December 27, 2005


I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season, with a minimum of stress and a maximum of pastry seasonal cheer.

Me, I'm just glad it's winding down. Despite my efforts to keep things simple, everything combined always ends up being too...too, what with the booze and the sodium and the electronics and the paper and the lights and the crowds and the general atomoshpere of frenzy. I spend the last week of every year slightly dazed, as though I've just emerged from out of a particularly garish pinball machine.

Last night, that sweater coat became

a lot of very fine, somewhat fragile yarn. I was wrong when I guessed that it would be a fingering weight made of several plies - turns out it's two strands of laceweight-ish knit together. It needs to dry, and be wound, and then we'll see what we see.

To rip the coat, I used this


Courtesy of my boyfriend, who apparantly braved the uncharted and highly treacherous territory that is the knitting store in order to pick this up. It's perfect, since I don't need a ballwinder - I'm getting pretty handy with the nostepinne method - but the whole outstretched-knees-as-skein-holder thing wasn't really cutting it.

He gave me this, too:

I've been wanting this collection for a long time; there are some unbelievably beautiful patterns and motifs in here (Frost Flowers, anyone?). It's worth having for the charts alone, but the prose is charming and some real effort went into making this a coherent collection. Huzzah for wonderfully thoughtful, much-needed and much-appreciated presents!

Yesterday, I got my first (long-delayed) closeup look at the winter Interweave. This design was the only thing that caught my eye in the magazine -

but, oh, what a winner it is! I'm not crazy about the colors, but I love the concept, the shaping, the sense of geometry together with those sinuous cables that interlace and join the panels of the garment as though they grew that way. This is the sort of stuff I want to come up with - there's so little that's truly innovative when it comes to a craft as old as knitting, but man, is this a clever take on things.

Project Rundown:

--I decided Friday afternoon that I wouldn't try to finish my dad's sweater or the houndstooth clogs - a copout, maybe, but there were shrimp to be fried and temaki to be rolled in preparation for a big party. I really should learn not to bite off more than I can chew or choke down or chug.

--Some time ago, I took stalled-out projects off of the progress list. Brief obituaries follow:

  • Circular shrug: I hated the way the motifs were looking, hated the length of my rib section, was running out of yarn, and probably would not have found a shrug all that flattering (I think I was induced to cast on by the same flight of wild fancy that makes me think every May that yeah! This is the summer I can pull off one of those cute string triangle bikini tops. Yeah, no). I've been thinking lately of making a tightly shaped felt cloche, the mohair brushed up and shaved to resemble rabbit skin. Some wilting felted flowers and a droopy ribbon, and Ann Darrow'd have nothing on me.
  • Fair Isle Vest and the Fair Isle Sweater Jacket: The Fair Isle Exercise lives on, as the Fair Isle Armwarmers. The sweater jacket was poorly planned (suprise!), while the vest never really got off the ground. Until I develop an eye for color and pattern, I'll experiment with small projects.
  • Martha: Sigh. I have no excuses here, except that I got tired of knitting it. I came to dislike the Dale Stork (weird-feeling, like knitting with a full strand of embroidery floss), and dreaded the thought of stringing more beads. Maybe I'll get back to it when spring rolls around, or maybe it'll become a little baby jean-ish jacket.

Phew! Now, I just have to decide what knitting to take on vacation with me. The Austrian stockings? The baby sweater I've got to make? Those damn convertible mittens?

October 12, 2005


A Play In Two Acts

Cast of Characters

The Baby Fair Isle------A shower gift.
The Circular Shrug-----An experiment.
Dad's Gansey----------The martyr.
The Lace Scarf---------The lucky one.
Martha---------------The good girl.
The Rib and Cable Sock-A filler.
The Striped Sock-------A second filler.
The Sweater Jacket-----The vixen.
Eunny----------------------The narrator.

Act The First

(Lights come up)

Eunny: There are things I ought to be knitting. There's the shower gift for January, the one that started fine but looked all wonky and had to be restarted.

(enter The Baby Fair Isle)

There's sweet, lovely Martha, who I loved briefly and then chucked without a tear or a kind word.

(enter Martha, the Good Girl)

And there's Dad's gansey - the long-suffering sweater for my sainted father, the WIP who's patiently borne my indiscretions and my straying ways, the one I'll come back to, the only one that means anything to me.

(enter The Martyr)

Act The Second

(Lights come up, this time in lurid red)

Eunny: Then there are the temptations, the things I want to knit, the things I covet and dream about and creep out doors at midnight to rendezvous with in seedy bars and nightclubs. The ones for whom I duck into yarn stores, the ones for whom I buy presents of materials, the ones I lavish time and attention on - the bright moths that captivate and then disappear, having flown too close to the flame.

I'm going to rip out that shrug and start again. It gives me no grief, no pause - after all, it's just an experiment, right?

(enter The Shrug)

And the socks - who cares? I'll knit them when I feel like it. They're just socks, a dime a dozen, they don't mean anything.

(enter The Socks)

That lace scarf? I'm done with her. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Already forgotten; she was beautiful, but she was shallow and cold.

(The Lace Scarf enters, but remains at far stage right)

I've moved on.

(enter the Sweater Jacket)

I give up. I've tried and tried to reign myself in, but I just can't seem to control my appetites. I embrace my profligacy; I welcome licentiousness. Monogamy is for suckers.

September 20, 2005

Odds and ends

That wasn't me, complaining a scant two weeks ago that I didn't have enough projects on the needles, oh nooo. I'd never have a problem like that, no siree...move along; there's nothing to see here.

The Kimono Shawl's eight repeats in. I'm not sure yet if I'll do the called-for 25 - this is going to grow a lot when blocked.

I like this lace pattern (and the speed with which it works up) very much; I think I might end up making three of these in different colors for gifts for my mom, grandmother and aunt. I might choose a slightly thicker yarn next time - maybe some more Zephyr - it seems to me like this shawl wants to be a solid fabric patterned with openwork more than it does some light and ethereal cobweb-type piece destined to be tugged through a wedding ring.

Dad's sweater is progressing, too. I'm finally out of the finger-numbing stockinette portion, and have split the front and back and am working on them seperately. I'm not following any particular gansey construction to a tee here, but am adjusting a vague plan I started with bit by bit as I go along. This approach usually works well for me - and then there are times, like tonight, when I'm merrily working away on something, and fail to realize until halfway through that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Shawl collar? Sure, I've knitted dozens of shawl collars. Or a couple, at least. Well, yeah, that last one really was more of a turtleneck, now that you mention it. Have I ever knitted a shawl collar before?

Rip, rip rip.

Off to the library tomorrow, to peruse that Vogue knitting bible and that book about finishing techniques.

On a more cheerful note, I wish I could marry this ohso simple but ohso effective stitch pattern and have ten thousand of its babies.

And, not that I have (numerous and priority-taking) other projects on the needles or anything, but I'm starting to have the beginnings of an idea

for convertible mittens for Jeff, made in charcoal Dale Tiur (or maybe that Gore-Tex treated yarn they make), adorned with a single intricate cable panel on the back of the hand (subtle, see, because they'll be dark), and finished on the palms and finger pads with suede. I'm drooling a little just thinking about them.

Not knitting related (and you might want to skip this if you're a bit squeamish about bugs), but we've been working on the yard in anticipation of this pig roast we're planning to throw. Yes, the house sits on a bunch of wooded acres, but really, it lies within five miles of a Starbucks, movie theater, McDonalds, Chipotle...not exactly rustic.

September 14, 2005

You're gonna reap just what you sow




At least my plain stockinette looks halfway decent (though sweet fancy Moses, I'd forgotten how boring it is).

September 09, 2005

I can't believe my luck.

I can't believe my luck.

In the late 60s, Time-Life books published a series of volumes encompassing the "Foods of the World". I remember we had a set in our house when I was a little kid (bought used then, too) - I'd sit and read these things as though they were novels. My mom gave them away at some point in the last twenty years.

I picked up four of them today for 50 cents each at a used booksale. Coming to them now, I'm all the more appreciative - they're dated, certainly, but they're meticulously researched, written by people with genuine fondness for the region they document, and contain absolutely rock-solid recipes for classics. The Classic French book is written by Craig Claiborne; the Provincial France volume by M. K. Fischer and edited by Julia Child. The prose is warm and gently instructive and the tiniest bit sentimental; the photos appear in lavish oversaturatred color.

Plus, I don't know if I've ever come across a more thorough cassoulet recipe. Combined with Judy Rogers' method for duck confit from her Zuni Cafe book, it might become a juggernaut in my winter kitchen.

I'm loving the baby sweater:

The knitting is much smoother in real life. This thing is just whizzing on US2 dpns - I've set the armhole steeks and am about 2 rows into the armhole shaping:

We'll see how all this works out. I'm just kind of making it up as I go along.

Got a few licks in on Dad's sweater, too:

September 08, 2005

So Ronery

I have only one project officially on the needles. How did that happen? I diligently bought yarn I didn't need; ogled magazines; leered at kits and needles and shop samples until my eyeballs dried up and fell out of their sockets. And yet the fact remains that Martha, bravely, is holding down the fort all alone. Swift corrective action must be taken now, and stronger precautionary measures in the future.

My dad needs a sweater, and his birthday is coming up. I'm thinking a gansey-style with an allover basketweave yoke rather than a multi-pattern.

Maybe a shawl collar; maybe a turtleneck with toggle closures or something.

And hooray! I finally cast on for the baby sweater I've been dying to really get nitty-gritty with:

After a couple false starts, I think I've found a colorway I can live with. I particularly like the winey red and the bright pink, and the way they really brighten the whole thing. I'm partly making the pattern as I go along and partly following the half-assed chart I drew last month.

And I'm really feeling smug about this one-handed fair isle method I've devised for myself (though I know lots of ethnic color knitting is traditionally done with one hand, and I know there are plenty of better knitters than I am who've espoused this method). I'm tensioning the two colors together over the pinky, holding the pattern color over the index finger, and holding the background color over the middle finger. Since I'm a picker to begin with, this is really comfortable, and best of all, fast. The balls never get tangled, you get into an over-under rhythm very quickly, and weaving the carried yarn in on every single blessed stitch is so easy, so simple, so devoid of extraneous movement (just knit, alternately, from above and from below the strand you wish to carry, and it's automatically caught!), that I'm dangerously close to weeping tears of joy.

No little kiddie fingers are getting caught in THIS sucker. Gold, Jerry, gold!