Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More About Madrona

Brown Koigu
This is most of the yarn I bought - Koigu premium merino

In addition to the great Bohus class, I went to a mentor session with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and also to a couple of evening events. Here's a quick recap:

  • Charity Knit-In: Very moving presentations by Stephanie about Knitters Without Borders (which has raised over $300K for Doctors Without Borders) and by Diane Formoso from Caring for Kids. It was interesting to hear about these two organizations at the same time--the needs of the local community and the global community are totally different in some ways, but there are ways to contribute to both that are really pretty easy.
  • Fiona Ellis gave a talk on the Knitters Muse, which featured slides showing different designs and what inspires her. She featured some of the designs from her new book, Inspired Cable Knits, which looks very good. Yoga mat bag featuring a tree pose cable? Awesome!
  • Mentor session with Stephanie: I wasn't really sure what to expect, but this was great. There were about 12 people, there was a good assortment of questions about specific knitting techniques. We talked about set in sleeves, a basic sock formula, different kinds of needles, knitting math, and a bunch of stuff that I've temporarily forgotten but that I'm sure will emerge from my work-addled brain at exactly the right moment.

In addition to the scheduled events, I spent a little time (and do-rey-mi) at the marketplace. I didn't go too crazy, but I did pick up the 4 skeins of Koigu pictured above, in many shades of brown. I also bought one skein of Socks that Rock in Farmhouse from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The BMFA booth was incredible, but since I've signed up for the 2007 Rockin' Sock Club I held back a little.

Overall, I really enjoyed Madrona. I think that it would be more fun if I knew a lot of other knitters at the fest, but pretty much everyone was friendly--it's not that hard to strike up a conversation with a knitter! Which reminds me--I need to finish a cool, complicated something or another to wear to the next knitting event I attend. I've been knitting for 15 years, but it's been a long time since I finished anything impressive for myself. Time to get cracking on that Print O' The Wave shawl I put away before Sock Wars started!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

If only I knew any gigantic beatniks

Among the items that emerged from S____'s basement in December was a beret that I knit sometime between 1997 and 2001. Or maybe earlier, I can't really say for sure--all I know is that I knit it, but never felted it. The luxuries of Somerville were many (faux brick backsplash, lobster lights on glassed in porch, convenient landing storage, etc.) but an in-unit washer and dryer were not among them. Felting at the local laundromat? Not a great option. On Sunday night, I put the beret in the wash, and ran it through the wash cycle maybe three times, and here's how it looked:


Still a little on the big side, wouldn't you say? The ruler below it is a 12.5 inch square, so this baby is about 15 inches across. Also, it looks like I may have used two different dye lots on this hat--note the darker inner circle. I will continue felting it, but I'm not convinced that this will ever be small enough to fit a human head. In that case, I can always use the felt for embellishments for something else. Let's hope it gets a little smaller, at least.

Madrona Fiber Arts Festival - Bohus Knitting

Bohus wristlet with yarn

Several people at work thought that I was joking when I told them that I was taking Friday off so that I could knit all day, but I wasn't. This was my first visit to the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, and I attended a couple of events as well as one full day class on Bohus knitting and one mentor session.

My full-day class was taught by Susanna Hansson, a Swedish knitter who now lives in Seattle, and who also designed the mismatched beaded cuffs that I made in December. Susanna's class covered the origins of Bohus knitting, as well as the incredibly detailed techniques that were used to create these garments. She has a collection of garments that are so exquisitely designed, knit, and finished that it is easy to believe that they sold for hundreds of dollars during the 40's.

The in-class project involved tiny needles (size 00s for me, and it probably wouldn't have hurt to go down to 000s), and colors with very subtle differences. Believe me, it's a lot easier to see the difference between the aqua and the medium blue when they are next to each other in a ball than when you're using them in the same row, a few stitches of each at a time. Here's a closer view of what I've finished so far:

Bohus wristlet, up close

The photo isn't blurry, that's the halo that the 50% angora / 50% merino wool creates. The wool comes from Sweden, and is dyed to closely match the original Bohus colors. Solveig Gustafsson is the woman who dyes the yarn, and she sells kits using the original patterns (modified in shape for a less 50's snug look)--check out Susanna's website for photos of the available patterns and how to order them from Solveig. I definitely want to order a kit (once I've paid for my baseball tickets), although it's tough to decide which one. This yarn is lovely to work with (and I say that after having to start over three times to get "close enough" gauge) and the designs and colors are soooo beautiful.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Arrrrgh, this hat be large, says I

Tall Pirate Hat

I've finished my second We Call Them Pirates hat, this one for my brother. The last pirate hat was a little smaller than expected, and this one is much larger, but I think it should fit my brother fine. There's definitely going to be some extra space at the top, but I like the way it looks, and I'm planning to test it out tomorrow on the way to work. Just in case it doesn't fulfill the normal hat functions, I'd rather find out before I give it away. Also, lately I've realized that even though I love my Shedir, the shape of it isn't quite (or even remotely) right for my head/haircut. I think I like the shape of the pirate hat better, so I might try another hat, maybe with skulls, maybe with something else. Suggestions?

Here's a photo of the inside of the hat, part of the lettering (our last name) is visible:

Big Pirate Hat Lining

I can't tell you how tempted I was to knit "Capt. Jerk Face" into the lining. Maybe next time, maybe next time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Anemoi Mittens - More than 50% Complete!

Right mitten, and tiny part of left mitten

I cast on the second Anemoi mitten yesterday evening, I've been mentally steeling myself for the excruciatingly slow corrugated rib. How can such a beautiful cuff take so much time? How?? I planned to start this on my trip to Stanford, but couldn't remember how to start the tubular cast-on. This cast on looks very pretty, and it was much simpler this time. I wanted to get a jump on the left mitten before the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, where I will be taking a class on Bohus knitting with Susanna, and attending a mentor session with Stephanie. And maybe doing a little bit of shopping, and maybe attending a charity knitting talk on Thursday. I'm really looking forward to this, although I'm a little afraid that I'll learn that my colorwork techniques are all wrong. All wrong!!!! Maybe rather than worry about my skills, I should get back to honing them on this mitten cuff . . . .

Luckiest. Weekend. Ever.

This weekend was an extremely lucky weekend for me. No, I didn't spend it at the local Casino--I won two independent, craft-related drawings. The first was a drawing for a $20 gift certificate at the Calico Cat quilt shop. They have a frequent shopper punch card program, and the completed punch card go into a monthly drawing. I've entered a number of these drawings, but was totally shocked that I won--quilting has taken a backseat to knitting lately, and I haven't been into the shop much. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, I picked up some great fabrics, I just need to find some time to sew.

The second drawing was from the Holiday Knitting KAL, where yesterday I was among the four Holiday All Star Winners! I really enjoyed this KAL, it definitely made me follow through on my holiday knitting. I won a beautiful ball of sock yarn, it was my favorite of the four possible prizes. Thanks, Alison, for putting this together!

Here's a summary of what I finished for Christmas 2006:

Christmas Gifts 2006

My goal was 8 items, and I ended up finishing the nine items above as well as a two others. Well, one of these was Disco Stu, which I finished in August and forgot to add to my KAL list. Not a bad showing, although I was still surprised that I hadn't done more earlier. Maybe in 2007?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Long Walk With a Short-Legged Dog

What's that?

Poor Frieda--look at all of the rain on her coat!

Typical Northwest winter weather seems to be back, instead of the crazy weather of the past couple of weeks. It's a nice change (though a little sun would be better), and a good opportunity to clock some Runagogo miles outside instead of schlepping to the Y. I only ran/walked about 5.6 miles last week, a little less than planned, so I took Frieda for a 3.39 mile walk to the Game Farm Park. This was possibly her longest walk ever--she's been to this park before, but we usually drive there because it's down a very steep hill. She was a very good sport, especially considering the rain that started about a mile into the walk. My total to date is 25.64 miles, or basically on track--I need about 8 miles a week in order to get to 100 by April 1.

Game Farm Park

Saturday, January 20, 2007

This yarn be short, says I

O.K., it isn't really the yarn that's short, it's that my brother has a gigantic head, and gigantic heads need gigantic hats. Given that my last pirate hat was on the small side, I went up a couple of needle sizes, and I tried to knit a little looser, and it turns out that this uses up a fair amount more yarn than V1. This is how close I am to finishing the body of the hat:

The gigantic pirate hat

I've started moving to double pointed needles, I'm about three rows from the end of the chart. This is how much charcoal yarn I have left:

The Bad Skein

Yikes! I do have another ball of yarn, but this is annoying--I'll use a couple of yards at most, and then I'll forget it ever happened, and potentially run out the next time I need a full skein. I had leftovers from the other hat but I don't think that the dyelots are the same, and I have no idea where to find the yarn in my messy, messy yarn storage area. So I say, in my most piratey voice: "Arrrrrrrrrrgh"!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nice and Cozy

I finished knitting these at last, and fulled them a little in the dryer. The colors are really pretty, and the pattern was easy to follow, but these took a lot longer to finish than they should have because I kept getting distracted. I might need to full them again--I finished them late yesterday evening and wanted to get them on the lovely blue sock blockers right away. I'm not sure why the toes turned out so pointy, but they don't look pointy when they are on, so keep it to yourself, buster.

My 100 miles by April goal is coming along, I'm at 18.63 miles so far. Most of this has been on the treadmill, because the weather has been bad for outdoor activities--at least for activities that involve small dogs on leashes. It's amazing what a little gadget (and a bunch of other knitters running) will do for my motivation.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Little Knitting

It feels like most of my recent posts have been only slightly related to knitting--a little something about the snow, a little something about the weather, a little something about the "running" challenge that I've started. So this post is about a little knitting, here and there. First, a photo of the felted bowl that I gave to E__ C_____ for the holidays. Her daughter J____ has decided that it makes a great hat, even though there's not a lot of give to the felted fabric, and it's made of pretty itchy wool. Maybe the draw was that it matches her purple pants? The hatbowl is made of Manos del Uruguay wool on size 15 dpns, and then felted. The pattern is from One Skein by Leigh Radford, I've made three of these bowls now and have plans (and yarn) to make several more.

Over the weekend I went to Palo Alto, CA for a lavish 21st birthday party (stop laughing--I didn't say it was mine). On the way down, I finished the first Anemoi mitten, and will post photos of it soon. I forgot to bring instructions for the tubular cast-on with me, so instead of a second mitten I started a second We Call Them Pirates hat. This one is for my brother and his gigantic head, so I've gone up to a size 6 needle and it seems like it should be large enough. The last one was a little smaller than I expected it to be, after all. I've joined the We Call Them Pirates knitalong (although this qualifies for the Stranded Colorwork KAL, too), and I already regret that I haven't tried this in other, non-standard colors. Maybe I'll have to make a third one, maybe one to keep for myself.

One knitalong project that I'm way behind on is Larissa's Socks 101 project. I started these just after returning from Boston, and it's been pretty slow going. I'm knitting two socks at once, and am at the part that feels like it will never end. The pattern is very straightforward (it's meant to be for first-time sock knitters, but I'm having Sock Wars flashbacks that are slowing me down. I love the yarn, though--it's Manos del Uruguay wool (like the bowl above), which will be slightly fulled when I finally finish them. Hopefully soon--the target end date (which was completely reasonable for a project of this size) has come and gone.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Snow Smells Good!

And it running around smelling it tires out these dogs, then I'm all for it! The snow started coming down heavy just before I left work, and the ride home was a little treacherous. Not for me, really--I'm an overly cautious driver--but I probably saw 15 cars in a series of accidents on a long steep hill that I was driving down. It's been snowing heavily here for a few hours now, and the dogs really have to work to forge a path through the snow. Gretel keeps going outside for a few minutes and then running back in, with cold snow on her nose. The first time, she ran up on my lap and stuck her cold, snowy (pointy) nose in my ear. I don't know why I didn't see it coming, but I'm ready for next time!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Runagogo - 8.27 miles so far

Here's an update from my Nike+ account, it shows my last "run" from Tuesday. Most of the time I was walking, the chart shows speed on the Y axis and distance on the X axis. I'm taking today off, as I am more than a little sore--I strained a muscle (or something) in my heel on my trip to Boston, and now the same heel has a blister from wearing bad socks with new shoes. Boooooo! I plan to be back on the run tomorrow--I'm surprised how fast the distance is adding up.
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Lost Knitting . . . . Found (?)

One of the things that emerged from S____ M_____'s basement is the bag of yarn above--it arrived on my doorstep today, along with 8 other boxes full of crap. Before I left Boston for grad school in 2001, I seriously pared down my stash of yarn and WIPs, at least partly due to a moth infestation that had gone unnoticed. It was kind of a relief--for instance, I got rid of the black and red lacy mohair sweater that I started prior to 1991 but had not touched since maybe 1992. I don't remember all that was spurned, but I don't miss any of it. And honestly, I don't think I missed much from this bag, although it contains yarn for some WIPs. Among the contents are:
  • Yarn for a Rowan cardigan that I've been carrying around and not working on, one that I may or may not still have a pattern for.
  • Yarn for a Dale of Norway cardigan that was stored in a box marked "Three Knitting Projects" that I may or may not still have the pattern for
  • An unfinished teddy bear sweater
  • Yarn left over from this outfit made for J____ L_____, who is now at least 10 if not 11 years old. It took me a really long time to knit, and J____ could only wear it for a few weeks (if that) before she outgrew it. Her younger sister was s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y heavy as a baby, and maybe only wore it once.
  • Yarn left over from a colorful tea cozy that I once made for S_____ M______
  • 1.4 slippers knit of brown sheep worsted. No trace of pattern, no recollection of ever having knit these
  • One pink cotton baby bootie.
  • One ball of cookie-monster blue Berroco Chinchilla, left over from a sad attempt to knit a furry hat for A___ M______. As usual, I was a victim of gauge--in that I was too lazy to swatch.
  • A Rowan design sweater that is one of the first sweaters I ever finished after taking up "real" knitting in 1989. I think that the pattern had the word "posy" in it. It is cream, a color I pretty much never wear, and has fussy/cutsey details including a scalloped collar and slightly gathered shoulders. Totally not my style, but maybe I can start wearing it to work, if it washes up well, since I don't really care much what I wear to work.

I'm a little bit apprehesive about the possibility of a moth infestation in this bag, although the knitted fabrics to appear to be o.k. It was all sealed up in a Space Bag, and still seemed to be really sealed before I opened it up over New Year's weekend. I'm keeping it segregated until after I wash the posy cardigan, in case any bad things show up.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about running--I really don't like it. Even when I've been in great shape, I'd rather do any number of things for exercise than run, and right now I'm in pretty poor shape. My visits to the gym have been few and far between over the last five or six months, and I'm past due on getting back on track. I've now joined Runagogo, an exercise challenge with a goal of running/walking etc. 100 miles by April 1. It sounds like a lot of miles, but when you break it down it's less than 10 miles a week, and as long as I don't fall too far behind it should be totally manageable. Plus, it gave me an excuse to buy the Nike+ kit, which uses a shoe transponder and a receiver on my Nano that captures stats and then sends them to a website where I can look at them. I loooooooove stats--for instance, sometimes I think that the main reason I have a blog is so I can check my stats regularly. The transponder is meant to go into a special spot in special shoes, underneath the insole. Rather than spend $100 on the special shoes, I made a batik sleeve to tie onto my shoe. It's sort of like one of those shoe wallets. So far (today) this has worked well, at least well enough until I NEED a new pair of shoes. The Nike site is pretty flaky, but hopefully that's a temporary problem.

I wish I was HALF this relaxed.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Cupcake in its Natural Habitat

Here is one of the cupcakes that I finished back in August, in it's new Somerville home. The second cupcake now lives in the South, and as it is in the hands of a young child it probably lacks the sophisticated surroundings of this cupcake. Who can say which cupcake is happier? All I know is that this cupcake still begs to be thrown at another person, and the people who pass by on the street below should watch out for frosting.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Long Flight = Lots of Progress

The long flights to and from Boston were perfect for working on the Anemoi mitten, and now mitten one is almost done. If I had taken dpns for the thumb, it would be totally done--there was plenty of time on the six hour flight home. I was a little surprised how easy it was to set up my chart (on this great chart holder) and really focus on the pattern. No puppies bothering me, no periodic web surfing, television changing, or other distractions.

Here's a close up of the palm side:
It's odd that where the dark yarn stripes, it makes the pattern look completely different than the more solid parts.

Here's a bit of the inside--nice and even, this is the palm side.

The Many Faces of Jefferson

My trip to Boston was all about clearing stuff out of a basement (sorting, tossing, donating, packing, shipping), so I only saw friends for a tiny sliver of the time I was there. Except for E____ G_____, who spent two full days in the basement helping me. One evening we had dinner with a friend who is moving westward soon, and his 2 year old son Jefferson. As you can see above, Jefferson is a child of many moods--he had a great time in the restaurant and in the ice cream shop, but wasn't pleased to be in the car.