Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Works in Progress

Here is my first ever experience knitting with unspun yarn. This is not icelandic, like the kit I have waiting for me upstairs to make Meg Swansen's superlative Icelandic coat. This is Fingerlakes Woolen Mill Unspun. Soft and yummy it is. The wool comes as a big flat "cake". For this project, which was gifted to me by a friend at church who inherited it from her Grandma's stash, 4 strands are used, so the "cake" is divided into two sections by lifting out the center few inches, then using the inner and outer strands of each remaining spiral of yarn. It is going pretty smoothly and has been a nice break from all the frenzied deadline knitting. This will be a fitted helmet-type hat called Betty's Well-Shaped Hood. It is a classic pattern from Patternworks from many years ago.

Here is the Nicky Epstein Felted Bag from the current issue of VK. Gail and I are teaching it as a class together. This is obviously not felted yet. The version in the magazine is in lovely soft berry colors. Gail is doing something like that, but we thought it would be fun to show the different effect of doing the same pattern in neutrals. I like the way it is turning out.

Below is the Big Easy by Beth Brown-Reinsel. It is an easy circular pullover that features Gansey-like elements. I am enjoying the knitting very much. The patterning keeps the rows just flying by. The yarn is Wool Pack 10 ply, and it is showing off the stitchwork nicely. I swatched with 3 other yarns. One can understand why traditional ganseys are done with a very tightly twisted yarn. Anything with texture or even a heathered color just swallowed up the subtle knit-purl patterns.

Holiday Cheer and Class Reports

The holiday ornament class went really well last week. Everyone one in the class was a familiar face and I just love that. I got the Sophia Hat and wristwarmer pattern published for Chris. She just got in a bunch of that yarn and I had done the hat a few years ago. It is a luscious wool/llama blend dyed in yummy soft colors by those fabulous Wool in the Woods girls-Missy and Anita. The hat turned out well and I hope it will appeal to folks as a nice last minute gift-hat on size 9 needles-quick, quick, quick!
The last session of Chinese Lantern went well,too. It is such a thrill to see everyone have success and finish. One student made hers into a circular vest and one made the center chart into an intarsia contrast panel. One did hers in Karabella Aurora 8 and I was so enthralled with it that I've ripped mine out in the Naturespun sport and am going to redo it in the KA8. I don't know which color yet. There were a couple done in Galway which shows off the stitches beautifully-and those two were looking fantastic. All in all, it was a parade of masterpieces in the making. Go Girls!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Okay, so maybe I don't feel like a genius, like Sally Melville promises, but I am glad to have my einstein finished. It is quite unique in the touch me. Once again, blogger's issues with the Mac platform are making it hard for me to put up photos, but I'll get them up. The fabric of the washed and dried Touch Me really does beg to be fondled, as the name implies. It drapes and slinks like nothing I've ever knitted before. The downside of that is that it is already growing longer with each wearing and I have to do some research to find out if I can rewash it or block it somehow to refresh it between wearings. I found some awesome buttons, and overall, I am really happy with it. Some of the students in the class are pretty much done as well. A couple are going to add collars so they will stop by the shop and see me. I love keeping those contacts alive. Students are the best. Sometimes I like teaching better than the actual knitting!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

All My Projects

So, Stitches was GREAT! I took no photos, but I found out that my face is in the new flyer for Stitches West in two places. if you go here you can download a pdf of the brouchure and check me out. How funny is that? It is especially funny that it is the same photo in two places. Actually, the art director at XRX is a superb lady and she did a great job, it is just so wierd to see one's face in such a context. I am also featured in the video clips of teachers. Tee hee.

Anyway, here is a non-exhaustive list of everything in active production right now:
Einstein-chocolate Touch Me Almost DONE!
5-color challenge-hat and scarf
Landscape shawl-still perking along-am up to the reeeaaallly long rows now
Truly Tasha shawl started about 6 years ago-nothing left but about 2 feet of the edging!
Socks that Rock-done but no longer for Sara-she likes shorty socks-now I know
Chinese Lantern-sleeves and finishing are all that it lacks
3 pairs of orphaned socks in yarns I can't remember-well one is Cestari wool and cotton-the others are various hand-dyed boutique yarns
Whew. I will get all this done because I am excited to! I have been really good about not buying new stuff because I keep thinking of the embarrasment of riches I have in my own closets and under my beds and in the basement, and...well, you know...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stitches East

Stitches is coming! The big expo starts tomorrow. I am experiencing my normal butterflies but preparing has become much easier as I've standardized my handouts and samples for each class. I basically just have to print the handouts and pick up my tote for that particular class. All my classes sold out (!) which just amazes me. I look forward to meeting and interacting with the students and doing my best to field their questions. I learn so much from them and the act of helping them discover their strengths. Well, I'm off to wind yarn samples. I will take some pictures of my classes and post them on Monday. Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crazy Spinning

So, what do you do when you have about 4 deadlines, you've had a sucky couple of days and you're in the mood to get rid of some stress? You drop everything and spin, of course! Especially if you haven't used a spinning wheel in about 4 years (I use my handspindle all the time, but the wheel's been gathering dust). Well, it was a good spinning week. I was first inspired by meeting THE Mama-E whose fabulous yarn and fiber have become favorites at the shop. She has even created a Cloverhill Exclusive Colourway in Chris's favorites of purple and green. So, when I got home after meeting the lovely and talented Erin, I looked through my sock yarn and found to my delight a braid of her hand-dyed fiber in a beautiful color called Pink Flamingo. So, I got busy and got most of it spun Wednesday evening then finished Thursday morning. I plied it Thursday afternoon and took it in to show all my dear shop-pals. They were so sweet as I pranced around like a little kid showing off--"Lookee lookee its my first EVER handspun yarn!"
I've been playing around with spinning for years and have miles and miles of singles on bobbins and in sandwich bags and on handspindles, but this, this luscious pink stuff is my first completed yarn. I was simply inspired! I am so excited! I have rediscovered spinning to be a wonderful foil to knitting. Calming to the mind, tactile, rhythmic, colorful, etc, but in a totally different way than knitting. So, I am off on a totally new fiber adventure that so far is meshing perfectly with the knitting. I have already started spinning the Interlacements merino top I bought a while back and am about halfway done. I am trying out a lendrum wheel and so far I like it a lot. There are a few things I like better about my used Ashford Traditional, but I am actually spinning more consistently on the lendrum. I've had fewer screw-ups. Whether that's just the sudden extra practice or something about the wheel I haven't figured out. The biggest advantage of the lendrum is that it is a traveling wheel. I can pack it up easily and take it to spin-ins, classes, etc. So, we'll see. Just because I'm silly and so very proud, here's another photo of my pink-flamingo before it becomes hat for Sara:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Very Little to do with Socks

It was one of those days. You know the kind I mean. Everything went wrong. No one could find socks, everyone needed something ironed at the last minute in spite of my pleading the night before to get things ready. My patience unraveled completely. I found myself locked in one of those arguments with my teenaged son. You know the kind I mean. I was actually shouting at him about controlling his temper. Yeah. The world had gone crazy. I got everyone where they needed to go and even got them home again, but I was still out of sorts. There was nothing for it. I put myself in time-out and went to my room.

The weather was beautiful-all bright blue skies with flaming foliage below, but my still-thin skin was used to the humid summer air that is as fat and plump as a down comforter. This thin, clear stuff left me chilly on days like this one. The heat was not on yet, so in addition to everything else, when I went to my room, I was cold and achy all the way to my bones.

I stood in my closet to change my clothes. I was drawn irresistibly to my knitted things. I have lots of fleecy sweatshirts and running jackets, but they were too high-tech and put-together for today. I needed something comfortingly imperfect that would accept me in my utterly unreasonable grumpy state. Something with pills and maybe a moth hole. So, I looked over my sweaters and chose the oldest and most worn. It was my first real, original design and as it slipped over my head and settled into its place on my body, I felt somehow better. LIke an old friend was embracing me, but one who didn't need to hear words to understand how I felt. My breathing eased for the first time that day. From there I went to my dresser and chose socks in the colors of the forest, so I could hide out a while. I also chose leg warmers that were unbelievably boring to knit but I couldn't resist the beautiful yarn, so I finished them. They made me feel like a survivor instead of a victim. Thus ensconced and feeling not only warmer but somehow more myself, I took refuge under my covers and had a lovely good cry and a nap.

When I woke up, the earth was quietly spinning again, whirring along on its old axis and the air felt fresh and clean, not cold and menacing. I fingered the stitches on my knitted companions, grateful for their friendly familiarity. I have always found comfort in the act of knitting, and in the act of giving my knitting to others, but today, my knitting literally comforted me. I was able to remember that with a vision, a little knowledge, and the endurance to do the same thing 50 or 60 thousand times, something beautiful and lasting can be created. The dropped stitches can be picked up, a new ball of yarn can be added, and the stitches will hold if the needle falls out.

I got out of bed, folded up my cozy treasures and went to do some knitting of another kind.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well, Soctoberfest is off to a good start for me. I joined this knitalong to finish up a bunch of unfinished socks. So far I have another pair of charity socks complete. When Afghans for Afghans needs socks, I'll be ready! I'm 3/4 of the way to finishing Sara's Socks that Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

I also have my New Valentina (Silk City's coned version of Touch Me) Einstein Jacket on the needles and am making good progress for class. The chinese lantern is nearly finished and the 5-color challenge has been a lot of fun. I have swatches for a hat and scarf. I think I know who I'll give the whole ensemble to. Knitting for someone in particular has its own kind of fun.

Oh yes, I can't forget my toe-up explorations for Stitches East. I think I finally have an introductory toe-up sock that I can teach in an hour with decent results. I am going to test it on a couple of friends who are beginning knitters. I will post a tutorial when I get it perfected. It was a good experience to try and simplify and look at the experience from the eyes of someone who was a complete beginner. I'll keep you posted on how the class goes. Stitches is month away, so my preparations are in earnest now.

I am knitting a ton right now and so far my handa are holding up all right. Shew. I am still experimenting with two-dimensional knitted birds for the ATC (artist trading card) exchange my pal Kristin is moderating. I am using a leaf design as a starting point, and it is working pretty well.

I posted a comment on the Socktoberfest site, but something I forgot to mention is that for me, socks are still a little bit magical. Every single time I finish a heel turn, I have to put it down and smooth it out and just admire my creation for a minute. It is absolutely the coolest thing ever! I would estimate I've made 50 pairs of socks and it still pleases me afresh every time.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The 5-Color Challenge

In an effort to stretch myself as a designer, I looked around my house and found 5 colors of Galway that I love. My goal is to design as many items as I can with these 5 colors. This is the first successful endeavor: The "Good Day, Sunshine Slipper Socks" They were done on size 5 needles and I am so tickled with the way these colors are interacting. I think I will call the whole series Good Day, Sunshine because the colors are so happy. I am picturing a scarf, a hat and some mittens or gloves in the same stripey rib. These pics are not great because I can't get the white balance on my little camera to do much, but I will take more pictures as the project progresses.

In other knitting news, I have Randi's armwarmers almost done and the chinese lantern sweater is coming along swimmingly. I've chosen yarn for the Big Easy Gansey by Beth Brown-Reinsel. It is Plymouth's new tweedy worsted yarn. I can't remember the name at the moment. It is a beautiful leafy green, though. Gail wants my class proposals for winter classes by Friday, so I am starting on that. So far I have decided on my core classes and I think I've decided on the project classes. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 18, 2006

New York, but no yarn stores

I was able this week to go to New Jersey and New York with a very special friend. It was a wonderful time. I got to meet her oldest and dearest friend from girlhood as well as get reaquainted with another of G's friends from around here. We did the two-day New York Blitz tour. We did not go to any yarn stores because I was the only knitter in the group. K was game but we had plenty of other fun stuff to do. We drove past one of the well known shops but I can't remember the name. We were in SoHo (which, I found out, means South of Houston street), so I am sure I was within spitting distance of Purl SoHo, but I was too busy having iced hotchocolate at MarieBelle. Oh Yum. I finished Randi's first armwarmer on her birthday and have the second well in hand. They are worsted weight, so they are going like lightning. Other knitting news includes the fact that I joined Soctoberfest through Missy's blog (my former secret one-skein pal). Now that the computer is fixed, I am catching up on photo organization and emails. I got a sweet email from Kristin, my other secret pal and I AM going to reply. Things are finally settling down into a routine and I have a day pretty much to myself tomorrow.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Son Arrives Safely

Here is a picture we got via email of Jeff in Panama with the Duffins, who are in charge of him while he's there. They are a combination of spiritual leaders, chaperones, and dorm parents. Jeff has been assigned a companion, but I don't know yet what city he'll be serving in. He will not be living with the Duffins but instead will be in an apartment somewhere in Panama with his companion. We will be able to get emails from him as long as he can find an internet access site like a library or a cafe.

We are going camping in PA for the long weekend-Blue Knob State Park. Fortunately there are individual family cabins and a lodge/kitchen/messhall that we share with about 20 other families. This is a long standing tradition and the other families are all dear friends, so even a weekend in the rain will be fun. I am taking a prayer shawl to finish for a friend and the Chinese Lantern for when I get too bored with the prayer shawl.

I still can't get photos off my camera, but soon I'll upload photos of the chinese lantern, my secret pal scarf, the socks I just finished and, yep, more handwarmers.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Final Bliss

Well, I hope it won't be the final bliss, because I would love to stay in touch with you, my wonderful one skein secret pal! Yesterday I got my handknitted gift! My computer is having a hard drive meltdown but I wanted to post my thank you before I send my poor mac off for a transplant. I received a beautiful scarf done in one of the recycled silk Sari yarns. It sure is beautiful and totally unique. It self stripes in a lovely way and will go with lots of outfits. It is mostly made up of red tones from brick to magenta, but there are bits of navy, gold, jade and purple as well as splashes of pumpkin, turquoise and emerald. I will post a photo as soon as I can. I wore it yesterday with a white t-shirt and jeans and got complements at the supermarket! I love the drape and feel of the fabric and will always treasure and enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jeff leaves Utah for Panama today. He has been at the Missionary Training Center run by the LDS church in Provo Utah since June 28. He has been learning Spanish and culture and how to answer questions about what we believe. Sadly, knitting is not part of the curriculum, but I told him to keep his eyes open for knitters down there, it can be an ice breaker, especially since he himself knits! He has had a good experience on this adventure so far. His letters are full of faith, hope and a willingness to work hard. He is already excited to meet the people of Panama and has a sincere desire to serve them.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Knitting TV

When we got our satellite TV a couple of years ago, it came with a DVR which is a giant hard drive that allows one to stop the program in progress and record shows. I have enjoyed it because I can record shows and then click through the commercials. I now get really frustrated when I am watching actual live television and I can't skip the ads. Another result of having the DVR is that I can get the computer inside the satellite receiver to search out and save all the episodes of a given show that I want to watch. Last year, I turned that characteristic into an art form as I began watching endless reruns of M*A*S*H while speed knitting my sample of the Oregon Sweater for Cloverhill. My whole family got into it and so I may have the only 10 year old in America who knows who David Ogden Stiers was before he played the clock in Beauty and the Beast. He chose to watch M*A*S*H instead of SpongeBob SquarePants, and that should tell you something. Well, after finally getting through all the episodes at least a couple of times, we got sick of M*A*S*H. I honestly never thought it would happen. Now we are into House. (all exept for the 10 year old-he thinks it's boring, which is good because I have to be a little more careful about censoring than I did with M*A*S*H) I love House. Actually, I think I may be becoming unhealthily obsessed with House. Just kidding. I can stop if I want to. I can. Really.

Anyway , I started watching it because I am a long-time Hugh Laurie fan, from his Jeeves and Wooster days. So funny. Plus I think he is quite easy on the eyes in an everyman sort of way. House is not a funny show, but it is emotionally honest and straightforward and human emotions just can't help but be comical if one is honest with one's self. It is also sad and cathartic and, at times, beautiful. So now, it is my knitting show. I am working on the Chinese Lantern Sweater and it is taking hours and hours, and my sister has requested arm covers (like mom's) for her to wear while cooking. This sister is confined to a wheelchair and sometimes gets burned while cooking, so these will be extra protection for her skin while reaching into the oven and reaching across the stove to the controls. Who knew elbow length fingerless gloves could be so useful to people with health issues? As I've said before, they have become some of the most emotionally satisfying knitting I've ever done. Anyway, as for the telly, watch and knit I shall. I have to finish watching season 2 before season three starts! This sounds like I am sick in the head, but it is only when I knit....really....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stitches Midwest

I am back from Stitches Midwest in Chicago, and my experience teaching there just gets better and better. The people are great, I really enjoy the students and the working environment is so much fun. I got some great comments-some with some really specific and helpful advice for improving my classes.

I loved the market and found a few delightful treasures. Starting from the top, we have an exquisite yarn from Grafton Fibers, which I have known for beautiful spinning fiber, but the yarn is a new addition. Mohair Silk-yum-look at the shine! I next indulged in a Fair Isle bag kit from Black Water Abbey Yarns. They import classic, rustic Irish wool in a really pleasing and rich array of colors. Moving down the stack though, I think my favorite find was yarn from Jojoland. This company is brand-new to me. The owner has been knitting for a year (!) and is now designing truly extraordinary yarns. She had a small, no-nonsense booth with the pictured shawl hanging front and center. I was mesmerized by it and the other samples. Her yarns have a subtle kind of self-striping that makes Noro look overbearing by comparison. I bought 7 balls of a lovely soft colorway with greens, pinks, peaches, and cream for this shawl, which is knit circularly from the middle out. I almost bought needles at the market so I could start on it, but I refrained so I could use it as a bribe for myself to get some projects out of the way.

I got to see lots of great knitted garments which is always an education. Things that don't thrill me when I see them in a magazine captivate me when I see them in person. I also loved Tilli Tomas yarns, which I was not familiar with. She has beautiful luxury fibers and bags.

So, all in all a great weekend. My 12-year old daughter flew to Chicago with me and my sister-in-law picked her up and had some excellent doting-aunty time with her while I was teaching. Sara had an awesome time. I am so looking forward to Stitches East-right here in Baltimore!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Special Thanks and Then Absolutely No Knitting Content

So, the Secret Pal exchange gets better and better. I am so excited to "meet" my pal I can hardly wait. I may have to fly to MN to give a hug in person! My gift for July was an incredible skein of Colinette Point Five-one of the most unique yarns ever. Thick and thin and in the most beautiful colors of Autumn. I'm not sure if the photo shows it , but there are purples, browns, golds and fawns and taupes and every other color of a walk in the woods on an October day. As if that weren't enough, my kindred spirit of a secret pal, who understands that yarn is art in its own right and that knitting it up is just the icing on the cake, sent along the perfect display container-a beautiful turned wood bowl. Yum. It has a proud spot in our new family room, where I can enjoy it every day. Thanks again, pal--many hugs to you.

Today is Sunday and church was lovely. We are having some folks that my husband works with at church (he is a lay minister-the Bishop of our congregation) over for dessert later on, so an early dinner is bubbling away, giving me a moment to try and write. We got home from Maine 2 weeks ago, but the memories are still so fresh in my mind that I wanted to comment a little on the meaning of the trip. It was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my wedding. Eric and I went to Maine on a whim for our honeymoon. We drove up the east coast in 3 days and ended up in Ellsworth, near the entrance to Acadia National Park. I am not sure we even have any photos of that trip, as I am not sure we owned a camera yet. I have wanted to go back ever since because of the memories I had of Maine being a bit magical. It was so cool in July that I remember we had to buy sweatshirts and other clothes because we came from the muggy 90 degrees of late July in Maryland not expecting total refreshment in the temperatures. I remember the rugged coastling and seeing water everywhere. We saw some seals and explored many rocks and tidepools. So, I spent a lot of time looking for a place to go. I really lucked out on the house we found. It was so perfect that I would buy it in a heartbeat if it ever went up for sale. It was a shingled ginger-bread cottage come to life that looked directly out over the ocean. Here is our view at sunrise:

The kids got to see the rugged coastline and even the seals. We spent many hours together just watching the sea or watching the fire or playing our new favorite game, Gobblet, which is a combination of chess, tick tack toe and Sorry, sort of.

On our last day there, it was pouring out. We packed the car with the rain just pummeling us. As I was taking one last run through the house. I caught the fog lifting a little off of our little stretch of coastline and captured this view:

In the end, I think that everyone will have fond memories of our trip. I know I will.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Catching Up: The Second

Here are pictures of the latest arm covers for mom, modeled by Sara, and the Fall Fair Isle Sweater for Cloverhill. I was in a total panic after I washed it because the Karabella 8 absorbed so much water that it stretched beyond any recognition of my original gauge. The sweater became a dress. Blocking was not a possiblity. I spun it out again, rolled it in every towel I had and still it was completely unuseable. So, in desperation, I put it in the dryer on very low heat and started drying it. I figured that it really couldn't be worse. It finally started looking more like it used to when it was almost completely dry. I stopped it before it actually started fulling, but man was I worried. So, make a big swatch with Karabella 8 and wash it and weight it to see what it will really do. Holy Cow.

Catching Up: The First

In the midst of all the travel and other summer goings-on, the air conditioning finally got fixed around the last week of June and the addition is all but finished as of about a week ago. I am going to set up my spinning wheel today and hope it will find a permanent home there. I am thrilled with the way the room turned out and am happy that it has already become the favorite room in the house. I love the half-round window, especially with the addition of my lovely leaded glass medallion.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Back from Tennesee and Maine

Time Flies When You're Having Fun
Okay, as methods of journaling, go, blogging has been the hardest for me to get into a groove with. I am too used to curling up with my beloved book and one of my many pens. It is a comforting ritual for me and this has not become so yet. So...July...lets see...the month started out with a bang as my two sisters were visiting. Independence Day holds some of our family's most reliable and treasured traditions and both my sisters arranged their visits just to be home. Our town has a celebration that is iconic in its small-town patriotism. All the elements are there: the parade down the main street, the barbecue parties at every house, the fireworks at the high school-its just classic.
After that, the month barreled along and included a trip to Tennesee with one sister, a couple of days at home, then a trip to Maine. In between the kids went to a total of 3 different camps/retreats, with all the attendant busyness to get them out the door. This week was spent looking at photos and doing laundry...and not packing the car.
As for knitting, well, let's see...another pair of armwarmers for mom out of Sockatta with a cute little picot bind-off, toe up socks for my Stitches class, and two sweaters in process to display for the fall newsletter. One is mostly done, the other, well, we may have to display just a front and some sleeves. A faux sweater is better than no sweater, as I always say.
I can hardly believe it is the end of the month already. But here we are. Next time-photos of Maine. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

To Utah and Back

Well, the last weeks were spent fitting the knitting in around the major endeavor of getting son one out the door for his two years of missionary service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There were so many last minute details and so many things to try and savor and enjoy and not get stressed about. It was wonderful to see him rise to the occasion and be really quite poised and mature about the whole matter. He took care of all the practical aspects like visas, shots, applications, etc. He mostly just told me what he was alredy taking care of on his own. It does a mother's heart good to see a kid actually function in the real world. I always said my job was to create humans who could live without me. Some have called me callous for having that attitude, but really, what better gift can I give them? I certainly don't want them dependent and suffering without me there to make them a sandwich. So we went with him to Utah to begin his service. We won't see him at all for two years, but instead of being scary or sad or difficult, it was a good parting. He was ready to go, and the sense I had was that he is in the right place at the right time. That to me is the definition of peace, and that is what I felt. Anyway, in the midst of this busy time, what should come but an absolutely lovely gift from my secret pal. In a meticulously wrapped box with my name hand lettered in beautiful caligraphy came extraordinary yarn and one of my favorite books ever to treasure for my very own. It was a lovely moment of sweetness. That strangers with nothing in common at the outset but knitting can come together in this way and really care about each other is a very special thing. In a time of very tender emotions, the care that was taken with this simple gift moved me to tears. That someone who knows me only as words on a screen would do much for me warmed my heart.

The middle picture is me just plain showing off. My youngest sister is in town with her new baby and they are so beautiful, I just figured they needed to be published.

Monday, June 19, 2006


So we are on week 6 without Air Conditioning. I am so proud of my kids, they have been such troopers. Little complaining, lots of resourcefulness in finding ways to keep cool, etc. What I have found, in the humidity, is that I can't knit with wool. So in desperation, I took a break from the landscape shawl and socks to make the Otis sweater from Knitty a couple of years ago. I have the fronts and the back done and because I knew I was short on yarn, I did the sleeves from the top down and converted the set in cap shaping to short rows. It worked really well. I will finish the knitting tomorrow and put up a photo. I was all prepared to put on a lace border to make the sleeves longer, but I am satisfied with the length and am going to leave them as is. It has been a fun, fast knit and has increased my confidence as a designer because I knew I had to make adjustments to get a whole sweater out the amount of yarn on hand, and I was fearless in my adjustments and modifications. Woohoo! Now to try and sleep. Two of my sisters are in crisis right now and knitting is much easier than sleeping. Even reading is not working in the heat. I just can't concentrate.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The saga of the Eight-Year Socks

Okay, so everyone has one...the project you start but don't finish but you can't abandon it because you really do like the process but there are oh-so-many other interesting things coming at you and hey, they're just a little pair of socks, I'll be able to finish them in a couple of evenings...
Yeah, right.
So, these socks have literally been floating around my house and my subconscious for 8 years. They were designed by a wonderful woman that I used to work with at Cloverhill named Jamie Flickinger. She was the knitting teacher there until I took over. I used to pet the sample in the shop and dream of the day I would have those cozy socks on my feet. The yarn got discontinued, so I bought it and cast them on, got halfway through the first leg and then...I don't know. They sat. Over the years I have forgiven myself of many started projects and just unraveled them. It is a very freeing process, I recommend it. For some reason though, these always got put in the "To Be Resurrected at Some Unknown Future Time" pile. Since this is my year of stash shopping, I was determined to finish them. I put them in one of my "active projects" baskets back in January and they continued to sit. Last month, I was spring cleaning and I had decided I was going to donate them to Children in Common so the girls in Russia could have the fun of knitting them and they would be out of my life. I couldn't do it! Then, it became a crusade. I would finish them or die trying. So, I worked on them during the driving home from Chicago. I finished the first sock on the road and got all the way to the heel of the second one before we hit Breezewood.
Last night I got all but the kitchener stitch on the toes done. It was a small triumph, the sort that is triumphant only in the mind of the conquerer. To everyone else they are just a pair of socks. To me they are a fascinating evidence of how my mind works, how my life is organized and how I participate in the art of knitting. I am glad that I finished them. The fact is, I finish most things, I just take the scenic route. That could be on my tombstone, that I would rather take the scenic route, and so I am okay with my beautiful socks that took 8 years and 8 hours to finish.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Back from Chicago

Here is the addition in its stark pre-insulation-and-drywall beauty. It is really coming together. The thought of sitting in a window seat to read and knit and daydream while the trees sigh above me just makes me so happy!
The other photo is the crew on the shores of lake Michigan with the truly beautiful Chicago skyline in the background. It was a good trip.
I am up working on my music again after a very challenging workout. The good news is that I have worked out hard for 3 days in a row now and am sore, but feeling strong. I am slow and heavy, but I somehow feel graceful and powerful when I run, so that is good. Tonight was 440 sprints. My times were laughable, but considering I haven't sprinted a 440 in twenty years, and considering all the life I've lived in that 20 years, I am happy I got around the track 4 times without throwing up. My goal is to see measureable improvement in my physical fitness by the big 40 in August. I have let my family own my body for the last 20 years, and I'm takin' it back! That sounds selfish. What I really want it to set a good example for my kids of taking care of myself and showing them that when I take that time, I am better for them. Now, at this stage of life, I feel like I can take 60-90 minutes out of my day for working out. 'Twas not always thus.
So, back to music and in a roundabout way, knitting...we did the Chicago museums while were there and museum shops always have a few worthwhile treasures. One of my favorite record labels is Putumayo. They do these totally fun compilations of world music from all over. I picked up French Cafe, Repubilica Dominica and, get this, Music from the Chocolate Lands! The last one is music from chocolate-producing countries, like Congo, India, Brazil, Switzerland ,and Peru. So, now we have music to eat chocolate by! Can life get any better?
In thinking about music to knit by, so-called "world music" is really nice because it takes up just enough mental space to keep things interesting, but I don't focus totally on the music and can concentrate on what I'm doing. Besides, I love imaginary travel, so I will enjoy "visiting" all these places this summer as I knit by the pool.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yikes! Its been a week!

But, I've been working hard. I offer as evidence the long-promised picture of the Landscape Shawl. It is about a foot in length and about 18 inches wide, unblocked. It is up to 146 stitches on size 4 needles and I am about to start the third section, which I believe is stockinette stitch. It does show off the lovely Cherry-Tree Hill hand-dyed yarn, doesn't it? Anyway, this week has seemed really busy with everyone going a million different directions at once. Thus, no blogging for me. I got a fun pattern from she to whom I am secret pal and I did cast on a string bag in the sport weight version of Sugar N Cream cotton. It is going along quickly. I am trying to decide what to take on the Memorial Day visit to the Chicago side of the family. We leave tomorrow and will have a grand total of 24 hours in the car during the weekend. If I play my cards right, with four drivers in the family, I may not have to drive at all and can get lots of good knitting done. I might as well since I can't read in the car. Sometimes I can't knit either, but I can often pull that off. The big bonus this week was a surprise visit from Sister-in-Law Amy and Nephew Owen. I'll put a photo of him up soon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Knitting Friendships

I spent a lovely afternoon with a group of women to whom my first contact was knitting. 6 of us had a wonderful afternoon tea at Tea on the Tiber in fabulous downtown Historic Ellicott City, Maryland. 3 of them were former students. They no longer need my help with their knitting, and frankly, what can be more satisfying to a teacher? Wow. They are all in the next phase of life from me, from 10-15 years older, but we get along so well. I sat there just amazed at what my knitting life has brought me and how enriched I feel every day because of my pointy sticks and my string. I made lots of progress on the Landscape shawl-photos are forthcoming-I want to see my progress. This is serious deadline knitting, and I don't want to leave it to the last minute. I will have to have it done by early August.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

No knitting today, but another request from mom for arm covers,which are just long, fingerless gloves. I think I'll use Brown Sheep Cotton Fine because she wants them thin. I am going to swatch with the Elann Esprit though, and see what she thinks, because it has the lycra. We had 18 over for dinner which was really nice. My family came through with flying colors on the Mother's day celebrating and I scored breakfast in bed as well as a brand new copy of the Oxford Book of American Poetry. Sheesh, just reading the introduction has been a mind-expanding experience.

One Skein, etc.

The One Skein Secret Pal exchange is underway, and I am very excited. I have received lovely correspondence from both my secret pal and she to whom I am secret pal. Big fun! in the process of writing out my answers to the yarn personality profile questions, I rediscovered how much my stash leans toward a particular color group, so I thought I'd try to capture it. You would think I would be tired of taking pictures as I just spent the evening as official photographer at our church spring formal, but here I am at midnight taking photos of yarn. Oh well. My two classes today went great-both groups were engaged and willing to try things. The Fixing mistakes class is one of my favorites to teach because one can almost palpably feel the confidence level increase.
So many aha moments! The hat class got off to a good start as well. I am into the second section of the Landscape and now have yarn for all my fall projects. Let the knitting begin!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Writing to write

The socks below are almost done. I have started the landscape shawl for the fall newsletter. It will be a big knit, but the merino laceweight, dyed by Cherry Tree Hill, is really nice to work with. It has cast on picots at the beginning of the 3rd and 4th row of every repeat, which give a really unique edge. I like it. I am determined to spend an hour designing tomorrow-something, anything...swatching with my new Elsa Cormo yarn, sketching, dreaming. More to come.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Matching Socks???

These are my current socks-in-progress. They are made from Austermann Step(the one with aloe and jojoba oil right in the yarn) in color 06. The yarn does have a soft hand, rather like Puffs with Lotion. I don't notice it as I'm knitting, so it is not overwhelming. Anyway, the reason for the photo while in-progress is that they match! I have never made a pair of matching socks with self-striping yarns. I like the fraternal twin look. Not realizing this yarn is (apparently) engineered to match as long as one is making a medium sized woman's sock, I finished the first sock, did my kitchener toe without even thinking about it and cast on for the second sock in the most care-free frame of mind. When I finished the leg and started the heel, I got out sock #1 to measure and noticed that they were matching, like, exactly...I mean to the row. So, not thaaat big a deal, but it was a nice surprise to me. BTW, I pulled the yarn from the center of the skein. I am now really curious if they would have matched had I pulled the yarn from around the outside of the ball.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Latest for Mom

Here I am with my folks and 3 of my siblings. If you look closely, you can see Mom's latest arm covers. They turned out really nicely, and it still gives me a bittersweet warm fuzzy every time I maker her a pair. This set was made with a strand of Koigu and a strand of laceweight mohair from Muench on size 3 needles. She doesn't ask for much, and in almost 30 years of fighting the Rheumatoid arthritis, she has never let it get her down. For her to ask me to knit her something was incredibly meaningful to me. It was a powerful feeling to actually be able to do something for her, instead of just admire her pluck and stubborness in the face of disease. She's embarrassed by her prednisone-y appearance, but frankly, she's never looked more beautiful to me. Disease has a way of refining-all but the essentials of a person get burned away.