Friday, November 30

FO Friday

Boy, when I wasn't busy giving thanks for a five day holiday, interminable political campaigns and Helio winning 'Dancing With the Stars' in the past week, I was stuck indoors with the dog, cat and kids thanks to cold, wet weather. They played Halo3 and mind games while I finished some WIPs. Let's take a look, shall we?
Really Big Regia 6-ply SocksThese are the huge Regia 6-ply socks that I had been knitting for the DH. Well, now you can squelch all your Sasquatch comments, because they fit him perfectly. I'm not sure what's up with those stripes, but I'm done. Next:
Old Faithful SweaterThis here be "New Old Faithful." I made this sweater for my husband in hopes of replacing the 20-year old indestructible grey acrylic fisherman's rib pullover that his mother bought for him in Spain. Yep, that sweater has got some real emotional baggage. Anyway, I ordered a bunch of Paton's Shetland Chunky in 'Thunder Marl," carefully measured the original and set to work. The sleeves held me up as I picked up stitches and worked them in the round--really bad idea. It was like twirling a beach towel around the needles--over and over again. I got it finished and immediately had Mr. Mary try it on. Too small...what? I glared at him and hissed, "You've gained weight since last year, you gourmet guzzling wine swilling soccer dad! I measured this piece exactly to the old one. Grrrrrr."
FYI--I do growl at people. I even bark sometimes.

It looked great on me but I don't want or need a dead boring drop-sleeved acrylic/wool blend pullover with an Oedipus complex, no matter how great the fit. I figured what-the-hell and chucked it into the washing machine as some kind of ersatz knitter's infanticide. Then, I blocked the dookies out of it and left it to dry overnight. I was awaken the next morning by the vision of my husband wearing a perfectly fitting grey acrylic/wool sweater---mine.

"Uh, can you do something zippy with the neck and the cuffs?"
Zen Turkish Stitch Shawl
My dear friend Sarah wanted to knit something special for a teacher at her kids' school. I gave her an old pattern of mine and she bought a bunch of Berroco Zen. Now, this pattern calls for casting on a gazillion stitches as you're knitting the shawl horizontally. Sarah, being the dutiful advanced beginner knitter, did so and slogged her way through half of the piece...on plastic needles. I offered to finish it for her and immediately switched to my Addis and fairly zoomed through the thing by the time Helio had nailed his last quick step. Apparently, the teacher loved it--a lot. Yay, Sarah!

Noro/Debbie Bliss Pork Pie Hat
This little number is the result of some leftover Debbie Bliss Alpaca/Silk and a skein of Noro Silk Mountain that I had picked up somewhere. I just kinda goofed off with it and then decided I wanted a flat crown, instead of a round one. It has a fun porkpie/80s ska handknit vibe to it, like some rudegirl grew up and became a whack knitter. Uh, I guess that would be me.

Venus Fly TrapI even helped my kid kill some flies and feed to them to the Venus Flytrap for his science project. I'm on a roll, people.

FionaWhat can I say? Even Fiona, the Part-Time Cat, deigned to join us for a little face time.

Friday, November 16

Old Dogs and Tricks

handspun/dyed merino sw/seacell plied with merino sw/tencel
Handspun and dyed merino superwash/seacell plied with merino superwash/tencel

It's done and I'm pretty pleased with the final yarn. I made it a thick and thin bulky weight(well, more deliberately than what happens usually) which makes for a challenge when plying the two different weight singles. It wasn't until after I had set the twist that I thought I'd take another look at The Spinner's Companion for any tips. Wow, I hadn't looked at this book in 6 months and realized that I actually understand what they're talking about. I can't say that I'm any good at it, but there's a few tricks in the old dog yet. A lightbulb went off...handspun/dyed merino sw/seacell plied with merino sw/tencelSpinning is like driving a stick shift. I doubleclutched some handspun a couple of weeks ago by plying it twice, or rather resetting the twist in the plied yarn for more tension. And then, on page 74, it says you can correct excess twist by 'unspinning' a section by slowly treadling in the opposite direction or respinning the whole bobbin the same way onto another one in more dire cases. I'd been killing myself adjusting ratios, the brake band and weighting down skeins to counteract various kinks when, in reality, it's just like forward and reverse. Like aha! and duh!
Gee, I wonder what nuggets of wisdom I've missed in the Dyer's Companion.My handspun at GaugeI felt good enough about the quality of this batch that I took it over to Gauge to be sold on consignment. Three cheers for the Gauge gals! Yep, my babies have gone out into the big world. And if they do come back home in 3 months, well, that'll be a dry run for when Tex and Bandit get out of college.
Not as much as I'd like, since I had to frog a sock back to the gusset. There was some cussin' and then some more. That sock now lives in my purse and has been to guitar and fiddle lessons and the 5th grade music class presentation of 30s showtunes. It's a musical sock. Go take a looksee at the gorgeous sweater Hilde made with the Elann Peruvian Uros Aran I destashed last year.

Here's the wonderful librarian at the boys' school dressed up as Mr. Margorium for the annual PTA book fair and doing her bit to "Keep Austin Weird."

Every little bit helps...;)

Tuesday, November 13

And What Do You Do?

I was recently asked this question on one of those rare occasions when I wear something dressier than a t-shirt that still fits, slap on some warpaint and venture forth from the friendly confines of my zip code after dark. The occasion was the annual cocktail party for the authors at the Texas Book Festival and I was accompanying my husband as 'the author's wife.' A woman professional (as opposed to a professional woman, nudge-nudge) looked at me expectantly.

"I'm a stay-at-home-mom, I knit and then I blog about it."

That pretty much delegated me to the seventh circle of cocktail party hell as she gave me a funny look. And I don't mean funny ha-ha. It's ok, you hear the best gossip from the seventh circle regulars as they have nothing to prove.

This topic has been addressed by many sahms, knitters and stitchers, but it still happens to all of us. Later, I realized that I should have used a more grandiose description, something like:

"Oh, when I'm not multi-tasking domestic arrangements as CEO for a small privately-owned family with a full-time dog and a part-time cat, I'm a fiber artist working on stitch definition, wraps per inch and a photographic portfolio based on my blog."
Handspun/dyed merino/tencel
Handspun and dyed merino/tencel
Handspun/dyed merino/tencelI have about 600 yards of this that I've dyed with Procion and Wilton's. It's being overdyed now to color the tencel. I plan to ply it with this:
Handspun/dyed seacell/merinoHandspun/dyed seacell/merino
Handspun and dyed seacell/merino.
I bought the seacell on eBay from this seller who lists it periodically.

It's true that the Wilton's black icing color separates and comes out a deep blue purple. I overdyed this with some orange and brown to knock off the blue tones. The seacell/merino is wonderfully soft and very slick to spin up. I have some more that I plan to spin up as a sportweight yarn.

The DH has gone to Miami and New York for a few days. House rules and dietary restrictions are greatly relaxed and all hell breaks loose.
Hey, Cupcake! cupcake stand, Austin TXBefore setting off the smoke alarm last weekend during my kid's sleepover and having the security company talk me through manually shutting off the system with a phillips screwdriver because I forgot both our password and passcode while the boys continued playing Halo Three, I picked up some really great cupcakes at this groovy spot on South Congress Ave. It's called Hey Cupcake! and I recommend the Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting. Oh, and they're just across the street from Hill Country Weavers, so you can kill two cravings with one trip.

Friday, November 2

Red Sox Rock

Red Sox Rock
Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet Sock Yarn, 100% merino, Cherry Red

I'm still in shock that the Boston Red Sox swept the World Series. They've won twice in 4 years? As a longtime Red Sox fan (for reasons too byzantine to explain easily), this has me all startled and confused. I was more in my comfort zone when they were down 3-1 against the Cleveland Indians. The drama, that pending sense of doom and the nailbiting finishes were the stuff that we fans thrive on. Reminded me of the good times when they had to battle it out with the Yankees until 2 am every night back in 2004. And my children are getting a skewed view of the Red Sox because they think their favorite baseball team (it gets passed down genetically) are a bunch of winners. The only way to restore my angst is if they sign Alex Rodriguez and trade Mike Lowell to the Dodgers where he'll play for (gasp!) Joe Torre. Now, that will keep my fingernails short and ragged.

It's been non-stop funfunfun around here. First, there was the school carnival where I stood around for 3 hours watching 500 kids caroming all over the schoolyard, secretly praying that neither one of my boys would win the cake walk.
Cherie Amour then made her debut at the Renaissance Festival the following day. I found a long grey skirt at Goodwill to which I added velvet panels and a bit of trim at the bottom. I was RenFaire Lite compared to the beautifully detailed costumes that Ana and Robin wore. Unfortunately, my camera's battery was dying and I didn't get any decent pics.

We had fun walking around, eating turkey legs and checking out the various festival goers that seemed to fall into different categories: traditional chainmail/kilt guys with women in elaborate corsets/long flowing skirts; goth angels from hell all dressed in black leather, pixie girls with green eye shadow and a few strategically placed pieces of chiffon; fairies who looked just the pixies except they had wings; lesbian pub wenches with leather corsets, heaving bosoms and dog collars; codpiece lovers; and, finally, white fishnet hose lady who left very little to the imagination. Yeah, the boys had a good time checking her out.

All this pageantry got us in the spirit for Halloween.

Here's Bandit as a pin cushion, while I got wacky with the aluminum foil. Yep, I was a sex thimble. Go ahead and groan, but the kid came home with 5 pounds of candy while his brother who went in the 'last-minute bloody shredded t-shirt costume' came home with a very meager haul. Originality pays every time. I think Bandit should be a cockroach next year and I can be a venus flytrap. Oh, the possibilities...