Archive for October, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby (with a small tangent into the tragedy that can strike a knitter’s life)

A few confessions:

I am a fan of figure skating.
I love kitsch.
I am fascinated by the phenomena of popular culture.

Q: Put these three facts together and they equal?
A: My presence last week at High School Musical: The Ice Tour.

High School Musical on ice

Never mind that I have no appropriately-aged children or that I’ve never seen either of Disney’s two High School Musical movies. I was so there!

High School Musical on ice

High School Musical on ice

How to describe it? My friend Ellen (she treated me to the performance as a birthday present) agreed that while we couldn’t be certain—never having actually dropped acid—pretty much the show was one giant acid trip. Colored lights. Lots of colored lights. Pulsing colored lights changing colors and whirling about in patterns. Loud music coming at us from all directions. A gigantic video screen at the back of the “stage” with “sets” projected onto it, morphing from one image to the next in oddly organic but surrealistic ways—as if windows grew on walls or trees blossomed from hillsides. The videos were so overwhelming that we’d momentarily forget to notice the horde of ice skaters bopping about to pop music. In the big opening number, most of the male skaters were dressed as basketball players, and at a key moment a dozen or so basketballs fell from the ceiling (I’d looked at the ceiling before the performance started; I didn’t see any basketballs), one in front of each guy, and they scooped them up and started dribbling in time to the music, skating all the while. And the skaters lip-synched. Lip-synching on blades! The crowd went wild when the faux-Troy/Zach tore off his shirt during a particularly invigorating solo. Did I mention the lights?

Dude!

If you are the sort of person who enjoys this sort of thing—and, while you may be embarrassed to admit it, you know if you are—I heartily recommend the experience.

As for the tragedy…. I’d decided that I was going to try reworking the colorwork tam in Interweave Knits‘ holiday issue as a two-color piece, combining black yarn with a pinky-gold Koigu because, you know, I simply do not have enough works in progress, but—no size 2 and 3 sixteen-inch circular needles. Now I know I have these, but where? I desperately called my LYSs, but they were all closed by then. Argh! So it was back to Rosebud, which is nearing completion and may be wrapped up during this afternoon’s two-hour meeting.

October 31 2007 | Uncategorized | No Comments »

Tuesday Mewsday: Dia de los (Gatos) Muertos

Just in time for the Day of the Dead, Melissa picked up this wonderful tile for me at Alma Gifts and Culture, one of my favorite local shops (1705 Mission St., in case you’re in Santa Cruz and are interested).
Skeleton kitty
I’ve hung this beside my bed in memory of Woody. I love to imagine that when nothing remains of me but bones the skeleton-me will be slipping treats to the skeleton-Woodrow every day.

After a hiatus, Lydia’s blog, Dropped a Stitch, is back on line. I enjoy both her writing and her patterns, the latest of which is a lovely tam with just a bit of openwork. Check it out!

Also, if you’re a dishcloth knitter, you’ll enjoy this new “Vortex” pattern from through a transitions lens, darkly.

October 30 2007 | Cats and Tuesday Mewsday | 2 Comments »

Works in Progress, Etc.

I got a lovely email over the weekend from Alison Hyde, author of Wrapped in Comfort. Apparently she did the written directions for all the patterns, but the charts were made up separately by someone Martingale hired. She explained, “I knit some of those shawls a half a dozen times to make sure I’d written them up right. It paid off: my tech editor said it was the first knitting book she’d ever seen with zero errors. But that was before the charts got added in. So when in doubt, go with the written part if there’s a question.” That’s good advice to have.

Here’s my shawl from that book in progress.
Nice leafy shawl in progress
Since I’m working on circular needles, it’s a bit bunched up, but I’ve spread it out so you can see one repeat of the leaf pattern. The malabrigo I’m using is much heavier that the yarn the pattern calls for, but the results please me no end. I’ve got some rich purple malabrigo lined up that I’ll cast on for another of Hyde’s shawls as soon as this one is finished.

I continue plugging away at the Origami Cardi. The back and both fronts are finished. Now I’m working on the sleeves.
Something green, in progress
I’m knitting both at once in hopes of keeping my guage consistent.

Finally, here’s my version of Rosebud.
Rosebud scarf in progress, looking like a slug
I’m using Cherry Tree Hill‘s Ariel in the Fall Foliage colorway. The mock cable (sl1, k2, pass slipped stitch over both k stitches) makes nice, wide eyelets. I’ve got a new design going in my head that will use this stitch.

Kim Hargreaves has a great new pattern book out, Heartfelt. On my first glance at the projects, I picked out nine (count ‘em, nine!) that I’d like to do. Of course, I won’t get anywhere near that many knit up, but I definitely need a copy of this book. Faith and Darcy have very graceful shaping; Erin is a classic in the very best sense; and Tess and Ward look wonderfully cozy.

Here’s a lovely lace scarf pattern I found via Ravelry. It’s knit length-wise, which allows for a pretty arrangement of stitches at each end without having to join separate pieces.

And check out this great watermelon self-striping yarn from Freshisle Fibers. Sadly—but not surprisingly—it’s out of stock at the moment, but I will be haunting their web site looking for its return.

October 29 2007 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Link-a-Dink-a-Doo

Just some quick links today to three patterns—two scarves and a shawl. The scarves are both lace, complex enough to be interesting, but not enough to frustrate. The shawl is simple, but striking.

The Anya Scarf by Panda Bonzai features a medallion pattern surrounded by lace. By multiplying the number of medallions or changing their spacing, one could work up all sorts of lovely variations on this piece.

Travelling Roses by To Knit Is Divine features a striking all-over lace pattern.

The Nature Shawl from Die WollLust uses an easy-to-memorize stitch pattern that would look great in self-striping or space-dyed yarns like Noro. If you’re looking for “Meeting Knitting,” this will serve you well. (Note that you may want to replace all the pairs of K2tog with one K2tog followed by one SSK—or vice-versa—for symmetry’s sake.)

October 26 2007 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

This ‘n That

I’m guesing that most of you already read Crazy Aunt Purl, but in case you’ve somehow missed out click here to see her blog entry from Tuesday, which was simultaneously dumbfounding and hilarious.

I’m honored that Cathy-Cate has bestowed me with the “Nice Matters” Award, which recognizes “those bloggers who are nice people, good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. ” What more could any knit blooger hope to accomplish?

The award comes in the form of this pretty little button…
Nice Matters Award
…that charms me no end with its Victorian ribbons and roses. I’m displaying it proudly, just below my “House Along” button. (Now there’s a pair: Gregory House and Nice Matters.)

I also now have the opportunity to pass this award on to others, so I’ll be writing soon about some of my favorite nice bloggers and their blogs.

October 25 2007 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Book Review: 150 Knitted Trims

I confess that I’m an absolute glutton when it comes to stitch dictionaries. If I’m in a bookstore or yarn shop and find one I don’t have, you can bet I’ll be taking it with me when I leave.

Stitch dictionaries are really what got me hooked on knitting in the first place. Shortly after I’d learned to knit and purl (at that point I was making garter-stitch scarves almost exclusively), I came across a stitch dictionary on my mom’s bookshelf and asked to borrow it. Being typically generous, my mom said, “Just take it. You can keep it.” (Or maybe this wasn’t generosity—maybe she realized that one stitch dictionary was all it would take to finally turn one of her daughters into a knitting addict.)

The whole stitch dictionary concept just blew me away. I stuck with scarves, which were an easy template to work from, and started knitting up one after another. I loved choosing a yarn, choosing a stitch, and finding out how they worked together. And with the near-infinite possible combinations of yarns and stitches, I could spend hours browsing through my books and my stash, deciding what to try next. Some of the results were gorgeous. Other times I had to face the fact that the stitch I’d chosen simply wasn’t what the yarn wanted, and I’d unravel the whole thing to start again.

Later, I started playing with stitches on hats, which opened up the opportunity to develop different decreasing strategies. Happily, hats were even quicker projects than scarves, and it only took a day or two to test out the possibilities I dreamed up.

Given this, you can imagine my delight at discovering a copy of Lesley Stanfield’s 150 Knitted Trims at my local independent book store, Bookshop Santa Cruz.
Book about trimming
This book is a bit along the lines of Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge, offering a variety of patterns loosely organized by genre (“braids” is one category).

The production quality of this book is wonderful: heavy, glossy paper, with bright, detailed photos. Paging through it is a treat even before the knitting begins. And the possibilities it conjures up! On Knit Picks’ site this book is briefly described as “5 projects—128 pages.” That’s an understatement—this is a five-project book only for those completely devoid of any sort of imagination or knit-itching fingers, which pretty much rules out every knitter I’ve ever met.

Imagine this corkscrew fringe (second from top) edging a throw pillow or lamp in a girl’s bedroom.
Purple trimming

Now imagine these trims knit up in cotton (anything from crochet weight to dishcloth worsted) and attached to pillowcases or kitchen towels. It wouldn’t take long to turn utilitarian necessities into visual delights.
Blue-green trimming

I would love to try inserting this leaf band (second from top) into the cuffs of a sweater, perhaps used to gather the sleeves in a bit, then working back out into a small ruffle.
Green trimming

I also want to play with inserting ribbons or contrasting yarn through the holes in some of these trims, which would allow the wearer to adjust the size of a finished garment.
Ecru trimming

If you like to design your own pieces, if you’ve dreamed about designing but haven’t known where to start, or if you just want to customize the patterns you’re working up, this book will give you endless pleasure.

October 24 2007 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Tuesday Mewsday: Why Cat Owners So Rarely Need Alarm Clocks

This video arrives courtesy of Melissa’s sister Joanna, who knew I’d find it familiar.

October 23 2007 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Pic-less

I’m afraid this may be a visually boring week, as Melissa and I didn’t get together and I wasn’t able to take advantage of her artist’s eye and digital camera. She’s painting like crazy for a show she has coming up in Mill Valley that will feature her landscapes. Meanwhile, I spent the weekend here in Santa Cruz, assisting with negotiations among the members of my newly expanded cat household. We still have some hissing going on, but it’s getting much more pro forma. Saturday night, I imagined writing up minutes: “Let the record state that Bea wanted to sniff Sparky’s butt, but Sparky objected, tabling the activity until an unspecified date. On at least sixteen occasions, Penny raised the issue of not being allowed outside, repeatedly labeling Sarah-Hope’s references to her stitches [the vet found out the hard way she'd already been spayed] irrelevant.”

I wish that I could show you my lovely Wrapped in Comfort malabrigo shawl. I worked on it Friday night at a stitch-along at The Golden Fleece. The owners had the swatches out for the entire malabrigo line, which was both thrilling and frustrating: thrilling because I could touch everything, but frustrating because the swatches are so short they don ‘t really give a clear sense of any of the colorways. In a masterful enabling ply, Carol, one of the owners, said, “I can get you all the malabrigo you want. Just give me a list of the colors and how many skeins of each.” Oh, it will be a long list, I can tell you that, but I have made a promise to myself that I will not hand off the list to Carol until I have saved the money to pay for the yarn when it comes in. Meanwhile, I will be visiting the malabrigo web site and drooling uncontrollably (the cats may have to start wearing little Wellies).

Drops Designs has some great new (free!) patterns up. This cardigan looks comfy as all get-out, and I appreciate the complete absence of areas of stockingette wasteland. This jacket is a bit longer than I’d like (and the bustline bobbles have to go), but again cozy, cozy, cozy—and decorative enough to dress up or down. And here’s a pretty little shrug.

Take a minute to check out the Turkish Delight Hat at Black Purl. The genius of Donna Druchunas‘s design is that she’s taken a traditional mitten pattern and transformed it into a hat, which opens up all kinds of possibilities for those of us who are “thumb phobic” (or just too lazy to work a thumb). I may soon be wearing Hello Yarn’s squirrel mittens on my head.

October 22 2007 | Art and Cats | 1 Comment »

8 Random Things

I’ve been tagged by Gail for this meme. If you’d like me to tag you, just say the word!

1. I never expected I’d be a knitter. For years, I thought of yarn as “ucky”: scratchy and uncomfortable, the last thing I’d want to have running through my hands. Now, I’m still picky about what yarns I wear next to my skin, but I can’t keep my hands off it.

2. I have no subtlety when it comes to spices/flavorings, and prefer strong tastes in candies like licorice and horehound. Remember Sen-Sen? I loved it as a kid and still do. We have a local chocolate-maker who produces things like dark chocolate bars with cardamom or chipotle. Some people wouldn’t touch the stuff. I love it.

3. I only like backless shoes: clogs, crocs, slides. I can wear shoes with backs on them if I have to, but only if I have to.

4. When I find a dress/shirt/skirt I like, I buy it in every color and wear it pretty much every day until it’s in rags. Currently, I’m specializing in heathered, long-sleeved, v-neck tee shirts from Target.

5. Quite frankly, I think primate evolution has been pretty much all downhill since the lemurs. Consider ring-tailed lemurs, for example, who fight by rubbing their tails with scent glands on their wrists. When their tails are good and stinky, they go to battle by waving them at one another. That beats Mutual Assured Destruction any day.

6. For a while when I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be a boy. I insisted that my friends call me Zachary. I was absolutely furious when we got “the talk” and I learned that menstruation would be happening to me.

7. My favorite kind of sushi is sea eel—sounds creepy as hell, but tastes great.

8. I am a huge fan of Louise Rennison‘s teen-novel series featuring Georgia Nicolson. They make me laugh out loud about every three pages. When a new one comes out, I swoop it up in hardback. No waiting for paperbacks or library volumes for me—not if Georgia’s involved

October 19 2007 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Four More Rows…

… done on the shawl. I’m definitely going to have enough yarn to make it longer. I just finished skein number two and got twenty rows out of it. I’ve got two skeins left and twenty-one rows to go if I follow the pattern. This shawl is going to be soft, soft, soft. I’m already pawing through my malabrigo stash and thinking about which one I’ll start next.

I’m also thinking about a yarn for Revontuli. I love this colorway of Noro Silver Thaw, but I’m not sure it would produce the striping effect the shawl is designed for. If I’m doing my math right the pattern calls for a worsted/heavy worsted yarn. Any suggestions of wool or alpaca yarns with big self-striping runs? I vaguely remember something from a Patternworks catalogue, but I’m not sure. Oh, I’m going to be thumbing through catalogues and magazine ads when I get home from teaching today. If you have sources/ideas (especially if they’re reasonably priced) do let me know!

Meanwhile, we have made more cat progress than I’d anticipated. I still put Penny in the bathroom to sleep in order to prevent late-night altercations (George Bush isn’t the only fool who knows how to go all pre-emptive), but for an hour or so in the evening all three cats were stretched out in the same room, dozing and mostly ignoring one another. Bea seems to find the closed bathroom door with a cat behind it much more unnerving than a real-life cat across the room from her. And, having backed Penny into a corner under a dressing table, Sparky has decided she doesn’t merit any more than the occasional growl.

October 19 2007 | Cats | No Comments »

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