Tuesday, October 6

Blankety Blank Blankets

baby blanket with crochet circlesBaby blanket with crochet circles(Debbie Bliss Moss Stitch Throw, DB cashmerino aran)

There are process driven knitters and there are project driven knitters and then there are those who can't finish a damn thing but can take your baby blanket with a few booboos and make it look like an inspired piece of work. That's me.

The woman who made Alix's first sale at Vineyard Knit Works had brought along a project that she wasn't pleased with. There was a dropped stitch or two, some wonky spots and a couple of odd joins. We took a look at it, stated that it was only a matter of blocking and some strategically placed crocheted circles. Next thing I know, I've got an extra project in my suitcase. Now, the fact that a complete stranger who lives in Washington, DC, was entrusting her knitting to my care in Austin, TX, shows you how desperate she was. Call me The Blanket Whisperer or, better yet...The Finisher.

I discovered this hidden talent while I was working in Miami. Knitters would bring their projects into the shop and bemoan their mistakes or that it needed to be blocked and pieced and how they dreaded doing it. I'd take a look, shrug and say, 'No problem, just leave it to me.' The project comes home with me where we get to know each other, take a long bath with a cool rinse, relax on a couple of beach towels while we dry off and chat about the pattern details. I turn on some loud music, get to work and soon enough that 4x12 throw is now 8x6. Or the stretched out tunic is now a cropped pullover. Or the baby blanket now has some crocheted circles that give it more visual interest. It gives me great satisfaction delivering these projects back into the creator's hands, knowing that they'll get even more pleasure out of it than the intended recipient. Farewell, Moss Stitch Throw...keep that baby warm and happy!

Noro Crochet Blanket, in progressNoro Crochet Blanket(Noro Crochet Blanket, Noro Flowers Book 4, Jenny Watson Designs)

My carry-along project these days is another giant Granny Square throw. I'm using various colors of Noro Kureyon sock yarn with some Araucania thrown in for contrast. This one is going to be for the new couch that finally arrived about 2 weeks ago. The couch is looooong....long enough for 2 boys and a large dog to lie on it and not bug each other while watching 'Family Guy.' Long enough that you can fall asleep on it and not bend your legs. Long enough that you can watch football with your grown sibling and not get their cooties. Long enough that I think I need to make two of these....oh, dear!
ACL Music Fest 10/2/09
(ACL Music Fest, 10/2/09)

The boys and I went to ACl last Friday night and it was perfect. Cool weather, waxing moon, the grass was all squishy and fresh, the Mighty Cones were hot and crunchy and Karen O rocked the bejabbers out of the park with the YeahYeahYeahs. I wasn't that moved by The Kings of Leon, but how can you compete with a woman who gives you the willies while opening her show covered in a some tribally marked hood and later goes crowd surfing while giant inflatable eyeballs bounce around? No contest.

Tuesday, September 15

What happened to August?

I ran off to Martha's Vineyard to help open up a yarn shop and poof! it's the middle of September. I've been busy trying to get the house refinanced (aka water boarding for home owners), dealing with a feverish kid (can I take the nightime Theraflu w/vodka instead?), and the usual transitions that divorced women make. I was born with my maiden name, so why is it so danged hard to get it back on all my stuff? But enough of that reality, let's take a gander at my holiday pics! Fine, grab a BIG libation and put yer feet up while we take a tour of that quaint place known as:Obamartha's Vineyard 2009I was contacted through a mutual friend to help crack knitter Alix design and organize her guest house into a yarn shop. When I showed up, I was faced with this.Vineyard Knit Works, interiorand this.Vineyard Knit Works, exterior
CinderMary went to work as I cleaned, scrubbed, rearranged furniture and made stray teenagers haul things off in order to get the space in working order. There were at least 4 dogs, 2 birds, a guinea pig, a rabbit and a flock of chickens to keep me company while I busied myself. Throw in another houseguest, a stray husband and 3 more kids and you can get a good idea of the ambient chaos. A few days later, Alix had her first sale! Vineyard Yarn Works
We made a visit to the Martha's Vineyard Farmers Market and take a look at all of the goodies:

Clemes & Clemes drum carderMartha's Vineyard Farmer's Market 8/09Solviva standMV Farmer's Market 8/09Wild Turkey sock yarnDandelion fine wool worsted(click on the pic and you should get the flickr description) Yep, that batch of Wild Turkey orange sock yarn from Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm is mine, all mine!

Three cheers for Alix and Vineyard Yarn Works! It's a short drive from West Tisbury. She's 'cocoanuts' on Ravelry--go say hi and give her a big, BIG hug. She's a brave and ballsy gal for doing this, so book that fall foliage/New England getaway vacation NOW.
Vineyard Yarn WorksVineyard Knit Works

Thursday, August 6

Martha's Vineyard

It was worth spending the whole of yesterday in airports and ferry terminals because last night I got to sleep with the windows open with lots of FRESH, COOL NIGHTTIME AIR. And now I'm going to put on some madras plaid shorts, a beat up polo shirt, flipflops and work on some.....needlepoint. Specifically, a canvas that I bought from Anneke's Needleworks that says "Deck Them Halls Y'all."

I'm on vacation and I've gone to the dark side of preppy.

Thursday, July 30

Oscar Cable Update!

aka "Laziness vs. Patience...You Decide"

Three years ago, I saw this Oscar de La Renta Sweater in the runway highlights and thought, "Holy Big-Ass Cables, Batgirl! How can I knit this?" Then, the store version came out for a mere $2200, 100% cashmere. I knew I could make this sucker for way cheaper and I'd use a wool/cotton blend to work in central Texas. I ordered the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the 'cottonball' colorway and set to swatching. I looked into all sorts of cables in Barbara Walker...'Giant Braided Plait' comes to mind as well as as fiddling with changing needle sizes, increasing before the cable row then decreasing after, working a few rows on a separate dpn and then cabling those stitches. I got bogged down into pattern details and adjusting for different sizes. Friends would send me links to any really big cables they saw. Phildar has a nice one in their Phildar № 006 Créations, Automne-Hiver/Fall-Winter 2008/2009 issue. (thanks, Ravelry) I even ordered that edition, but it wasn't enough to stir me from my jotted notes and over-researched stupor....
Oscar Cable sweater

and then, while I was perusing the latest issue of Interweave Knits(Fall/09) I saw this....

I just knew if I was patient and/or lazy enough that somebody would 'adapt' this design with a few tweaks and publish it. Here, check it out for yourself at the skacel collection website. So, I hope all the knitters in the Yahoo aran knitters group and the devoted blog souls who have long given up on me will now turn their energies to knitting up this pattern and kvetch about it on Ravelry. I just can't handle that kind of pressure right now. But.....

You know, I'm not so sure I'd run that smaller cable up the arms. I think it makes for a slightly jurassic look and, goodness knows, I'm old enough as it is. And I just bet that neckline is folded over which means supertoasty---not a good thing here in TX. And what about cable splay at the hem and sleeve edges? Now, I just know I could do better.......!????

Saturday, July 18

Stop the presses.....

it's an effing FO!!!!

Klaralund shell, front
Sleeveless Klaralund from the Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Hand Knitting Collection, Book Number Two. Queensland Collection Pima Fresca, emerald. Size: extra large.

Klaralund shell, back viewKlaralund shell, close-up
I was planning on making three-quarter length sleeves when I started this in July 2008. I put it down, picked it up this spring and thought short sleeves would be better. I put it down, picked it up again this summer and decided that sleeveless would be best if I ever wanted to wear it in this decade. I worked the 14 row garter stitch border, then 6 repeats of the extended garter stitch pattern before knitting a shorter garter stitch border for the neckline. I made an extra large because I was that much bigger last summer, so it fits nicely across my bust and a little loose around the waist. It's in the dryer right now after I chucked it in the washing machine, so the Pima Fresca should shrink just enough.

It's a real confidence booster to finish something after all this time. Especially something that's cute and actually fits. I had someone contact me on Ravelry about the Noro Tibiori that's in my stash. I found the yarn and had completely forgotten that I was going to make a little crochet top from 'Amazing Crochet Lace.' I had made one motif and poof! got distracted by something shiny....I'll send her the yarn as I rather help out a desperate knitter than wait on my powers of concentration to return. But that hasn't stopped me from looking at patterns....recent faves include:
Featherweight Cardigan from knitbot.com
that calls for Malabrigo Lace. I have 2 skeins of Robincat's hand-dyed laceweight wool/silk in the green/blue/wow 'Dinosaur tops' colorway that would be perfect for this...like an arranged marriage with a happy ending.
Paloma from French Girl Knits that calls for Louet MerLin Sportweight. I would shop the stash for a substitute.
Sanpoku from Berroco. More stashbusting.

And, then again, I could pick up another UFO and, you know, FINISH IT!

Friday, July 3

Why, hello stranger.....

Me and HPNY hanging out at Zabar's.

Welcome back to the constantly morphing planet of Mary, Mary! Let's see what all has happened since I last posted. Oh, gosh, I have lost about 25 pounds. This was due in part to the adrenaline, anxiety and stress caused by my recent divorce. Yes, I know, big effing life change doings. It was mutual and we're much happier as friends and co-parents than spouses. It's a huge transition for all of us, but I think we'll get there in the end. Texting your kids nonstop is my idea of an umbilical cord. Anyway, I had a few days free and recently ran off to New York City to see old and new-ish friends. I did pick up 2 skeins of Alchemy Pagoda, Costa Brava colorway on a quick trip to Knitty City w/Hila(HPNY). I started a cluster pattern scarf but have ripped it out because the texture of the fiber totally obscured the stitch pattern. Something simpler and bit more dramatic--double YOs--may do the trick. There is a nice scarf pattern in the summer VK with dropped stitches, but I am a little worried that it is a bit delicate for the wear&tear of a lacrosse/soccer mom. And then.....

I am a finishing geek and I blocked my friend Jane's 360 degree Feather and Fan shawl. I'm not sure what pattern she used, but it spread out beautifully. I used a million t-pins to enhance the crochet edge.

And I think you can see for yourself how happy Jane was with the results...

and let's take a look at the back...

She's getting ready to go to Knitting Camp in Wisconsin and if she doesn't kick some KC butt, then I will be sorely disappointed. I forgot to mention that she knitted a hat out of my old old Gameboy charger cords mixed with Malabrigo and buttons.
Jane. Rocks.

Imagine sitting on that roof deck on the right and listening to Gogol Bordello while drinking an ice cold beer on a lazy summer night. Cheers, New York!

Friday, May 8

What, it's Friday already?

My, how time flies when all you do is listen to Ida Maria and Camera Obscura while whooshing away on an elliptical trainer, hoping you can get into last summer's shorts before June. Sometimes, I go to the weight room when I want to get in touch with my inner Kellie Everts and pump some 8 lb iron, man. I know, I had absolutely no idea that there were female bodybuilders who stripped for God. I thought it was for, like, a paying audience. Who knew?

Ok, I want to start something, anything, and it has to be with stash yarn. Well, how about this little number from Stitch Diva? I can wear it over a tank and it works up on a DK/light worsted gauge. It's kind of like Cherie Amour with air conditioning. I just downloaded it and hope to start tomorrow.

And here's Louie tapping into his inner Barry White. I dunno, I think he strips for mice.

Tuesday, April 21

What if...

the Hokey Pokey IS what it's all about?

I saw that on a bumper sticker today and had to share it.
I'm taking a hiatus from crafts these days to focus on losing weight and recalibrating my personal life. I'll continue posting odds & ends, so please stop by and wave hello.
Monoprix Perle Acrylique and garden chair

Friday, April 10

Oscar the Grouchy Bunny Cupcake

Oscar the Grouchy Bunny Cupcake
and Sean the Sheep wish you a very happy holiday weekend.

My friend, Anneke, asked me to write a post for the Anneke's Needleworks Blog about ordering the Blue Sky Alpacas yarns with her at TNNA in San Diego. Go check it out!

Saturday, April 4

Good Handknit Sweaters Last Forever, People Don't

Good Handknit Sweaters Last Forever
"Hellooooo everybody! I am taking a little break from all of my crafty hobbies to enjoy looking at my handcrafted gold wire and quartz candle snuffer. It comes in so handy when we have seances and stuff with that charming little gamine Rosemary. Ooooh, and here are all the obituaries that I need to put into my scrapbook. Gosh, remind me to get some library paste! I just love to snuggle up in my cozy lavender mohair sweater, pick up some needles and get to work. The neighbors hardly complain about the screams, ever since I accidentally left some rat poison out on the fire escape and Miss Precious Perfect died. Sigh. It takes so much energy for a busy girl to find new creative outlets." 
Plastic Eyeball CarOne busy girl in Austin glued plastic eyeballs to her car which I saw at the library.
Me and My New FriendsAnother busy girl made new friends after a long run on Town Lake. Gee, Velma really took her vitamins!
Handmade Lucchese Boots in the morningAnd another busy girl put on her handmade Lucchese boots which were made for walkin' after midnight.

Friday, March 20

Spring Break

rib-eye steak, corn-on-the-cob, Weber grill, Austin 2009.

I'm working on a striped Tomato ala Turtlegirl except with my own little spin.(yeah, yeah, pix to come) I also have various knitting repair jobs for friends that have been languishing while I pretend I'm bulletproof and 21 as I catch up with visiting friends during SXSW.(the biggest bestest kick-ass music confab evah)
And there's some mobius action going on with the spring green manos and FDC.

Cookin' with gas, baby....

Friday, March 6

Spring Back, Fall Forward?

Spring Forward(Manos del Uruguay silk blend (30%silk/70% extrafine merino, kettle dyed, col. 3068) and Filatura Di Crosa Golden Line Superior (70% cashmere/ 30% silk, col. 23)

It's been a long, cold, difficult winter season...let's just take a Gatsby moment to look at some pretty green yarn and hope for brighter days and better projects. I saw these two yarns knitted up as an amazing Clapotis at Hill Country Weavers, but I think I will try something different, as in "I ain't knittin' no Clap, no how." I have nothing personal against Clap, but I need something....dumber. Yep, I said it. I'm not trying to recreate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In fact, I think I just want a non-Turkish Stitch shawl that's a little smarter than it looks. Feel free to share your ideas.
Oh, and the color...I just knew I had seen it somewhere.....
Manos Silk Blend & FDC SuperiorYep, it's the color of the trim to my house aka "The Asparagus Omelet." I'll be sure to throw a green party when I finish this shawl and invite you guys. Honest, I'll serve omelets and mimosas.
Noro Kureyon Socks, S40The only remarkable thing about these socks is that I actually finished 2 of them. It's the standard Ann Budd recipe with Kureyon Sock Yarn, col. S40m, and I wet-blocked them with some conditioner and they feel great. As opposed to the Harry Potter yarn which I'm just not loving at the moment.
And as for the Edie Springtime Cardigan, things have gone horribly wrong. I'll post a pic next week, but suffice it to say it looks like I've knitted a......short Snuggie. Gah!
Last Sunday we treated ourselves to a family outing when we found out Springsteen tickets were going for $300 apiece on eBay. For a tenth of the price we, and I mean kids and adults, had a blast listening to Chrissie Hynde tear up the stage at Stubbs. Yeah, sometimes we get really close to cool around here.
The Pretenders at Stubbs 3/1/09
Don't forget your clocks!

Saturday, February 21

Ravelry, Revelry and God Only Knows What Else

Ravelry and MaryMaryRavelry at The Knitting Nest
Jess, myself clutching Malabrigo sock yarn, Mary Heather            photo#2: Jess(foreground) and Casey(background) try their darnedest to interpret central Texas accents while waiting for more cherry lime-ades from Sonic
and if I mixed up people's names...whoopsy-daisy!

Last weekend the ubercool Ravelry posse descended upon The Knitting Nest which was reason enough for me to drag my 12-year old across town to smile and gawk. The place was packed with local Ravelers, especially as they were giving out door prizes. Yep, I scored the purple Cascade Lana D'Oro alpaca/wool blend AND a hot pink Namaste bag in the silent auction. There was a bin of Malabrigo sock yarn in the front and I did not emerge from this calvacade of convivial knitterly networking until I had 4 skeins of Velvet Grape in my grubby mitts. Mine, all mine! I have visions of a swirly Stevie Nicks gypsy coat with lace detail on bell sleeves, lace motif in the center back and soft flowing ruffles along the fronts. All I need are some spiked black suede boots and a velvet dress. Maybe I should check out Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart and throw in a little Janis Joplin while I'm at it.

Austin TX carvalentine's day in the suburbsI had just left The Knitting Nest and was heading home when this beauty was in front of me. We have a number of unique antiques on wheels in Austin and it always brings a smile to my face when I see one. One of these days, I'll take a shot of the mobile bulletin board on the back of my car. As for the birdcage on the right, this was in front of my house on Valentine's Day. There were a couple of ponies pulling it and they clomped up and down the street a couple of times. Frankly, it was kinda creepy.
Nordic Stitches bag
As you may know, I'm a huge fan of Hilde's work. She even sells it on DaWanda and I couldn't resist this black felted bag with the little people on front. And check out the fun b&w stripes! I have been using this bag to tote around Very Important Documents--it lightens the mood in some very somber settings.

I'm very close to finishing my KnitWhits Edie Springtime Cardigan using Noro Silk Garden sock and Silk Garden light. This project monogamy thing is yielding results one month at a time-who knew?

Friday, February 13

Thank you, Ceci!

I thought a moment before posting this because sometimes these things feel a little like a chain letter to me. But then I thought to myself "Accept the compliment, you idiot, and link to some REALLY creative people!" Because it's fun to see some other blogs that you may never even know about--kinda like seeing what people read in the bathroom, eh? ME: old knitmags that don't have any patterns I want, old quilting mags for the same reason and, somehow, a couple of skateboarding mags for when Tex needs a little quiet time.
FYI: If you got a comment on your blog from 'Yoku,' that's actually from me but using my kids' sign-on. Those rascals....
And here are the rules if you've forgotten (copy and paste award, link to who nominated you, list 8 blogs that you're nominating and leave messages on their blogs about the award).

Here are 8 blogs that I think have something interesting/creative/amazing going on:

Hilde takes me to a calm place that has intrinsic beauty. You can see her work here.

HPNY is one of the first people to ever read and comment on my blog. We even met up for a fun time in London a couple of years ago which leads me to Nordic Stash Queen, Garngamen aka Yarn Dragon in Swedish. While HPNY methodically churns out really lovely pieces interspersed with great pix of NYC, Garngamen always has new stash with something involving at last 5 colors on her needles. Check out her Finished Projects and you'll see where that stash goes.

Kloobok doesn't post much but look at her crochet. She has some stunningly intricate pieces.

Sweaterproject and I lurk on each other's blogs. His knitting usually involves cables, socks, sweaters and/or kilts, but it's his rollerderby pix that just slay me. Did you know that the roller derby renaissance started in Austin just a few years ago? Well, this guy was all over it like white on rice, baby...

If you enjoy a little armchair travelling, then check out what's happening at Bazar Pimpampum. There's always something interesting over there.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm. Check out the blog and then go to the main page and look for the Lamb Cam. Can't beat that virtual cuteness.

Elizabeth is a working designer who has published designs with the defunct Garter Belt and currently with Knit Circus. I've always admired the classic, sophisticated lines of her designs.

Some of these people are Ravelry friends and, believe me, I would have a lifetime of projects just based on their Ravelry favorites and queues. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10

Callooh! Callay!

I have slain the Flapjack Throw from Colinette. It was stop and start for a couple of years, but here it is in all of its multi-colored glory. It measures approximately 55"x55" unblocked and it weighs a ton. I followed the pattern about halfway through then I just crocheted up stripes skein by skein. I also switched to a larger hook because a) I couldn't find the pattern and b) I wanted to finish this thing pronto and c) it was there.
Flapjack throw, Colinette prism
This future heirloom will reside on Bandit's bed where there is already a very brightly colored quilt that I made years ago.
The UFO monogamy is great, but I'm at a quandary as to what I shall finish next. There are THAT many choices....
Flapjack throw, Colinette prism
I can only imagine the day when this cherished object is brought out of mothballs for Bandit's firstborn and his wife takes one look and says, "Not if you want another kid, Babycakes." Good for her--I'll keep it in my spare bedroom and the kids can use it for a circus tent or a magic carpet. Unless....unless, he gives it to a college girlfriend. Gosh, I hadn't thought of that.