Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wearing Wool, and Other News

People who throw kisses are mighty hopelessly lazy.
-Bob Hope

Today's quotation has nothing whatsoever to do with this post (which might, by the way, fall into the Random Wednesday category), but it's a favorite in my collection.

The weather in San Diego, I am pleased to report, is finally on the chilly side. It was 42 degrees on my way to work this morning, and only in the high 50s by the afternoon. It is, of course, still sunny. It's gorgeous. What I like to think of as great sleeping weather. (Sleep, of course, being a much desired commodity around here.) The best part? Breaking out the wool sweaters. I've been wearing Am Kamin to and from work, a definite step up from my usual Navy-issued sweatshirt. (Although, in all fairness, the Navy sweatshirt does have reflective lettering on it. Wasn't there some glow-in-the-dark yarn a few years back?) The irony? It took me about 3 days of being cold in the morning to remember that I had all of these warm clothes, jackets even. I'd gotten so out of the habit.

In other news, I'm trying desperately to finish Christmas gifts before my post-office provided deadline for East Coast mailing (um, soon). I have two more secret projects racing against time. Details to follow.

And so that this is not a completely photo-less post, check out some other hats that I'm trying to get out in the Christmas mailing. Kate D. is the proud new aunt of triplets and requested some strawberry hats. I'm making the newborn size, and I know that the triplets aren't quite that big yet, but I'd love to save myself the postage. The problem? I had one made in a newborn size, and thought I'd only have to make 2 more. Turns out the color difference between the new and old is pretty significant. Guess I'll have to make one more . . . It's not every day triplets come along, is it?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Secret Projects Make for Bad Blogging

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
-Albert Einstein

Secret Projects Make for Bad Blogging. Sorry about that. But in addition to the Christmas craziness, I've also been cooking. Know what this is?
Turkey stock simmering away. Apparently I have a real thing for scraps. As I cook, I take all of my onion peels and carrot tops and other vegetable cuttings and throw them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Then, when I have a turkey or chicken carcass, I throw them all in together and simmer for 4 hours before straining. And there I have something from nothing - and so tasty! I think I have about 6 or 7 quarts of turkey stock cooling in my fridge now, all from things that could have been otherwise thrown out. It's just like all those great knitting projects from scraps.

Friday, November 24, 2006

More Dilettantism

Run mad as often as you like.
But do not faint.
-Jane Austen

Does my blog seem disjointed to you lately? As if I flit from project to project, never able to settle on one, or at least blog about one? And where did that nearly-complete Ribby Cardi come from, anyway? (And, speaking of disjointed, why does my blog look so bad in Internet Explorer? What happens to the sidebar? If anyone knows, let me know. But you should all be using Firefox anyway.)

Well, if it seems disjointed to you, think of how it looks up close to me! Seriously, I've been a knitting dilettante recently. With a host of long-term serious projects, I've been flittering around on randomness, unable to sustain an attention span longer than about 20 minutes. And then on Thanksgiving, I somehow found the time for even more randomness. (Apparently, the friends whom I was having Thanksgiving dinner took bets on whether or not I would bring my knitting. I did.)

Month 6 of My-Own-Personal-Book-A-Month Club:
In honor of all the cooking I've been doing recently, and the fact that I haven't used any wool at all in recent memory, I started the Oven Mitt and Trivet set from Felted Knits. So far, so good. But I worry that I'm running out of non-sweater-patterns in my books. It could be a rough spring if I'm starting a new sweater every month . . . We'll deal with that later.

A Secret Project: If you are in any way related to me, do not click on the link. Scout's honor. If you are not, and are curious, check out the details at the Who Wouldn't Love a Handknitted Gift? Knit-Along.

And Cablenet: I would it up into balls and was about to use my favorite tubular cast on before the timely arrival of my Thanksgiving dinner date. Seriously, it saved us all from yet another project. Be Thankful for that!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Single Act

To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act
is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
-Mahatma Gandhi

I've been using all my knitting time to bake and sew (both the mending and the seaming you see below).* Thus, no knitting. I am, however, the fortunate recipient of a lovely gift from Lynda of Knit Together. Yes, Lynda of Count Your Socks fame. She wanted to recognize my hundredth pair of socks. And what a lovely recognition! She sent me - what else - a ball of sock yarn, some nice Trekking XXL. in blues and tans. (Colors I clearly like. See below.) She also included lovely handmade stitch markers, the cutest knitters note paper (with socks on them!), and some Bert's Bees best-ever chapstick and cuticle cream. The best part for this sock knitter? It all came in that plastic case with a gromet in the top - to carry your knitting around, of course!

On a completely unrelated note (except for the color theme as noted above), check out my Ribby Cardi. You may be feeling blindsided by it's advanced appearance. I'm pretty sure the last blog appearance was at the bottom ribbing. Just goes to show what a couple of rows here and there while reading medical textbooks can do. And for completely gratuitous reasons, let me show you all my gorgeous reverse stockinette stitch seam:One of these days, I'll get it all together, make a collar and some front bands and sew in the zipper. I do have the zipper. We'll get there . . .

* Speaking of baking, sewing, and all things domestic, here's a cute story: The beau was on the phone with his mom the other day. She was being polite, asking him if we usually ate dinner together, and, if so, if we usually ate out or if one or the other of us cooked. His response? "Yes, Mom, Theresa cooks." On that note, I'd better get to it. Thanksgiving is, um, er, tomorrow and I have a cranberry tart to make.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Getting Stuff Done

The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down
an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.

-Jules Renard

You'd think that on my one day off this week I'd have more time to blog. You'd expect a long and insightful discussion on heel stitches or cable twists or stash acquisition. Sorry, I'm too busy getting stuff done. Including this:

You know I like darning socks, but it's much more challenging to darn something commercially made. To start with, you don't have any leftover yarn. To the right you see one of my favorite sweaters, an Ann Taylor cardigan in ribs with a few cable twists to add waist shaping. I wear it all the time, especially since I haven't really made that many cotton sweaters yet. Apparently, I wear it so much I snagged it on something. So I finally sat down with my darning egg, a stripe cut out of the leftovers from my Summer Stripe Socks, and got to work. It's better than it looks in that photo, although the colors are pretty dead on. The stitches are more even after washing.

Total time elapsed in darning: 45 min
Total time left in my day off: 9 1/2 hrs

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Gift-Giving Season

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.
-Pierre Corneille

So, when I went on and on and on about how I didn't knit last weekend, how good it was not to knit last weekend, well, I might have exaggerated a little for effect. I mean, I really didn't knit very much for having two whole days off and a little road trip and all. But I did manage to knit more than I will this weekend, what with being on call all weekend and all. (Last weekend was so much better than this one . . . sigh.) I did mangage to make this: I actually only made the top one this weekend. It's Yvonne's Double Flower Cloth made out of a single skein of Berrocco Flax on US7s. It's knit in th eround from the inside out, and it is fun, fun, fun. Probably took about 3 hours or so. Lovely, isn't it? The bottom one is another linen facecloth like this one. This is the dragon scales from Knitter's Stash. A close-up? Just be forewarned that the color is more accurate above. But the texture is perfect.Those of you keeping score will note that I probably have about 6 of these to do, and I'm kicking along with 3, almost 4 completed. When is Christmas, again?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why I Love the Blog

I try to take one day at a time,
but sometimes several days attack me at once.
-Ashleigh Brilliant

If ever you need something cheerful to greet you after a long night on call in the CCU which included, among all the usual chest pain and hypotension and hypertension and all of that good stuff, two codes; followed by the longest rounds ever; followed by the realization that maybe this was not the best night to have volunteered at the free clinic for the homeless; followed by all of that . . .

Look what arrived in the mail:Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. Nine skeins of Cotton Kureyon. For projects related to this. No decisions have been made exactly (see above), but at least I have more yarn with which to play. And how did I find this long-discontinued yarn? Jessica told me about a yarn shop in Washington with some on sale. And no website. I love the blog. Thanks, Jessica!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Good Toys

When I bring you colored toys, my child,
I understand why there is such a play of colors on clouds, on water,
and why flowers are painted in tints.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Thanks for all the lovely comments on my great weekend of not knitting. Lest you think that we're all play and no work, let me assure you that both the beau and I are working tonight, running around the hospital like crazy people and occasionally bumping into each other on the stairs. This place is no national park, let me tell you! Since I haven't had time to photograph any of the knitting I've been doing recently, I'll get you all caught up on some recent FOs.

You know how I can't seem to get enough of the little things these days, how I keep getting distracted? And I'm only starting to get into the Christmas spirit (yes, aided in part by the Starbucks holiday cups). Who knows what kind of damage I'll do with Christmas ornaments this year?

Here's the final tally for my Month 4 project. Yes, that would be as I'm starting Month 6. Why do you ask? The limiting factor was actually doing laundry. When you're wearing scrubs every day, and you handwash your socks, there's not a whole lot of laundry that piles up.

Stuffed Felted Balls
Pattern: from Melanie Falick's Knitting for Baby
Yarn: oddballs of feltable wool, including Gjestal Tweed, Lamb's Pride, Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool, Manos, Lopi, Cascade 220, and a few unidentified yarns
Needles: US 7s
Notes: The green-purple colors are perhaps a little sophisticated for babies. But I think they'll love the pink/blue combo.
Best Thing About This Project: Not only does it use up small feltable oddballs, it's stuffed with all the leftover pieces of yarn that I can't seem to throw away. We're talking the 2-inch pieces you cut off when you're done weaving in ends. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy and resourceful?

Speaking of holiday cheer, does any one have any tried-and-true make-ahead and freeze cookie recipies? I have to work all through the holidays, so I'm going to need all the advance help I can get.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sometimes, It's Good Not To Knit

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it

Shocking, I know. But sometimes, it's good not to knit. Sometimes, it's great to just be somewhere and do something. To be doing only one thing at a time. Because this weekend, I didn't only have one day off with my beau, I had two. Did that sink in? Two interns with two different call schedules managed to get two days off at the same time. This particular alignment of the stars, gods, and good fortunes was too good to waste. And we didn't. Any guesses where we went?

Need another hint?

Joshua Tree National Park is awesome. Stunning. Completely out-of-this world for an east-coaster like myself. I'm used to temperate forests and rolling fields. This desert thing is really something else. (And let me make another pitch for getting your National Parks Pass now. What a great way to support your national parks, and enjoy them any time you want.) In addition to the strange-looking trees and the cacti that are, um, not-as-"fuzzy"-as-they-appear, we also explored Palm Springs, the legendary vacation spot of Hollywood legends of the past. Quite a contrast to the desert, but with much better restaurants.

I did actually get a little knitting done on the drive out (about 3 rows) before I fell asleep, and a little more on the way back. But most of the time, I was pretty happy to just admire the view, to walk around town or through the park, to sit and talk with my beau. All those things on my knitting list? Not one of them can hold a candle to holding hands with the gentleman below. I think he's standing on the high ground, by the way. And if you don't recognize me in this photo, that would be because I probably haven't been this relaxed since, well, since I don't know when. Regularly scheduled knitting will resume this week. But it was a great weekend of not knitting.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Scarlet Umbrella

The Italians are fond of red clothes, peacock plumes, and embroidery;
and I remember one rainy morning in the city of Palermo,
the street was ablaze with scarlet umbrellas.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

It took Rachel coming all the way to San Diego (from Providence - I mean, almost as far apart as you can be and still be CONUS), it took that long trip for me to get around to showing you my Amazing Lace project. Two months after the official ending. Ahem. Moving on.

Peacock Feathers, in all her glory:

Can you see the mistakes? Not from that gallopping horse, right?

Peacock Feathers Shawl
Pattern: Peacock Feathers Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting
Yarn: JaegerSpun Zephyr in Ruby
Needles: Addi Turbos - US 5s?
Notes: This was a fabulous pattern, a yarn so wonderful I'm using it for the chuppah I'm making, and produces a gorgeous shawl. My only complaint? Do you see how huge it is?
Best Thing About This Pattern: It was looking through the Fiddlesticks web page that inspired the whole summer lace knitalong concept. And The Amazing Lace was fabulous fun, no matter how delinquent I was with my own knitting.

Feels good to be done with this one, let me tell you! But you know what feels better? See the beau's shadow in the photo above? Tomorrow is the first time in at least 2 months that we both have off on the same day and we have plans to make the most of it. I'll see you next week . . .

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Change of Weather

"It's nothing," returned Mrs Chick.
"It's merely change of weather. We must expect change."
-Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son

Yesterday you saw the partial results of my experiementation with the completely captivating Lizard Ridge pattern from the latest Knitty. And yes, there are a million other things I ought to be working on. The chuppah. Christmas gifts. The Ribby Cardi that is nearing completion and I might be able to actually wear at some point. And so I am faced with a dilemma.

No, the dilemma is not whether or not to knit Lizard Ridge. Don't judge me unless you've tried it. Seriously - it's that fun. The dilemma is a yarn dilemma. I started square #1 in Cotton Kureyon that I've had lying around. Oddballs pulled out in The Grand Stash Reorganization of 2006. Oddballs leftover from the scarf-hat-mittens set you see on the right.

Now, those of you who have never heard of Cotton Kureyon have never heard of it because it was discontinued, probably before I started knitting. I got these skeins (and I think there are about 8-10) for $2 each in the sale shed at my favorite yarn store, not long after I started knitting. It seemed pretty, and like a good idea. I had no idea just how good. But I tried a couple of things, realized that the yarn - while pretty - was probably discontinued because it breaks if you breathe on it, and eventually made a super-long scarf in a lace rib pattern. Just to use it up.

I made a matching hat, which has always been too big, and mittens, which were never warm enough. But I love this scarf. It looks great with this black wool coat I used to have before the lining fell out. It doesn't match my new winter-white wool coat. And I now live in San Diego. (Notice the subtle photo shoot on the palm leaves?) And when I do get the chance to wear a scarf, or a hat, or mittens, I have at least 3 other sets that I'd reach for first.

So, the dilemma . . . The way I see it, I have several options:
  1. Rip out the scarf/hat/mittens and recycle the yarn. This will still be only be enough for about half a full-sized blanket, so this would have to be in conjunction with #2.
  2. Stalk ebay for Cotton Kureyon, pay potentially exorbinant prices, and knit the squares piecemeal as I get the yarn.
  3. Consider the one square a swatch/experiment and make the whole blanket in Kureyon. (I do have some Kureyon oddballs I could use to get started, and a couple of random skeins lying around. This will still require a lot of yarn purchasing.)
  4. Take Amy's suggestion and make a pillow. Each square is about 12" square, so probably I would make an oversized pillow with either 4 squares and a cloth or plain backing or 8 squares. I might be able to get 4 squares out of the oddballs and the hat/mittens. I'd need to break into the scarf to get 8.
  5. Take Elinor's suggestion and make a scarf. Oh, the irony!
These are not necessarily mutually exclusive. And, of course, I'm very very open to other suggestions. Because clearly, this is going to happen. The question is how. And when. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


If you don't make mistakes, you don't make anything.
-German Proverb

I knew it was a mistake.

This pattern is incredibly compelling. There was some long-neglected (and long-discontinued) Cotton Kureyon in my stash. And I thought I'd just "give it a try." Famous last words.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must,
like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
-Thomas Paine

Because you can.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Something Good

When you re-read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before;
you see more in yourself than was there before.
-Clifton Fadiman

OK, maybe I exaggerated. There's at least one good thing that came from reorganizing my yarn stash. Three, even.

1. I Found This:

This is a, um, er, birthday gift from my college roommate. She had the good fortune to go to Nova Scotia in August, and the good taste to bring me my first-ever Fleece Artist yarn. That's Peter Rabbit, an angora blend, in absolutely wonderful colors. While I'm tempted to make The World's Most Decadent Pair of Socks, I don't want to ruin this treasure. I'm thinking a simple lace, like razor shell, maybe in a moebius? In the back is another fine Canadian yarn, Briggs and Little Durasport. It's a sport weight wool-nylon blend perfect for socks. The color has much more depth than you can see with the flash here. Isn't it nice when friends know you so well?

2. It Has Some Rhyme and Reason To It:

It turns out that my stash is not a completely disordered hodge-podge of yarn. While there are certainly outliers, the core stash is strikingly consistent. I reach for my favorites all the time.

Worsted weight wool? Cascade 220
"Rugged" worsted weight? Canadian - Briggs and Little. PEI. It all goes together.
Fancy Facecloths? Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille
Colorwork? Dale of Norway. Baby Ull. Heilo. Anything as long as it's Dale. Did you know that there are Dale patterns that call for "remnants" in the quantity section?
Cotton? Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece
Baby Clothes? Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece or Dale Baby Ull

The beauty of this (somewhat) consistency is that my leftovers go together. (This is, er, somewhat aided by the fact that I always buy too much yarn.) I used leftover Cascade 220 from Am Kamin, my Knitting Olympics project, to knit the soles of my new FiberTrends felted clogs. And the leftovers from my long-neglected Ribby Cardi will match the rest of the Am Kamin leftovers. Which match some random skeins I have. Which leads us to the third good thing about stash reorganization . . .

3. Think of the Possibilities:

Seeing it all together makes me aware of the possibilities. There's enough Cotton Fleece in complementary colors for several baby sweaters. And plenty of Cascade 220 for all the Christmas hats, or striped scarves, or felted slippers I might ever want to knit. And I can put a contrasting hem on anything.

It is somewhat sobering to realize that my yarn stash will probably never be significantly smaller than it is currently, regardless of my minor problem obsession fascination with knitting small round objects out of scraps. I create odd balls faster than I can knit them. You can only make so many Christmas ornaments. And you never do know when you'll need those 6 yards of Lopi in a contrasting color. So that's the stash. Full of possibilities.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nothing Good

It's like watching someone knit and noticing there's no yarn at all.
-Martin C. Smith

I must have been in a sleep-deprived haze. It's the only possible explanation for why I decided to re-organize my yarn stash AND simultaneously update my yarn stash spreadsheet last weekend. I mean, I know I had seen Laura do it here. But maybe in my day-night confusion I thought that meant I should, too?

Seriously, nothing good can come from stash reorganization. Here's a list of the bad things that happened:
  1. I realized how much yarn I had.
  2. The beau stopped by unexpectedly and HE realized how much yarn I had. I think it was when I had to move the DVD player to reach cones of yarn that he really got scared.
  3. I think this now negates a previous conversation wherein he told me that he thought I should buy as much yarn as I wanted.
  4. I don't have - of course - the yarn to knit anything I really feel like starting.
  5. And then I realized I don't have any time to start anything.
  6. My spreadsheet grew from 5 to 6 pages long.
  7. Because even after I finished projects, I had some full skeins of leftover yarn. And that still takes up a whole line.
  8. Some of this yarn I don't know if I'll ever use.
  9. But, of course, if I get rid of it, I'll need it.
  10. All that playing with yarn and spreadsheets kept me from knitting. Especially this.
The only thing potentially on the plus side? The beau was very terrified impressed by the whole spreadsheet thing. He does have a degree in engineering, after all. And spreadsheets are just so scientific.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Gifts

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.
-Emile Zola

The Christmas knitting rush is beginning. Have you seen how many gifts some people are knitting? Since I'm in the middle of a massive gift, I was going to foreswear all Christmas knitting. I made some large projects last year and that was going to be it. But you know what they say about the best laid plans, right?

It turns out that I have the occasion to make a few small gifts. And I had some lonesome skeins of linen sitting around looking bored. And I needed to continue my month-by-month knitting book plan. Knitter's Stash was next up on the list. So I knit a facecloth.
Full details to follow. Because I'm actually knitting three of them. Or maybe six.