Sunday, October 29, 2006

You Know You Have a Problem When... deliberately charge your yarn purchase to the card that's in your name only so your husband won't see the bill for it.

That's right, folks. After dropping serious cash at NYS&W less than a week ago, this past Friday I dropped yet more cash at the Knittingsmith. *sigh* You gotta admit, though, these are some pretty sweet purchases:

That's the small purchase up there: a single skein of Schaeffer "Little Lola" superwash merino in an absolutely gorgeous colorway of purples, blues, teals and greens. This is actually the yarn I saw after I'd already picked out the big purchase items. Weak and willpower-less person that I am, though, I absolutely had to have it, even though...well, I don't even think I need to mention that I'd already spent enough money the past weekend, and on top of that I was planning on buying the yarn you see below. What can I say? Schaeffer's Little Lola is the yarn I'm using for my moebius scarf (more on that in another post) and I just love it. That's L-O-V-E, with a capital every letter in the word. When I saw this colorway, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead with the credit card, it was going to be mine.

As for the big purchase....

Just feast your eyes on that big ol' pile of Manos del Uruguay. I've been wanting to make an EZ fitted bog jacket for awhile now...been planning on cobbling together stash yarns for it, in fact...but what can I say? The Yarn Harlot, always an idol of mine but now even moreso since our micro-encounter at Rhinebeck, claims that the fumes in a yarn shop cause her to do things she otherwise wouldn't. I may just have to claim the same defense, since what else could induce me to see one skein of yarn (the variegated in the middle of the pile), fall head-over-heels in love with the colorway and subsequently build an entire friggin' bog jacket around it?

Let it not be said that I jumped -- er, went forward with this plan lightly, though. I prepared. I spend three hours in the Knittingsmith working out the details with the help of Penelope, shop owner, designer and knitter extraordinaire. I pored over the bog jacket pattern in Knitting Around and agonized over which striping pattern to follow as I selected colors. I weighed the pros and cons of incorporating Manos into the I-cord border and eventually decided to use a more even, less thick-and-thin wool for the border and the accent striping. By gawd, I even bought a brand-spankin'-new Addi Turbo size 10 circular needle for the occasion. Never mind that my freakin' finger has been acting up again and I've temporarily put my knitting aside in favor of spinning and weaving to give the tendon a rest. I'm committed (or perhaps I should be). I figure I'll start my fitted bog jacket after Christmas, when the holiday knitting is done, I'm blissfully on break from work/school and all I have to worry about is how to keep Baby M occupied long enough to get any knitting done while she's awake.

You don't want to know what the bill came to. Frankly, I don't want to know. It's not like I don't have yarn at home. It's not like I'm crying out for projects to work on. I honestly don't know what came over me. All I know is I ducked into the Knittingsmith to wait for my car to be inspected at the garage next door and three hours later I emerged with a bag full of yarn, a credit card receipt and a vague lightheaded feeling that may be related to those fumes Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talks about.

Oh, and the next day I stopped off at Michael's for more Paton's SWS.

"It's for a good cause," I told myself. "I really don't like the way the Paton's merino felted up, but the SWS -- with the new 'n improved garter stitch edge on my bowls, the SWS felted up like a dream. Of course I should pick up a few more skeins to make up into bowls. I'll still use up the merino, maybe add some needlefelted designs to those bowls to perk up the solid colors...but it would really be unfair to give only one person in my family an SWS bowl. I'll just get enough SWS to finish off the 'family' gifts and then use the merino for the 'friends' gifts. Everyone will be happy." Especially yarnaholic me.

You understand that when such levels of justification and deception are reached that there's a problem. Which is why I here and now announce that I've joined (drum roll, please)....


In case you haven't heard, Stashalong is the Atkin's Diet of yarn. You go cold-turkey -- no yarn purchases AT ALL for the duration of your participation, though books, tools, etc are still fair game. Let's just call yarn the big, fat carbohydrate of the Stashalong program.

Once you've decided on your committment length (anything from a month on up) and joined the blog, all that's left is for you to knit from your stash and only from your stash for that length of time. Post to the blog when you're feeling weak and about to buckle over that scrumptious silk bump on ebay; post when you're overjoyed at finishing a long-outstanding UFO or finding yourself two skeins of Debbie Bliss lighter than last week.

Sounds simple, right?

Let's hope so. I start tomorrow.

Which means if I hurry, I can pop out to Michael's and grab another few skeins of SWS, just in case.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

This Week's Funky Knit-Video Link

When yarn attacks!

I only wish I spoke French so I could understand what she's saying....

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sunday at Rhinebeck and My Brushes With Fame

If Saturday was the day for me to run into all my friends by chance at Rhinebeck, Sunday was the day for me to completely miss everyone I was trying to meet up with -- never mind that there were ten freakin' thousand people there on Saturday and not nearly that many there on Sunday. No worries, though; it just meant I had more freedom to wander aimlessly around all the booths with no one to remind me I'd been through the same barn ten times already (though by the end of the day I would have appreciated someone who could at least let me know where the booth with the amazing handwoven Romney rugs were -- I wanted to get some more tips from the maker before leaving!).

My first stop was at one of the few spots IV and I missed on Saturday: Little Barn Fibers. Bags and bags of spinning fiber at wildly low prices. Natch, I couldn't leave without lightening their load a bit (after all, I wouldn't want them to have to cart leftovers all the way back to their store in Alabama...that just wouldn't be right):

Aren't they stunning? You're looking at 2 pounds of 100% baby alpaca, a pound each in a deep chocolate brown (left) and a rich, dark tumeric (center). On the right is a pound of black alpaca/merino/silk mix...yummy! I was sorely tempted to pick up some cashmere as well, but I held back. There's always their website to order from (I wouldn't want them to go into a sales slump in the middle of the year, after's practically my civic duty to help keep them in business by ordering fiber from them year-round).

I also picked up some fiber tools I'd been wanting for awhile, and one I had no idea I wanted till I saw it at Rhinebeck:

Since last year's NYS&W I've been kicking myself for not picking up a pair of brand-new Ashford handcards when I saw them on sale for the rock-bottom price of $30. Sad to say, this pair cost a bit more than that, but at least now I'll be able to blend colors and fibers. The handspinning book has what Susan of the eponymous Fiber Shop claims are the best directions for handcarding out there. The clear rectangular box is a McMoran (sp?) balance so I can figure out how many yards per pound my handspun is, and from there I can figure out how many yards I have so I can stop worrying about running short during every project I undertake. The spools are rug warp in brown and black, and the wooden implement on top of the handcard box is for beating the weft of a rug into place (yes, I've decided to load up on Cotswold curls from The Sheep Shed Studio and make my own rugs; thank you again to the kind vendor whose name I didn't catch who patiently explained how to make them -- I really wish I could have found your booth again on Sunday). Finally, the small wooden tool in the very front is a lucet. This is the tool I had absolutely no idea I would want until I saw it used and saw the beautiful cord it turns out. I'm not really sure when I'll need cord of my own making, but dammit when I do need it, I'll be turning it out on my lovely wooden lucet.

And of course, no photo montage of NYS&W would be complete without this:

'Nuff said.

As for my brushes with fame, BWF #1 came as I stood in the weaving-supplies booth contemplating my lucet purchase. A woman walked up to me and asked, "Are you Amy?"

"Er, no," I replied. What was this, I wondered...someone playing Rhinebeck Bingo? A not-so secretive Secret Pal 9 pal?

" know, you look just like Amy, the Knitty editor."

Wow -- I was seriously impressed. I mean, that anyone could mistake me for a person who edits a knitting magazine.... Was my knitted alpaca dickie that awesome that someone could actually believe I was on par with someone who does knit-stuff for a living??


I did look up Amy Singer and except for the fact that we're both white and female she really does look nothing like me. But that didn't stop me from basking in the artificial glow of someone else's fame for just a moment. So, thank you, anonymous lady who obviously forgot her glasses at home...I'm honored that you thought I was someone as cool as the editor of Knitty.

BWF #2 was considerably more exciting than BWF #1, albeit far briefer. There I was standing outside the ladies' bathroom trying to use the public phone (which, for reasons I cannot understand, refused to accept coins for long distance calls and which, for still more reasons I cannot understand, insisted on classifying a call to my home phone "long distance" even though it was within the same area code and the same county) and just as I turned away in utter and complete frustration, who did I see breeze right past me on her way to the loo?

None other than Stephanie "Oh my freakin' gawd it's the Yarn Harlot!" Pearl-McPhee!!!!

Yup, the Yarn Harlot herself, in the flesh, glasses, green sweater and all. Thankfully, she was gone so quickly I didn't have a chance to make a total fool of myself ("I read all your books!" "I love your work!" "Can I take a picture with The Sock?"), but it was just a little bit like glimpsing knitting royalty.

Knitting royalty that uses the toilet just like you and me.

*sigh* Ain't Rhinebeck grand?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rhinebeck, Part Deux

So, in case it wasn't obvious from my last post, IV and I spent Day 1 of NYS&W seeing as much as we possibly could of all the vendors there. Wow! But lest you think all the shopping I did was for myself, check these out:

Here are the presents I picked out for my Secret Pal 9 pal's first package. There's 3 oz of gorgeous IMHO wine/burgundy wool from Hatchtown Farms, two hand-dyed silk caps and a big bag of Irish linen roving (yes, my partner is a spinner). I'm planning to send out her package on Friday after I add some chocolates and one of my felted bowls; I really hope she likes it!

And how could I forget DH and Baby M? The skein of grey sportweight alpaca is for DH. He's been wanting a skullcap and a pair of fingerless mittens for awhile now, and I just fell in love with this yarn. And at $20 for over 600 yards of 100% soft, luxurious alpaca, I can't complain about the price!

The kitty was hand-crocheted by one of the vendors in Building 22, and I must say it took me more time to choose this one little stuffed animal than it took me to pick out any of my other purchases that weekend. There were so many adorable animals to choose from, and each one was a little different. I love that it's made with angora from the vendor's own bunnies and that it's stuffed with slow-felting wool as opposed to polyfill. Baby M loves it and happily calls it Mew Mew.

The other item in the photo is a small needle felting tool; I've been wanting to try needle felting designs into the rims of my felted bowls, and NYS&W was the perfect place to find the tools I needed.

And speaking of tools, I was able to help IV pick up a tool she's wanted for awhile: a rigid heddle loom. Right at closing time we stopped by a booth with boxes of Ashford RH looms stacked on a shelf. As we were looking around, I saw a sign on one side of the booth saying there was a used Beka RH (the same brand as my RH loom) for sale for $60. I checked it out and it looked to be in good working order, and the seller kindly threw in an extra heddle (for a total of 2) plus a shuttle. So, now in addition to the shawls IV makes on her tri-loom, she'll be making ruanas and rectangular shawls on the RH -- after I give her a lesson in how to use it, of course!

Like me, IV bought relatively little on Saturday; the RH loom was her biggest purchase of the day. Much as we saw, our mantra was "We can always come back for it tomorrow." Like most things in life, this was a little true and a little not. Yes, we could always come back; no, it wouldn't always be there. But, no worries -- something else equally grand always was.

Monday, October 23, 2006

If you're gonna play, you gotta pay, right?

I got to spend the whole weekend at Rhinebeck, sans husband and child, to indulge my fiber fantasies. And for the past 24 hours I've been working like mad to catch up on neglected housework/schoolwork/work-work. 'Sokay, though; NYS&W was well worth it!

NYS&W - Day One

If I learned anything from my first trip to NYS&W last year, it was GET THERE EARLY! The doors officially opened at 10am; I arrived on Saturday at 9:45. There were already so many cars that the lot closest to the entrance gate was full; naturally, the car right before me was the last one in. I was then shuttled across the way to a farther lot (but one closer to the exit, which served me well in the evening exit madness), where I parked and gathered my "survival gear" -- bottled water, empty tote bag for purchases, knitting project (of course) and, oh yeah, a wad of cash. Can't say I didn't come prepared. $15 and one two-day pass later, I was inside the gate with an estimated 10,000 other eager fiberistas (and -os, not to be sexist or anything). By the way, that number is no exaggeration; on Sunday morning the people at the gate said that's the official estimate of how many people passed through NYS&W on Saturday alone. Woo-eeee!

Iknew exactly where I wanted to stop first: Journey Wheel, though I did get sidetracked just inside the gate by the stand of NYS&W souvenir clothing. I remembered the line at that stand last year around the middle of the day, and wanting a momento that wouldn't get knitted, felted or otherwise fiber-ized, I made a quick purchase of a denim shirt with this adorable little lamb logo and (NYS&W-2006" over the left breast. Then, it was on to the Bosworths and their incomparable spindles.

No photos in situ, sorry -- there was just no time! When I got there, my friend L was just finishing up a special order and picking out the at-hand spindles she wanted. I nudged my way between three or four other Bossie fans and picked out the beauties you see above -- no easy task as every spindle was unique and one was more beautiful than the next. I dropped a fair chunk of my cash right then and there, but it was justified (as if I need to justify this) because I got one of the spindles at half off -- half off! Buy 5 spindles in one year and you get a 6th at half price, and I'd already bought 3 this year; it would have been a shame -- no, more like a crime -- to lose the credit towards a half price Bossie. Sheila kindly held onto my spindles till the end of the day since I was far too nervous about breaking one to carry them around with me, and off I went to the Goldings, hooking up with my friend IV along the way.

May I just say that the ultimate, bar-none experience for me at Rhinebeck this year was spinning on Tom Golding's Flock of the Shepherdess spinning wheel? Here she is in all her glory, and let me tell you, the photo does not do her justice at all:

I don't usually anthropomorphize objects -- my spinning wheels do not have names, nor do I refer to them by human-type pronouns -- but this wheel was a goddess. If I ever hit the lottery, I'm buying a Golding wheel and a new house with a raised dias under a skylight to put her in. Short of that, I'm starting to save up now and hopefully sometime before Tom carves his last wheel I'll be able to afford one. Feel free to donate to the Buy Splindarella a Golding Wheel fund any time....

After grudgingly moving aside so some other not-nearly-as-nice-as-me-but-I-realize-I-have- to-share-anyway person could try the wheel, IV and I bounced around the rest of the festival.

Actually, "bounced" isn't quite the right word; "were bounced around like ping-pong balls inside a washing machine" was more like it. Remember, we're talking 10,000 people here, folks! All crammed inside a handful of barns pawing over fiber like sheep had just been declared extinct. I swear, one line was so long I actually asked the people if the yarn they were holding was free. "Nope," said one woman, "It's Socks that Rock. We're here for the colors!" It's just that kind of madness that made me hit the Bosworths at the sound of the opening bell -- we all have our favorites, and that one happens to be mine...though one of these days I'll have to get my hands on a skein of Socks that Rock to see what the fuss is all about.

And now since DH is making let's-get-to-bed noises and I really should be somewhat awake tomorrow at work, I'll end here and pick this up later, at which time I'll show off my other cooler-than-cool purchases and recount my brushes with fame -- both of them -- at the fest.

Friday, October 20, 2006

All Hail the Moebius Scarf!

OK, so it may be a bit early for hailing since the scarf isn't even officially finished yet. As you can see, it looks more like a wool bath puff (albeit a beautifully-colored bath puff) than an actual scarf, Moebius or not. But I do promise you, it's a genuine Moebius scarf, knitted all in one piece lengthwise along the outer edge of the Moebius curve. This means my circ is twisted into a figure-8 as I knit and made my hands cramp up for the first few rows, but otherwise this has been a real hoot to knit. It's plain ol' garter stitch, and I may finish it off with an I-cord edging, but I just can't seem to put this project down. (Maybe because I just can't wait to wear it!)

Well...on second thought, I have managed to put my scrumptious scarf down at least once this week; tonight, in fact. I stopped by Michael's today because I had a 40% off coupon just burning a hole in my pocket and much to my surprise I found both Paton's merino wool and SWS on sale for a dollar off per skein. Not dirt cheap prices, but a buck's a buck. I bought one SWS in a gorgeous blue colorway and four of the merino in four different colors (deep purple, funky green, denim blue and blue marl) to make Christmas gifts of felted bowls. Tonight I resisted the siren song of my Moebius scarf and so I could experiment with the SWS and add a slightly different twist to the One Skein pattern to keep the lip of the bowl from curling during felting. Now that it's all knitted up (boy-howdy, do I love how fast that pattern works up!) all I need to do is felt it and see if it's the final pattern I want to use for making my presents. Filled up with some nice chocolates and accompanied by a donation to Heifer International in the recipient's name, it should make a lovely holiday gift.

And if you've never heard of Heifer International, run don't walk to check it out. They help alleviate poverty by providing poor people around the world with domestic animals (cows, goats, chickens, llamas, alpacas, water buffalo, name it and they probably have it) and the training needed to make a living from them. If life has been good to you and you'd like to give a little to someone who has less, consider making a donation to Heifer International.

*climbing down off soap box*

And finally...ONLY TWO MORE DAYS TILL NYS&W!!! (But who's counting...?)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

F.O.s Galore...?

OK, I freely admit that my promise to post about "F.O.s Galore!" may have been just a tad bit excessive. Perhaps "F.O.s -- Two of 'Em!" would have been more accurate. Lame, but more accurate nonetheless.

Anyway, I have two -- count 'em, TWO -- F.O.s to show off. I would have had three (would that count as "Galore" I wonder...?) except that I got so very excited to give the yellow/orange/pink baby kimono to my co-worker that I didn't even take the time to photograph it. So picture, if you will, a brightly-colored garter-stitch baby kimono with crocheted ties and an adorable little eyelet trim down the front. Got it? Good. Let's count that as Unofficial F.O. #1.

Moving on. My first Official F.O. of the post is this one:

The wrap/throw on top is Pebbles on the Beach, which I finished off last week and which I've decided to give DH for Christmas (or maybe his birthday, depending upon how far along I get on his handspun and knitted skullcap by November). You can also see Pebbles in the Sea peeking out from below, which was my first Pebbles throw/shawl and which I've decided will go to our friends the Js. These throws were so very easy and quick -- the most labor-intensive part was warping the loom -- that I really would like to make at least one more. Not just yet, though; I have to start concentrating on making more of these:

After many false starts and mishaps, I've finally found a yarn I like for the One Skein felted bowls. This is Paton's SWS (Soy Wool Stripes). One skein used doubled on size 15s is just about exactly enough for one small bowl. The colors get somewhat muddied in the felting (although the flash in this photo really shows off the colors to their best advantage), but overall I like the way the bowls come out. I'm going to fill them with some nice chocolates (Lindt? Bacci? Any other individually-wrapped favorites that people would like to suggest?) and that'll be this year's gift. The best part is they're super-simple and require relatively little knitting per item. Good for my wrists/hands, which are still somewhat dicey at best.

And now that that's settled, I can sit back and wait for the weekend, when I'll be off to enjoy the festivities up at Rhinebeck at NYS&W. Woo-hoo! Fiber arts mecca, here I come! :)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Another SP9 Survey

It seems I'm a sucker for a survey. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for the possibility of winning a prize, especially when the prize is a skein of handpaint...mmmmmmmm, handpaint........

This survey is especially difficult for me since I really, really hate to name "favorite" anythings. It always seems so limiting. But, I promise I'll do my best to answer all the questions with a genuine favorite, though I can't guarantee that in any category my answer will be my one-and-only favorite -- more like one among many favorites.

Anyway, here we go....

List your favorite:

Actor - See, right off the bat I'm stumped. Maybe that just means no particular actor really floats my boat? I'm just going to skip on down to the next question and then come back to this one.

Actress - This one's a cinch: Gong Li. She's brilliant in To Live and The Story of Qi Ju -- I think she really shines in films where she plays a peasant as opposed to her better-known roles as the haughty mistress-turned-wife in Farewell My Concubine or the evil geisha in Memoirs of a Geisha. There are lots and lots of American actresses I admire, but Gong Li is the one actress whose films I will watch simply because she is in them.

Animal - Now, I must admit that one of Shelby's answers on her poll caught my eye and I can't help but be influenced by what she said. Her favorite animal is the snow leopard, and believe it or not, I was once stalked by a snow leopard in Nepal. I went to a snow leopard breeding facility and they had a few of those majestic animals in a huge enclosed pen -- the only thing separating them from me was a single layer of cyclone fencing. I mean, no moat, no yellow "CAUTION" tape, nothing; I could have stuck my fingers right through that fence and petted that soft-looking fur if I'd been insane enough to try. While I didn't go that far, I did walk from one end of the fence to the other along one side, right beside the fence. And one of the snow leopards walked right along with me -- stalked me, really, looking at me as though I were lunch on foot, not so much as blinking an eye, just staring me down. Can I tell you I was scared? Fence or no fence, I was heart-pounding, palm-sweating scared; I had to take a few steps away from the fence just to put some more space between me and that leopard. So, I'm not sure that qualifies as my favorite animal, but it's definitely the animal I respect the most on a firsthand-experience basis.

Band - In my pre-baby days, I would have reeled off a list that included every genre of music from classic heavy metal to new age and nearly everything in between. Now, however, most of the music I listen to comes via the XM Kids channel and probably wouldn't mean much to anyone without kids. For what it's worth, I'm rockin' out pretty hard on The Imagination Movers these days. (Please don't feel the need to point out how very sad this is; I'm quite aware. Just move along, now...nothing to see here except a former hair band chick weeping quietly into her long-unworn stretch jeans.)

Book - Oooh, tough, tough choice. This is where I'm going to give myself a single "pass" on my earlier vow to give honest favorites for every answer. I simply cannot pick one favorite book, or even a favorite author. Instead, I'll say the book I'm looking most forward to reading is The Kite Runner. But I'm going to have to wait till I get it on CD so I can listen while I knit (must...not...lose...out...on...knitting...time...).

Bubble Bath - Don't use the stuff. I like bath oil beads (those big gumball-looking things filled with scented bath oils -- toss one in the bath, let it dissolve and mmmmmm...enjoy).

Candy - Dark chocolate truffles. *drool* Some days, I'd trade DH for some dark chocolate truffles. I mean, um, lots. It would take lots of dark chocolate truffles for me to trade DH away. Good quality ones, too. We're talking Godiva. The big ones. Did you know they have dark chocolate champagne-filled truffles? Mmmmmm.......dark chocolate champagne-filled Godiva truffles. Excuse me while I pull out my wedding album and remind myself why I got married instead of sinking all that money into a huge stash of chocolate truffles, all for myself.....
Color - My favorite color for a fancy dress is red. Otherwise, I'm more of a fall-colors kinda gal: oranges, rusts, golds, olives, deep purples (OK, maybe that's not strictly a fall color, but I still love it in the mix with all the others).

Drink - Whole milk is a treat since I mostly drink skim. Other than that, it's pretty much plain ol' water for me.

Flower - I love the smell of night-blooming jasmine. Heavenly.

Food - Um...didn't you catch what I said earlier about dark chocolate truffles...?

Lip Balm - I like Blistex in the little pot, the kind you have to scoop out with a pinky finger. Haven't bought any in years -- I've either been cheaping out with Chap-Stik or experimenting with various herbal/natural balms -- but I really should go back to what I know and love.

Lotion - I had a cucumber lotion from one of those bath products shops that I used all the time I was pregnant and loved. Of course, I can't remember either the name of the shop or the name of the lotion, but I'm sure I'd recognize it if I saw it.

Movie - Another easy one: To Live (see the reference to Gong Li, above).

Place - Sooooo difficult! I've traveled a lot, to some pretty remote places, and picking one favorite is very, very hard. I'd have to say, though, that one of my favorite places is China's Xishuangbanna, the tropical area in southern Yunnan province. Stunning scenery, beautiful people, simply a joy to be there.

Song - I'll narrow the playing field here and choose from my current fave kids' band, The Imagination Movers. I just love their song "Farm" and the clever little 80's reference: "The roosters -- the roosters -- the roosters are tired!" Recognize which famous 80's song line that's sung to and you know you wore neon knee-length sweaters and baggy socks over your ankle-length jeans when you were a teenager.

TV Show - Even though we no longer get TV reception, my favorite show by far is Jon Stewart's Daily Show. I watch it online I love it so much.

Yarn - My favorite yarn today is Paton's SWS (Soy Wool Stripes): beautiful colorways, soft hand, and it felts! Just what I was looking for to make the One Skein felted bowls. Ask me tomorrow, though, and I'm sure I'll have a new favorite.

Vacation Spot - One of the best vacations I've ever taken was to Boulder, CO. Having grown up on the east coast and despite all the travel I've done, I can honestly say I've never seen such endless skies as there are in Colorado. I would go out there again in a heartbeat.

And since I promised I'd get back to thinking about my favorite actor...hmmmmm..... I guess I'll have to go with Jon Stewart of the Daily Show. Seriously, I don't think I'm copping out here. The man gets me laughing hysterically at least once a show; that's gotta count for something.

And that's the end of my list. Next post: Finished Objects Galore!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wanna Design Your Own Knits?

Well, "Knitting Heretic" Annie Modesitt just posted a great little tutorial on how to use the computer to make pattern sketches to scale -- all you need is a swatch and a dream.

Check it out at:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

An Open Letter to My Supermarket

Dear evil minions of hell concerned owners of a nationally-recognized supermarket chain:

I am writing this letter to express my frustration at not being able to strangle you to death with my bare hands with your ongoing supermarket renovation plans. I realize you may not be aware of this, but I began shopping at your supermarket because it was cheaper than dirt priced with the cost-conscious consumer in mind. Even though your employees are obnoxious in the extreme and deserve to be beyatch slapped upside all their pointy little pinheads could benefit from additional customer-service training and your international foods selection has always been execrable somewhat limited, I remained a loyal customer of your supermarket for too many years.

This latest outright assault on common decency and consumer senses change in policy cannot be ignored, however. I appreciate that you wish to destroy upgrade the store by consolidating the organic foods into their own separate fiefdom section. I am willing to put up with the inevitable chaos temporary disorganization that such a move will create. What I simply cannot fathom is why the f*ck you also felt it necessary to move every item in the entire godforsaken store to a different place. Even your obnoxious pinheaded employees have no idea where to find common staples such as toilet paper and soap. To make matters worse, your prices have risen faster than a five dollar ho's skirt at a bachelor party to the point where the average consumer wants to start lobbing $10 heads of imported raddicchio at the cashiers is being priced out of the market.

In light of such utter lunacy these facts, I rejoice regret to say that I will no longer be shopping at your miserable rathole of a supermarket. Perhaps one day I'll see you roast slowly in hell your store will win back my patronage, but at this moment I doubt it. I wish you suppurating boils good luck with your re-organization and remain

Yours in disgust truly,

Monday, October 09, 2006

What I've Been Up To Lately

What I haven't been up to lately is getting my Christmas presents done. Once the felted bowl idea went south I sort of put extended-family/friend Christmas gifts on the back burner. But, with a chill in the air and Halloween right around the corner there's no more putting it off; I simply need to decide what I'm doing and then set about doing it.

I have been working on other things, though. Here's Pebbles on the Beach, the second shawl/throw made from the dollar store Pebbles novelty yarn I picked up earlier in the year:

DH actually really liked the first shawl/throw, Pebbles in the Sea, so I was thinking of putting it aside for him as a Christmas gift. Then he saw this one and decided he liked it better. So, this one will be for him and the other one will go to our friends the J family in Sweden. At least it's the first one completely finished (well, except for a final wash and trimming of the fringe) -- appropriate as it needs to be mailed and not simply given on Christmas day.

I've also been spinning up a storm for DH:

He's been asking me to knit him a skullcap so I figured I may as well go whole-hog and spin the yarn as well. This is some nice, soft grey wool from The Sheep Shed Studio's Big Bale fiber. Although Carol advertised it as ideal for felting it was so nice and soft I really wanted to spin it instead. It's spinning up really nicely, too, and with the nice sunny weather we've had for the past couple of days all I want to do is sit out on the deck and spin.

But, nice weather or no, I really need to get gift knitting going. As soon as Pebbles on the Beach is finished, my next task is to get gifts for my two cousins' families finished. Wish me luck....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I Am An Enabler

S & J, two dear, dear friends, just came by tonight for a light dinner and to tell us they're moving to freakin' Japan for the next 5 years, so what do I do? I teach them both to spindle-spin, of course.

S is a knitter already, and as soon as she saw my RH loom she started asking questions. It was only a matter of time (nanoseconds, if you want to be precise) before I started thinking of pulling out the Louets and Ashfords and getting her going on spindling. But it was J who impressed me most of all. He's an architect and a photographer and secure enough in his manhood to offer to hold my spindle for me while I took care of Baby M and then, while I was occupied, to just copy what he saw S doing and go off on his own making yarn. He was good, too -- they both were, though S, a nuclear physicist who is quite used to being uber-competent in everything she does, did fret a bit at first about her yarn not being even (read: "perfect"). She relaxed when I told her to just go with the zen of it all, and whatever she'd get, she'd get. They left the house with two spindles, a big bag of goldenrod-colored Louet Corriedale and a wine tube to hold one of the spindles (the good folk at Ashford should be aware that their spindles, while perfectly serviceable, do not fit inside your standard cardboard wine tube, making them less than ideal from a storage perspective). I can't wait to hear how their adventures in couples-spindling go!
An F.O. for ME!

I finished my Elizabeth Zimmermann "Variations on Beethoven's Dickey" this past Tuesday while I was home sick from work, but I only got around to wearing it now. It's photographed on my dining room table because I was in no fit state upon completion to model it, but I'm terribly proud of myself: it's the first project I've completed for ME with my very own handspun (glitzy alpaca from Winding Creek). Here it is in its various stages:

Glitzy alpaca being spun on my Louet. Absolutely dreamy....

All skeined up and drying. It spun up so nicely it didn't even need weighting....

On the needles, about halfway finished....

Looking oddly like a manta ray in this pose, the VOBD dickie is all finished and ready to be worn.

The glitz is a tad bit itchy so it takes me a few minutes to get used to the feel of it around my neck and shoulders, but other than that it's delightful. I'll definitely be making more of these, maybe even with my current Winding Creek score, 3 luscious ounces of alpaca in a deep purplish colorway. Next time, though, I think I'll make the turtleneck a bit higher; maybe I'll even stripe it with the leftovers of the blue.

Oh, and I think I've figured out what I want to do with the green Nature Spun I picked up from Carol Lee at The Sheep Shed Studio. What do you think of this pattern? The only problem: it calls for a slightly bulkier yarn than the Nature Spun -- not bulky enough to double the NS, but too bulky to use the NS as-is unless I do a lot of converting. One thought: I may just make the smallest pattern size at my smaller gauge and get a sweater that Baby M can wear (or at least grow into). What do you think?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Last Knit

Watch it.
What to Do With a Pile of Zucchini

Up here in NY, we're mulching down the veggie beds and getting ready for the onset of really cold weather. Down by Ren in Florida, however, it seems that they're just getting started on picking their veggies (and they even offer vegetable gardening classes for credit in college -- how cool is that?).

Anyway, since Ren now has an abundance of summer squash and not so many ideas of what to do with it, I thought I'd share this recipe for Zucchini Brownies.

Yes, you read that right: Zucchini Brownies. Don't laugh; they are out of this world. You couldn't tell them from the "real," no-zucchini-added variety if you tried. And because they're packed full of nutritious zucchini, you can convince yourself that eating the whole pan at one sitting is actually quite healthful. Woo-hoo!

Fudgy Zucchini Squares

“single” 9 “ square pan

2 squares unsweetened Bakers chocolate

¼ cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1 egg

¼ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. baking powder

2/3 cup flour

Mix salt, powder and flour together

1 cup shredded zucchini

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Melt chocolate & butter in microwave set to defrost for 3 minutes. Add sugar, mix well. Add egg, beat in. Add flour mixture, then zucchini & nuts. Bake 25 min. @ 350 degrees. Cool on rack.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

So, there it is...the contents of my small, lightweight "Mystery Box," my anniversary present from DH. Kinda hard to tell from the photo, but it's an opal necklace. I've never owned an opal before -- they're pretty amazing, shot through with all the fiery colors of the rainbow. Romantic that he is, DH said he chose it because he liked all the colors and because, in his words, "Everything else they had was really ugly." Ah, men and their silver tongues.

DH actually made me laugh when he told me some more about how he came to pick out this particular present. It was his second choice, he said. First, he'd looked up which anniversary the 7th was, and he discovered that it's the "wool" anniversary. Great, he thought; he'd get me some wool for our anniversary. Trouble was, he said -- get this -- he didn't know where to find any wool.

I nearly keeled over from laughing so hard. It's not like boxes of wool don't arrive with a rather shocking regularity at our house. It's not like I don't have a list of fiber-related bookmarks on our computer a mile long. It's not like there aren't bags and boxes and skeins of wool all bearing the stamps of a variety of shops, all of which are accessible by phone or fax or internet. But he didn't know where to find me any wool. Honestly, it's amazing that man manages to dress himself without help.

Still, his second choice was terribly sweet and very, very pretty. In fact, I haven't taken my new necklace off since he gave it to me. Wool I can -- and do -- always buy for myself. But, an opal? Only from my DH.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pebbles in the Sea, Cobwebs in My Head, and a Happy Anniversary to Me!

What nicer way to spend an anniversary than home in bed...sick?

This isn't even the good kinda sick, the kinda sick that all those 1940's movie heroines got where they looked absolutely gorgeous with their hair flowing over their sickbed pillows, the wide lapels of their satin dressing gowns contrasting every so beautifully with their pale-yet-glowing complexions. Of course, they always wind up dying -- still looking ravishing right up to the very end, and saying something marvelous and witty and romantic to the hero as their dying words, something that he will remember always and which will make him, no matter how strongly the heroine has urged him to find someone else after she's gone, remain faithful to his one and only love forevermore.

This ain't that kinda sick.

No, my kinda sick is the go-through-a-box-of-tissues-in-an-hour kinda sick, the kinda sick that has me snorting Zicam like it's going out of style and wishing I were dead but not nearly getting there. Replace our 1940's film heroine's flowing golden locks with a rat's-nest wafro, her satin dressing gown with a ripped Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt and the handsome husband/lover at her side with a somewhat smelly German shepherd mix and you've got me today.

But I did manage to finish my weaving before all this went down.

That's how Pebbles in the Sea looked shortly before completion. In person, the stripes are somewhat more subtle and the color deeper overall, but what the camera's flash tends to wash out in terms of color it seems to enhance in terms of contrast.

Here's a shot of the finished product:

Pebbles in the Sea in all her glory. I've been calling this a shawl but I'm not really sure that's what it is, or what it will stay. It's pretty big...big enough to be a throw, but long enough to do the whole shawl-wrap thing. And, I must admit, I like it enough that I'm thinking of keeping it, in which case it will most certainly be a throw for the livingroom. Never mind that our living room has not a shred of navy-blue in it; I could make it work. Of course, that won't help me get my Christmas gifts made. Maybe I'll live with it for a little while, just keep it draped casually over the back of a chair and see how strongly it asks to stay where it is. As long as I keep Baby M and her peanut-buttery fingers away there's no reason I couldn't wrap it up a week or more from now and put it in the gift pile.

Am I a bad person? I mean, shouldn't I just be able to toss this into the gift pile without a second glance, secure in the knowledge that I can make another one -- another as-many-as-I-want -- for myself? And of course I do know I could, which is why this one will probably find its way to the gift pile eventually, although I don't know that I'll be making another one like this for me. First I'd try to find colors more suited to my livingroom...then I'd balk at the price, because of course I found all this yarn at the dollar store and I will never, ever find it there again, especially not in colors that match my orange-and-red livingroom...then I'll debate about buying the yarn a skein at a time or something like that...and eventually I'll back-burner the project, at which point I'll move on to creating something completely different, giving this idea of a Pebbles shawl just for me only the most cursory of thoughts. Isn't that always the way?

For now, though, as I'm feeling somewhat fortified by carrot juice, a buttered bialy and half a pound of bacon (I should not be left to my own hunting-and-gathering devices when ill), I think I'll try finishing off the Beethoven's Variations on a Dickey (something I finally, finally knit all for my very own self!) so I can wear it sometime before fall is over and the true coldness of winter is upon us.

Oh, and as for my anniversary present...the small, light box from Washington State...?

Photos and story to come. :)