love it.
I am ready for my next pair, when oh when is that Socks that Rock kit coming? Oh did I mention that I joined 'the club'? You call that buying yarn? FYI: since it was a $210 MEMBERSHIP FEE that doesn't really count as buying yarn.
Today was loads of fun. I hope all of you had your own special snow day with your own special crew!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

EZ to the rescue: a fireside post

Today's post is coming to you live from right in front of the fire place, i.e., my favorite place to be from November to March. This weekend has seen a lot knitting and para-knitting activity. Most of this activity has been pleasurable, but some has been downright stressful.

Despite a close call with Rowan Big Wool, the Yarn Barn of Kansas catalog (did anyone else receive about 6 yarn catalogs this week?) and Babs having to pull me back from the brink of disaster with a gentle reminder (such is her way), I decided to sally forth with the knit from your stash drill and make a baby sweater for my colleague, friend and all-around fantastic pal Meredith, whose baby is set to arrive on the hilarious date of April 1st. Given that Cascade 220 has its own zip code in my stash, I figured that this wouldn't be a problem. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of intrepid knitters like Frick knits and Crafty Granny (the lovely person who sent me the pattern to begin with), I cast on the Wonderful Wallaby. I worked on it most of Saturday until a creeping feeling slowly began to set it: I don't have quite enough of the color (#8890--yeah, it's discontinued and totally unavailable everywhere. Sore subject) to finish the wallaby and doing the pouch, hood or sleeves in a contrasting color would greatly diminish the overall astounding cuteness of the garment. So I began to panic (such is my way). Hmmm, what to do? Luckily I quickly came to my senses and realized that the Grande Dame of Sweaters, the Ultimate Guru of Fixing Your Own Problems and Patron Saint of Insecure Knitters could solve my problems. Yes, Elizabeth Zimmermann and her common sense to the rescue...

The Wonderful Wallaby has been transformed into the Children's Fair Isle Yoke Sweater, and I couldn't be more excited about it! Not only do I now have enough yarn to make the sweater, I get to delve into the inner recesses of the stash for the yoke and learn the whole attach the sleeves to the yoke drill. Thank you EZ for continuing to rock the world of knitters in 2007 with your humor and sweet encouragement!

Yes, this chart can only mean one thing, can't it?

Eunny Jang is in the house with her Anemoi Mittens! These mittens seem intimidating at first, but I have found them to be much easier than the Endpaper Mitts. Perhaps I am more experienced now, but I am loving these. If you've never tried one of her patterns, I really urge you to have a go at one of them--her work is so inspiring and creative.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Uff-da it's cooooold outside!

In case you don't speak Minnesotan and need a translation, see below:

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, it was -11 this weekend at my parents' house in Minneapolis. After a certain point, it could be -44 (oh wait, that was the wind chill factor...) and it doesn't matter, because you're not outside, where just walking 50 steps from your car to the house makes your face hurt and causes you to curse your ancestors for not settling in a much more reasonable place, like Arizona. Instead you are either inside or in a Skyway (listen to the Replacements' song here)

So, I was in Minneapolis for the past four days, with no kids, no students and no darling Resident Marxist Curmudgeon holding tight on to the purse strings....what do you think happened? Yeah, I went here:
What do think happened next? Now I could find all sorts of creative ways to justify what happened. I could bring out a host of excuses like 'yarn diets don't apply on vacation' and 'buying yarn for specific projects is allowed' and of course the old chestnut 'sock yarn doesn't count'. Well, the main reason I'm coming clean is that my brother threatened to out me to everyone if I didn't. So there you have it--I am a bad, bad stash knitter. I bought Koigu.

In actual knitting news I do have something noteworthy to report: I am now a socks on two circulars convert! The dpn drill was suiting me fine enough (or so I thought), but I had been feeling somewhat unenthusiastic about it and generally out of steam. The last time I was in Mpls. I tried the Magic Loop technique and wanted to love it, but it was, alas, merely ok. So at the Yarnery in St. Paul I saw an old family friend Jean (the master Swedish knitter who transformed the Rowan Fred Flintstone garment I made for my dad into a thing of fitted beauty) who took some time out to teach me the method. I then promptly bought the book and have to say that Cat Bordhi's title does not lie: socks
do soar on two circular needles! I did an entire sock in two days of off and on knitting:

And did this on two hour-long plane rides back home:

I am as excited by this technique as I am about color work and stranding, it's like a whole new part of my knitting brain has opened up (again!). The other thrilling discovery is the 'yarn bra' concept that Jean introduced me to. You wrap your wound ball in one of those mesh tubes that florists use for flowers with delicate blooms and the mesh holds the ball together. Unbelievable--am I the last person to know about this?

So now that I am on the two circs bandwagon, I want to know: what is your favorite way to do socks, and why?