Friday, February 29


Handspun ramouillet blend

Handspun Ramouillet blend from Dudley Spinner roving.

I first saw the link at Knit Me a River and found the pattern here.

Halfobi front viewHalfobi back view
I used Noro Cotton Kureyon and made a size Large. I could have gone with a Medium, but I wanted something looooose and I'm feeling a little large these days. This is one of those easy knits that involve miles of stockinette, a few episodes of American Idol and at least one democratic debate. This will be perfect for the few remaining chilly nights we have and, later, for air-conditioned movie theaters. The yarn is 70%cotton/30% wool and knitted up nicely except for the odd split when there wasn't enough twist. I may chuck the whole thing in the wash just to see what happens--it could use a little shrinkage.
Halfobi crochet detailI used some ribbon from Bouton d'Or or Anny Blatt for the crochet trim and I crocheted 2 rows of single crochet instead of one for more stability.
Donkeys & Elephants
Wowee! The primaries are just next Tuesday and Texas has been in the news more than when Baby Jessica got stuck in the well or  some guy from Midland ran for President back in 1999. We're getting all the commercials, the phone calls and various TV news correspondents reporting from stadiums, parking lots, vfw posts and the UT campus. Yep, we could be the ones to put one of the democrats over the edge literally and figuratively. My kids watch the debates and announce the play-by-play while the DH and I enjoy the first really interesting campaign year in ages. I've already voted early and can't wait to see that former Scud Stud, Wolf Blitzer, go to the big map and update the numbers as they come in. Or should I watch Brian Williams? Who's got the better graphics? Heck, who's got the cutest butt?

Friday, February 22

The Optimist Club of Yarn

Filatura di Crossa Brilla, col. 386
Filatura di Crossa, Brilla, col.386,
future 'airplane cardigan'

I quit smoking. I feel fine. I thank the lovely people who created Chantix for making this possible. I've been knitting up miles of stockinette. I think I've gained 5 lbs already. It's all good. And, if I get a little twingy, I take really deep breaths and think happy thoughts such as "Wow, imagine all the yarn/fiber/books you can buy with the savings!" "The dog will love you even more if you walk him--again." "Cuticles? Who needs stinkin' cuticles?"

I picked up this "merry little hound" of a yarn over the Christmas holidays in Miami. Years ago, I bought a yellow rayon cardigan in Paris for what I thought was a steep price--probably $80. I was in a rush, needed something for the plane trip back to the States, it was a souvenir, right? I threw it into my carry-on, got on the plane and have been wearing it on airplanes ever since. Spring and summer, of course. Heavy enough to cut the chill of air conditioning in airplanes and movie theaters, light enough to throw in a tote bag for a cover-up. 

Well, you know where this is headed...I still have that cardigan, but it's been washed and worn about 5 times too many. It's been put in the same pile with the ratty sweats, really sad faded Red Sox t-shirt, the accidentally bleached shorts and my other gardening clothes. I try (honest) to look presentable in public, but when I'm working in the yard...I'm reminded of that scene with Scarlet O'Hara clutching radishes.                                I'm tired, dirty and sweaty. Don't even think about it.

The Brilla reminds me of the daffodils popping up in my garden--bright, happy, shiny and summery. It always cheers me up. Maybe, I'll adapt the slouchy cardigan pattern from "Knit2Together."
WIP Update: I've ripped out major amounts of my Malabrigo capelet and have worked short rows to offset the angles. They're little marvels of engineering, those short rows. I feel particularly clever when I finish a section like when I mastered parallel parking and how to spell it.
I saw a reference to the Halfobi on Knit Me A River and immediately downloaded the pattern. It's being knit up on some vintage Cotton Kureyon that I scored on eBay.

Wednesday, February 13

Climb Every Mountain

Alpine Shrug, Rowan #42. Made with Rowan Biggy Print and trimmed with Twinkle Soft Chunky using size 20mm/US36 needles. aka Swatchzilla

I had frogged the Human Tea Cozy and the sight of a giant ZipLok bag full of Biggy Print just bugged me. I really think I should try that with my more neglected yarns--put them in a big plastic bag and leave it in the middle of the floor just waiting for me to get tired of stepping around it. Anyway, I went on Ravelry and was checking out the patterns when I came across the Alpine Shrug from Rowan #42. Aha! Eureka! and Gotcha! all went off at once because I already had the magazine and the yarn. It was meant to be. So what if the original pattern calls for Rowan Big Wool and size 15 needles? I had a pile of Biggy Print and some bodacious Addi circulars that look like they're connected by surgical tubing. I'll just supersize it!
42 inches square

I cast on the first stitch last Saturday and went into a frenzy of obsessed feverish knitting better known as The BNZ (Big Needle Zone). I managed to bang out the fourth and last motif on Sunday at my SnB group. Since we meet at Gauge, I conveniently picked up the fuchsia Twinkle Soft Chunky as I was pretty much out of the Rowan. I worked the last 6 inches of each motif in the Twinkle and then crocheted them together.

FYI--I would have added a regular K or P stitch before each row of the motif pattern. Normally, you start each row with a YO. My YOs were bigger on the knit side than the purl side and that extra stitch would have made more even YOs and easier seaming.

I stitched up the side seams and tried it on. Whoa, Nelly! This wasn't Alpine, it was positively Himalayan. The total combine weight is 2.5 pounds(1100 gms), most of which immediately sank to the location of my bum. The front view makes me look like a postergirl for a fire insurance company. I can see the TV commercial now:
  "When your stash burns, what will you save first?" intones the voice of Morgan Freeman as the camera cuts away from my burning house to a shot of me wrapped in this HUGE knitted swatch tearfully watching the yarncave erupt in flames. The DH and the boys are in the background, clutching their iPods and Swiss army knives. A sooty teardrop trickles down my cheek as a neighbor hands me a hot cup of coffee. 
  "Yarn, needles and hooks can be replaced, but not your Finished Objects. Choose wisely, choose State Yarn Insurance."
This is a pear tarte tatin that I made using the recipe from the The French Farmhouse Cookbook, substituting pears for apples. It's how I reassure Mr. Mary that I still love him. This is not all that complicated, but it is time consuming (a PITA if you ask me). The only tricky bit is when you have to invert the tarte. In my case, this involved a really hot 10-inch cast iron skillet holding the tarte, a plate and bulky oven mitts. I hate this manouever almost as much as those YOs in the shrug. I gamely made the awkward flip and heard something pop in my wrist. Yep, a minor sprain or something. Ok, fine, YOU go place a plate over an iron skillet and flip it over with oven mitts. I'll be the one having another bite wrapped up my toasty new lap rug.

Friday, February 8

Collection vs. Stash


Clockwise from top: Judi & Co. rayon ribbon, gifted hand-dyed wool, Tilli Tomas rock star atmosphere col. 3033, my hand-dyed silk 

From left to right:  Judi & Co. rayon ribbon, gifted hand-dyed wool, Tilli Tomas rock star atmosphere col. 3033, my hand-dyed silk

So, when does your stash become a collection?
I was mulling this over as I grabbed this group of yarn to photograph. I was gifted the Tilli Tomas and the Judi&Co. about 2 years ago. Later, I dyed the silk because I was trying to capture the essence of pearl grey. Then, Zen Mama brought the hand-dyed wool that had been gifted to her to SnB and I nabbed it, remembering my 'grey collection.' I like to stay monochromatic when mixing different yarn textures and I think I've got enough here to make a retro 50s bolero--with the beads along the edges and cuffs.

I don't think it's matter of having, say, ten skeins in one color. That's practical as you can always make a garment/shawl/something out of that amount. I'm talking about trawling sale bins and online shops for additions to the currently existing collection that you already have. I have collections mostly based on lots of colors in one particular yarn for those future mythical pieces from Poetry in Stitches and Norsk Strikkedesign. Let's see...I've got a healthy amount of Dale Svale, GGH Mystik, Bouton d'Or merinosoie and Rowan Silk Wool DK. I bought 2 skeins of the Rowan in robin's egg blue while in London. I came across the same yarn in a great red at a LYS, then I added a couple more skeins in cream to balance out the blue and red thinking future argyle. There's also my Noro collection of their more offbeat offerings such as Cotton Kureyon(eBay) and Ganpi Abaka Tape(sale bin) plus a stray skein of Noro mohair in lipstick red. Why did I buy the mohair? I had never seen Noro mohair before, there was one skein left and it was a souvenir of our trip to Tokyo. So, is it me or is collecting yarn normal?

Speaking of collections, all you sewing/fashion people should check out this auction of Poiret originals. If I were the hot young thing in Hollywood I'd wear #53 to the Oscars. Later, when I already had won a couple plus a Palme d'Or, I'd wear #83 with jet beads. I'd slip into #81 (a blue jacket) with a cream silk t-shirt, tweedy brown slacks and a sharp pair of sling-backs for my Vanity Fair interview. But....I'm a 44-year old soccer mom in Texas swiggin' Shiner Black Lager on a Friday afternoon waiting for the boys to get home. I bought this hoodie to replace the one I swiped from my DH. All right, Mr. de Mille, I'm ready for my close-up...

Kidrobot Yo Gabba Gabba! Muno sweatshirt.

Friday, February 1

Back on Track

Come and get yer yarnpr0n!
Panda Wool, col. 0441 chocolates
Panda Wool, col. 0441 'chocolates'

Louet KidLin worsted, 'candy apple'
Louet KidLin, 'candy apple.' (the true color is a lot more muted)

dudley spinner fiber, col. 'archie'
Dudley spinner wool blend, 'archie' colorway (I think)

Wacky Ways to Control Your Destiny
Doc Martens with Murakami stickersPut Murakami stickers on your old Doc Martens and stomp out that bad mood(and a few cockroaches).

Buy a new iMac with an external hard drive, extra memory and updated software and get a new hard drive installed in the old iMac. Surprise your kids with their very own fun machine while you swoon over the temporarily empty desktop on your 20-inch monitor. Just smile when the 'clean room' data retrieval guys tell you that the dead hard drive is a hopeless case.

Panda Wool, col. 0441 chocolates, smoke ringBuy sock yarn and dare to not knit socks. This will be the Athena Smoke Ring from "The Knitting Goddess."

P1182648Start the Malabrigo capelet, add Noro Silk Garden and decide to turn it into a cardigan. Will it work? Will it even fit? Boy, the suspense is really killing me on this one.

P1302661Grab that old Rowan Biggy print sweater that makes you look like a human tea cozy and frog it. Hmm...future felted bag or something else?

Give your husband and kids a private cooking class with a Thai chef for a Christmas present and enjoy a great dinner.

Gasp in amazement when your kid announces that he got a blue ribbon for his science project.

Listen to your pets snore and imagine what they're dreaming.

Finish your Noro sock and show it off to your family only to hear them each howl, "And where's the sweater/socks/quilt that you promised to make me?"

and finally....

Get out the camera with the macro lens and take yarn pix.