Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Starting Over with Marigold Leaves

It's times like these when I feel like a rank amateur.

Indeed, I think it ironic that I'm starting to blossom just when the leaves are falling from the trees. Maybe my circadian rhythm or my satellite reset button. Is. Just. Off.

The Leaf Beret (Ravelry) from knit.1 is the first new thing I've started to knit or crochet since February 2009. Eight months is a long time to take a break from something that once caused a fever of "I've-gotta-make-this-this-and-this-itis."

Truth is, anyone following my ramblings for some time knows the physical stuff has gotten in the way for the past three years off and on. There are more rumblings from the right arm of doom which I'll share should it become necessary. Meanwhile, my personal journey has me knitting again, albeit making one or two rookie mistakes.

1) I love love love Vera's marigold-dyed alpaca. I stick my beak in the center of that ball and take a whiff of the slightly soapy clean wooliness (you yarn sniffers know what I mean). My errors are not the fault of the yarn. I adore alpaca, though I know it's not for everyone. For some reason, I forgot that this is not the most elastic of yarns.

2) I couldn't find my size 3 needles, so I opted for the 2.5's instead. To make up for the smaller needle, I cast on a few more stitches. You can see the next oops coming, can't you?

3) Inelastic yarn + too many stitches = a hat band big enough for a monstrous melon. Frog and rethink.

Not only did I err in yarn choice, it seems my fingers have a little rust in their sense memory. I mean, I was once an old hand with two-circ knitting. I cast on half the stitches on one needle and the other half on the second needle. Knit knit knit. Get to the end of the round and all the flippin' stitches are on one needle. I hate that!


It's on, knitting! I will make that cute beret in time for the coming nasty weather. I will not go quietly. Well, mebbe a bit. It took so long to get here. My marigold leaf beret deserves to come to life.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Come Hither, My Lovelies

Have I been trapped in a black hole? A time warp? A malfunctioning TARDIS? Who knows. What I can say is that I was absolutely astounded to see that I had not posted for over 2 months. In that time, The Poetry Society's Knit a Poem project was completed, my home got a new look and I stopped in to see some crafty friends at Chicago's annual YarnCon.

First up is the Knit a Poem project. It took over 1200 knitted and crocheted letters to spell out the then-secret work of Dylan Thomas’s ‘In my Craft or Sullen Art.’ How appropriate that the medium was the message in a way, as these letters and words connected in a 43 x 28 foot display at London's British Library, highlighting the Society's centennial year.

A coat or two of paint, a bit of caulk and new frames, fixtures and faucets equal a fresh perspective in five rooms of my humble hereabouts. I admit to unfettered, aww-gosh admiration for the results. Even while performing the most mundane of tasks (like brushing my teeth) I look up at the espresso-colored frame of the mirror and think, "That's so cool!"

Mirror In The Bathroom
Dark wood frame and oil rubbed bronze fixtures

The Green Is Gone
Even a humble office deserves a facelift

The Green Is Gone
Crisp white towels and new pewter towel bars

YarnCon began in 2007 ago as a way to, "promote, sell, and celebrate the yarny arts." I made it to historic Pulaski Park Fieldhouse that first year but in the two years hence had fallen off the Chicago creative grid. Turns out I missed my peeps, so I got myself together and headed over to the event.
YarnCon '09 Mosaic
Top: Natalia, co-founder of YarnCon; Lisa, the space and fade dye queen;
Bottom: Jen and Nate of Piddleloop; Lucky Penny Handmades.

After dropping some coin on home front upgrades, I had no intention of buying one darn thing. It had, after all, been months since neither yarn nor patterns nor hooks, books or needles had been purchased. I puffed out my chest, finally immune from the lure. Or so I thought.

YarnCon '09
Let's start on the left with Lisa M's purple to berry goodness, yards of her special fade-dye (or is it space-dye?) blend of merino and tussah silk. Most cuddle-worthy and color intense. Moving to the bottom of the tableau you'll find Vera's handspun and marigold-dyed alpaca. Petting this pale yellow fiber and planting your nose in its midst tells the tale of the close-to-nature, low process yarn from a neighboring farm. Purely delicious.

I picked up Samantha Lyon's feather and fan scarf pattern, Blink (Ravelry link) which would do justice to one of the many sock yarn skeins I already own. It has a flavor of LMKG Chevron but knits up pleasingly on the diagonal.

Could it be that big things do come in small packages? Witness the latest edition of Knitcircus magazine. I'd heard of, but never seen, Knitcircus in person. What drew me to it? Simple. I like the jacket on the cover. The Pinot Noir Bolero by Jaala Spiro looks like something that could be worn quite comfortably. The Ysolda Teague interview is another plus. The editor sat down with Ms. Teague during her recent swing through the Midwest. I'll try to do an expanded review of the 11 patterns in the fall edition a bit later.

So does this mean I'm back? Dunno. Still one day at a time, friends. I admit to missing the vibe, the fiber and thou. This could be a good sign.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book 'em, Franklin!

Karen B. and Franklin H.I am in luff with this man's intellect, twisted wit and emotional clarity. Yes, I could gobble him up because he's beyond adorable but that's beside the point. Today is the day for titters, tee-hees, guffaws and outright belly laughs, courtesy of one Franklin Habit.

Franklin continues the book tour in support of his just-released collection of sketches and short essays entitled, "It itches." This is a little book (only 6" x 6") with lots of humor and heart. It perfectly captures the oddities, foibles and sometimes obsessive nature of our fibery pursuits in a way that only Franklin can.

Although this is his first book, Franklin has been making us laugh for some time now as he chronicles the exploits of an imaginary cast of characters, including a saucy sheep named Dolores and Harry, the often gullible skein of yarn. While the book features neither of this well-known duo, there is an amazing thread of fiber humor that keeps you turning the pages. My current favorite is a re-imagining of conversations and thoughts of historic figures as knitters. Marcel DuChamp. A megaphone and boa constrictor. Ha!

I caught up with the author at Chicago's Loopy Yarn. Hopefully, the tour will be in your neck of the woods sometime soon. I know Franklin is in London now and set to cruise back on the QE2. Too bad I'm not travel-sized like Harry :o)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happenstance, Chicago-style

My plan was a simple one. Buy some music then come back home. But this turned out to be the day where nothing happened as expected.

See, I recently joined a community choir and was in need of some readable, non-photocopied versions of music. It took some doing but I found one of the last places in Chicago where one can purchase sheet music. It's called Performers Music and it is located in one of my old haunts, The Fine Arts Building. Mindful of the photographic possibilities, I grabbed my camera on the way out the door.

Today was my day! The weather was perfectly sunny and just a bit crisp. The bus came right away and within minutes, I arrived at my destination. It was as I remembered. Dark. Vaulted ceilings. Ornate brass cage elevators and marble stairs. Entering Fine Arts is akin to stepping into a time machine.

Studebaker Theatre inside Fine Arts BuildingFine Arts Building Elevator Call Button
Fine Arts Building ElevatorFine Arts Building Elevator - From the Inside!
Alas, my music was not in stock so it had to be ordered. No matter. Stepping past the porticos and massive columns is always a treat. Even seeing the same elevator operator from many years ago was comforting.

Back in the sunlight, I decided to go buy two skeins of yarn to match the gray Aspen I'm using for a cabled neckwarmer design in progress. Fifty-one yards doesn't go very far with chunky yarn. Wow, is my bus karma holding. Just as I was taking a photo of the Congress Parkway Equestrian statues, the bus came and I was at the store pronto.

Aspen yarnAgain, what I desired was not in stock. The yarn I wanted had already sold out but there were two skeins of a coordinating color of mid-range blue that would do just fine. I felt good so, instead of heading home right away with my bounty, I kept on walking.

Just so happens there was another landmark from Chicago's musical past just down the street that I kept meaning to check out: the old Chess Records Studio. Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters - even the Rolling Stones all recorded in this modest, legendary space. The studio is now home to Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation and an adjoining outdoor performance space.

Willie Dixon's Blues Garden
I even ran into an old friend whom I had not seen in two years. Some days, it was her guidance and positive disposition that made all the difference between a bad day and a tolerable one.

So I wrap it up in a bow and consider it a gift. Today was just one of those days where you go looking for one thing and find something altogether different and wonderful.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Not Available In Stores

Handspun Yarn from Kenya
Three cakes of hand spun 2-ply wool. That's what the bulging golden envelope with the beautiful stamps and return address of Nairobi, Kenya contained.

People talk about being environmentally green these days, even when it comes to yarn. This wonderful gift is the real deal: barely processed, loaded with lanolin and vegetable matter, and definitely spun without the consistency benefits of a wheel. It's that very authenticity of the yarn that may make it difficult to work with.

As I attempted to find the working end of the yarn, it began to come apart. I am obviously unaccustomed to yarn spun in this manner. Perhaps I will do as the giver asks, simply keeping it as part of my collection and enjoying it for what it is: a symbol of a friendship born in an Amsterdam cafe, that made its way across continents and blossomed in Africa - all thanks to the Internet.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Give It Away

What I've got you've got to give it to your momma
What I've got you've got to give it to your papa
What I've got you've got to give it to your daughter
You do a little dance and then you drink a little water

~ Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Give It Away" ~
The band claims their Grammy award winning song was their frenetic, musical take on love and the proverb, "It's better to give than to receive."

With that in mind, I give you yarn. What kind? Well that's up to the winners of my first annual Birthday Haiku contest. The following haiku were chosen at random from of a pool of 42 comments:

Marsha said...
Another candle
On a yummy birthday cake
Make a happy wish!

Chris said...
Time slips past us as
birthdays come and go, leaving
happy memories.

Fiber dreams drift soft
Through joyous sleeping mind, with
no need to count sheep.

Patti said...
One more year counted
Like stitches on your needle
Adds to the person

Each winner has been notified and will be gifted with quality yarn in their choice of color family and weight. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to offer birthday wishes, a comment or to submit their haiku. You added a little something to my week.

So how did I spend my birthday? I hopped a train headed away from the teeming millions in the greater metropolitan area to visit my yarn dyeing friend, Rebecca a couple of hours south of Chicago. A little pizza, walkabout and general relaxing and it was time to come back home, but not without an indescribably soft surprise package of laceweight silk and mohair.

Pretty in Pink
At some point, Rebecca also slipped two chocolate chip cupcakes into my bag, making the ride back to the city a bit sweeter. You're a sneaky one and for this, I thank you.

I made it home just before big, sloppy raindrops began falling. Just inside the back door, I found a box containing not one but two dozen red roses from a long-time friend.

Rock and Roses
"What? You got two dozen. I can't take a little taste?!" - Rocky

Yes. It was a very good day.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crochet In Progress

I tried knitting a little bit. You know, just to test the shoulder stamina. Bad idea. I can't keep my hands still though, so I found an attractive, simple pattern and some surprisingly soft hemp yarn and kicked things off with a 15-stitch chain.

Boteh Scarf
Shake your Boteh!
Although the pattern calls for a skosh over 400 yards fingering weight yarn, I'll have to make do with 280 yarns of DK weight allhemp6LUX. After I've made the body of the scarf, I'd love to have enough left over to do the edging, as this gives this fabulous summer piece the perfect finishing touch. I checked Ravelry (account required) to see the flavors of Boteh in the wild. Only a handful appear to have used contrasting yarn. I think that, for this particular scarf, same-color edging maintains an elegant simplicity. Oh, imagine this one in the slubbed, subtle sheen of silk...

Birthday Haiku Contest
Just a reminder for those who have not yet entered: I am giving away FREE YARN for my birthday! All you need do is post a 5/7/5 English-style haiku in the 'Comments' section by midnight (CT) May 30, 2008. I'll select 3 random poets to receive goodies from my stash.

Go on. Get creative!

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dye Tripper!

*Picture heavy post*

I never really thought about the whole colorful, messy business of dyeing and distributing yarn. I learned a thing or two during the Hyde Park Knitting Guild's behind the scenes glimpse into life at Lorna's Laces. It was exciting for me to see how yarn moves from color concept

Dye, dye, dye
to realization

Chasing rainbows of yarn
to a yarn scavenging frenzy. We got our pick of mill-ends, one-of-a-kind and the occasional oops dyed yarns - some as low as $1 per skein. Believe it or not, I left empty-handed, merely chronicling the event.

Feeding frenzy!
I think I was most surprised that the operation (and the people) behind this now-famous brand is nothing fancy or pretentious. Owner Beth Casey and her sweet Great Dane Pearl welcomed us as we reached the 2nd floor landing at the door of their space in this sprawling warehouse.

Beth, Lorna's Laces owner
Sweet Pearl
Pearl roams around the main rooms beneath the high ceilings and suspended PVC poles holding freshly dyed and drying yarns. Bare yarn lies in wait next to dye pots and utility sinks. The walls are lined with yarn-filled wire baskets fronted by handwritten signs bearing the names of a yarn shop near you.

It's drying time
Perhaps that is part of the appeal of our crafting adventures. It is humble. It is imperfect. It is one REAL thing in a culture often consumed with artifice. It is the work of our hands.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review: Silky Wool Showdown

I'm always on the lookout for a good blend of quality, luxury and taste - whether it's my coffee, my clothing or my yarn. The two yarns reviewed here are the latest silk / merino offerings from two yarn companies you already know: Cascade and Malabrigo.

Because of the slippery silk content and my desire to maintain some control of my stitches, I knit both swatches on a size 8 US bamboo circular needle.

Cascade Venezia Worsted

Cascade Venezia Worsted
content: 70% merino / 30% silk; multiple plies
yardage: 219 yards / 100 grams
suggested weight or gauge: 5 sts per inch on size 7 US needles; I got 24 rows and 18 sts over 4 inches on size 8 needles.
care: hand wash in cold water or dry clean
hand: beautiful drape, good stitch definition and smooth to the touch; only drawback is the occasional splitting of the multiple plies or snagging of the resulting fabric if your manicure needs a touch-up.
color: 104, Red Pepper


Malabrigo Silky Merino

Malabrigo Silky Merino
content: 50% merino / 50% silk; single ply
yardage: 150 yards / 50 grams
suggested weight or gauge: dk; I got 24 rows and 20 sts over 4 inches on size 8 needles.
care: hand wash, dry flat
hand: lofty, almost weightless fabric with a subtle sheen and slight halo of the silk very apparent.
color: Indiecita


Which do I like best? In my opinion, the question really becomes one of appropriateness of use. Both yarns produce a soft, light fabric that frankly feels wonderful next to the skin. I would, however, be very careful about using the Malabrigo for anything that might be subject to friction as rubbing and pulling on the yarn caused the silk halo to become even more apparent.

Manos del Uruguay, along with a few other vendors and indie dyers also offer silk blend yarns. Good luck choosing from this embarrassment of riches.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Kind Of March Madness

I originally had no intention of committing to any more deadlines, since lately I'm finding them little more than a recipe for failure. Grand plans. Not keeping up. The usual blah-blah. So why in heaven's name did I let friend Rachel persuade me to hop onto another Ravelry knit-along (KAL) bandwagon? This time, it's all about the Malabrigo, baby (Ravelry link).

The Malabrigo Junkies are sponsoring a half-dozen or so KALs, including Knitty's Foliage hat. Since Foliage and I are already acquainted, I expect to comfortably meet the end of March completion date. See? I've already finished one repeat of the leaf pattern past the crown.

Malabrigo Worsted
Malabrigo, "Velvet Grapes" (cat hair at no extra charge)
Could I stop there? No, apparently not. When I saw the Agatha shawl on Wendy Knits, I knew I had the perfect candidate for the job: Malabrigo's latest offering, Silky Merino.

Malabrigo Silky Merino
At first blush, there appears to be more of silk than merino to this yarn, in both the touch and the halo sheen so characteristic to that fiber. The label says 50-50 but it seems to me that the wool serves more as a supporting player. This stuff is smooth, affordable luxury and is available in both solid and variegated colors.

I didn't even know about Silky Merino until I stumbled across it while checking out Manos' silk blends in a nearly identical weight and yardage. I know both companies have their proponents. Anyone who has touched either or both care to weigh in?

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Herd Instinct

I don't know what possessed me. I must've gotten caught up in the enthusiastic swells surrounding the desire to knit a sweater along with other Ravelry Loopy Groupies. The easy part of the deal was the choice of yarn: Dream In Color. I selected "Nightwatch" in the worsted weight, Classy. For some reason, the yarn photographed several shades lighter than it actually is. My camera is being futzy on auto, I suppose.

Ah, but which sweater to knit? Originally, there was to be a list and then a vote selecting the sweaters to choose from. But that was too much pressure, considering that group members taste and needs vary as widely as the Grand Canyon. Besides, there are literally hundreds of patterns in the Ravelry library alone, making the winnowing process nearly impossible.

So far, it looks like I'm the only one knitting Laura Chau's Lucy In The Sky cardigan. It's basically knit in one piece, with a simple diamond patterned body that won't fight with the light variegation that Dream In Color is known for. The sweater fits close to the body and is sized up to a 50" bust. I looked through the various versions of the cardigan on Ravelry and it seems to work on a variety of body types - including those on the fluffier side like me.

In the end, the sensible ties that bind us in this KAL are the yarn and the June completion date. What do we get for our trouble? At the very least, a new sweater and, quite possibly, a whole bunch of Loopy Ewe loot should we win the randomly selected grand prize. Keep those hooves crossed for me. Baa.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thirty Stitches

Knit Textures
Blue Sky Alpacas' Organic Cotton (l-r: Bone, Espresso, Willow, Sage)

Thirty stitches. That's how many I cast onto my size 9 (US) straights. Thirty stitches. If you do the math, that means I've got quite a few possibilities for texture and pattern blocks to make up my scrummy organic cotton throw. So far, I've combined 5 (bone), 6 (willow and sage) and 15 (espresso) stitch patterns. Believe it or not, I've got my eye on a 30 stitch leaf motif that should be quite striking.

Originally, my plan was to create four squares since I settled on four colors of yarn, which is, by the way, some of the most deliciously soft, plump cotton I've ever tried. You may have read about it like I did at Knit and Tonic. Wendy showed a basket full of the sportweight version of this yarn, whereas I opted for the plumper worsted weight. I kid you not. This is the softest, most pet-worthy cotton yarn I've ever touched. No "rough and ready" business here.

Ah, but I digress. I was at "four squares, four colors." As I looked through various stitch dictionaries, I realized just how foolish I was to limit myself - especially after doodling with a few different stitch-number scenarios and hitting on 30 as "just right!" I've picked out eight patterns and will assign each color one of two options. That should provide enough textural diversity and, along with the approximately 1200 yards of yarn, quite a patchwork of 16" x 8" strips: soft enough and varied enough to make for an interesting knit.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Change In The Weather

I looked out my window and got the shock of my life. I saw near white-out conditions, with winds whipping gusts of up to 50 miles per hour. All this instead of a little rain. That's all it was earlier. Rain and 50 degrees (F). The last time the winter winds went haywire, my 9-foot patio umbrella snapped in half and the outdoor furniture started moving down toward the back gate. Good thing I still have cozy knits on my mind.

Raglan Cardigan
The start of a top-down raglan cardigan in Noro Silk Garden, color 224 (disc.)

Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton
Organic cottons from Blue Sky Alpacas, destined to be a textured knit throw

In the quick update department, I've got one Monkey done and I've started on number two. A new yarn, Fiesta Boomerang in the color "Sedona", is all wound up and waiting to be knit into Lisa Dykstra's "Sedona" socks. I thought the synchronicity was too perfect to pass up.

In Other News
Some of you know the details of my spinal fusion and how I tried to wait until artificial discs were available. Reading this New York Times article makes me glad I didn't. The article implies that some of the glowing reports of success may have been tainted by surgeons with a financial interest in the devices. In addition, research results may have been cherry-picked so that failures were under-represented.

My replacement discs came from bone harvested from my hip. It still hurts on occasion, but at least I didn't risk rejection or rupture of synthetic materials in my spine. Thank goodness for small favors?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A New Leaf

It's OK that things sometimes spin out of control, as long as you can find the way forward at some point. I've picked myself up. I got back on the horse that threw me. Now I ask you, how many mixed metaphors does it take to make a point? I've turned over a new leaf this week.

Your adorable little boy will be turning 3 years old and you invite neighbors and friends to celebrate. What would you expect one of those crafty neighbors to do, now that the chill is on hereabouts? Knit a hoodie, of course, based on a free Lion Brand pattern (registration required). I've converted it to knitting in the round, though. Methinks Rocky would like a piece of the Fearless Fibers worsted weight wool and mohair in "Stormy Night". Naughty boy!

WIP: Jack's Birthday Hoodie
If you were in Chicago this past weekend, you may have had the opportunity to stop by YarnCon, our first-ever local indie dyers, spinners and crafters convention. I finally got the chance to see my friend Lisa Mendez's hand spun and dyed yarns in the wild. Naturally, one or two came home with me, and I just couldn't resist the urge to turn this artfully painted green-to-deepest chocolate brown merino goodness into something equally full of texture.

That is why "before"

Handspun and dyed yarn
is fast becoming "after."

Tree bark swatch
Lisa's vision was that this yarn resemble the color and texture of tree bark. I think she knocked it out of the park!


Speaking of handpainted goodies, bellamoden is having a sale, today only! Rebecca is one of the new dyers for The Loopy Ewe, so get her yarn while you can at this price.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007


My original plan for today was to show you just how much sock I was able to twist up in 24 hours with my brand-spanking new yarn, the lovely sportweight Chewy Spaghetti in "Cheeky."

I was cruising along on one of the "Sensational Knitted Socks" chevron patterns late last night when I hit a wall of tired around 1 a.m. That's when I started to make mistakes in the 2-round pattern; the kind of mistakes that mean you first try the restrained un-knit, then you pull out a row or two in frustration. After doing this twice into the wee hours, I decided the sock and I would be best off put to bed. There was still much love for the emerging footwear goodness.

Once I awake from a foggy, fitful sleep and get a little caffeine going through my veins, it is once again time to tackle the sock with a positive attitude and renewed vigor. After knitting and un-knitting and laddering down and ripping back at least four times, my positive attitude dissolved like sugar in the rain. Oh, yes. Girlfriend snapped and that sock became tangled, angry string in no time flat!

Before, in a fit of frogging rage:
Tangled Spaghetti yarn

After I regained control of the knotty problem (and myself):
Chewy Spaghetti yarn
I don't blame the pretty yarn but I do think it wise to declare no socks for me - at least not today. I think I should back away from the Addis and call a truce with this particular effort. Does anyone else ever have one of those days where things just get all tangled up?

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Knitting Wasteland

There is the faint, haunting whistle of dust and emptiness; the antiseptic sweet aroma of mothballs and cedar. Mohair fluff mixed with cat fur form giant fiber tumbleweeds that huddle in quiet corners. Sad projects, begun with such promise, litter the landscape in various states of undone-ness. This is the knitting wasteland and it is not a pretty place.

I manage to knit a few rows here and there before my right shoulder resident, Madame SLAP tear, bites back. A baby sock. An accidental toddler sock that was supposed to be a baby sock (I had Addi gauge issues). An emerging second sleeve for Fantine. A promising start on the Honeybee Stole slumps to last place on the WIP parade. Too bad there's nothing consistently working. I've got plans and yarn, baby!

This charcoal Cascade 128 for Juliet:
Cascade 128 charcoal grey yarn

Two sportweight skeins of Claudia's Handpainted in Peppermint Mocha acquired from The Loopy Ewe for a buttoned neckwarmer I have in mind:
Peppermint Mocha
Two flavors of Malabrigo (Loro Barranquero and Burgundy) with nothing in mind beyond some heavy petting. Come to momma, precious...
Malabrigo Yarns Burgundy and Loro Barranquero

In the other news this week, my copy of Rowan NewShapes arrived. How you wound me, my beloved cover girl, Anise, for I cannot begin to begin you in either capability or good conscience.

Naturally, all these schemes are on hold - only to be played out in my rich knitting fantasies, where shoulders don't scream, fingers do not tire and the yarn (oh, the yarn) is soft, plentiful and wonderfully organized. A girls gotta dream.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

A Falling Out

autumnal Tones

green Slips into brown.
yellows, reds? they Rust away -
transmutation Time.

Shibui Knits Trifle
ShibuiKnits "Autumn" (top, bottom) "Honey" (middle)

I think shibui, or Japanese for "elegant with a touch of bitterness" perfectly describes the harbinger of change that is the first day of the Fall season.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

From Bavaria, With Love

luftpostHallo meine Freunde! Today it's all about the contents of my Luftpost package - specifically, two newly arrived Bavarian beauties from Wollmeise.

Naturally the 4-ply superwash wool is soft, but that is not what makes Wollmeise so special. Each 380 yd. (350 m) skein is available in nearly 40 different shades. Consider too that you can vary the intensity of that color (bright, medium or dark) and you've got hundreds of customizable possibilities. Toss in Wollmeise owner and dyer Claudia's one-on-one customer service and you've got a winning proposition.

(L) Campari-Orange       (R) Poison Nr. 5
wollmeise sock yarns
At 13 Euro each plus 8 Euro shipping for 1 - 2 skeins, these unique hand-dyed yarns are worthy additions to your collection.

Is your German a bit rusty? Click on the link near the bottom, right labeled 'englisch'. Once you've decided on which color and type of yarn you want (they offer sock, worsted and baby aka lace weight), click 'contact' to send Claudia an email with your request.

By the way, a selection of Wollmeise yarns will soon be available in North America through The Loopy Ewe if you don't want to navigate the Wollmeise website.

In knitting news, I stuck a pin in the map and have set a goal of finishing mates for 2 single socks over the next couple of weeks. After that, Forest Canopy bobs back up to the top. This time, I made note of the last pattern row so as not to repeat The Dance of the Stitches once I resume.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Desperately Seeking Yarn

Yarn donationsI was inspired by two things: my just-purchased (and suddenly misplaced) STR Silkie and Julie's honest assessment of yarn lust run amok.

I was absolutely frantic. I searched three closets, a half-dozen plastic bins and miscellaneous bags and boxes, yet I could not find two bleeping skeins of yarn. As I searched over and over again, it really hit home just how much yarn I'd amassed in 3 years.

Shame washed over me. How could I continue to automatically respond to the "S" word (sale!) now that my circumstances had changed? I felt like a glutton who'd stayed at the buffet too long, with pants unzipped to make room for the burgeoning belly. And yet, I still did not find the yarn. In light of this realization, I decided that it was time to lighten my load so I went on a search of a different kind – a search for a local group that would be willing to accept yarn donations.

This time, I did more than a cursory look-see. All bins, luggage, bags and hat boxes were opened and the large plastic bags began to fill one by one with Red Heart, Lion Brand, Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Jaeger, KnitPicks and Malabrigo. (ETA) No, not all the Malabrigo.

I felt as though I'd shed a second skin (and cleared out one of the three closets in the process). I also took the opportunity to organize the remaining yarn. Though still a substantial amount, at least I am able to more quickly locate that which I seek.

By the way, I did eventually find the Silkie.

Karen, Karen, have you any wool?
Yes ma'am, yes ma'am. Five bags full.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

It's A Good Day!

Oh! It's a good day, for singin' a song,
An' it's a good day for movin' along,
Yes, it's a good day, how could anything go wrong?
A good day from mornin' 'till night! - Perry Como

By all accounts, it was a most excellent Friday. Not only was the weather cooperatively ideal (sunny, a tad cool), but my friend Stylish Girl took me to lunch (surprise!) at a beautiful South Loop restaurant, Zapatista. I wished I'd had my camera; the food was good to look at and even better past the lips onto the tongue. Yum!

Next, we stopped in to see a mutual friend - a friend who happens to own a yarn store. Like a moth to a flame, I tell you what!

Claudia Hand Painted Yarn
(Claudia Hand Painted Yarn: John B. (l, r) and Woodland Moss)

After a much-needed nap, I headed downtown for Looptopia, Chicago's all-night arts, dance and theater cultural extravaganza. People, people everywhere! So many in fact that it looked like they'd been brought in by the bus load, clogging foot and automobile traffic and making it nigh impossible to avoid bumping into someone. Sadly, it seemed I was the only one within earshot whose manners ("Excuse me, pardon me") got any kind of workout.

With all those people, it was a miracle that I found Franklin, Michelle, Dana and Jonathan in the mass of folks who stopped in either for a quick knitting lesson or to add their own touches to the group knitting art piece set up in the center of the Garland Room at the Chicago Cultural Center:

Looptopia Knits
(Windy City Knitting Guild's Interactive Knitting Project)

Franklin Gets His Knit On
(Franklin shows off the his christening shawl, in progress.)

By the time I got home shortly after midnight, I was exhausted and achy but it was worth it!
Yes, it's a good day from mornin' 'till night!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Choice Cuts!

blue sock monkeyNo clever dialog or confusing choices; just a little frequency distribution of the reader-supplied data with a soupçon of personal bias.

The winners are "Moss" from Yarn All Over and Socks That Rock "Star Sapphire" from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

"Moss" will become Mona and "Star Sapphire" will become Monkey Socks. Yes, a cheeky blue monkey.

Thanks for putting up with the dizzying array of choices and color groups. I'm installing poll software so that I'll not have to put you through that again.

Now, I better rest the shoulder if there's to be knitting any time soon. Later.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Notes From Stashland

blue sock monkeyThis little sock monkey has been busy trying to pull the right yarn out of the stock on hand for my Sockapalooza pal. Since I sometimes dwell in the land of indecision, I'm counting on you to help out with that choice. Even if you can't decide on a specific yarn, at least point me in a color family direction. As for patterns, I've decided it will be one of two choices - both of which are from the talented Cookie A.: Monkey (Knitty, Winter 2006) or Mona Socks. On to the hard part: pick a yarn, any yarn!

The Blue Group:
The Red Group:The Green Group:
I've seen Monkey work equally well with both handpainted and solid yarns. However, I'm not sure the curves and eyelets of Mona will fare as well with the less subtlety variegated colorways. As always, I appreciate your input and advice.