Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

And gie’s a hand o’ thine

January 1, 2016

Or, “A Year in Knitting.” Here are some of the things I made this year that brought me the most joy. Click on the pic to visit the project’s page on Revelry for details about yarn, pattern, and more.

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Happy knitting — or making whatever you make — in 2016!


It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back

July 9, 2015


Pattern: Pembrokeshire Pathways (rav link) by Brenda Dayne
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (75% wool, 25% nylon), colorway Turtle Multi
Needle: U.S. 1 (2.25mm) nickel Options fixed 40″ circulars (two-at-at-time magic loop)

I’ve made my mother a couple of shawls and a warm, neck-hugging cowl for her trip to Scotland. But I think what she would really appreciate is a pair of socks. She’s always relaxing on the balcony with a book and a beverage, putting her feet up, and those feet would be even happier if they were protected from the sea breezes and A/C drafts by cozy, beautiful, delightful handknit socks.

But I have never made socks for anyone other than myself. I am at a loss as to how to begin. I know when to start the heel or the toe on socks I make because I try them on. Socks that come out too loose or too tight, too short or too long, are socks that are worse than useless. Instead of reminding you of the glorious, life-affirming luxury of a handknit sock, they remind you of compromise and failure and mediocrity and how cheap a 10-pack of socks is at Wal-Mart and at least those would fit, by God.

I was determined to overcome my fears and knit a sock for someone other than myself. For my mom! I chose a yarn that my dad, who does the laundry these days I think, could throw into a washer and dryer and not ruin. chose a pattern that was ribbed so it would fit even if my size calculations (based on Dad telling me that Mom wears a size 6 1/2 shoe) were off. It was all going great, until the toe. I started the toe earlier than I would have for myself, at 7 inches of foot length, going for a sock about 9 1/8″ or 9 3/16″ long, which is about 5/16″ to 3/8″ shorter than I would make a sock for myself. Unfortunately it turned out to fit me perfectly. The round toe seemed to just keep going. Normally one makes a toe about 2″ long; this one was 2.5″. When it became clear it was running long I eliminated a couple of rows, but it was too late.

See how perfect they are for my size 8 1/2 feet, my 9.5″ long feet? Maybe they would still work for Mom, I thought, and sent them off — partly as an exercise in letting go, in not getting too attached. I kind of loved these socks. They fit me so well. The cables-and-lace pattern was beautiful, the colors perfectly complementing it. I wanted to keep them. But I had made them for mom. Maybe they would magically fit. In my heart I knew better; Dad reported they were about a half inch too long. That means I will get them back, which makes me happy. But it also means that I have to start over thinking about socks for Mom. And as hard as it was to get over that hump of socks-not-for-me the first time, failure on the initial attempt is not making it any easier.

All you can do is cast on again. And again.

I’m a fool to think something so impossible

June 21, 2014


Pattern: Princess Franklin Plaid Collar by Franklin Habit
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (50% wool, 50% alpaca), colorways Redwoods Mix, Blueberry Mix, and Pea Soup Mix; Aslan Trends Santa Fe (85% merino, 15% nylon), colorway Crudo; Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport (100% wool), colorway Caution
Needles: U.S. 2 nickel Options 24″ fixed circulars, magic-loop style



Pattern: The Age Of Brass And Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn
Yarn: Knit Picks Diadem DK Special Reserve, (50% alpaca, 50% silk), colorway Copper
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 36″ circular (knit flat)


Pattern: Julia’s Cabled Headband by Pauline Chin
Yarn: Mirasol Yarn Miski (100% llama), colorway Gold
Needle: U.S. 7 Harmony wood Options 16″ circulars (knit flat)

Ravellenics 2014 was a bittersweet experience. Political chaos and controversy tore the group apart, and fractured the moderating team that had worked together for six happy years and three previous Olympiads. We weathered the Great USOC C&D Debacle of ’12, but we could not recover from early mistakes handling politically sensitive issues. Yes, in a knitting competition with imaginary prizes, there are politically sensitive issues.


But even though it put me at odds with old friends and colleagues, I worked hard to stay engaged and to keep the event going. When the dust settled and the actual knitting began, I got busy on two major projects right away. One was a quest to use some of this lovely yarn, an alpaca-silk blend. I finished knitting this simple scarf while at a symposium on science and religion at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.


The other, and by far the most difficult challenge of the Ravellenics, was this cowl, which was knit flat in stripes and grafted together (poorly) before single strands of contrasting colors were woven perpendicular to the knitting direction, through the garter ridges, to create the plaid pattern. It was demanding, exacting, time-consuming, and utterly magical. I spent four solid days weaving, watching the Games, and dreaming about what colors I would use to make another one.


In the very last days of the competition, I hurriedly cast on for my last planned project. I got this skein of llama yarn in a swap with another Raveller. The theme of this Ravellenics was stash, and this beautiful soft buttery yarn had been sitting in mine for way too long.

I’m balanced in so many ways between what I spent a long time building, and what I want to come next. Sometimes you’ve got to clear out what you’ve accumulated. But I’ve never been able to just throw useful things away. I want to make something beautiful with them if I can.

There’s a summer place

July 19, 2011


When we first moved into this house in 1999, we used one of the four bedrooms as an office for Noel, who was planning to work from home. We bought this great big blond solid-wood desk from the bargain attic at one of our local furniture stores. When our second child was on its way, we turned that office into her room, and moved the desk into our bedroom.


But by that time Noel was doing most of his work from the living room. The desk became a station for the computer with the printer connected to it. As the kids grew, it became “their” computer, and we frequently found them in our room watching YouTube videos and playing games. I didn’t manage to take a picture of it before I spent half a day cleaning it out and getting it to the state you see above, but the contents ran to two giant Rubbermaid containers of books, tchotchkes, and assorted crap. You can sorta get the idea by looking at what’s stacked up under the window there; this has become our storage area for the dozens of DVDs that come to our home every day, from which they are biannually swept up into a giant sell-off (but never fully disappear).


After a kind freecycler came and hauled away the desk, I built this. I wrote a little bit about it here. It’s a 25-cube Expedit bookcase; I thought it would be a monster to assemble, but it went together easily and quickly.


On Saturday morning, Cady Gray and I hauled my many, many containers of yarn (which have been living in the little nook by the garage, and which have so overflowed that area that you can’t really access anything in there anymore) to the new storage unit.


Cady Gray was in charge of stacking. She did an excellent job.


The Malabrigo cube, with the Knit Picks Wool of the Andes cube next to it, both only about halfway through the process.


Here are the same cubes once we were just about done loading them up. The Malabrigo cube has spawned some Sock and Silky Merino, and the Knit Picks cube has Andean Silk and Andean Treasure in the front. (Under the Malabrigo is the Dream in Color cube, and to the right of that, a cube I refer to as “random sock yarn.)


I put up little 3M Command cord clips to corral my circular needles and cords.  (Edited: It occurs to me that you might be interested in the cubes, too.  Clockwise from top right: Peaches ‘n’ Creme double worsted cones (RIP), random worsted weight (what’s in front is Paton Soy Wool Solids, leftover from this), sweater quantities of worsted weight workhorse wool (mostly Cascade 220), more sweater quantities of worsted and bulky weight (visible: Berroco Vintage in brown, Berroco Peruvia in the plastic, and Cascade Eco in the marled natural colors), “scarf quantities” of various worsteds, laceweight (you can see a Misti Alpaca Lace label), Moda Dea Tweedle Dee, bulky weight (the red that’s almost falling off there is Misti Alpaca Chunky), Knit Picks sock yarn (mostly Stroll Tonal, but you can see some Risata there at the bottom in brown, blue, and lime, and there’s plenty of Imagination hidden behind there).  Just peeking out to the left of the last cube my stash of plant fibers (that’s Universal Linen Twist visible), and below that is the DK/sport cube (with Moda Dea Sassy Stripes at the top, and I’m not sure what the red beneath it is).


More Command hooks of various sizes to provide hanging storage for bags, notions, etc. on the side of the bookcase.


And oh, here’s the other piece, which I constructed Saturday night — a trestle table for cutting and ironing.


I fretted for days that the table was too wide. There’s not much space to slide behind the desk, or to get to my side of the bed. But it’s workable, actually, and will get even better if we’re able to rearrange some things and move the bed over a bit. I’ve ordered a little stool that can live right under the desk until the rare (but hopefully less rare than now) occurrences when I sew at that desk.


There’s still more to come to make this the ideal crafting nook — more stuff that needs a home, more equipment I need to get. But I’m amazed at how it’s coming together. Mostly I’m amazed that all my yarn fits in those 25 cubes.

With every step you climb another mountain

July 12, 2009

Noel and the kids are away for a few days, and I have lots of big plans on how to spend my free time.  This afternoon the first thing I did after two church services and lunch was to get started organizing the yarn I’ve bought since the beginning of the year.

If I hadn’t gotten tired of standing up — no, scratch that.  If my laptop battery hadn’t run down, I’d be back in the guest room still, sorting skeins, browsing Ravelry, printing out or copying patterns, and packaging yarn and printouts up in plastic or paper bags.  In fact, I brought the Knit Picks section of the stash out into the living room, along with bags, computer (plugged in now) and Sharpie in order to get a little further while I watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 tonight.

Why do I enjoy planning what to knit?  My personal projects club has become almost a religion.  I look forward avidly to revealing the next number.  I strategize ways to make the process more effective.  I look at the boxes of yarn that has accomulated since I resolved to start knitting from stash, and it doesn’t make me ashamed that I’ve bought so much yarn — it makes me happy that I can add some of my new favorite projects to the list that I’m fully equipped to make.

There are certainly many things I could do to improve our living quarters before the family returns on Wednesday.  And I’m going to clean their rooms and straighten some of the piles of randomness around the house, I swear.  Right now, though, the most pleasurable mess there is to sort through is the mess o’ yarn.  And I’m loving every minute of it.

You still mystify and I wanna know why

April 11, 2009

Pattern: Armwarmers by Twisted Stitches
Yarn: Patons Stretch Socks (41% cotton, 39% wool, 13% nylon, 7% elastic), Plum colorway
Needles: U.S. #2 40″ Options nickel fixed circular (two-at-a-time Magic Loop style)

I was about halfway through my pair of armwarmers when, as is her wont, Cady Gray approached me.

“Mom, what are you knitting?”

“Some gloves, sweetie.”

With a hopeful but abashed look: “Are they for me?”

No, but I’ll make some for you, my darling. As soon as I’m done with these.

To modify the pattern for a child size, I measured her arm length from wrist to elbow, and her arm circumference just below elbow and at wrist. Then I measured the gauge I got on my version (same yarn, same needles). Multiplying my stitches per inch times her arm circumference at the elbow gave me my cast-on number, and the same st/in by her arm circumference at the wrist gave me the number of stitches to which I needed to decrease down. I increased the rate of decreases by one row, shortened the ribbing and straight knitting at the beginning, and knit until I reached the elbow-to-wrist measurement before beginning the thumb gusset.

Thumb and hand, I pretty much winged it.

The gloves were largely knit during my trip to Montreal for the AAR spring board meeting. I expect never to knit for a more grateful recipient — including myself. Her joy upon receiving them exceeded her useful vocabulary. “I feel — just like — a drop of love!” she exclaimed, throwing her gloved arms around me again and again.

You’re welcome, honey.

And one even longer coming down

October 22, 2008

The Yarn Crawl DK! I had a free day in Aarhus after my conference was over, and having seen how easily navigable the downtown area is on foot, I determined to find the Aarhus yarn shops — if they existed!

Shop #1: Fandango

Strictly speaking, this was shop #1.5. I arrived on the street at about 10:15, but Fandango didn’t open until 11. So I walked a bit further down the street to Askeladen, a charming toy shop that also happens to carry some yarn. I bought trinkets for the kids, but no yarn — wanted to check out the real LYSes first.

Fandango was beautiful. I snapped a picture of the inside — the only shop in which I did so. It’s intimidating to take pictures of somebody’s store displays.

The place was lousy with Noro. You can see it there on the left side of the photo and on the center table. Oh, my Lord. But I was looking for Danish yarn in particular, so I left with no fiber but with four buttons for my Drop-Stitch Lace Tank (6 DKK apiece), which lacks only same to be completed. Total damage: 24 kroner (about $5).

Stop #2: Garnlageret

This cozy store was actually full of Danish women shopping and chatting! I settled on this slightly heathered blue-green fingering-weight merino. I was looking for (1) color, (2) yardage and (3) squooshability (essential for packing), and this 450 meter skein fit all three bills. Total damage: 66 kroner (about $13).

BC Garn Lucca Fino

Shop #3: Isager

No photos of this one. A beautiful large shop, but most of it is the actual packaging operation, since the yarn sold is a house label that is shipped all over the world. I didn’t see anything that met my criteria without being laceweight (a hurdle I haven’t tackled yet).

Shop #4: Ingers on Volden

Another designer’s store, but here I saw a large variety of products that met standards 1, 2, and 3. How could I resist this deep heathered red? It’s actually more wine-colored than it appears in my photo. Fingering weight and a whopping 540 meters. Total damage: 120 kroner (about $24). Duo

What a day! I’m thrilled. Over on my daily blog I’ve posted loads of pictures of this beautiful town (starting here). Check it out!