Monday, July 31, 2006

Nothing to see here, folks....

Not that I'm not knitting; I'm just not photographing (, finishing, either).

The great Ballband Bathmat continues apace. The tremendous advantage of working with great big needles is offset by the tremendous disadvantage of working with a total of TWELVE strands of yarn, 6 and 6. Eventually it will get all knitted up, and then I'll weigh the monster and see just how much cotton it takes to make the biggest ballband ever.

Work on my m-i-l's Christmas gift (the yak/merino scarf to go with the double-thick Fair Isle hat in the same yarn) has been suspended because it's way too hot to even think about knitting with wool.

I did manage a row or two on my mother's silk stole today, but the laceweight yarn and Madiera Mesh pattern make for slow going.

My one FO: the first ballband warshrag in colors that actually match my kitchen. No photo, but once the others are done I'll take a shot and post. Ballbands make for great mindless car knitting, and I'm using a nylon circ so heaven forbid we get in an accident I won't -- as DH constantly warns -- stab myself with my knitting. Can you imagine that obituary??

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bathmats, Bathmats Everywhere....

OK, so I'm over my little snit of yesterday. As Kathy wisely pointed out, it's often hard to come across in writing the way one wants to. So, no hard feelings, MDK blog folks; I'll be over there blogging again in no time.

But first, here's my latest bathmat-in-progress:

Cool, eh? It's based on the Ballband Warshrag pattern. I used 6 strands of Sugar-n-Cream on size 15 needles and cast on 51 stitches, all white for the slip-stitch rows and a mix of yellow ombre (Peaches-n-Cream, actually) and solid yellow for the other rows. It's coming out sooooo soft and squishy, I just can't wait to sink my toes into it. I'm pretty sure this will be the pattern I use to make my Christmas gifts: Ballband Bath Sets (a bathmat, two hand towels and two washcloths).

Oh, and the red/orange/maroon warshrag is there to provide a sense of scale; it's done with a single strand of SnC on size 6 needles, exactly following the Ballband pattern. Amazing what multiplying strands and going up a few needle sizes will do to gauge, isn't it?

And Kathy, since you asked, it's the same "formula" for my Absorbas: 6 strands of PnC on size 15s. For the bathmat in the previous post's photo I used plain white for 3 strands and off-white for the other 3. And thank you so much for the nice compliment. It never would have occurred to me to knit a bathmat of all things before reading MDK, but now that I've started I just can't seem to stop.

But lest it seem that the only thing I'm interested in knitting these days are bathmats, take a look at the absolutely stunning skein of hand-dyed merino I just received in trade from Jaye in Ohio:

Is it not just gorgeous and scrumptions and to-die-for? And it feels even better than it looks. Mmmmmmm..... I'm thinking moebius scarf for the fall, and this project I'll keep for myself. :)

Friday, July 28, 2006


So, I checked in at the Mason-Dixon Knitalong blog, where I've been loving both reading about everyone's MDK projects and posting about my own, and lo and behold, the following Important Message was posted today:


Please be conservative with the pictures you choose to post on this site.

We can only allow ONE picture of EACH project per POST.

This means:

1. We love to see your progress, but we don't need to see 3 different pictures documenting various stages of knitting project.

2. Please choose the best version of your photographed item.....we don't need to see washrags posing in various parts of the house or kitchen or bathroom. As much as we love to see these....we need to conserve our bandwidth.

3. No more pictures of piles of yarn that you will eventually knit up.

These are all fun pictures - trust me, I like looking at them just as much as you do....but we all must do our parts to conserve bandwidth.


Now, I can certainly appreciate the need to conserve bandwidth. I don't mind posting only one project photo per post. I can post only photos of projects and not yarn-that-will-become-projects. There is nothing at all unreasonable about any of the requests in that post.

But, is it me or could the message have been worded just a bit more nicely?

Maybe I'm just oversensitive since I'm one of those who just posted not only two photos of the same project but one of the photos also included a pile of yarn. Yikes! In my defense, I really do like my knitted bathmats, and I was REALLY excited to get a ton of Sugar n Cream yarn on sale at Michael's for a buck a skein.

I feel like I've just been thwacked on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. Unfortunately, now I'm rather hesitant to post on that blog again, not because I have any doubt that I can follow the instructions, but more because I feel chided -- unfairly scolded for doing something that wasn't wrong (or, at least, hadn't been labeled as wrong) at the time I did it.

Bad timing, too. I just started a Ballband Bathmat (adapted from the Ballband Warshrag pattern) and I'm really pleased with how it's coming out. Will post photos here once a few more rows are done.

In other news, I've been trying my hand at twice-knit knitting, a particular technique that produces a thick, textured fabric that won't run when it's cut. Can you say "sweaters with steeks"??? Unfortunately, I can't seem to get the darn thing to knit up straight -- it keeps biasing. See??

I'm following the tutorial exactly, and I even wrote Megan, the woman who created the tutorial, and she said it sounds like I'm doing all the right things. Will have to start experimenting with this...and then sweaters in the round, here I come!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

One of Those Days

Today was the day for none of my fibery experiences to go right. First I tried my hand at twice-knit knitting, and not once but twice did my piece come out on the bias instead of straight. Then on the way home from work I stopped at Gotta Knit, where all summer yarns were on sale for 30% off, and found that the one skein of bulky silk I'd been fondling lovingly and which I had found clearly set out on the "sale" shelf was, in fact, not on sale. Finally, I began my ballband bathmat tonight only to find -- after completing three lengthy rows -- that I'd miscalculated my cast-on and needed to pull the whole things out. To top it off, I really didn't care for the way that bathmat was looking in the ballband pattern, which means I'll either need to keep tweaking it until I hit something I like (IF I hit something I like) or simply abandon the idea.

*sigh* I should have expected it. I spent all last night knitting happily away, listening to Pride and Prejudice on Librivox without a care in the world. I finished my project, wove in all the ends, didn't run out of yarn or find I'd dropped a stitch waaaaay back where I'd have to go crazy to fix it...all in all, a great fiber night.

Yep. I should've expected it -- the universe is simply restoring balance. It's a good thing I didn't try to work on anything complicated today...who knows what might have happened?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Doing Battle

Found another moth today, this time in the guest bathroom. At least DH managed to squish the thing. He swears it wasn't a clothes moth; I swear he's just trying to make me feel better.

So, just in case, I've decided to take things to the next level:

Nestled comfortably between the butter and the frozen blueberries is one plastic storage tub's worth of wool. Freezing for 72 hours is supposed to kill moth larvae, and that's exactly what I intend to do. And people said I was crazy to buy a giant chest freezer for just my husband and me!

In other news, poor M is sick. She woke us up at nearly 5am, covered in her own vomit. She'd eaten craisins and blueberries yesterday among other things, so it was quite the shocking sight. No work for me today -- it'll be the doctor's office instead. M is certainly looking better now than she did four hours ago -- she's eaten a few Cheerios and is happily tossing the remainder to the dogs as I write -- but she's been a bit "off" since Sunday (low-grade fever, diarrhea), so I want to get her checked out. Don't know how much, if any, knitting I'll be able to get done in the waiting room, but I'll bring my m-i-l's yak/merino scarf with me just in case.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Public Has Spoken....

The wonderful knitters at the Mason-Dixon Knitalong have chimed in on my MDK baby kimonos, and the consensus seems to be that either colorway is fine for a boy or a long as the parents are OK with it.

As the mother of a 15 month old girl, I can attest to the fact that it's pretty easy to OD on pink and purple gifts from well-meaning friends/family. Personally, I think it's good to shake things up a bit. But some other people...well, not so much.

I recently had a discussion about this with DH, shortly after I brought home a Little People garbage truck toy for my daughter. I remarked to DH that, forward-thinking as I like to believe myself to be, I still found myself debating over whether I should buy M the toy because it was -- well, it was a friggin' garbage truck. What kind of "girl toy" was that?

Of course, as soon as the thought crossed my mind (as I stood at the toy table in the community center fundraising tag sale with this brand-new, still-in-the-box-with-the-tags-on toy marked at only $3 in my hot little hand), I chided myself for being ridiculous. What child, boy or girl, wouldn't like a bright-green truck with eyes for headlights that made chomping, burping, crashing noises at the pull of a handle and had not one but TWO pieces -- a short, squat garbage man and a silver garbage can overflowing with plastic "trash" -- to take off and play with.

Needless to say, I bought the truck. I'm happy to report, it's one of M's favorite toys.

But back to my discussion with DH. I told him of my hesitation at the toy sale, and he said that it was perfectly fine for his daughter to play with toy trucks if she wanted to. "But," he added, "No son of mine is going to play with an Easy-Bake Oven."

Now, how ridiculous is that? First of all, if there's any toy that any kid, boy or girl, should go crazy over, it's one that gives out junk food just for playing with it. Do you see GI Joe handing out brownies at the end of a rousing game of "bayonet the enemy soldiers"?

I thought not.

Similarly, when I was pregnant, a girlfriend gave me bags and bags of baby clothes -- all in pinks and purples -- that her young daughter had grown out of. She had just had a second baby herself, a boy, and so got rid of the "girl's" wardrobe and replaced it with clothes in "boy colors."

I was more than happy to accept my friend's generous gift, and as I sat delightedly sorting through tiny outfits, my husband commented on how sweet a gift it had been. Then he added, "But what if we wind up having a boy?"

"He'll wear pink until he outgrows these clothes," I replied, not missing a beat.

When my husband began to go on about the dire psychological results that dressing an infant boy in pink could engender, I pointed out that if that's the worst thing our child has to hash over in therapy one day, then he will have had a very fine life indeed.

Anyway, you see what I'm saying.

Color, gender, stereotypes of all kinds.... It's amazing that these are even still issues in today's society.

Remind me to write about how my favorite toy growing up was, of all things, a big, black machine gun. I kid you not -- I loved that thing. And the person who gave it to me mother.

Monday, July 24, 2006

P. S.

Today I gave the warshrag that I finished yesterday to Karen as a thank-you for picking up my farm co-op veggies this past month while I worked. She really liked it. I'm glad -- the colors are rather bright compared to what she usually goes for, but I think that's part of the fun.

I have another ballband idea that I can't wait to try out. Will have to finish my current Absorba the Great Bathmat project before casting on any new projects, though. I won't post any details now, but as soon as I get it on the needles I'll snap some pics and post.

Kimono Love

How cool is ombre yarn yarn? You just knit, knit, knit and beautiful, random patterns appear as if by magic. You gotta love that.

Still working on catching up my blog to my FOs -- what a nice change from scrambling to complete projects in order to have something finished to photograph! These two kimonos -- finished except for seaming and attaching ribbons -- are destined for Amy's and Lisa's babies, both due in October. Amy knows she's having a boy; Lisa won't find out till the baby is born. So, I need some opinions: Can I give the orange/yellow/sorta pinkish kimono to Lisa even if she has a boy? Or should I knit up something in a more "boyish" color just in case?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

From Mason-Dixon Knitting....

Boy, do I LOVE this book! This is my first "warshrag," and I must admit I like it far better than the usual "start with 3 stitches, yo to increase at each end until it's halfway big enough then decrease back down to 3 stitches" dishrag I'm used to seeing. While this is far from my first MDK project (I've finished 2 baby kimonos -- OK, finished all except for seaming up the sides and sewing on the ribbons -- a baby bib, a burp cloth and more than one Absorba the Great Bathmat), it's one of the most fun. I especially love the super-bright colors -- they go with absolutely nothing in my (or anyone else's...?) kitchen, but they're pure fun. I can't wait to knit some more! :)))))

Shortly after casting on this morning....

And this evening, finished and waiting to be gift-wrapped.

Talk about instant gratification!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

FO - Felt!

Inspired by the fabulous Simply Felt, I decided way back in April to try some "true" felting, meaning that instead of knitting up a giant, oversized item and shrinking it down in the wash, I would take loose fiber and turn it directly into felt. With my m-i-l watching the baby and hubby at work, I took an afternoon and played with fiber and water, winding up with a nice, rectangular-shaped piece of felt about the size of a placemat. I decided that as soon as it dried, I would blanket-stitch around the edge. Naturally, as soon as it dried, I put it away in the closet and didn't look at it again (except with the occasional pang of guilt)...until last night. As hubby napped through Man on the Moon (how anyone can sleep through Jim Carrey playing Andy Kaufman is beyond me), I finally dug out the yarn and needle and blanket-stitched my felt.

Here's what it looks like:

And here's what I've decided to do with it:

Strictly speaking, my lamp doesn't really need its own oversized coaster. But, what else should I do with a single placemat-sized piece of blanket-stitched felt? And I do love the way it turned out so very much that I couldn't bear to just tuck it away again.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Why I Should Not Be Allowed into Yarn Stores

See that? It's Mango Moon yarn, beautiful handspun from Nepal. Reminds me a lot of the sari silk I bought online awhile back (and just finished packing away from the evil m-o-t-h-s...more on that a little later). 100% viscose, which I've discovered is "a viscous organic liquid used to make rayon and cellophane." First manufactured in 1891 and used to coat fabrics, viscose was eventually developed into a thread which largely replaced cotton and wool in stockings and underwear (or so says wikipedia).

Whatever. I was a bit hesitant to buy something so far from a natural fiber (yes, its origin is plant-based, but it's a far cry from a cotton, silk or lovely pure wool), but I absolutely fell in love with the colors AND it was on sale - 30% off for a total of $14/skein. So, my spending cash for the rest of the month went on the vibrant, enticing, irresistible skeins you see above.

I brought them home, took a quick photo and promptly sealed them up in plastic because today I guessed it...another *shudder* MOTH.

This time it flew out of -- can you believe it?? -- my closet, right off the shelf where some of my yarn was waiting to be tagged, bagged and stored among cedar balls, safe in baggies from the chewing mouths of moths. At least I now have my stash safely stashed away, all except the wool I've actively got on the spinning wheel and spindles. I hope I won't find out down the line I stashed away some nasty little larvae along with the wool.

I think I've heard that if you freeze your yarn, it kills any potential moth larvae. Might be worth filling up the freezer tomorrow....

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


One of my longest-running Works in Progress: a silk stole for my mother. The design is my own -- Madiera Mesh lace pattern for the body (from Martha Waterman's fabulous Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls book) and a pointed edging the source of which I'd better remember before I get to the other end or I'm screwed. The photo doesn't really do the colorway justice; it's a steel-grey with just a swirl of pale plum. Stunning, really. The skein cost me enough and it's taking me long enough to knit, but I started it back in January specifically because I knew it would take me a good year to finish. The skein is finally quite a bit smaller than when I first started. Maybe this WIP is finally on its way to becoming an FO.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The "M" Word

There I was, innocently emptying some yarn out of a box, when I saw it...the bane of every natural-fiber aficionado's existence, that four-letter M word: a MOTH.

And -- here's the really sad part -- I didn't manage to catch the darn thing.

I kicked myself for being so foolish. I'd planned to put my fiber into sealed plastic bags. Some of it was already there. But, much of it wasn't. So this morning instead of going to the bank or the supermarket or the dry cleaner like I'd planned, I spent two hours in a volcanically hot upstairs room packing wool into giant ziplock bags.

I have, as it turns out, a lot of wool. Here's some of it:

And here's some more:

And even more:

And lest you think the madness ends here, what these photos don't show are the second chest of drawers, the storage stepstool, the spinning basket and the four shelves in my bedroom closet, all packed with wool.

Oh, and the stuff in the in-progress projects bags. Those don't count, right?
So, I've been thinking of my blog lately....

Maybe it has to do with my reading Yarn Harlot's blog or the Mason-Dixon blog. Maybe it's just because I've finished a bunch of really neat projects and I want to have a place to record them. Whatever the reason, I find myself wanting to update my blog and at the same time being VERY wary of the time I know it will take, especially the taking and posting photos part.

So, I'll start slow. No photos tonight seeing as it's near midnight and I'm not about to get up out of bed to start snapping pics. Just a list of FOs, with photos to come.

1. Absorba the Great Bathmat. I LOVE this pattern!! It's from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book, which is my current fave knitting book. I've made 2 already and have a 3rd under way. I think this will be my Christmas gift to family this year: a bathmat, 2 ballband washcloths and 2 ballband hand towels, all in coordinating neutrals. It'll be the Absorba the Great Bath Set.

2. Baby bibs, burp cloths and kimonos. Amy's pregnant. Lisa's Liz is pregnant. Cathal's Michelle is pregnant. One of these days I may very well get pregnant again. What better to have on hand than a supply of handmade baby gifts. Again, Mason-Dixon to the rescue. These three patterns are easy, quick and painless, but look absolutely adorable. I've already sent a matching bib/burp cloth set off to Cathal and Michelle. I've now got one kimono all knitted (just need to seam it) and a second on the needles. Boy, do I love this variegated Peache & Creme cotton!

3. The big 'un: A feather-and-fan shawl (titled, unfortunately IMHO, "The Dawn of the Cape" -- what an awful, 2001 A Space Odyssey image that conjures up!) from the Knitters' Dozen Ponchos and Wraps book. I did it in record time (six weeks start to finish) to wear to a wedding last night -- nothing like a deadline to get me moving. I love the Knitpicks variegated alpaca/merino/silk yarn I used, even though it was a tad heavy to wear in July. I think I'll convert the two swatches I made into wristlets as well.

More to come....