Saturday, August 22, 2009

Well that's one way of solving the problem...

I continue to work fast and furiously on finishing two pairs of socks that I have little enthusiasm for in order to move them out of the WIP column and thus 'free up' space for me to cast on for several projects that I am gaga over. I have been thinking about these projects for about a month yet some sort of (misplaced?) guilty conscience says that for every project I start, I must finish at least two from my Ravelry project page. Why does it have such control over me? It's a place that sends me into a fugue state every time I look at it. Sometimes I just stare and ask myself "Why did I cast on for that?", which quickly becomes "Why do you care? Just cast on for whatever you like and let the chips fall where they may". This gives ways to adolescent musings about free will and "I'll do what I want", which ultimately turns into "Why am I talking to myself?"...

For the past month I have been engaged in a game of musical chairs with the Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan, the Minimalist cardigan and the Heather Hoodie vest and the possible yarns I might use. My daily commute (which has started again this week: I know other academics in the house might also be feeling the burn) has been spent trying to play a version of Match Game '73 with them
"I will do the Minimalist cardigan in ______________". (Tip o' the hat to anyone who remembers that Mark Goodson/Bill Todman production--my grandma loved that show!).

I thought I had the puzzle solved until the publications you see below arrived in the mail:

My stealth fingers and expert clicking ability--my husband calls it late night clickety, I call it just me being me--were able to procure the brand new Véronik Avery St-Denis magazine as well as JF's Made in Brooklyn. The new Twist Collective is also not helping as there are a few patterns in there that are calling my name (Lorelei, I'm looking at you). But to be able to start any of these, radical provisions are in order.

The WIP that has presented me with the single most genuine irritation has got to be the Katharine Hepburn Cardigan. I love how it looks, but cables and lace is so not where I ever need to be in terms of maintaining sanity while knitting. I began this project over two years ago and have put it down and picked it up on so many occasions that I scarcely have any idea where I am or what I'm doing. It doesn't help that for about a 7 month period I had accidentally (on purpose?) left the pattern in Wisconsin. And since the Green Mountain Shawl (cover of St-Denis--stunning, right?) calls for just about the same amount of sport weight yarn...

Yes I ripped and haven't looked back. Luckily I had a helper who MacGuyvered a great yarn unwinding system with our patio table...

I know this manner of solving the WIP problem is drastic (and possibly lame), not to mentioned self-defeating, but I am so pleased to get that monkey off my back. Stay tuned for more WIP hi jinx...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Three Skeins of Malabrigo Pollen FTW!

Liesl in Malabrigo Pollen
A while back I momentarily became a robot and bought three skeins of Malabrigo worsted in Pollen. At the time I wasn't quite sure why I was buying it, I just let my reptilian brain do the talking and went with it. Later that day I got home, logged on to Ravelry and saw that not only had someone in a forum posted the question "what to do with three skeins of Pollen?", but that I had actually participated in the conversation. Seriously?!!
Liesl in Malabrigo Pollen
Lo-these-many-months later I have put it to perfect use--Liesl. Somehow this sweater had not been on my radar until several weeks ago. Isn't it fascinating how a pattern can burn up the blogosphere without you as much as hearing a peep about it?
Liesl in Malabrigo Pollen
Miraculously I actually had the foresight to bring this yarn with me on my trip to Mpls. and made the genius move of casting on for Liesl on the way back from the farm. A little knitting here and there and voilà I can now say that I knit a sweater in a week. Yes, I can now lay claim to being one of those knitters you (not so secretly) hate on know, the ones who knit a sweater in a week? Ohai, that's me!
Liesl in Malabrigo Pollen
The Specs
Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda

Yarn: 3 skeins of Malabrigo worsted in Pollen

Needles: 7mm--oddly I actually had this totally non-standard size hanging around. Perhaps these were acquired sometime during my early knitting career when I thought you needed a new pair of needles for every new project. Cuz I was smart like that.

Mods: The only modification I made was that I did the sleeves on 7.5mm needles a. in order to Magic Loop them and b. so I could have a little drape happening. I also completed 3/4 of the body, did the sleeves to the length I wanted, and then went back and finished the body. This allowed me to very satisfyingly use all the yarn, every last bit.
Liesl in Malabrigo Pollen
I am gaga for Liesl. Not only did it help me accomplish a little stash busting but I was also able to break out a super sweet shawl pin that Big Babs gave me--as it turns out it's the perfect closure for this sweater. Hooray!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old...

Gold Medal Flour mill
Stone Arch Bridge
In store for you today: A few more shots from Minneapolis (above, the Gold Medal Flour mill and Stone Arch bridge), some interesting agricultural products (below), and then an actual, bona fide sweater that has been completed by me. All of this will be coming your way assuming that you don't subscribe to a certain bockety blog reader that has suddenly refused to pick up my feed. Yes, for the last few weeks I have been screaming into the Bloglines void as it has been plugging its ears, making loud 'I-can't-hear-you' noises and pretending I don't exist. Humph. Was it the knitted willy warmer? My abrupt detour into Shawl-land? A lack of actual pertinent content? Whatevs, Bloglines. Google Reader will be smiting your ass any day now...

Niagara Grapes
Grapes from the arbor!
The above grapes are from my friend Phil's grape arbor in Star Valley. Let me tell you that they were the essence of grape. Fragrant, perfume-y, grape to the power of 10--almost unbelievably so. The glass you see is of actual grape juice. Sad Alzheimer's footnote: my dad couldn't smell the juice at all because many suffering from his condition completely lose their sense of smell.

Cirque du Soleil pitched their tent!
The big top you see above belongs to the Cirque du Soleil. Let me officially apologize to everyone who has raved about these performances as while you were talking, I was secretly judging and even rejecting you a little. But you were right! I'm a jackass--it was a stupendous show.

Rusted Root in Rowan Calmer
While on my trip I was also able to complete a project I began a month earlier--Rusted Root. I saw my mom eying it and knew that she had to have it. Happy Birthday, mom!

Rusted Root in Rowan Calmer
The Specs:
Pattern: Rusted Root by the Zephyr Girls
Yarn: Rowan Calmer 476, exactly 6.
Needles: Size 8, which was larger than called for. I wanted some drape in this fabric and it's what I got.
Mods: I made damn sure to do 14 lace repeats. You better believe I was zooming in and counting them on Ravelry FOs! I also opted out of the cap sleeve version as I fear them.
Time: Mid-June to the end of July, off and on.
Rusted Root in Rowan Calmer
This pattern is a classic Zephyr girls production: top-down raglan construction, cute details that keep the pattern interesting, and exceedingly clear instructions. Calmer is a true pleasure and I recommend it for all your warm weather needs. It had been hanging around in my stash for quite a while and I am sad to say goodbye to my old friend...but luckily while I able to pick up a new Rowan pal that is making a huge hit. I was even told by the LYS employee that I was the first person to buy it as it had just arrived--now you KNOW that sealed the deal, right? Introducing....

Rowan Felted Tweed Aran
Felted Tweed Aran! Yes, our favorite Rowan yarn in a gauge that would actually want to make a sweater out of. I am so excited, I think this just moved to the top of the Minimalist Cardigan queue...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Greetings from Star Valley

Star Valley
Once a year we venture across the mighty Mississippi from my parents' home in Minneapolis to Crawford county, Wisconsin, home to my best-friend-since-forever, Phil and his partner Randy, in idyllic Star Valley.

Grape Arbor in Star Valley
Upon our arrival last night, we had cocktails under the grape arbor (above) and then a magical dinner made entirely from products from the farm (below). I jokingly suggested that I submit the above picture to a fanciful new publication, Arbor Living. Ha! Why not?

Dinner Table in Star Valley
On the menu was zucchini tempura and fresh pea soup. NOM!

Fresh Pea Soup
Zucchini Tempura
This morning we visited Viroqua, a town where granola Waldorf school enthusiasts, Wisconsin agrarians and Amish farmers peacefully exist. There I was able to visit the yarn store Ewetopia, a fantastic LYS that carries its own brand of yarn (see below):
Ewetopia yarn

We also stopped by the the farmer's market, where I saw the most delightful, gnome-worthy log ever:
Later today we'll go back to the Cities (boo) and then on Tuesday, back to Pennsylvania (double boo). More on that later!