Saturday, March 29, 2008

Have Jitterbug Will Travel

Have Jitterbug Will Travel
Every knitter knows that the single most important decision to be made when faced with a trip to another continent is not window or aisle, has nothing to do with whether to make your Duty Free lipstick choices on the way there or coming back, and doesn't involve stressing about the grim exchange rate. No, the most important decision has everything to do with which in-flight knitting projects will win the lottery and accompany you on your journey.
Luckily this question has been resolved for me by my copycat ways. Last week I saw Janet's most recent acquisition of the Colinette Jitterbug color that is taking the nation by storm: 'Vincent's Apron' (right) and so naturally I had to order it right away. Wouldn't going to the South of France and not taking 'Vincent's Apron' seem like a missed opportunity for something really great? And why get only one skein of yarn if you're paying shipping? So 'Wasabi Squeeze' (left) is coming along for the ride as well.
Project-wise I'm keeping-it-simple-stupid and planning on two not-too-complicated sock patterns. I was thinking about only bringing the Chevron scarf and only working on that for an entire week, but then I reconsidered when I realized that I actually want to enjoy my trip...Both these skeins are the most exciting shades of Megan's beloved yellow imaginable, and I hope upon my return I have some very exciting socks to show for all my worrying and careful planning.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together!

Those of you that have been patiently ticking off days on the calendar waiting when you could get your hands on Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together by Larissa Brown and Martin Brown, your long wait is over. Sound the trumpets!
Most of you know Larissa from her blog, Stitch Marker, and for the hat that changed the world--the Meathead. And you are no doubt well acquainted with her many clever scarf patterns, like the Mabel scarf, the Cream of Spinach scarf, and of course, the Pop scarf. Well now you can add one more scarf to the Pantheon of Fabulous Scarves chez Stitch Marker: the Traveling scarf !
Traveling Scarf
Back in January, Larissa offered me the chance to organize a knitalong for the Traveling scarf pattern. Because the scarf is made of Koigu (sock yarn for non-sock purposes? Hell to the YES) and knit in panels by multiple knitters (totally down with the daisy chain thing), I was thrilled at the opportunity.
Traveling Scarf
Traveling Scarf
So Mike Wade (he of
Y Knit fame), Babs (aka Purlfriend, my best pal ever and reason for not blowing my brains out in this town of ours), Mike's friend (never met him but thanks for the pinch hit knitting!) and I sent this baby back and forth between California and Pennsylvania until we had an 8 foot long scarf. Yowzers!
Traveling Scarf
The Specs
Pattern: The Traveling Scarf : The California-Pennsy Version!
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM (8 different colors: 803, 531, 111, 433, 216, 318, 213, 419)

Needles: Size 7
Mods: None.
Traveling Scarf
Originally our pal Kenric (who you might recall picked up knitting less than a year ago and is now doing entrelac. Entrelac!) was going to do this with us, but he had a terrible family loss and understandably couldn't participate. So we are sending this to you, Kenric, and hope that it keeps you warm and reminds you how much your friends love you.
Traveling Scarf

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Second Longest WIP*: DONE!

queer pride socks
It's funny how a complete stranger pming you on Ravelry can actually have an effect on your knitting decisions. Earlier this month a random knitter sent me a message exhorting me to "...finish these socks! OMG the color is amazing!". I have to say that the message gave me a bit of a start and caused me to look over my shoulder, "Wha? You talkin' to me?" I felt like replying. But this Raveler was right! WTF? I only had about 70% of a sock to go before completion, so why not?
My first socks since JULY
The Specs
Pattern: Ann Budd Basic Pattern for Socks
Yarn: Regia Uni Nation 4-fädig color #5399 , 2 skeins
Needles: 48 sts on size 2 HiyaHiya circ (Magic Loop)
I am somewhat torn about the yarn--I love the tripped out 70s color scheme but found it to be somewhat stiff and even brittle if that makes sense. But the recipient is happy and noted that "the fit is particularly good", which is a relief given the rather long hiatus taken between them (see below).
regia-uni 4-fädig nation socks
These socks are serving several purposes at once. As I have said before (you know, a YEAR AGO when I finished the first sock), I am fond of the color way as it invokes at once Doug Henning and Queer Pride, two things which on second thought might not be that unrelated. And the fun color scheme really helped me finish these, so they represent a return to sock knitting for me, because before these I hadn't finished a pair of socks since *gasp*JULY, so I was due. *Now if I could just finish that Irish Hiking Scarf from March 2006...
Rumpled but finished...
These socks also represent the last skein of what I am politely calling 'industrial yarn' in my stash. You know, the scratchy stuff. While I used to be attracted to the self-patterning action and the unique color combos of your Opals, your Trekkings, and your Regias, I feel like I've gotten burned on more than one occasion with bad dye jobs, knots and weird transitions in the yarn, so I am just not feeling them at the moment. From this point on I am totally industrial-free, and I am loving it. It's nothing but indie/hand painted/hand dyed from here on out for me!

These are also for the Darling Marxist Resident Curmudgeon, whose interpretive apparatus is going into OVERDRIVE with the bad economic news these days. Sometimes I wonder if he weren't wishing that we would be flung into a full blown 1930's style depression just so his darkest fantasies about our society could come true. "You know, there will come a point where we will look back and wonder how we ever afforded expensive marmalade...".

Well these are for him. And I owe him one. Because I am going to the South of France in less than a week for work (dirty job, etc. har har) to visit a study abroad program that our university sponsors, and he will be alone with the junior units and their musical instruments that they don't practice, their specialty sports beverages that he doesn't condone, and their Hannah Montana that makes him recite his rosary of Adorno until he's blue in the face. He's quite a guy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I swatched...a dish cloth?

Measuring in a pinch
Lord knows I have been burned on many occasions by inattention to gauge. Several horrendous blunders come to mind, with perhaps the Thorpe hat that turned into something resembling a giant placenta being the most recent. Not swatching was the problem there, it was an easy enough mistake to identify. And I am trying to learn from my mistakes.
swatching a dish cloth?
When Larissa Brown, i.e. author of the most heavily anticipated knitting book of 2008, (Knitalong! Watch this space for exciting details!) put out a call for dish cloths for an upcoming art project, I knew I had to participate, because I'm sure she's putting together something really smart and intriguing. Her only specification was that the dishcloth had to be a 6 inch square.

Easy, right?

This sent me on a quest for the Perfect Dishcloth. Unfortunately my go-to pattern doesn't have the right dimensions, and since I was a French major, let's just say that the math skillz aren't where they need to be for a redesign. (This is a common leitmotiv for me and my knitting). Luckily there are whole dish cloth websites out there, sort of like Drops, but just with dish cloth patterns. I had no idea! Apparently there is a whole underground community of dish cloth knitters out there. I'm sort of fascinated.
Dish cloth (aerial view)
After way too much travail, a lot of trial and error, and a ridiculous amount of swatching (Really? For a dish
cloth?!) it started to dawn on me that at a certain point I had swatched more for this dish cloth than for the Klaralund, Cobblestone and Drive-Thru COMBINED. So I decided to break out and go free style. Yes, it's my first pattern. Later, Brompton. Step off, Marigold Socks. Bainbridge? Please. There's a new kid in town. I'm calling it 'The Perfect Dishcloth'. This very intricate pattern will one day be hailed as the greatest dish cloth in the history of the world. Now before you all crash the server trying to download the pattern à la the Fiddlehead Mitten incident, I forgot to write down the pattern before mailing it off, so you're on your own.
Dish cloth
The dish cloth escapade also earned me accolades from the Phrugal Physicist, who when told that I was knitting a dish cloth exclaimed just a little too enthusiastically "Gee, that's so useful!". "Excuse me???" "Oh, I mean everything you knit is useful err umm for you but, you know what I mean." As Kelly's Aunt Susan said , "No I don't, why don't you extrapolate...".

Friday, March 14, 2008

Knitter's Delight

Wendee a.k.a. the Color Maven of Hazelknits
The absolute highlight of my recent work jaunt to Seattle was the evening I spent with Wendee, the color maven/yarn genius extraordinaire behind Hazelknits. She was kind enough to pick me up and off we went, first to the Ballard neighborhood for delectable Thai food at Thaiku. After great conversation and a fantastic meal, she took me to see her yarn empire. One word: WOWZA!!

It was so exciting to see her layout and the way that she creates her fabulous yarn. You know the fumes that hit you when you open a bag of fresh yarn? That was was what greeted us upon entry--I love that smell! She showed me step by step how she does what she does and was very patient with the many questions I had. So many questions...I learned so much about both the creative and the business side of her craft and feel so lucky that she was willing to share what she does with me. Her new colors are 'gorge' as a certain someone would say, and you can find them at Woolgirl as well as at her Etsy shop. Rumor has it that there will be a big update on Sat. 3/15. ;)

As if the generosity and kindness described above weren't enough, Wendee also surprised me with a very unexpected parcel in the mail today, can you take a guess what was in it?
Hazelknits parcel!
'Peach Sanguine'--one of her new colors, can you stand it? Is this not the most heavenly color of peach you've ever seen? I had been fiendishly coveting it the entire time of my visit, so receiving it gave me a special jolt. One thing about the Hazelknits solids that I so appreciate is the depth of color to them. I believe I once heard a Stepford Wife cum Make-up Pusher at a Bobbi Brown counter call it 'tone on tone'--an expression that I thought seemed ridiculous at the time but that I now completely get. Peach Sanguine. *sigh*

Seeing all of the Hazelknits yarn has rekindled my interest in knitting a certain know, the one that is made in pairs on little bamboo skewers?

The sock mojo, she is BACK.

The first thing I did upon return was to wind my skein of 'Sailor's Delight' into a yarn cake and get cracking. I performed a little experiment, one which yielded very useful data.

hazelknits experiment
On the right you see 56 sts on a size 2 needle, and on the left you have 52 sts on a size 1 needle. Isn't the difference striking? I prefer the result on the smaller needle, so I am going with it. Thank you so much Wendee for bringing this sock knitter back from the precipice of sock despair and helping me find my way back to the happy sock knitting place!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seattle: there and back in 48 hours...

Knitting in Seattle...
Seattle is so one of the greatest cities in America. The coffee culture...the misty, temperate climate...the gorgeous architecture...the stunning natural beauty...the prevalence of très cool urban much to love. My work trip was short and sweet but did afford me the opportunity to visit the city and do two of my favorite things: have Thai food (twice!) and spend the afternoon knitting in a café. Above you see the Chevron, which I have come to realize that you can knit and knit and knit on and still have miles to go before you sleep. But in its' defense it is highly portable!

Not wanting to fall behind on my Malabrigo treadmill, I was able to complete the Stella's hat during my trip. The hat is incredibly warm and the pattern is soon to be
chez A.D.D. a gift staple. 'Geranio' is a great color as it edges toward being overly pink but somehow rescues itself and manages to be a great color. Next up for me is Mabel's Scarf in Bergamota...
Stella's hat on Malabrigo 'Geranio'
The Specs
Pattern: Knitting School Dropout's Stella's Hat
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Geranio
Needles: Size 8 addi turbos
Mods: None at all, because the pattern is utterly perfect...
Stella's Hat
My lil bro had a birthday recently, and you can read about a funny incident that happened at the party on RuPaul's blog here. Yes my blog is competing with a bona fide celebrity blog to win the attention of my brother. How can I compete with a 6'5'' drag queen? I can't.
The building that inspired the knitter to create the hat that inspired a knitting nation...
Above you see the Seattle Public Library. Is it ringing a knitting bell for you? Yes, it's the Koolhaas structure that inspired our pal Jared so much. Perhaps now the library should be part of a United States Knitting Tour! Can you think of other notable knitting sites that might be worthy of a stop on this tourist jaunt for knitters?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Better Better Bucket and a Malabrigo Fandango*

A Better Better Bucket
If it is possible for a knitter to take Malabrigo March too far, I believe that I am that knitter. Yet if you look at the Ravelry group, you will see that other knitters *cough*Ms. Frick*cough* are also exploring the outer limits of Malabrigo knitting and have turned it into a bit of an extreme sport.
Above you see another completed Better Bucket hat. I just love this pattern! Turning that little brim is a true pleasure and produces such a fine result. This time I decided to use a contrasting edge so that just a hint of the green peeks out. Added bonus: this hat was knit entirely from leftovers. Leftovers!
Another Better Bucket
The Specs:
Pattern: A Better Bucket
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Marron Oscuro & Water Green
Needles: Size 7 addi turbos
Mods: Just the brim in a contrasting color. I stole the idea from this lovely knitter.
A Better Bucket
Lest you think that I am now suddenly this frugal depression-era knitter who only uses scraps, please behold my next project. It is with yarn that has been shamelessly acquired from Yarnzilla, and more is on the way. So I am two steps forward, three steps back in the yarn thrift department. I am doing the Falling Leaves Shawl in Velvet Grapes:
Falling Leaves Shawl in Malabrigo 'Velvet Grapes'
I now see that all the hype surrounding this color way is justified. It is GORGE! The pattern is fairly straightforward, but alas this one of those projects you need to block some time out for as setting it down and say having cocktails and then picking it back up isn't recommended.
Scrunchable Scarf in Malabrigo 'Butter'
I am going to Seattle today, just for a 48 hour work thing. This means that I needed some mindless airplane knitting, because let's face it, that flight to Seattle is a long ass flight. So I am bringing Scrunchable scarf in Butter and Stella's hat in Geranio. Doesn't Butter actually look like butter? Amazing.
Stella's Hat in Malabrigo 'Geranio'
One of the aspects of Mal
abrigo March that I am most enjoying is discovering how this yarn knits up at different gauges--all of these projects are being done on different needle sizes, and it's been interesting to see the various results. Let's call it an experiment. I am collecting a rateable sample...I include this last observation in case any beleaguered scientists who are related to me might be reading this and need to be able to find at least something in my maniacal ways that they can relate to...

*this is one of my favorite words, and if you are a Strangers with Candy fan, you will recall that this is the word that revealed to the world that Jerri Blank couldn't read!!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fantine? Bof!* Chevron? J'adore......

Fantine in Rowan Big Wool
I am a 19th century French novel enthusiast. I believe that the novel will never again attain the force that it had at the hands of Stendhal, Zola, Balzac, Flaubert and Hugo. So naturally the pattern being titled Fantine, one of Hugo's most beloved characters, clouded my judgment. I should have remembered, however, that although she started out with so much potential, Fantine died a very 19th century death (you know, unwed mother that becomes a prostitute, sells her front teeth, gets put through the meat grinder of the class system that Hugo so despised and dies alone of tuberculosis). The name should have tipped me off that this Fantine was destined for a similar tragic end...
Fantine in Rowan Big Wool
I should have known. The signs were all there to be read by anyone even vaguely paying attention. Impulse pattern & yarn purchase + title of pattern that you like for irrelevant, non-knitting reasons + not reading between the lines on Ravelry posts=train wreck of a knitting outcome. I have finished Fantine and she is, as our Gallic pals would say, moche**. Even my pathetic attempts at having a lovely French grad student model Fantine for me can't undo the utter Fred-Flintstoneness of this garment. It's just shapeless and matronly, and I'm not really in a place right now where I need those two words attached to me--so I'm giving it to my mom!
Fantine in Rowan Big Wool
The Specs:
Pattern: French Girls Fantine
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool, #31
Needles: size 17 addis (ouch)
Mods: I made the scoop-neck, cap sleeve version. Should those two design elements every really be combined? No, not really.
Could we just please bracket off this indiscretion and make like it didn't actually occur? You know, like frat guys that get drunk and kiss and then pretend that it never happened? Thanks.
Socks that Rock Hollyday and Lenore
I am pleased to report that I am finally knitting a Chevron scarf that I actually love. Attempt #1 resulted in a less than attractive admixture of colors, #2 was better but I still wasn't feeling the love and working on the project seemed like toil, but #3?
A Chevron that I WANT to knit...
Oh yes, I have finally found the killer combo of Socks that Rock Hollyday (bright and cheery, like retro 1950's Christmas lights) and Lenore (strurm und drang blacks and purples). The result is making me intensely happy and helping me move on from the debacle that was Fantine.

* French for meh!
**ugly, just really ugly, you could even say fugly