Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Am

Where to begin? Disaster, adventure, inspiration, or gratitude? Best to always start with gratitude, I think.
Thank you to my dear friend Aimee, who made me another much-needed knitting log. I was going to copy the picture from her blog, but you should just go there. That way, you can also see how great she is for taking the time to make me this book. I'll be sad to see her leave.

Thank you to DG for a marvelous weekend in the Bay Area. I love and miss the ocean, e
specially on cold days. I walked more than I have all month, but every step was more enjoyable than the one before. Thank you for taking me to Artfibers (where I bought a great Kira K pattern--I would have bought yarn for it, but they didn't have a color I wanted) and Marin Fiber Arts (where I bought Claudia Hand Painted sock yarn in Caribbean Blue).

Thank you to AF, for lunch at Herbivore and inspirational conversation. Which leads me to . . .

AF is a friend from college. We were very close for two years. She and my sister were roommates for a semester, and have stayed in touch. Somehow, though, AF and I had lost touch over the years. It had been over eight years since I'd seen her. Since she's also friends with DG, we all got together on Friday in San Francisco and walked the entire city twice over, I'm sure. AF moved out to SF for grad school, but realized that the program wouldn't satisfy her desire to change the world. So she's working on a business plan to do just that. I admire her tenacity, her bravery, her charm, and her easy laughter. If I could have one of those things in the dose that AF carries, I'd be a better person. I'm going to work on having more tenacity, being braver, nicer, and laughing more.

I was in San Francisco and Marin County last weekend to visit DG. With everything that has been promising to change in my life, it was so nice to spend a weekend with people who knew me in college. They live lives that I am envious of, but admire greatly. We walked everywhere, went to the beach in the rain, watched egrets doing their mating rituals, and ate delicious food (some of the best was cooked by DG). There was laughing, and hugging, and discussing, and enjoying. Oh, and knitting. DG learned to cable and took to it like a fish to water. He was even comfortable enough to rip out the few rows he'd knit because he wanted the scarf to be wider. He's definitely one of my best students ever. He learned how to cable while watching "Lady in the Water" with a room full of people, and only made one mistake. I'm so proud.

I've been working on Isabella. After all that pining for it, I decided I should just make it. Plus, I got the yarn on sale. I am definitely enjoying this knit, even though it's for me. I do feel like I should be working on Joseph's sweater or Renée's dress, but there's no rush on any of it, so I'm just going to work on what I want to work on. Tonight it will be the sweater or dress because I unintentionally left Isabella at work.

You may notice that I haven't mentioned the somewhat secret project for DG. That's because it all ended in disaster. I was able to find another skein of the grey color, and the hardware I needed came in time to assemble the project. Then I felted it. What was supposed to be a messenger bag turned into a useless glob.

I should have known better. I should have been a better knitter and knit and felt a test swatch. I should have realized that the grey would felt at a different rate than the blue. I'd made an oven mitt from the Lamb's Pride Bulky (also for DG, picture above) so I thought I knew how the yarn would felt. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So, I may cut it down into a lumpy cat bed or into squares for pot holders. Maybe both. I think I'll leave felting to the experts for a while.

After the felting disaster, I was working on Joseph's sweater and knit a good three inches of 1x1 ribbing before I realized I hadn't changed the needle size. So I ripped back and decided that night just wasn't a night for knitting. I think I'll finish that tonight, just to put the disaster behind me.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I've been trying to save money. I don't know how to save. I feel like I need to buy enough yarn to keep me busy for a while, so I won't spend money if there comes a time when I don't have any. So I bought some yarn. Actually, the yarn is for projects that are on my to-create list. I picked up some more yarn for a third attempt at a bag for Jen (see the failed results of the second attempt below); I purchased more lovely Elsbeth Lavold Cotton Patine (I ordered some online and then bought more in the store. I want still more) for Crumpets; and I bought enough yarn for a somewhat secret project--it's only secret for six more days, so I'll post pictures after DG exclaims over it (because he will). We went back and forth about color choices, but when I decided on the Lamb's Pride, I had to choose without him. The lighter color is more grey than I envisioned, but the blue is similar to something he liked. Here's a sneak peak.

I'm using Lamb's Pride Bulky, which I got on sale. I was thinking about using Cascade 220, but it hurts my fingers. The mohair in the Lamb's Pride is shedding all over, and it makes me sneeze, but it's better than knitting with glass-encrusted wire, I mean Cascade 220. I think I've figured out that it's specifically Peruvian Highland wool that irritates me so much. Mohair, too, but I refuse to knit with 100% mohair anymore. I have some Elann Highland Silk, and that is just as irritating. I usually love a 50/50 wool silk blend. I find that other wools are itchy and make my eyes and hands itch or nose run, but those two are the worst. I can handle merino with no problem but slightly itchy hands, same with most superwash wools.

So this second attempt at a bag for Jen was so close to right. Yeesh. I followed the pattern in One Skein Wonders, but I changed the yarn from Noro to SWTC Karaoke (another example of a wool "silk" blend that is wonderful). Boy, oh, boy does that yarn felt. This bag is so small. I guess I should have monitored the felting better. I also shrunk another item a little too far, but that item is still usable (it's also for DG, so pictures later). It's from Lamb's Pride Bulky, too, so I'm considering it a test run for the next project. This bag is definitely going to be hidden somewhere, at least until I know a little girl who will appreciate a doll-sized bag. I don't think the colors were really Jen anyway. The browns of the current bag yarn are much more suitable.

I didn't buy any yarn for Isabella, but I leave the page open on my computer so I can gaze at it. Soon. I will make room on the list for this project soon. Before I run out of money.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

As Promised

Feely Hearts. Approximately 2" wide.

Replacement fingerless gloves (there are two).

I started the gloves on Friday night and finished yesterday afternoon. I don't like them as much as the original pair, but they'll do. I used Zara for the orange and brown parts.

Both items will be sent to their intended recipients on Monday (possibly via UPS, since the USPS is not on my list of places to support).

Friday, March 09, 2007

Anger Like I've Never Felt Before

Does the USPS train its employees to be uncaring, unhelpful, and disinterested? I am so angry with them. All I wanted was the woman to walk the fifty feet to the Automated Postal thingamagig's box and crouch down to look inside. Would she? No. Why make a customer happy?

I made DG three pairs of fingerless gloves last week. Two were quick garter stitch squares made from ugly yarn (the blue pair) and not-fun-to-knit yarn (the black and white pair). One pair was made especially for DG from a nice wool tweed accented with a linen-wool blend. I ribbed these and made a thumb. I spent a full two days knitting this pair.

And then the post office goes and loses them. Perhaps it is my fault in the end for not checking the seal on the envelope, but please just help me out and check that they didn't fall behind the bin in the box. The gloves are brown. Maybe no one saw them. Maybe someone did see them and they are so good the mean postal worker kept them. Given the attitude at this post office, I wouldn't put it past them. Don't forget my Interweave issue, too. Do they have it out for me?

I'm trying to shake my anger so I can make another pair. I don't want to infuse the yarn with anger--I want DG to be happy. I don't have enough of the brown tweed left for two more pairs, I don't think, so I may have to improvise or alter the color scheme. I'd buy more, but the yarn was a mystery yarn from a friend's stash.

In other knitting news, I'm going to put aside the something for Jen and work on other projects for now. The something for Jen is no longer seasonally appropriate, and I keep messing up because I'm not giving it my full attention. Unlike her children, Jen is not going to grow out of this (oops, did I just let slip that it's a garment?), so I can work on it in between projects. What a relief.

I made two "feely hearts," inspired by Pegotty, for a friend who's having surgery soon. I hope they give him and his wife some small comfort. I'll show a picture soon, but I still have to sew them up (I knit them in a hotel room Wednesday night and hadn't taken along a needle). I used the softest yarn I had in my stash: a 50% cashmere, 50% yak by Rovings that I bought at Stitches Midwest. It really is luscious yarn. The label suggests using 4mm needles, but I used 3.5mm (size 4) and still had to double the yarn so it wasn't holey.

I got a contrast color for Joseph's sweater, so I can get back to working on that. It's cotton, so he'll still have time to wear it. Renée will be able to wear it eventually, too.

I am so tempted to drop everything to make Isabella from the new Knitty. I like the way the collar doesn't go all the way around the neck. The only yarn I have in my stash that would work is light blue, but I think I'm also drawn to that yellowy-green that would look horrible on me. Wait, did I just say me? That's right, I'm thinking of making it for myself. I may hole up this weekend and just knit. If only I'd done laundry last weekend.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Falling Off the Wagon

So I caved. Sure, I've been traveling and enjoying the warm weather in southern Illinois, but now I'm back in the wet cold of Chicago. Yarn is the perfect remedy, of course. I had to return a rental car this morning, and, lo and behold, Loopy is just around the corner. I stopped in to see if they had something to use for a felted bag for Jen (she knows about this project). They did. I've wanted to try Karaoke so I was glad to see Loopy had some. I also spied some Nashua Wooly Stripes Tweed in a color that Jen will probably like better (Jen, please let me know, the bright colors on top or the browns to the left?). The red is some Lamb's Pride Bulky for a project I can't yet disclose.

I like Loopy, but I have one complaint. I don't like the giant price labels they put over the name of the yarn. I like knowing what the yarn is and who makes it. It frustrates me that the names are covered. I do like the very friendly, pretty, and soft dog that came and stood beside me for a while. I'm a big fan of shop animals. Oh, I also got 25% off. They are having a sale on their winter yarns. I basically saved the cost of one ball of yarn. Yee haw.

This picture represents some of the projects I have on the docket. The gray and the red are for secret projects. The green is for Joseph's sweater--I still have to find a contrasting color for tis project. The blue and brown is the Artyarns Ultramerino 4 for Stefan's socks. The purple is to swatch for Crumpets, for Renée. I've already told you the Nashua is for a bag for Jen. Yep, projects for Jen's family are still the majority.

While hanging out in hotel rooms, I worked on the something for Jen and another secret project. I didn't really make much progress, due to a headache and a full schedule. I did make some progress on the train today, after returning the rental car. The trains are only running on one track for about four stops worth. We sat in the tunnel for a good half hour. I got a bit of a cramp, from trying to avoid moving my left hand too much. I didn't want to poke the woman beside me. I got a couple inches finished on the something for Jen, so it wasn't too miserable.

I have to be a "knitting expert" for Winter Delights this afternoon. This time it's beginners. I love teaching beginners. I always say that making new knitters is my favorite thing. The challenge is going to be what they learn in two hours. The description says they'll learn to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. Whew. That's a lot for two hours. There are 15 students. That's a lot, too. Hopefully, this means that the students will want more attention and will sign up for a class at The Needleshop.