Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

It is our choices that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities.
-J.K. Rowling

As you know, 2008 is my personal Year of Yarn. It's the year I'm knitting the yarn that is too precious to knit, the gifts, the special yarns, the ones that - for whatever reason - I never get to. (And the April yarn was so delightful that the project is finished - photos coming soon!)

Looking ahead, I'm a bit flummoxed with the yarn I have set aside for May. (Actually, I had it set aside for March, but then I couldn't decide what to do, so I changed it all around.)
This is a fingering-to-sportweight alpaca in 2 natural colors - a nice off-white and a rich brown. I believe there is about 4 (or is it 8?) oz of each, so approximately 600-800 yards total? I've had it for a while now, maybe 4 or 5 years, and I met the alpacas on the farm from which they came. I got it as a relatively young knitter and wanted to make something special out of it, but now I can't commit to a project. I'm hoping you can help.

Here are some broad categories I've been thinking of so far. One of the limitations is that I'd like to use them together in a single project if I can.
  • Shawl - Shetland Triangle, or some other Evelyn Clark creation? Lovely, but I'm not feeling the lace vibe right now
  • Tank/Camisole - this was my original thought, but I'm not sure I have enough yarn, and I don't know how to combine the colors.
  • Two-color baby knit - This would have to be another saved for my future children.
  • Other two-color stuff - hats, mittens - pretty sure this wouldn't put much of a dent in it, although I have been on a stranded colorwork kick lately.
  • Capelet - not sure how much I would wear it, but I could see making something like Ann Budd's Grand Plan capelet (top down - good for unknown quanities of yarn), in the lace version, with the collar and lace panel and button bands one color and the yoke another color.
  • Toy - the teddy bear from the IK Holiday edition caught my eye. But is this a "good enough" use for this yarn?
  • Other thoughts?
Any brilliant ideas? Otherwise, I'm just going to keep moving around my project list. My original plan for May involved a project that's no longer a good candidate for its yarn, so we're readjusting anyway.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Let's Talk About Books

A book is a gift you can open again and again.
-Garrison Keillor

It's Monday. A whole new week. I'm feeling all sorts of motivated this morning. Maybe you are, too? Many readers and knitters and many more readers are knitters, and after sharing my new favorite things with the lady at the post office, I thought I'd share with you.

Book Swapping/Trading/Mooching
I've gotten hooked on a few websites that let you trade your books for other books for only the cost of postage. The general concept is the same - list books (any books) that you want to get rid of, and people will request them. You mail them the book (media mail = $1.47) and get a point. Then you use that point to get any other book in the entire system from anyone else. Each site has its own small vagaries, but they all work about the same way. Now that I've gotten my postal lady hooked (she wondered why I sent so much media mail, and she's a big reader, too), I thought I'd be remiss in keeping this all from you.

Bookmooch - This is my favorite site, the most transparent and easy to use, and it gives you the most control over what's going on

PaperBackSwap - This is probably the biggest site, but I find it a little hard to navigate, and it's never really clear how many copies of a book are around. That being said, lots of available books.

WhatsOnMyBookshelf - This is the smallest of the sites. The good part about that is that your copy of a book is more likely to be the only one available, and thus more likely to get mooched. I just found this site about a month ago, and the first weekend I listed my books I got 6 takers.

For me, these take the place of the capricious staff at the local paperback bookstore (plus I never found one in San Diego). Instead of turning in three books to get one, I get 1 for 1. Even books that don't seem that desirable get mooched eventually. I take the approach of listing the same inventory at all three sites, and then deleting a book when it gets mooched on one site. (Hence the reason for the three sites - three times as many chances to get rid of books I don't want and get books I do.)

The best part? People want the weirdest books! And I get new ones for free.

And, if anyone is so inspired as to want to participate in a paperback book chain letter sort of thing (total comittment to you = 1 book), let me know. I need some volunteers.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Moving Along

Artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue.
Those of us who aren't artists must color things the way
they really are or people might think we're stupid.
-Jules Pfeiffer

Somewhere in the midst of all the craziness, there is some plain ol' knitting being done. Shocking, I know. And apparently, it's all blue.

You may or may not recall the Bed and Breakfast Pullover. This is my March project, which isn't standing a particularly good chance of being finished in April either, but that's OK because my April project is done. At any rate, the B&B is clicking along. It has a perfectly delightful cable pattern - unusual, interesting, and really not at all particulalrly difficult. The boring ribbed sleeves were done in an early moment of opportunism, so now I have a couple more inches of the back and then the front. Not bad, if I get to work.

My other brilliant blue project also saw some progress, although of a different sort. A while back when I was in a lace kind of mood I started the Fiddlesticks' Long Paisley Shawl in some KnitPicks Shadow. I like the yarn, and I like the pattern. I definitely made a mistake and went down too many needle sizes, so the garter stitch fabric was too bouncy. But really, it had to go. I knew I wasn't going to finish it this decade, so it was better to frog now and open up the possibilities for both the yarn, the pattern, and my time.

Frogging can be progress, too. What kind of progress have you all been making? Show us en route to the FO parade!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Sleeve Conundrum

I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms
from the statues that are in all the other museums.
-Stephen Wright

Some of you with long memories may remember a distant time last month when I was on the cusp of finishing not one, but two Dale of Norway sweaters. I put up a bad dimly lit photo of a blocking sweater, mentioned in passing that the sleeves were too long, and that seemed to be the end of that.

Well, it wasn't really. I thought long and hard about my options for fixing this sweater:

1. Cut and rip and graft in any manner of ways to make the sleeves shorter.
2. Find someone with longer arms.

I went with option #2. It was obvious, really. I love the sweater. It's a cute, versatile kind of pullover that I'd been meaning to make for a while. And it was a great fun knit. But the gray kind of washed me out, I wanted to start a new project rather than rip and graft a lace pattern, and - this is the part that really made up my mind - I could think of a perfect recipient.

Meet my sister-in-law. She's very nice, a new knitter, an even newer blogger (you can check that out here and leave encouraging comments - remember your first blogging days? But please ignore the worst-ever photo of me in the world. Thank you.), and - best yet - she's a couple of inches taller than me. With the required longer arms (see below for confirmation). Plus, it just looks better on her than it did on me.

Pattern: From Dale of Norway Book 121 (now OOP)
Yarn: Dale of Norway Sisik (now discontinued)
Needles: US 5 and 6
Notes: I blocked the body before deciding how long it should be (important in a lace project) and neglected to do the same with the sleeves.
Best Thing About This Project: Getting to give it in person. And check out that wingspan!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wedding Knitting

Hear the mellow wedding bells Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
-Edgar Allen Poe

Gosh, it sure is nice to have this husband of mine home. We're still basking in the wedding glow (mostly by organizing our new matching dishes!), so I'll continue the theme with the wedding knitting we I did.

The Manos Four Seasons ThrowBecause my mom was always worried that I'd elope and not have a "real" wedding. And then we did (sort of) elope, and my parents still threw us a big wedding. Because nothing beats walking down the aisle with your dad. Especially when he's wearing your handknit socks.Manos Four Seasons Throw
Pattern: shamelessly borrowed from Disentangled (her version here)
Yarn: Manos in 12 colors
Needles: US 9 Brittany Birch straights
Notes: I did 10 of the 12 offered patterns because 2 others were just too annoying. Otherwise I love it.
Best Thing About This Pattern: Keeping my mom warm while my dad turns down the thermostat.

I knit a few other things for the wedding, many of which you've seen before. These Selbuvotter mittens were for one of our readers, a good friend who has been asking me for mittens for years and years.

For my lovely bridesmaids, I made various cotton facecloths as part of a tote bag of goodies. This is, of course, part of the deep, dark plan to turn them all into knitters with their now-perfect knitting bags. (My sister giving her toast. ETA: She ended with a part of Pablo Neruda's Ode to My Socks, my favorite poem. How appropriate!)

Of course, I took photos of none of them, so you can just imagine. If you have plans of doing the same, I heartily recommend Yvonne's Double Flower Cloth for maximum effect.

Don't they look happy with their gifts? And, tired of the 3-inch heels my sister picked out!
I'll close with some gratuitous shots. First, the baby did wear my sweater vest. And, just a lovely gratuitous shot. When else can I wear a veil? It was fun.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Eye Candy Friday, Time Machine Tuesday, Er, Something

For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.
- William Ross Wallace

Thank you for all your wonderful comments on the wedding photos. There will be more to come as I get them. In the meantime, here's my Time Machine Tuesday/Eye Candy Friday post for the week.

You all surely remember the rash of baby knits last year in preparation for this little one. Well, his parents are the kind of people with good taste and good sense who believe in putting their child in handknits as often as possible, even if they're still a little big. Recall, the bear used to be as big as the baby!

Now he's growing into many of his gifts (great reason to make all kind of different sizes). And here's where I'll make a plug for this Debbie Bliss pattern Baby Hooded Jacket from Simply Baby. (Original post here.) According to the parents, it's a great go-anywhere throw-on-top-of-anything kind of sweater, it looks adorable too big, and will likely fit for a while because of its cape-like structure. They apparently get lots of compliments. From the knitter's perspective, it's a stockinette raglan cape with self-rolling edgings and a single button hole, and a big hood. Win-win.

I also have a photo of this self-same delightful baby wearing this handknit sweater vest to my wedding reception. Could have sworn I uploaded it . . . but you'll just have to wait. Life is busy. As my college roommate (the mother of this baby) said, "When I show up at your wedding with my baby, I guess that makes us grown-ups."

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And Now, Photos

Now join your hands. And with your hands your hearts.
-William Shakespeare

It was wonderful. Enjoy some wedding photos courtesy of our anniversary buddies, flitgirl and her husband Toasty Joe.Come back tomorrow for the wedding knitting, the baby clothes, and other delights.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Sweaters You've All Been Waiting For

When a wife has a good husband, it is easily seen in her face.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

. . . Betcha didn't know that there were two! This is a little secret only known to me and the ladies in my knitting group who saw me working on it. No tempting mentions on the blog of a "secret" project or tantalizing photos of heathered twisted stitches. Nope, not when the recipient has this blog as his first bookmarked page. I originally thought that the Dale was going to take me pretty much until next Christmas, so I thought I'd whip up a simpler sweater for the interim, like for a certain birthday coming in June. Turns out that I knit faster than I thought. Turns out I married a man who wants nothing to do with a plain stockinette sweater. As he put it - "If you're going to go to all that trouble to make it, why should it look like something you can buy?"

River Forest Gansey
Pattern: from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Lichen Heather - about 8.5 skeins
Needles: US 7 for the body, US 5 for the edging
Notes: I measured against a sweater he had here, which worked pretty well. The sleeves are maybe a little long, but nothing dramatic. This was a fun, easy pattern. Love the all-over texture.
Best Thing About This Sweater: The utter surprise.

And now, the masterpiece that has really occupied my entire winter (one can easily imagine worse things, can't one?) . . .

Salt Lake City
Pattern: Dale of Norway Olympic Sweater for Salt Lake City (tragically out-of-print)
Yarn: Dale Heilo, almost all of 17 balls of the MC, 3 of the natural, and 2 each of the red and green
Needles: US 2, 3, 4
Notes: This may be the most knitting fun I've ever had.
Best Thing About This Project: "I never imagined I'd have a wife who could make this."'

That was so fun, I feel compelled to knit another. This time is mine. Park City in the natural colorway with a slightly brighter blue accent.

Well, the sweaters are packed to show off to the folks. We have a wedding to catch. See you next week.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Time Machine Tuesday: Wedding Edition

Hail wedded love,
mysterious law,
true source
Of human offspring.
-John Milton

It's a week of wedding celebration around here, so I thought we could have an extra special edition of Time Machine Tuesday. The wedding knit of the century in action, so to speak. You recall the chuppah I made for my best friend's wedding last summer. Turns out it's seeing lots of action of the resting at the foot of the bed kind. She was kind enough to tell me that it gets carefully placed aside at night. Isn't it great to see it out and about? The first chuppah I made, which the blog has still never seen, was also used recently for the bris of that couple's first son. And rumor has it that that son, otherwise known as my favorite baby, has grown into some of his handknits and is wearing his favorite sweater vest to some of the festivities! Get ready for next Time Machine Tuesday!

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

April Flowers

I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers:
Of April, May, or June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of bridal cakes.
-Robbert Herrick

I'm loving April for so many reasons. An interesting, less-stressful work month. Check. Lovely San Diego in the spring. Check. Going home to see all my family and friends for an awesome wedding celebration next week. Check. Oh, and my husband is coming home today. Big check.

So, before he gets here and you all ignore all my projects and clamor to see him in his new sweater, let's check out my new projects for April.

First up, a nice travel project for that cross-country trek next week: The Lacy Kerchief from an old IK in Cotton Ease Candy Blue. I'm shamelessly copying Lynda's version here, since it came out so well.

And then there's the long-neglected yarn. April's Yarn of the Month is Anny Blatt Kanpur, which may very well be my oldest yarn in the stash. I got 6 skeins in the Sakonnet Purls sale shed for $2 ball way back before I could ever even consider knitting with silk. But I knew it was a gorgeous yarn in a gorgeous color, and that someday I'd find a use. Thanks to Ravelry and the ability to search by yarns, similar yarns, yarn weights, other projects, and really on any kind of whim you want, I found the project.
The Surplice Bodice Camisole from Knitting Lingerie Style. It's a quick knit - the above was the result of the ABC Family The Cutting Edge marathon - thanks to Sarah I learned that there's now a Cutting Edge 3. Because the 2nd wasn't bad enough? And then they had the heroine of #2 say in #3 that she had gotten divorced? Way to ruin a romantic comedy . . .

But I digress. Two thoughts on the actual knitting. Knitting Lingerie Style is really intriguing. When it first came out I thought it was a little odd, but the more I look at it the more patterns I find to like. A gal in my knitting group is knitting the Waist Cincher Top and it looks great.

Also, turns out that I'm completely paranoid about running out of yarn. This is probably related to some inherited traits, such as how my grandfather had saved every empty margarine container for years, and my mom stockpiles cans of soup like the next famine is coming. But one of the things that had kept me from using my lovely silk for so long is a fear I was going to run out of yarn. And now it's clear that I have so much I'll have to find another project for the leftovers. Any one else have this problem? I'm pretty sure it explains all those lots of 2-3 balls of yarn in my stash.

And, since we've digressed so much, let's check out the other great thing about April:
Three cheers for the Wee Tiny Sock Swap!

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Man and His Hat

Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
-Henry David Thoreau

Since we're all so excited about the impending return home of my favorite model of handknits (and do wish him a good drive cross-country, won't you), I thought today would be a lovely day to show off his new hat. Well, new as of February, anyway.

Norwegian Star Hat
Pattern: from Hats On!
Yarn: Cascade 220 in the green and Paton's Classic Merino in the natural. You will note that the colors are the inverse of the mittens here.
Needles: US 7 or 8, which turned out to be a little large
Notes: Love this book, love this pattern, don't love that somehow my knitting has loosened up over the years. This grew like crazy in the wash, so much so that I needed to do a little intentional fulling.
Best Thing About This Project: The photo below.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Guess What I Finished

Oh, well, I guess this is just going to be one of those lifetimes.
-Stephen Wright

I just had to hijack (my own) Time Machine Tuesday to bring you this:
Look what I finished!

The best part? You can get some modeled shots next week. The model is coming home.

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