Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dr. G's Memory Vest for my dad

Dr. G's Memory Vest
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.
Dr. G's Memory Vest
The Specs:
Pattern: Dr. G's Memory Vest by Kirsten Kapur at Through the Loops
Size: XL
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.
Dr. G's Memory Vest

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.
Dr. G's Memory Vest
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

Paybacks are hell.

Walker Art CenterWalker Art Center
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?
Needlework Unlimited
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.
Malabrigo Mittens in greenhouse
The Specs
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!
Malabrigo Mittens in greenhouse
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

Update from America's Icebox

So uncool.
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.
Evangelines in Prairie Goldenrod
The Specs:
Pattern: Evangelines
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.
Mods: None.
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.
Evangelines in Prairie Goldenrod
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.
Evangelines in Prairie Goldenrod

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

Magnum Opus

Opus Spicatum in Naturespun
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!

Opus Spicatum in Naturespun
The Specs:
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.
Opus Spicatum in Naturespun
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!
Lamb's Pride

Friday, December 12, 2008

BAP project #1: in the can!

Herringbone Mittens in Cascade 220
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!
Herringbone Mittens in Cascade 220
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.
Herringbone Mittens in Cascade 220
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!
Opus Spicatum in Naturespun
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

Stripey Mittens and BAP: The Holiday Edition

Morehouse Merino Mittens
Due to the nudging and encouragement I received from you all I decided to go ahead and finish the thumbs on the Morehouse Merino Trainwreck Striped Mittens. All in all I'm happy I finished them in a thrifty Scot kind of way, but I have to say that I might not be bum rushing the Morehouse Merino Yarn Stand at any upcoming fiber festivals anytime soon. Nope, just not feeling the yarn at all. Splitty, frayed and dessicated. Not a winning yarn profile.
Morehouse Merino Mittens
The Specs:
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?
Morehouse Merino Mittens
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:

Heilo for Usefrud
-seeing Ashley's Bea Ellis Traditional hat on Flickr and remembering that I myself wanted to do the Bea Ellis Ufserud. See Heilo above.

Naturespun for Opus Spicatum
-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!

For a Selbu
-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.

For more Herringbones
-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.

For various Kristin Nicholas projects...
-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...

Naturespun for Matrix Mittens
-queueing the Matrix Mittens and finding the perfect Naturespun color combo for them. So. Excited.

Lamb's Pride
-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

Post Visit Round-Up...

Brooklyn General--you just never know which rock stars you'll run into!
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.
Aifric and Séona in handknits
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.
Koolhaas in Malabrigo Indigo
Koolhaas in Malabrigo Indigo
The Specs
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!