27 March 2007

She Put the Lime in the Coconut

I think I'm on a full-scale bright color bender here. It's like I'm ready for spring or something.

Last week my trainer told me that she recently bought her first new purse in eight years. Shocking, no? She also told me that she's celebrating her birthday this weekend so what better excuse to hit the sewing machine than that?

I used AfricanKelli's wristlet tutorial to whip up a bright, fun, not-too-girly bag that screams summer.

Hopefully it will be perfect for a girl who is definitely on the go!

*For the girls at home who were looking at my fabric from my last post, there's a picture of the quilt pattern I'm using here.

25 March 2007

Weekend Work

1. Do your best to finish that $#% paper.

2. Realize that it's going to take hours and hours to get the footnotes in shape.

3. Start a new quilt project so you can stare at flowery fabric and imagine you are outside in fields of spring flowers.

4. Resolve that, by golly, this year you're not going to let work stand in the way of enjoying warm weather when it finally arrives.

5. Go back to the computer and tackle a few more footnotes.
Eye of the Fabric Storm, prints by Kaffe Fassett and Martha Negley

23 March 2007


This week has been one of turning this...

... the gobbledy-gook of messy writing, messy projects, a messy apartment, messy mind...

into this...

... neat little cakes lined up in an orderly row, ready to be put into service.

Well, maybe I didn't get all of life into nice, neat order, but at least I untangled a few major knots.

The rest of the knots will take some time to sort out, time to contemplate which way to go in the writing, which thoughts to pursue and which to drop into footnotes or out of mind completely, time to contemplate even simple things like which verb matches which adjective. I like to think that this is a portrait of a contemplative woman, lost in daydream or deep in philosophy. I keep her picture near my television as a reminder to turn down the volume and sit with my thoughts more often.

I've heard that she was actually a sad woman with a sad story and her slight frown is a marker of her dreary life, but I don't like to think about that.

18 March 2007

We Have Hat!

I’m going to say something completely out of character now. Mom, you better be sitting down for this one.

This finishing thing… it’s kinda fun.

I’ll give you a moment to recover.

I’ve got several more finished objects waiting in the wings but I had to bump this one to talk about today. I finally have a successful hat, just in time for our latest round of snow.

Pattern: Irish Hiking Hat (online pattern) modification of the Basic Cable from Stitch n’ Bitch Nation

Needles: Sz. 8 dpn

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease… I know, I know, I’m hip like that.

Dates: Gulp, years and years… My foggy old-lady memory recalls working on this set in my former apartment (doesn’t everyone mark time by which apartment they were calling home?) so it had to sit around for at least two years. I remember running out of yarn and wanting the needles for something else so I stuck the hat on stitch holders and tossed it aside. Bought the yarn, finished whatever I was using my sz. 8 double points on and totally forgot about the hat. The sad thing is that it took me one evening to actually finish it. I put it off for years and addressed it in one night. That’s something to add to that unfinished post about finishing issues…

Notes: Out of all my fancy pants knitting, guess what scarf gets the most play? And now that I’ve got a full set… I could be sporting the Wool-Ease on a daily basis. My inner snob is cringing at the thought, but you gotta love acrylic. I can wear it after the gym and toss it in the machine when it starts to stink. If it snags on something, which inevitably it will, eh, no biggee. I really have no idea how many skeins it took for the scarf, wrist warmers and hat, but at the most I imagine I’ve got around $10-$15 invested here. Well, hours and hours of my time, but who is counting that, right?

And just to justify my snob, the yarn doesn’t feel the greatest. It’s not extremely itchy or stiff, but it ain’t no Aurora 8 merino. Hmm… I do have a good stash of Aurora 8 though… repeat performance?

Big factor is warmth. This will be a fine hat for some days, but I’m going to need wool for those special Buffalo storms. I suppose the only thing the weather is good for is justifying more yarn purchases!

This is the boring stuff, but I wanted to record it for future hat designs. The quest for the perfect hat continues, after all. This may be the perfect hat for a spring day, but I will not rest until I’m ready for all the crap that the sky throws down on us here.

Unstretched, the hat measures 8” across, the ribbing is 3” deep, the first decrease is 5” from the top of the ribbing. There are approx. 13 rows after the first decrease, with decreasing on rows 1, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 13. Rows 1 and 8 have multiple decreases to really draw it in quickly.

Ribbing is 2x1 which makes for a nicer look when folded up. The wide brim also allows me to wear it fully folded up in the front but pulled down a bit in the back to cover my ears and part of my neck. (This may not be the best look, but I think I’d look even worse without ears after a severe case of frostbite.)

Hope everyone is in the midst of a wonderful weekend. I'm off to teach a friend to knit. When searching for something to do this afternoon, she politely asked if I would mind teaching her to knit, if it wasn't too much trouble. Little does she know that the cult loves to bring in new members. If only I could find a good yarn store open on Sundays...
As we all know too well, Etsy is open on Sundays and if you're in the market for sock yarn, check out the Lone Knitter's new line. Poetry and pretties, who could ask for anything more?

15 March 2007

Why Yes, I Have Been Stockpiling Finished Objects

Actually, I've just been a cruddy blogger lately and have to finally show all the things I've finished since, oh, January.

That and this whole "no casting on until all UFOs are finished" rule may be working. I think I said I was going to do this for February and it's March and I kinda forgot to stop. We won't talk about all the UFOs which still remain. More on that later... you know, when I finish the post about finishing that I've started...and not finished.

I'm not sure what to say about this one. We've all seen it. Many of us have made it. We've probably all got yarn in the stash to make one ourselves.

The One and Only... Clapotis

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb, 3 skeins charcoal. (See notes.)*

Needles: Sz. 8 Addis (I'd definitely suggest something blunt for this kind of yarn, could get very splitty on something like the KnitPicks Options)

Time: early January - 1 Feb 2007; Introduced at the Jan. Buffalo Knitting Guild Meeting and shown off at the Feb. mtg.

Notes: My only mod was to purl the stitch that was going to be dropped, primarily so I could knit without markers (as suggested at the Guild meeting). I had to think every so often on the first and last stitches in some of the rows, but generally this was a low mental engagement project.

That's not to say that it was a low love project. This may be one of my favorite completed projects. It's decadent and practical all at the same time, perfect for my Victorian tastes and my Midwestern roots. I gave it a hard workout on our Windy City weekend, using it as a blanket, pillow, head cover and regular ol' scarf in atmospheres as varied as stuffy airplanes to freakin' cold ice and snow storms. I imagine it may be worn until it falls apart... which I hope is a very long time away.

When I started this project, I wrote about the yarn and the idea of luxury, confessing that this was probably my most expensive knitting object. (Thanks again for all your comments on that post. I've got another of those unfinished blog entries where I put together more thoughts about luxury and blogging, but alas, for another day, month, year...) Anyway, the price tag is absolutely worth it. The silk adds a drape that just couldn't be matched with wool alone and the depth of color in the yarn is deceptively amazing (which my photos don't show at all). In some lights, it really is black, as "charcoal" would suggest, but it also appears grey, blue or even purple at times. It knits up evenly and feels amazing as you're knitting. (Can you tell I want you all to go out and experience Lion and Lamb for yourselves?) It really took all my strength not to buy three more skeins in a variegated colorway for Clapotis 2!

The pattern originally only called for 3 skeins but has been upped to 4, which makes quite a bit of difference when you're talking $30+ skeins. I bought the yarn when the pattern was still in the 3 skein stage and was concerned about having to hunt down more. I took the trouble to weigh my increase section to be sure to save enough for the decrease section, cutting off a repeat or two if necessary, provided three skeins was going to give me enough to have a substantial shawl. I actually ended up with yarn left, probably not enough to do another whole repeat, but enough to save for some little accent on a future project. I'm thinking this has something to do with combination knitting, as I seem to always fall under the requirements. Hmm, perhaps a scientific investigation for Grumperina. Anyway, if you're going to give it a try in the Lion & Lamb, you may want to shop at a store that will take a return if you don't need the four skeins.

So, from having nothing to say to rambling on and on, I'm proud to show off Clapotis. It only took me over a year to pull the yarn from my stash and hop on the bandwagon. May you too be infected with the Clap, because oh yes, it really is that great of a pattern!

*Can you tell I've been writing on my diss all week... parenthetical references to other sections on my same darn blog post AND footnotes to boot. I've gotta get a life...

** Cristina, In case you stop by, I wanted to let you know that I've been reading but something's goofy with my MySpace login so I can't comment. I've also managed to lose your email. If you get a chance, could you say "hi" at ldgraff76 at hotmail dot com so I can get in touch?

14 March 2007


Sometimes simple is good.

Sometimes simple keeps the hands occupied when the mind is too tired to process any more.

Sometimes simple lets you grab what's on top of the stash and make something that you hope will make someone else happy.

Small crochet afghan for Lone Knitter's collection for cancer patients. Pattern adapted from a Family Circle afghan book which called for a bunch of little hexagons sewn together. Simple said to start one hexagon and keep hookin' till it was time to get more yarn. Even better when you use Project Spectrum colors, but that's just a simple coincidence.

13 March 2007

"Olive" (I luv) Handknit Socks

And now, just in time for spring... may I present my SOCKTOBERFEST project!

Can I fool ya and claim that I finished these puppies just in time for St. Paddy's? (I really don't want to confess that I've had them done since January and only now went to JoAnn's to get the elastic thread needed to finish.)

Yarn: Sunshine Yarns, Black Olive Stripe, 1 skein, received from Kari in the Yarn Aboard exchange. (I saw that she just posted new yarn so if you're in the market, rush right over there.)

Pattern: Frankensocks using the Magic Cast-on for toe-up, short-row heels, improvised increases for those "shapely" calves, 2x2 ribbing at the top, all done two at a time on one long needle, a la Magic Loop.

Needles: Sz. 1 bamboo, one very long circular

Dates: Started in October of '06 and finally wearable in March of '07. Pathetic, I know.

Notes: I had a few goals for these socks and overall, I'm pleased with them. I wanted to use every yard of the yarn and see how high they'd go. They ended up hitting at a rather unflattering location, i.e. the widest part of my calf, so I don't see these being knee socks to show off with cute skirts or anything. (And can any grown-up really pull off that look? I suppose so, but I don't think this grown-up could pull it off. Calves are much too much shapely to go there.) I did hope they'd be tall enough to wear with my trusty winter boots but they missed by an inch or two. Didn't care enough at the end to add some solid yarn and make them higher. I like the fit with the increases, but these definitely needed the elastic thread and even then, I'm not sure they'd stay up if worn on an all-day walking adventure.

I'm not entirely sold on the process of doing two socks at a time using Magic Loop. Yes, it worked and was overall pretty easy, but I did have to stop and detangle every few rows. It did prevent SSS which might have made these an even longer UFO, but note to self, I think the next time I'll use my trusty drug dealer scale and divide the skein to do toe-ups. An additional note for all you OCDers out there, when you work from both the outside and inside of the skein, the striping sequence is different. I personally couldn't care less, but it's been fun noticing who was bothered by this as I was knitting. (Ash, I saw you twitching over Thanksgiving over the thought of mismatched socks.)

The yarn is superwash and it came with the warning to wash separately the first time, although there was no bleeding when I wet blocked them. They have a very slight halo from all the detangling and if you're super sensitive, they may be a touch too "wooly" for you. Think Trekking rather than Koigu. I think they're going to be nice, warm socks for these spring days when you never know what the sky's going to throw at you.

I may have missed wearing these socks on a Socktoberfest outing for wiener schnitzel and weis beer but I'll make up for it with corned beef and Guiness!

12 March 2007

Spring Squares

This weekend I had the urge to pull out the sewing machine for some mindless piecing, perhaps to get rid of the taint of the failed hat knitting. I’m trying to work entirely (or mostly) from the stash this year so I went into the room of doom and pulled out the first thing that caught my eye before slamming the door closed and running away in fear of being attacked by falling fat quarters.
I randomly put together these small squares and ended up with a piece that’s 20 x 24 inches. I’m thinking baby blanket once I figure out borders.

The fabric came from a scrap box somewhere. Anybody recognize it? I’d love to use the polka dot pieces for borders but haven’t seen this in any quilt shops recently. If I don’t find coordinates, I’m thinking about solids or simple prints in taupe and cream to cut down on the twee factor.

And just to set the record straight, this is just a random project for an unknown baby-to-be. The fam remembers all the confusion brought on when my grandmother announced that she was finishing a baby blanket for me. Don't worry, girls. The only potential for the pitter patter of little feet around here is if the stash decides to grow tootsies and run amuck on its own.

09 March 2007

The Winter That Just Won't Stop*

Ah, such a lovely March morning when you wake up and find FROST on the INSIDE of your windows! Weather Dude, enough already! I’m soooo over this whole winter thing.

But to make the most out of a chilly situation, more months to make winter gear, right?

Thanks for all your comments on my first project in the Great Hat Quest of ’07. I think Lone Knitter called it. The P-hat doesn’t necessarily look all that naughty, but once I got that image in my head there was no going back. I’ve tried to put it on around the house every now and then (and yes, my apartment is cold enough to warrant indoor hat wearing, see “frost inside” above), but I just can’t shake my initial call on this one. I’ve even tried adding some flower brooches like all the cool hats are wearing these days, but to my tainted eyes it just looks like a boy part with bling. So frog it is…

And to really make this quest epic, hat #2 isn’t looking so hot either. In the spirit of Knitting from the Stash and expanding my color choices in Project Spectrum (even though this hat isn’t anywhere near the current PS colors), I chose a skein of Noro Kureyon that really isn’t me and jumped in for the Fake Isle hat from Magknits. I used some leftover Plymouth Galway worsted wool that coordinated with the most dominant shades in the skein, alternating the lime green and magenta based on the Kureyon.

Some of the online reports said it turned out too shallow so I generally went with the numbers of rows for the larger size although I cast on for the smaller size. Not only is it too long, but too big around. This is entirely a knitter’s dilemma and not the pattern. I think I should have to take some sort of test before I sit down with anything remotely requiring thought or skill, just to be sure I haven’t run out of focus, energy and mental fortitude. I really think I’m only safe for garter stitch right now.

I considered a few remedies (felting, overdyeing) while I was knitting and not feeling the love, but now that I’ve finished the world’s ugliest hat, I know that it’s time to frog.

I’ve heard it said that we learn more from our failures than our successes and with this one, I’d have to agree. I learned that I do enjoy fair isle knitting, but I think I want to go at it in a smaller gauge and with smaller floats. I also learned that if you aren’t loving the colors when you start, you aren’t going to love them any more when you finish. Finally, and the thing I think I needed to learn right now, pay attention when your head says you want simple knitting. I loved every minute of the Clapotis (which I need to blog) because it was pretty mindless stockinette, and, well, yarn with silk content is yummmmy. I didn’t think this was too difficult, but the slightest bit of challenge made me sloppy and the finished product reflects this attitude.

Another one of those random sayings which seems apt: If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. I usually use that one to chastise myself into working harder to do it “right,” but recently I’ve been thinking about turning it around. Perhaps if something isn’t worth doing “right,” it isn’t worth doing?

Anyway, I think a nice, simple London Beanie is going to be my next attempt for a head covering. I’m balking on starting it though in hopes that it will stay warm enough to warrant hat-less outings.

* To be truthful, it’s bright and sunny here today and we might just might hit 40 degrees. I started writing this a few days ago and just had to share the interior frost picture to get some sympathy from the folks at home in the sunny Midwest.

04 March 2007

The Windy City Blew My Troubles Away

Stress management has never really been my thing. There are certain things which are well within my capabilities, but keeping it calm just isn’t in the column of good things. The past few weeks have been pretty high stress around these parts. I started sending work emails with more profanity than “real” words and took that as a sign to take a computer sabbatical for fear of my potty mouth running amuck, spilling yucky into the world with wild abandon. So I kept my head down and worked like a good little drone until I could celebrate with a girls’ reunion weekend in Chicago that was just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, it was too darn cold to slow down and take pictures as we hiked about the stores on the Magnificent Mile so my weekend vacay doesn’t have much blog fodder. Well, besides the lovely gift from Delta Airlines.

They knew that as a crafter, I always need more little bags to store supplies so they lovingly decided to lose my luggage at midnight… after a delay… and a very, very confusing journey through a set of mazes on the tarmac of JFK which left a group of passengers stranded outside with no way into the terminal. I knew it was going to be a rough trip when I get to the airport and can’t find a parking spot, even in the ‘always empty’ lots and then when I check in, the ticket agent tells me about various delays and problems, warning me that I may not make my connection. “I can’t check you in, ma’am, unless I warn you sufficiently that you may get stranded in New York tonight. Do you feel lucky?” Um, I don’t want airline people asking me if I feel lucky. When did trying to leave town become riskier than playing the slots? Anyway, oddly enough, in this rather high stress situation, I was fairly calm, mostly because I was too exhausted to get worked up about missing undies. Granted, I was a little grumpy the next day, but at the time, it was so miserable it was funny.

Of course it helped that I was planning to spend my weekend shopping anyway so I just had a legitimate reason for looking for new clothes. The new deodorant at CVS wasn’t really part of the plan, but at least now I’ve got a spare. I’ve heard that everyone has to have lost luggage once so I’m hoping this gives me some sort of immunity for future travel.

I have managed to knit some of my stress away though so I can show off some FOs now that the potty mouth is (mostly) under control and I can return to blogging.

What better to combat ugly stress than some baby items, right?

Pattern: Quickie Baby Sweater tres, booties and Umbilical Cord hat from Stitch ‘n Bitch

Yarn: Plymouth Encore and mystery acrylic

Needles: 10.5 for the sweater, 6 for the booties and hat

Recipient: MY NEW NEPHEW!!!! WOO HOO!!!

Notes: This is the third go-around for this sweater pattern and it’s still a goodie. I did the boy version of the yoke pattern once I figured out how to actually read. I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the booties. I don't particularly like the seam on the bottom but the flat top does give a good space to add the decorative button. Do babies even wear booties anyway? I'm not really up on what's hot for the diaper set. I'm sure this sweater pattern will make another appearance so I'll have to remember to try some different footwear.
Not much else to say, but yay for baby knits!