19 January 2008

Foxy Lady

Pattern: Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style

Yarn: Silk Garden, 232; 9 skeins

Needles: Addis Sz 10

Dates: Fall 2007 - January 2008

Recipient: Moi

Notes: What to say that hasn't been said? Entrelac was a pleasure to learn. The yarn's color shifting was perfect. I was entranced by the way the colors would interact as the squares built on the row below. It definitely gets you the "wow" factor with very little struggle and although we say we aren't going for the "wow's," we know we are.

The colorway is perhaps a little bright to put this into daily rotation. I think with a dark, monochromatic outfit, I could pull it off tossed over the shoulder but for now, it's getting lots of wear as I sit at the computer and write in my jammies. I'll definitely give it a debut at an upcoming Guild meeting and then we'll see about wearing it with non-knitters. I love the rustic look of the Silk Garden, but do wish it was a little softer and cuddlier. I've seen some stunning versions with more subtle yarns and would easily put this project back in rotation were the right yarn to come my way at the right moment.

I really enjoyed the freedom that came with working with a "rustic" yarn on a project that has an element of the rustic to it. I didn't worry so much about being perfect with the way I picked up the stitches or obsessing over gauge. I tried to be as neat and consistent as possible, but it was nice to do a "low stakes" project that gave room for the homemade factor and even celebrated the quirks that would happen with the work. I've been thinking about this freedom from perfection lately and want to write more about it when I introduce my next project tomorrow.

I tried to learn to knit backwards to replace the flipping back and forth but found that it was more tiresome than the flipping. The project was comfortable in my lap and never grew so cumbersome that the flipping was difficult or problematic. Definitely use circular needles to save your arms and if possible, I'd suggest using a fairly long needle to give you more "wiggle room." The blunt Addis worked well with the yarn. I could see having problems using a pointy needle that might split it or a sticky bamboo or wood needle that might give too much grip. Finally, this may be obvious to everyone else, but when you do the fringe, hold both strands in your hand and do the overhand knot over both at the same time. I kept trying to tie them together like shoelaces and that was extremely fiddly and made for a few loose knots at the beginning.

And oh, the fringe... the fringe. I really think the dramatic finish makes the project. It's not quite so dramatic as lace blocking, but definitely transformative in the same way. I love watching how those final touches really make or break a project, especially when they make it!

N.B.: I ended up with four extra skeins of the Silk Garden. I believe it's a discontinued colorway. It's quite pretty and would make nice striped scarves a la Brooklyntweed. I'm going to list it on Ravelry but if anyone is interested, let me know. I'm not going to push hard to sell it as it could always be useful but at this point, I'd prefer to reduce the stash a bit.

17 January 2008

I Am Not...

... a spinner.

Our January knitting guild meeting encouraged us to start the new year by trying something new. A very talented spinner brought in bundles of fleece and spindles and let us give it a go.

I didn't really give it a go so much as let the stupid thing dangle pathetically in the air while staring with awe at those who were making yarn.

And I'm okay with that.

I've been resistant to the spinning trend which is kinda a small victory for me. I've always been one to jump right in and try the latest and greatest thing. As a youngster, I had to make my mom drive me to Girl Scouts and music lessons and sports camps. With every new club or hobby, came new "stuff," new equipment, new outfits, new guidebooks and trinkets. We even bought a calf because I was determined to do 4-H and lead the thing around a pen. I'm pretty sure that attempt eventually turned into hamburger.

Since I've been trying to curb my crafty expenditures to give myself room, space and the financial means to actually finish projects that I've already purchased, I didn't want to start buying spindles which would turn into wheels and fleece which would turn into more fleece and never, ever turn into yarn or even more unlikely, usable objects. I get how spinning could be quite pleasurable and even replace knitting and crocheting as a meditative, relaxing habit. I just didn't want to pick up something new with so much already on my plate. You've got to save a few new frontiers for the nursing home, right?

I suppose you could also say that I went in with a bad attitude which usurped any possibility of enjoying spinning. Probably true. I'm trying to think of it as being judicious with my crafty resources. I'll add spinning after I finish off the paper making, card printing, latchhooking, paper piecing, scrapbooking, beading, embroidery, quilting, needlepoint and needle felting projects already living in my craft room. Oh, and after the fabric and yarn stashes are down to a reasonable level. Yeah, don't be holding your breath waiting for handspun yarn for a long, long time.

14 January 2008


1. During my mini-hiatus after Chicago, I finished two denim and flannel quilts. I started these quilts five years ago and promised one to my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. I believe the card where I wrote this promise has since yellowed with age. This is the reason for another year of avoiding new purchases to finish the old, as if that will work.

2. I am finished with Lady Eleanor save for knotting the fringe. Lovely project but I fear looking like a jester gypsy while wearing it. I think I should have gone for a little subtlety in my color selection. I think it's a bad thing when The Boy asks if you're actually going to wear it in public or just drape it over a chair. I'm pretty sure he was hoping the answer involved the chair.

3. I'm at a little loss for where to go next in the knitting. I finished a gift knit for a friend and would like to make more for the gifting stash, but they're not exactly thrilling projects. Oh, and I'm really selfish and want to make something for me.

Pattern: Cupcake Dishcloth
Yarn: Cotton-Ease and button from stash
Needles: Sz. 10s
Notes: I added the bottom backwards. I like the stitch definition this shows, but prefer the look of the original pattern. I used Ravelry mods for the ruffle: knitting in the front and back twice rather than crocheting. It could be a bigger ruffle but I like the small size in fitting with the small cloth. I think this is just the size for dish washing as regular dish rags always seem too droopy when I try to use them.

4. Considering the above observations, it probably wouldn't take too much thought to figure out why I have such a difficult time finishing projects and getting gifts sent out in a timely fashion. But will I go work on more cupcakes? Yeah, we all know better than that.

09 January 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods...

... to job interviews we go.

'Tis the season of the job travels for interviews and conferences so I decided to whip up some shoe bags to protect the beauties gracing my friends' tootsies.

I used the Simple Leather-Handled Shoulder Bag from In Stitches by Amy Butler although I made the strip narrower. To make the cutting easy, I cut a 32" piece and then divided that into 4 strips length-wise. Theoretically, that would make my pieces 11 x 32" (44" flannel) but I didn't really even measure my width. I chose the flannel for its thickness and absorption for any wet shoes, although I also thought about using oil-cloth or some of the new laminated fabrics that are coming out. I see more of these in the future as a great way to use up some of my flannel stash for practical gifts that will hopefully see lots of wear in the very near future.

08 January 2008

Chicago Stole my Hat... and my Oomph

So should I make up a story about being whisked away in the Windy City, off on some marvelous but chilly adventure?

Or just tell the truth?

I ended 2007 with a trip to a very large, very scary conference/ job interview/ program reunion sort of event. 15,000+ neurotics stuck in the same four city blocks, hyped up on expensive coffee and forced to actually engage with people rather than books. It wasn’t necessarily pretty. Oh, and then add a good ol’ wet snowstorm to get a chuckle at the less-than-fashionable academics try and slide around in their heels and suits when we’re all used to wearing khaki pants from 10 years ago and shoes chosen for their orthopedic function rather than fashion. We really should just charge admission for people to watch the antics.

Anyway, I went, I talked, I showed pictures of camels and just tried to alternate my coffee and alcohol in the right order to keep myself going through the day and at least closing my eyes at night. (Sleep sorta became optional around mid-December and only recently returned to my life. I missed her.)

I knew it was going to be a doozy, but I didn’t really plan on it knocking me completely on my tuckus. Overachiever much? Not that I’ve been stressing about this very event for four or five years now or anything. I just kept saying that I could handle it. It was just a paper and a few interviews. I’d even be able to spend one afternoon shopping, maybe find Anthropologie or a yarn store for a little treat.

By the time my free afternoon rolled around, I tried to meet with the Lone Knitter and I think the poor woman ought to earn a patience medal for having to answer the same questions three times. It was like the brain was spending all my energy keeping myself from drooling that I couldn’t focus on actually having an intelligent conversation. Thank goodness she’s even lovelier in person and was quite kind about my mental fog.

Besides my dignity, I managed to also lose my new hat, the first one that I’d knit this winter and one I was actually happy to wear in public. The first day I really had to run around, the snow was coming down in hunks and I really didn’t want to do an interview with wet hair. I’m pretty sure even academics recognize that this is not a good look. I was whining that night when we splurged on pizza (mmmm… Chicago deep dish…mmm…) and jokingly, my former Dickens camp roommate asks if it was a black beret.

“Well, yes, it was. A black knit beret.”

“Were you in the Fairmont?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Ladies restroom?”

“Yes, second floor.”

“Around 11?”

“Dude, you saw my hat!”

Alas, she only saw it and left it there, never to be turned in or seen again. Le Sigh for Le Slouch. In actuality, it really needed to be reknit with a little more slouch so add that one back to the list.

And that was Chicago.

So now I’m waiting, trying to get caught up on life and sleep and laundry. Trying to write everyday and work on those New Year’s goals. Hitting the gym and the library. I took a week off after I returned, thinking I’d be able to whip out some major crafty projects. Um, not so much. I finished a few things and will post some pictures in the next few days but basically, I took a lot of time to just sit and not think about a single thing. How ‘bout that for a real winter vacay?