Thursday, December 28

Peace and purpose

I recently bought a copy of "Knitting For Peace," by Betty Christiansen. I heartily encourage you to buy it because Christiansen has collected all the different charity organizations and their projects in one book. I had downloaded a few of these patterns already, but reading the stories behind these charities and organizations is truly inspiring. What knitter doesn't have a few odd skeins hanging about? There are 15 patterns that will happily use them up. And there are so many different opportunities for knitters to help locally and globally, that it's hard not to immediately start a project...or a charity knitting group..or join one. All the information is there.

As many of you may know, our dog, Archie, got hit by a car and died in front of the church across the street. One of the associate pastors was helping direct traffic while I bundled Archie up and put him in my car. She introduced herself and asked if I was alright to drive. I thanked her for her kindness and left for the vet's office. Later that night, the doorbell rang and there was the same pastor. She had come by to see how we were coping and she spoke to the boys about The Rainbow Bridge. We then got to chatting about the various activities and groups at the church and I mentioned that I was a knitter and that there were lots of charity knitting projects out there. She got a very interested look....and I may be starting a charity knitting group after the New Year!

All this has gotten me to think about what is peace, exactly? Is it too big a goal for us as humans to really achieve on the planet? Should we scale back and settle for, say, a peaceful family? Maybe one peaceful day in the family? A peaceful neighborhood? A peaceful moment? These questions were floating around in my head because I realized just how much war and fighting has gone on throughout my life. My father served in the Marines during the Korean War. My childhood was punctuated by the Vietnam War and ongoing Cold War. My older brothers narrowly avoided the draft, thanks to President Ford. I worked at the Washington Post during the first Gulf War. Now, I'm watching my children become almost immune to the images of the current war in Iraq, much like I did as a kid watching Walter Cronkite and waiting for the cartoons to come on.

And these are just the ones that the US has been openly involved in. Throw in the wars, attacks, rebellions and genocides that have occurred globally and you're looking at a world full of seemingly nonstop violence. So, what is peace? "The absence of war or other hostilities," according to my dictionary. "Inner contentment, serenity" is a later definition. Hmmmm, good to know, but not much help. I guess we all know what peace is but how to go about achieving it is the big question....

One stitch at a time?

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2007. We're leaving for the big holiday visit to the inlaws in Miami where the boys will be spoiled rotten and we eat enough Cuban food to blow the South Beach Diet to smithereens. Here's one last pic from 2006:

Saturday, December 23

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, December 20

Archie 6/8/05-12/19/06

My 10-year old wrote this yesterday after our beloved dog, Archie, ran into traffic and got hit by a car. He died instantly, for which I am grateful. I've got two broken hearted boys mourning their best friend with Christmas just days away. There will be other dogs in their lives, but Archie was the first. Goodbye, dear friend.



Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Death of Archie
Accidentally hit by a Car

Archie was the cutest, sweetest, most lovable, most trusting and best dog ever. He was my best friend. we liked to play around the yard, wrestle in the house, pet each other, go for walks, play keep away, play with Neko, run around and break stuff.

He was always nice and never mean. He was the softest dog ever and he had the most beautiful eyes, eyebrows and fur.

Sometimes Archie would chew up things like socks and stuffed animals, but we knew he was always playing.

Archie's dream would be to go to his favorite kennel and play with all the other dogs. I hope Archie is having fun with all the other dogs in heaven and knows we love him very, very much.

Tuesday, December 19

Yarncave!

We moved into this house about a year and a half ago. The spare room and future yarncave was the holding area/dumping ground for all the odd boxes and stuff. Most of the boxes made their way to other parts of the house, but I was left with the yarn and fabric stashes and all the doodads that go with knitting, quilting and DIY.

Even my dear friends had given me a gift certificate for a 'clutter consultant.' I was going to call her, but not before I did a little decluttering myself. Why waste her time on things I could do myself? The DH went out of town for a few days and that's when I got the idea for the big Destash. I ended up sending 23 boxes of yarn to people around the world, donating about 5 more boxes full of unused crap to Goodwill and moving a lot of the remaining stuff into plastic bins in the garage. I had the rug cleaned. I ordered a futon. I bought a cheap TV at Target.

Then they opened up the new tollroad and I discovered....IKEA.

And so, without further ado, I present to you the new and improved yarncave....
I can personally vouch for the fiendishly clever instructions that comes with Ikea furniture. They work. When you've built an Ikea piece, you feel like you're part of a sleek, well-designed world inhabited by slightly hip Swedish engineers. Like you're the Britt Ekland of DIY. You feel decluttered.

There is still some work to be done--curtains, bamboo shades for the closets--nothing major. Now I have a:
Yarncave
Sewing area
Computer/desk/work space
Cat napping room for felines and humans
Guest Room for crafty visitors
Deluxe Sleepover Den for 8-10-year old boys
Future Gaming Room, thanks to Uncle Redneck who is giving the boys an XBox. (This is what happens when your brother is newly single, has no mortgage or kids.)
Personal Retreat to watch "The League of Gentlemen" and "The Royle Family" at my leisure
Secret Clubhouse for my SnB group
And, just possibly...a future home for a spinning wheel

Boy, I can really use that clutter consultant for the garage!

Friday, December 15

YPF: Strumpetini


Cheers, everyone!

My name's Strumpet and I'm Mary's inner elf. Do you have an elf name, too? Aw c'mon, honey, I bet you do. No? Well, try this! Oh, I could be Dixie Tinsel Toes, but, deep down inside, I'm Strumpet and when I need a glass of cheer I treat myself to a Strumpetini. Nothing like a little Plymouth Wild Thing to put the sparkle back in my smile, the twinkle back in my eyes and the snap back into my crackle and pop.
I've been a very busy little elf what with planning the office party in Lappland and all. I've even knitted up a couple of Loopy-done-lengthwise scarves to give the boys' teachers. Merlinthecat sent me the beautiful socks that she knitted up for my dh's present. Didn't you know that busy little elves delegate their knitting?(Thanks, mtc, I owe you big time.) I'm desperately trying to finish a grey pullover to replace the dh's 20-year old acrylic one that his mom bought him in Madrid. If I can tear him away from Old Faithful, I'll have a scored a huge victory for the handknitting community. In a fit of knitterly madness, my SnB buddy Robincat gave me the Lace Insanity top that she had knitted for her mother. Turns out it was a little big for her, but it fitted me perfectly. I can't remember which yarn she used but I love the shades of blues and greys and the lacework is, well, completely insane. Thank you very much, dear demented spinning enabling Robin.
Well, I'm off to don my gay apparel and see what 'ol Crumpet is up to. And remember, please don't drink and Lapp dance. That's my job!

Tuesday, December 12

Spinning Into my Grave

Remember all the cliques in high school? The stoners, the jocks, the preppies, the nerds, and then the rest of us? That look of concerned alarm that your mother had when she finds a new set of strangers lounging around the kitchen table? Well, knitting has its own cliques...the newbies, the lace set, the aran people, the pattern/no pattern knitters, straights vs. circulars, solids vs. variegated, intarsia vs. fair isle, the frugal vs. the stashers and, then, there's that hardcore crowd....the spinners.

I took a class about 3 years ago where we learned to spin on a Russian spindle and ogle the Orenberg shawls. My spinning was abysmal and, frankly, I was more interested in pulling one of the shawls through my wedding ring than strangling a small piece of wool. I did buy one of the spindles as a memento...

There are a couple of spinners in my SnB group who periodically haul in their named wooden contraptions and spin while the rest of us knit. They have animated chats about the roving someone just sent them, orifices and flyers, drum carders and Scotch tension. I always thought that scotch eased the tension, drums don't get carded, and orifices were...oh nevermind. Thinking of the spinners, I picked up some woolly stuff for gifts at the K&S show in London, but it was so pretty and and soft that I kept a little for myself...

And then I bought a drop spindle and played with it...

Then Entrelac went to the wool festival in Boerne and brought me this little cocobolo beauty...

And now, here I am, checking out wheels on the internet, buying fiber by the ounce and gleefully accepting woolly stuff from Robincat. Mondays are my spinning days where I pile all this stuff on my kitchen table and willingly endure the humbling experience of spinning soy silk, organic cotton and merino top into something that resembles a knittable yarn. There are drop spindles and dropped spindles. Their names are Wilbur and Charlotte. The Russian is Anastasia because I keep forgetting how to attach the leader.

"It's exactly the same difference between reading a bunch of books and then actually writing one. Really!" was the explanation I gave my writer DH about my spinning. He gave me a very blank look as I picked some stray soy silk off of his dark green shirt. Now, about that Scotch tension....

Friday, December 8

YPF or Mary Does Dallas


(left, Colinette Tao silk, marble; right, Noro Kureyon, col.184)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!





(left, Noro Kureyon, col.184; right, Noro Silk Mountain, col.8 with DB Alpaca Silk)

Three Yarn Shops in Two Days plus Dixie Chicks

I drove up to Dallas on Tuesday to meet Anneke for the Dixie Chicks concert. Anneke is my former boss and a good friend. She owns a yarn and needlepoint shop in Miami. I knew it was useless trying to entice her with The Grassy Knoll, The Zodiac Room or even seeing Southfork.

It was time for a recon....SEX in other words. Simpatico Yarns was the closest, so we hit that first. Small shop, a very warm welcome and color of Kureyon we hadn't seen before. And believe me, honey, we've seen them all. I picked up 5 skeins for a felted bag. (Let me interject that all purchases made on this trip have specific patterns for those of you who think I have backslid into my skein grubbing ways now that I have vast amounts of space in the Yarncave.) They also had Fox Fiber organic cotton sliver. I'm not used to fiber amounts, so when I said 'Oh, four ounces should be fine,' I didn't know I was getting a grocery bag full of the stuff. Ah, the better to learn with, my dear.

We then got on the President George Bush turnpike(didn't they used to name things after dead presidents?)and zoomed over to the Woolie Ewe. We marched in the door and stopped dead in our tracks. Uh-oh, we were in Deep Doo-Doo. This joint carries as many different yarns as Anneke, who immediately set to work looking for the ones she doesn't have. Somewhere in all this I had mentioned that I needed to make a couple of scarves for the boys' teachers. You know, cast on 150 stitches, knit up 6-8 inches, cast off.

Anneke shrugged her shoulders, "That gets so boring. Why not do Loopy from Knitty? Oh, and have you seen the Colinette Parisienne/Tao shawl? It's my bestseller--I've got 3 hanging in the shop. So fast, so pretty."

Two skeins Parisienne, 2 skeins Tao, and some sale yarn for Loopy later, we got out of there(the Woolie Ewe owner kept calling Anneke 'honey' which is hysterically funny if you know her). Anneke had picked up some kind of hyper slubby handspun that, frankly, looks worse than my own. To her, it looked really funky and cool. I was thinking 'Yarn Barf.' I'm becoming a handspun fiber snob in a very short time, thanks to the insidious influence of my spinning teacher,Entrelac.


The Dixie chicks concert was fun, funny and full of really white Texans whooping their asses off and having a good time. The next morning, I drove Anneke to the airport and headed back to north Dallas via President Bush to meet the notorious Monkee. She's a student at UT Dallas which meant that she got some lovely consolation prizes and storage solutions, courtesy of the Destash. Knittyheads know her as being highly irreverent and full of mischief. I know her as the knitter with yarn dreadlocks who can casually knit lace while strolling about a yarn shop. And talk at the same time, while looking for yarn. And not trip over anything. I took pics, but you'll have to take my word for it as my pocket digital bit the dirt. Shop #3 was Yarn And Stitches, medium sized, warm welcome and where I picked a couple of skeins of Noro Cashmere Island(a variegated Cash Iroha)to keep my existing Cash Iroha company, an extra skein of the Debbie Bliss Alpaca/Silk that I'm using for a hat with the Noro Silk Mountain and some sale yarn for felted stockings.

KNITTING:
Here's a Kitty Pi bed for Neko and here's a pair of socks that merlinthecat has made for me to give the DH. Go ahead, visit her blog and take a look, I can wait. Aren't they pretty? Yes, I farmed out my Touch 4-ply for someone else to knit. Merlinthecat knits socks in her sleep while I....dream about knitting socks in my sleep.

Saturday, December 2

Destash DONE!

The war wagon is locked and loaded.

Announcement: I will not be able to accept any more names for the destash/goodie bags.

WHEW! What a crazy couple of days it has been--seventeen boxes have gone out and I have about five more to finish. They are going to New Zealand, The Netherlands, Canada and all across the US. Many people requested goodie bags not for themselves, but for sisters, daughters, friends and new knitters which really touched me. Those who requested for themselves often asked to be considered only if there was anything left. What a great bunch of deserving people!

As for me, I had a fun time matching various yarns to different knitters. "Oh, she likes pink...she's got to have this. Canada...cold...let's find something warm and cheery. That teenager needs some sparkly stuff and the New Yorker really needs to play with this!" Almost all these yarns have a story about where I bought it and what I had in mind when I did get it. I didn't include that in the package, because it's time for these yarns to make a new beginning and stop waiting for me. My yarn doesn't need to enter a new life with a bunch of emotional baggage, you know? And if the knitter doesn't love it, that's fine by me. She can share it or hide it in the stash....bwahahahaha!

I have learned a couple of things. I really should stay away from sales and the Anny Blatt factory outlet store. And not a single person liked yellow. Not one.

Now, I can get back to my Yarncave while Neko waits for life to get back to normal.

Thursday, November 30

Goodie Bag RAK

I'm reorganzing the Yarncave/guestroom and have realized that I have many, many, MANY lovely yarns that will never make it to a project bag. The poor dears didn't even make it to 'Flash Your Stash' because they're junior varsity and only the starters got photographed. In a rare fit of knitterly altruism, I want to turn my Destash into a RAK. I was going to peruse the Knittyboard RAK list, but I have no idea if they're up to date or not. So I'm going to mail a Goodie Bag of yarn to anyone who contacts me. Send me your list and I'll put together a Goodie Bag most fitting to your likes. There may be enough for a project or a scarf--you take a chance on the amount. I will ship domestic and internationally via US Post.

A couple of things:
This is for yarn ONLY. Please, please do not leave your info as a comment.

I would like to help students and those who have limited access to different yarns and/or stash cash.

HERE'S THE DEAL:

1. List your top 3 fave colors.
2. List your top 3 hate colors.
3. List any fibers you're allergic to. Really allergic, not pretend--otherwise, everyone would put acrylic.
4. List 3 fibers you use the most.(cashmere doesn't count)
5. E-mail your name, mailing address and list to me at: meknits@yahoo.com. This is strictly for the Goodie Bag RAK and will not be used for any other purposes at all EVER.
6. I will e-mail you only if I have a question.

I estimate that I have enough for about 20-30 goodie bags.
I will try to make the best matches. There is some shiny stuff, a bit of wool and some lightweight blends, cottons, railroad ribbon, matte/shiny ribbon and even French acrylic with various oddballs. Not all have labels. I would focus more on color than fiber.

Let the fun begin!

Saturday, November 25

YUM! Leftovers....


Just a little something to nibble on until next Friday.;)

Wednesday, November 15

Reddy WIPs

I've given up waiting for Ty Pennington to march in and magically transform the spare bedroom from the black hole of Crapcutta to multi-purpose YarnCave Extraordinaire. I hit critical mass last week when I kept finding projects in one spot, the yarn in another and the original pattern somewhere else. Not to mention the piles of 'Real Simple' and knitting mags strewn about with a path carved out to the computer. I think I turned the corner after watching a show on DIY where a woman had some kind of intervention in her craft room with a clutter consultant--it involved throwing out masses of dusty dried flowers, a ton of baskets, copious tears and God only knows how many doodads and junk. So, here's where we stand so far: On the left is the practically empty YarnCave and on the right is my living room now housing all this....stuff. Luckily, Mr. Mary has bounced off to NYC on a business trip and I've got a couple of days to get this organized before strangers show up with a camera crew.
My dog, Archie, specializes in the onsite burial of plastic bottles, Crocs and underwear in our backyard. Now he has added Sundara sock yarn to his list.

KNITTING:
This a boucle cardi that I knitted in Paris using La Droguerie yarn and pattern. Apparently, French women have smaller arms and torsos than I do. I, on the other hand, have a smaller brain for not realizing that the pattern would end up making a petite and not a plus grande Americaine. So, I have ripped out the ribbing and buttonband and will reconstruct it, adding a batik lining as the wool is a bit itchy for 'ol Scratchy here.

Ah, this little beauty is one half of my fingerless gloves made from A.L. de Sauveterre's cashmere in 'muench' colorway. All I did was knit up a rectangle using a slip stitch pattern and then ran the seam up on the the thumb side, with a 2-inch opening in the middle. Picked up stitches on dpns for a snappy red ribbing and now I have one warm hand waiting for its partner to catch up.
Here's holiday gift #1--woohoo! The cobweb frill was made with Artful Yarns 'Broadway'in Molly Brown and the scarf knitted up with a simple Turkish stitch using Classic Elite Inca Alpaca. I would not recommend using mohair for a cobweb frill as the stitches latch onto each other, but with a bit of gentle tugging it can be done. One down and about 5 more to go!

NEKO aka Sneako

Neko is a teenager these days and has taken to gallivanting around the neighborhood. I just found out recently that he spends most of his spare time sunbathing at the neighbor's pool next door, running up a huge bar tab and flexing his muscles at the other cats. He's getting a kitty pi bed for Christmas, but ONLY if he lays off the sauce.

Thursday, November 9

YPF: Midterm Elections

Midterm elections

Rowan 4-ply Soft, 'honk' and 'bluebird.'

Friday, November 3

YPF

A couple more skeins from the London Stash Express:
Colinette Parisienne and Rowan Silk Wool DK

Rowan Wool/Silk in 'Porcelain' and Colinette Parisienne fine kid mohair/nylon blend, color?

Highlights from Suburbia, 03/11/06

Cool Commando, the Energizer Bunny and some broad in a blonde wig went trick-or-treating on Halloween. The Bunny cleaned up bigtime, but the Blonde got a glass of wine from a neighbor.

15-year old washer that we have abused for only one year bit the dust. New front-loading washer AND matching dryer(white with black porthole) delivered next day. Resident non-users think it looks really cool. Head Laundress and Knitter mulls over the felting capabilities. Salvation Army removes old w&d next day before Knitter can come up with good reason for having a resuscitated 'felting' machine in the garage.

Tex's baseball team finally loses in the play-offs. If only Bandit's soccer team would choke, then I could get my life back.

South Beach Diet, Phase 1.5: Mr. Mary is looking more like Mr. Michelin Man so drastic measures have been taken--no carbs, no sugar, no fruit, no booze for 2 weeks. I could lose a few pounds before the holidays so I agree to join him, BUT as long as I can skip to phase 1.5--that's when I get to have 1.5 glasses of wine and he doesn't.

Forget the 80's: I clean out my closet and Goodwill gets 4 trash bags full of vintage Tweeds, J. Peterman and Neiman's Last Call cast-offs. Now, all of Austin will be sporting the newest trend--early 90's black with Nicole Miller/Cynthia Rowley prints.

KNITTING:
I am working on stuff--the alpaca slouchy cardigan from Knit2Together and what I call 'The Lazy Knitter's Fingerless Gloves," which are worked sideways with a nifty slip stitch detail in A.L. Sauveterre's Estelle cashmere in 'Muench.' I think the final piece of the 'My Big Fat Cabled Sweater' pattern has arrived in the form of the Lang 'Fatto a Mano,' #155, pattern book. The cable pattern for #46(cover sweater) confirms what I've been doing all along--short rows on the big cable which is then picked up on the purl side. Sweater and/or pattern to come.

I learned how to spin on a drop spindle a couple of weeks ago at SnB.

Oh, that way madness lies...

Tuesday, October 31

Jack in Black

Happy Halloween!...pumpkin pics for Knitty people.

cat-o-lanterncat-o-lantern pm
Neko at night.

sideshow clownsideshow clown pm
I hate clowns. Really, I can't stand them except for rodeo clowns where they actually perform a public service.

frida kahlofrida kahlo pmFrida Kahlo looking more like a Sid&Marty Krofft creation.

wait-o-lanternRetro Italian waiter from "Lady and the Tramp."

Thursday, October 26

YPF

Sox Populi

Sox Populi
Sundara Petals Sock Yarn, Fall Foliage

I'm a Lineman for the County...
And the Wichita lineman is still on the line.....

Wednesday, October 25

FO: Bow Tie Wrap

Debbie Bliss Alpaca/Silk + Noro Lotus, 10 skeins = Bow Tie Wrap

Debbie Bliss Alpaca/Silk with Noro Lotus

I wanted something girly to throw on my shoulders that wouldn't fall off and didn't have sleeves, so I came up with the idea of a giant bow ponchette/wrap thingy. I simply knitted up the alpaca/silk in a long 18x42 inch rectangle, working short rows at the ends so I could flap my elbows. Seamed the ends together to make the body. I then crocheted the top edge with the Noro to tighten up the shoulders a bit before knitting another rectangle for the center. I seamed that rectangle over the center body seam and voila!
Bow Tie Wrap, close-up
Bow Tie wrap, detailThanks, Entrelac, for the photography!


Day of the Dead skirtAnd here's a close-up of my Day of the Dead skirt that I made last year. "Dem bones, dem bones......."