Sunday, December 28

Laissez les Bonnes Temps...

Roulez, baby!

Dateline: New Orleans
We tore up New Iberia a couple of days ago and went hogwild in the Tabasco factory giftshop on Avery Island. Now, we're in New Orleans where Mr. Mary proposed to me at Arnaud's some 21 years ago. I've already visited The Quarter Stitch in the French Quarter and I'm hitting Garden District Needlework tomorrow. I saw a lovely Adirondack bamboo/silk in the chili pepper colorway, but it's a bit pricey for my recessionista blood. Maybe one skein... For souvenir stash. Meet us at Live Bait for lunch and I'll treat you to the 99 cent red rice and beans. Profitez en!

Wednesday, December 24

Seasoned Greetings: A Liberal Holiday Rhyme


'Tis the season to gather near
and celebrate a night so dear.
When red state and blue state, electronic vote and mail-in
welcomed Obama and said farewell to Palin

We light the candles and tend the fire,
as our economy darkens and the bills get higher.
Lion and lamb, sheep and goat,
acoustic and electric, analog and remote...
the table beckons as
we're truly grateful
for the deep discounts and sloppy seconds.
Let us grant the nattering nabobs of negativity
a place of peace in front of the Nativity.
Here's to Rachel and Keith,
Jon and Steve,
and don't forget Chris,
who helped us celebrate while Bush is in stasis.


We'll drink a toast--
better make that a double,
and thank George W. Bush for an

ANNUS ABOMINABLE.



Happy Holidays, y'all!

Friday, December 19

Christmas Creep Scarf

Christmas Creep Scarf
Twinkle Handknits Soft Chunky, 200gms/83 yds, black

Thanks to the ever industrious elves at Ravelry, I found this pattern when I realized 2 days ago that I didn't have my traditional gift for my kid's teacher--a handknit scarf. It was important for me to knit one as this is the last year I'll do it. I have always knitted scarves for my kids' elementary school teachers, but have opted for end-of-year gift cards for the middle school bunch. So I grabbed a skein of the Soft Chunky at my LYS, came home, looked up patterns on Ravelry and, about 4 hours later, had this ready. The pattern is my old friend, the classic Turkish stitch, and it adds a nice texture to this super bulky yarn. The size 19/15mm needles are clunky, but with only 10 stitches, you can watch Law&Order, the evening news and The Daily Show and be done. 

Question: Is it rude to send your 50-year old divorced brother's girlfriend a Victoria's Secret giftcard labelled "To: Redneck's Girlfriend, Happy Holidays from Redneck's Sister" and you haven't met her yet?
All I know is that he's disappeared off the face of the earth, he's not deer hunting.... and I thought it would be pretty funny.

Thanks for the names for the sailfish. I thought Spike and William were great, but I'm going with......

Mr. Bill


Tuesday, December 16

Bookshelf Quilt and a Really Big Fish

It's done!
Bookshelf Quilt, adapted from "The Modern Quilt Workshop," by Ringle & Kerr (Quarry Press, 2005) Thanks to my goofy 12-year old for the photographic assistance.

I backed the quilt top with grey fleece and skipped the batting. This quilt is intended to cover my friend's legs in her favorite reading spot, not as a major bedspread. Quilting on fleece makes for a trapunto-like effect and I'm happy with the results.





This frees me up to finish Bandit's Keith Haring/Barking Mad sweater for Christmas and to transform my newly overdyed cashmere tunic (a super steal at an outlet shop) into a coat.

Big Fish, Big Box, Big OMG

I am one of those yee-haw! Texan females who can shoot, fish, quilt, knit and crochet. This is not as talented as one might think. I had an aunt who nailed rattlesnakes with a shotgun while wearing Ferragamos and had a regular poker game on Tuesdays at noon. Anyway, sometimes I like to get on a really noisy boat, work on a sock, and go deep sea fishing while on vacation.


I caught this sailfish off the coast of Puerto Vallarta last August. Normally, it's a catch and release deal, but this time the fish smashed the bait and swallowed the hook way deep. Uh, that means he was a goner. I've caught a lot of fish and released them, but this guy was special...I killed him. He deserved to be the first, last, and only trophy I ever plan to get.
I figured they could stuff the fish and mail it to me somewhere down the road.
So, they took pictures and measurements and made me a trophy.
It turns out that they normally don't use the actual fish as the skin will deteorate with time. They either make a plaster mold of the fish or use one similar to the dimensions of the caught fish. It's set in fiberglass and handpainted, like a custom surfboard or something.

This carton arrived yesterday. It took me longer to unpack this box than it did to catch the damn fish.











I thought I'd hang a few ornaments off of it and then knit up a 'billfish cozy.'

What should I name it?

Friday, December 12

Bouton d'Or organic wool
Bouton d'Or organic wool, organically dyed. 50gms total, aran weight

I came across this little egg carton appropriately titled "Mini MailleBox" (which loosely translates to "Mini StitchBox" in English) while cleaning up the "salon des arts decoratifs" which loosely translates to "craporama in the living room" in Texan. It comes with a pattern to make 6 little hats for soft-boiled eggs ("Les explications pour realiser 6 bonnets a coquetier").

C'est tres drole et malin, non?
(I ain't making no hats for no stinkin' eggs.)








Wednesday, December 10

Cheap & Cheerful, part 2

sewing Herbag coverLong ago and far away, I lived on the Left Bank in Paris. I was slim, chic and charming. Oh yeah, I had a husband obsessively writing a book about Hemingway, two very small boys underfoot, and a surly neighbor downstairs (aka Mr. Grognon). I learned to insult French taxi drivers(they're OCD about their Mercedes rides) and navigate the social nuances of park playgrounds. At some point in this Gallic wonderland, I celebrated my birthday with an impulse purchase of a "herbag" from Hermes. It's like their version of the Pappagallo bag in the 70s.
Herbag wood grain detailThe purse came with 2 covers, but to buy more you basically have to buy a whole new purse. And Hermes isn't exactly pushing this item. Sooooo, I saw this groovy wood grain oilcloth fabric at Craftorama and the lightbulb went off.
Herbag with wood grain oilcloth cover
Oh man, I am so going to pimp this bag.

Cheap & cheerful

I just love Ravelry. Especially when you see stuff like this. You have got to admire the brain behind that idea.

Stay tuned for "Let's Tie-Dye a Cashmere Sweater."

Friday, December 5

Quilts and Such

I have more UFOs than Whitley Strieber's imagination. There are cardigans, socks and shawls for me, a sweater for Bandit, patterns that have been matched to fabric or yarn, a future felted Christmas stocking now in it's third annual appearance, a granny square throw for me, a granny square throw for Anna, a granny square throw for the planet, and various items that I think I'll finish in time to sell at the local holiday craft festival next week.

Ah, well...I used to get stressed about this sort of thing and then I remembered that trick about imagining people naked. You know, the one where if you're nervous about speaking in public then imagine your audience naked. Well, my twist on this is to imagine all my projects as wild affairs only replaced by yarn and fabric...

You naughty mohair blend, behave! Ooooh, Herr Baumwolle, I'm all yours. Sturm und strang, eh? And as for you, you saucy little silk brocade, I'll see you later. Yep, I'm a serial crafter.
Lone Star in Provence
This is a quilt top that I finished last spring. It's a ginormous Lone Star with provencal fabrics around the points. I had even gone so far as to pin the top, batting and bottom layers together. This piece is 92 inches square. And there it sat in my living room. And sat. And sat. And then I looked in the yellow pages and found Legacy Longarm Quilters in nearby Georgetown, Tx. The quilt has now left the building.
Lone Star in Provence, detail As nature abhors a vacuum, I now have the mental chops to finish my Bookshelf quilt which I started, uh....awhile ago. This quilt was originally intended for my cream and black living room, but now it's the perfect housewarming/holiday throw for my friend, the librarian who can inspire any kid to read a book.
Bookshelf quilt
Some of these gifts will make it under the tree and some won't. I'll just cut a snip of yarn or fabric, tape it to a holiday card and give it to the future recipient.

UFOs:2009---here I come!

Wednesday, November 26

Pardon the Turkey, Smoke the Ham and Relish the Cranberries


cranberry orange relish, New York Times cookbook, Craig Claiborne, 1961

I am thankful for many, many things, especially tryptophan which makes for excellent afternoon naps. Oh, and cheaper gas is right up there.

                           Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23

Christmas wish list


I would so use this sheep as a stool for my spinning wheel. And then I could drive around town with Sheep in the backseat with the windows open and become the official Crazy Cat and Sheep Lady of Austin. I'd be such a baaaaaaad-ass!

Friday, November 21

Artyarns Cashmere Sock YarnArtyarns Cashmere Sock Yarn, 50gms/160 yds, Col. 140 aka "Louie"
I'll probably use a pattern from "Luxury Yarn One Skein Wonders," by Judith Durant

I recently made a little extra scratch and treated myself to this rather expensive, low yardage sock yarn all because it matched my cat. Oh yeah, like you buy sock yarn to match your wardrobe. Right. Actually, I had been obsessing about mustard green, grey and black for a sweater for Tex. Uh, not anymore... Anyway, I brought the yarn home, hid it the yarncave, cleaned the catbox as penance and connected the dots...it looks just like Louie! Yep, another nail in my middle aged crazy cat lady coffin and I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. Here's another shot as proof: Artyarns Cashmere Sock Yarn

North Austin SnBSanity arrives in the form of having my SnB group over to prove that I'm not the only one with this affliction. They don't color coordinate their pets with yarn purchases as far as I know, but they do put yarndex to shame. And I'm forced to tidy up a bit.(!)

I've been feeling extremely middle-aged lately. My 12-year old son is hotrodding around in skinny jeans and high-tops while I'm shopping for elastic waist stretch pants and shoes that can hold my orthotics. I recently bought "The Flat Belly Diet," by Liz Vaccariello and "You, On a Diet," by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz (You, on Oprah) because I can't seem to lose the 20 pounds I've gained since I stopped smoking. Both books basically ascribe to the Mediterranean diet(olive oil vs. butter) which I embrace wholeheartedly as I pour myself a glass of red wine. But this malaise is not just about thinking like a 28-year old when you're 45. It's stuff like seeing Carla Bruni(age 41) on David Letterman and watching him play le flaneur to her breathy ingenue. Like looking at the Anthropologie catalog and realizing you'd rather analyze the cables on this sweater than wear a filmy blouse with cut-off shorts and suede boots.
Anthropology catalog cover
There is hope for us Gen Xers in the culture wars. Her name is Michelle Obama and she's married to
008: Obama, Barack Obama
008
Obama, Barack Obama

Tuesday, November 11

Yes We Did

I've been a wreck for the past 2 weeks. Can't knit, can't crochet and forget about sewing. I've gotten past the intermittent tears of joy stage to the 'can we have the inaugural tomorrow please' phase. Obsessively watching Rachel Maddow helps a little. It's such a terrible time globally and, yet, I feel that there's been a cosmic shift. It's not about the Democrats' majority and the Republicans' identity crisis,  the new Obama cabinet or Supreme Court fantasy picks. It's about the PUPPY, people.

I wish Tom Lehrer could write a song about this.

Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween!

Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials.






Elton John, circa 1975.

Thursday, October 30

Vote Early

Undset the Undecided wants to vote early so he can touch up the highlights on his comb-over before meeting Pat, Kelly and Alex at the chalet for some aquavit.

Randy the Republican wants to vote early so he can take his magical friend, "McQuain," for a walk in the park.

Don the Democrat wants to vote early so he can work on his drum major costume.

Mary the Knitter voted early so she could make up silly captions for vintage knitting magazine covers.

votevotevotevotevotevotevotevotevoteVOTEvotevotevotevotevotevotevotevotevoteEARLY

Wednesday, October 22

paws & effect


                                 VOTE NOW, NAP LATER

Tuesday, October 21

Y Viva Espana

Barcelona, calle MuntanerHere's the view from my friend's balcony in Barcelona.
Funeral Carriage MuseumHere's the funeral carriage museum.
Knitting in Time Out/BarcelonaHere's a naked man knitting in last week's Time Out Barcelona.
drops 95-13 boleroHere's the Drops 95-13 that I didn't wear because it was just as warm and balmy as in Austin.
Barcelona from a taxiAnd here's the view from the taxi to the airport.

Barcelona was a lot of fun but I can't give you much of a report, because I spent all of my time visiting with my dear friend Sally and her family. And, because Barcelona still observes old school business hours, we spaced out and didn't make it to her LYS which was fine as I had just spent a wonderful afternoon knitting (and shopping) at Knitch on my layover. This was a case of knowing the website before the shop. Knitch, AtlantaAnd what a charming and welcoming shop! It's well-lit with plenty of insanely gorgeous yarn, genuinely helpful staff and a big table smack dab in the middle.I picked up a skein of this sinfully soft Artyarns Cameo (75%cashmere/25%mohair) and a skein of their Beaded Mohair & Sequins (and some tasty Habu cotton boucle). I've cast on for a shawl using Harrow Stitch from the Mon Tricot guide. It's a variation of the wave stitch using double wraps around the needle for 5 stitches instead of staggering the wraps. The yarn is three singles that are very loosely plied. There's also a tavern a couple doors down that perfect for a lunch of roasted beet salad and crab cakes. You'll need to ask the bartender to call you a cab.

Artyarns Cameo

Artyarns Beaded Mohair & Sequins

Shop News:

Gauge is celebrating their first birthday this Saturday. Three cheers for Karli and Allison! And many many thanks for letting us (the North Austin SnB group) really class up the joint on Sundays. I plan to drop by with the boys in tow. Gosh, I hope there's some cake so I can bribe them to hang out for awhile.

I just found out that Artfibers in San Francisco is closing their shop in January (they will keep selling their yarns online). The DH had just brought me back three skeins (Bhutan, Oki, and Ginko) from a recent business trip and I just ordered more as they're running out of dye lots. I know, I know. It's not like they're going bye-bye forever, but it's not the same thing.

I used to travel to SF on a regular basis and I remember the first time I walked into Artfibers about 15 years ago. It was this tiny space crammed with some of the most unique yarns that I had ever seen. The colors and the fiber blends were so much more sophisticated than even the double de-luxe Adrienne Vitadini and Missoni yarns at my LYS( the now defunct Woolgatherer) in Washington DC. I thought to myself, "I am not nearly good enough to knit up these yarns." That's how stunning they were. Then I bought a few skeins and a longstanding tradition of hunting down LYS on trips began. I still have a few 'vintage' Artfibers yarns in my stash. Remember Ballet and Scottie? Yeah, me too. Here's a detail from my Da Vinci cardigan:detail As I'm quite capable of poring over every yarn on their website--one of the first really well designed shop sites, by the way--as if I'm translating the Rosetta Stone I know I won't be totally bereft.

Thursday, October 9

Life's too short

I'm in the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight that I missed yesterday due to bad weather. I had planned to visit a dear friend in Spain.I had three choices: take the next flight home and reschedule, go to Miami and join the DH and kids, or take the same flight a day later. Frustrated, I asked a group of people next to me. "Go. Life's too short," a woman insisted. She was right.

I spent a wonderful day knitting at Knitch, one of the warmest,well-stocked, prettiest shops around. I, uh, started my vacation with a little 'souvenir' stash enhancement. And now I'm off to the home of Manu Chao.

So, while the economy goes berserk I'm taking a little time out from reality.

Monday, September 29

Flipendo

Last Saturday I went to the Lone Star State Knitters' Knit Out for the first time. There were door prizes and, thanks to my friend CJ... Harry Potter sock yarn, 'Dumbledore'
I got the first one!

Harry Potter sock yarn, 'Dumbledore'
This is Opal Yarn's Harry Potter sock yarn, colorway 'Dumbledore.' 75%Superwash wool/25% polyamid, 425 m
I had no idea that there even was a Harry Potter sock yarn collection.

Now, who is special enough to get a pair of these socks?Harry Potter sock yarn, 'Dumbledore'Harry Potter sock yarn, 'Dumbledore'
Why, my favorite librarian, of course!

Wednesday, September 24

Irrational Exuberance at the Yarn Shop

Why let the destruction of the Texas coastline by Hurricane Ike and the current meltdown of Wall Street and the American economy deny me the pleasure of enjoying 25% off of my latest purchase at Gauge? Ah, the joys of being a frequent buyer. I'm doing my darned best to stimulate the local economy, one LYS at a time. Honestly, I can't imagine not knitting while watching the news these days, can you? (especially if you quit smoking a few months ago...)

I have a terrible weakness for kid mohair. Great colors, so fine, so foofy and easy to double with another yarn. It creates an instant halo and warmth to any garment IF you aren't allergic to it. I saw this colorway and immediately fell for the chalkboard effect of the charcoal grey with flecks of primary colors. I paired it with the Twinkle Cruise, a silk/cotton blend, instead of a wool yarn so I can wear this sooner than later.
Crystal Palace kid merino
Crystal Palace Kid Mohair, color 439 night lights, 25 gms/240 yds (28% kid mohair, 28% merino, 44% micro nylon)
Twinkle Cruise, color 9 black, 50 gms/120 yds (70%silk, 30%cotton)
Crystal Palace kid merinoBolero, detailCrystal Palace kid merino/Twinkle cruise bolero
I hunted around Ravelry for a pattern and saw this Drops bolero and immediately cast on. Drops Designs, 95-13.

Things are grim these days, so here a few pix to cheer you up:
Louie and yarn
"Whoa, dude, check it out! Free yarn and they don't ask for ID."

UT campusWell, hello yourself.
Austin Sunset
There's a silver lining around here, somewhere...