Monday, February 26, 2007

camera found!

I didn't realize how much I use my camera until it was missing. Where was it? Hmmm. It mysteriously appeared on my 13-yo daughter's desk in her room on Sunday. Hmmm, again. Perhaps we'll never know where it was in between shooting this on President's Day:

and this one week later:

Awww, Mom! We would never hide your camera! Uh-huh. Such sweet little girlies.

Okay, on with the show. Here's my Sweet Pea chart and yarn (please see the previous post for more detail on this lovely yarn). Aren't those colors beautiful? Yes--sublime, indeed. I cast on to knit it in one piece to the sleeves and knit about 1 1/2 inches, but then decided that I didn't like the way the cast-on row looked. I had done the "proper" thing of following the long-tail cast on with a wrong side row and it just looked smushy. It was also rolling to the knit side severely, even though I'm starting out with a 1x3 (interspersed with a vine rib that's 1x2x1) rib on the bottom. So I pulled it out and changed my first row to a right side row and, yes, I now have little purl bumps on the bottom of the right side, but I like it. I also decided to knit it in pieces (back and fronts) and I'm feeling a greater sense of accomplishment since my rows are now only 74 stitches wide instead of 153. I don't mind seaming that much and now I can make adjustments to the size of the fronts if it turns out that my calculations were off on how much the vine rib contracts. I'll get a shot of the back piece tomorrow. I've actually got about 7 inches of it done--amazing with all of the rip-and-redo action going on around here.

This past Friday was spinner's night at the shop where I took my spinning class. Just look what a nice spinning wheel can help a person turn out! Shall we have an extreme close-up? Yes, I think so. That's some natural brown Corriedale-cross wool spun on a Schacht Matchless double-treadle wheel. It's wound on a toilet paper roll and can you see the difference between what I'm doing now and what I was doing three weeks ago? I want a spinning wheel with every fiber (heh) of my being. I need it. I neeeeeeeed it. I've been researching wheels and I've about come to the conclusion that a Lendrum would be perfect for me. I've tried out every kind of wheel I can get my hands (an feet) on, but I haven't found anyone locally who has a Lendrum to let me give it a test drive. I still think that it would be a good choice. My spinning teacher likes Lendrums (if only she carried them at her store!) and I have found that I like the same things in a spinning wheel that she does. If only I could get myself to stop buying yarn and save some money for a wheel. Hmmm. I have a birthday coming up...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

sublime Sweet Pea

I can't find my camera, so we'll have to go strictly verbal with this today. I have been making up my own design for the Pea Pod KAL. I've been swatching my little heart out for what I've decided to call the Sweet Pea. After running through some merino from Rumplestiltskin's, some Classic Silk from Yarn Today, and some (desperation) Peaches and Creme from the little old King's store downtown, I finally found My Yarn. It's Sublime (how perfect that My Yarn should be named with one of my all-time favorite adjectives) and it is machine washable Extrafine Merino Wool DK. Does life get better than this? I think not!

I actually did 2 inches of the Sweet Pea with the Classic Silk and then abandoned it completely once I saw the Sublime yesterday afternoon. Yarn Today had just gotten it in and they have every color in the DK line. SO BEAUTIFUL. It's distributed by Knitting Fever and you can see it and the patterns they have to go with it here. In the fine print of the label it says "Sublime, a division of Sirdar Spinning Ltd." and they have redeemed themselves from the awfulness of Snowflake by coming up with this sproing-a-licious machine washable yarn. Did I mention that it's machine washable? After trying to tell myself that I really did like the (not machine washable) Classic Silk, the contrast between knitting unforgiving silk/cotton and lovely, resilient wool is all the more apparent. And machine washable? It makes me want to knit a whole closet full of kids' knits and write a book to sing its praises. I will call it "What a Mom Wants and What a Mom Needs; 25 Sublime Machine Washable Designs for Children". I heart Sublime.

Would it be bad etiquette to grab a picture of Sublime from Sirdar and post it? I'm doing it. Just watch me. See that color? That's what I'm using for Sweet Pea.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

tossing cookies and secret pal questionnaire

We're all vomiting around here again. I'm very tired of it. Sorry about the dull subject, but there it is.

I need something else to think about...

Wohoo! I signed up for Secret Pal 10! Here be my questionnaire--which may or may not be of general interest. This is really just a meme post, I suppose.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? My favorite yarns are any weight and any flavor of wool, though I'm currently infatuated with alpaca and Sublime Extrafine Merino DK. My general motto is "cashmere for all", but really, I like all natural fibers. I don't mind cheapo acrylic (especailly if we're talking chilren's or charity afghans) but I don't like knitting man-made furry fibers (I would rather eat road tar than knit with Sirdar Snowflake again).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? They are currently in an old canvas tote bag.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I tried unsuccessfully to teach myself to knit for many years, but it wasn't until a friend taught me the continental/combination method about 8 years ago that it all made sense. I've been knitting happily since then. I would consider my skill level to be on the advanced side of intermediate. I've made a lot of small things and I often feel that I'm one with the yarn, but I've yet to really do something major, like an adult-size stranded sweater.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes indeedy! I have Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent? Citrus: lime, grapefruit, orange. I also really like earthy-herbally-minty scents like Burt's Bee's stuff.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Yes, Creme Savers, toffee, and any fine, dark chocolate.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I like to bead and sew. I just learned to spin! I just took a spinning class and I LOVE it. (Shhhhh--I'm getting a spinning wheel for my birthday!!!!!)

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I like classical music (Beethoven is my man, but I'm really enjoying early 20th century composers right now), bluegrass (I love me some good foot-stompin' fast note-pickin'!), and jazz (New Orleans, Chicago, bebop, fusion, I like it ALL). Ooo-and Scottish music (you know it's a good day if you get to hear some pipes). I have a fondness for 80's stuff (Journey, John Mellancamp, The Police, U2, R.E.M., New Order, Simple Minds, stuff like that). And yes, my computer is my stereo and it plays MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I love all colors! Although I don't really like the color of dryer lint.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I'm married to a most amazing renaissance man--a spectacular artist, a handy-man genius, and an ardent sports fan all rolled into one. We have 5 very interesting and busy children ranging in ages from 13 down to 21 months. We have a dog named Dottie (she's a beautiful mutt--white with black spots on her head), and a fire-bellied toad named Hopper.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Yes to all but ponchos.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I love to knit children's items since they don't have any *fit* issues like adults usually have. I don't have as much knitting time right now as I'd like, so I mostly stick to small things, but I fantasize about making big cabley sweaters for my honey. I've just discovered sock knitting and I really like it.

13. What are you knitting right now? A baby sweater (Pea Pod KAL!), a baby blanket for my good friend Kristen, a pair of Trekking socks, and a Cat Bordhi moebius. I've just swatched some Silky Wool for an Elsebeth Lavold sweater for myself (!) and I can't wait to really get going on it.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Of course!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I like straights for baby items, circular (metal) for bigger things. I made my first socks (slipper socks, actually) with bamboo DPNs and I liked them--but I decided to try using 2 circs on my current pair and I think I'm a convert.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? I have an 8-year-old pair of Wool-ease mittens that I just can't seem to pick up or let go.

18. What is your favorite holiday? Who can pick a favorite? They're all fun, especially with kids.

19. Is there anything that you collect? Besides yarn? Little dolls, especially from other countries. I have a very small, but cherished pottery collection.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? I would love to have Barbara Walker's treasuries, Nicky Epstein's over and beyond books, Ann Budd's Handy Book of Patterns, Maggie Righetti's Sweater Design in Plain English, any Starmore book (except Fisherman Sweaters--I have that), and I would REALLY love to find a copy of Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting that I could afford--since that's the book that sparked my love of knitting. I subscribe to Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I'd like to figure out knitting backwards so that I could do that Lizard Ridge afghan without constantly turning the short-rows around.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I am a new sock knitter--I'm currently working on my second pair and I'm really enjoying it. Women's US size 8.5 (European size 40?)

23. When is your birthday? April 3 (me and Doris Day)

Monday, February 12, 2007

preview of coming attractions

Yes, this is Short Attention Span Yarn Theater. Coming soon to a foot near you, Shoeless Knitting presents a Valerie production of a of a Cat Bordhi design, Star Trekking, a Sock in Motion.

**The next selection is for mature audiences only.**

After months of consideration, the producers of The Booby Square have elected to release this most scintillating sneak-preview. Abandoned for years in the bottom drawer, lonely Lottawool Yarnball finds her way through the perilous thrift store yarn bins and travels to find her destiny in a sizzling-hot dye pot. In the hands of the Knitting Madame, she becomes The Booby Square.

Okay, I can't think of any more clever movie references for the rest of this, and I need to go pay attention to the great hulking pile of dirty you-know-what that needs to be sorted into lights, mediums, darks, baby items, delicates, and things-that-need-to-be-aggressively-bleached. So here is the rest of my week-end knitting. You must agree that I have a rather short attention span. FOCUS, that's what I need. I think I'll finish the Silky Wool swatch first. This yarn is luscious.

This log cabin square is for Kristen's peanut. I was going to do a big ole log cabin baby blanket but I pooped out. I've recruited some friends o' Kristen to make more 8-inch squares out of this Cotton Fleece. I love these strong colors. I think my boys might need some afghans out of this yarn. (Yes, I know I'm delusional. I enjoy it. Dreaming up the project is 2/3 of the fun for me.)

I can't even show you the 4 swatches that I did on Saturday for the Pea Pod KAL because I ripped them all out. I'd better figure out my yarn for that one before PeeWee is too big for it.

The embarrassing thing is that these are only the works-in-progress that I'm willing to let out of the closet. Maybe I'll admit to some more next Monday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

spinning my wheels

Tonight was the last spinning class. I've been so excited all week to go try out all of the spinning wheels. I finally got the hang of the drop spindle (haha, I just noticed my pun) and I thought I was doing pretty well until I got to class tonight and tried treadling at the same time. Hooo daddy. I'm pretty bad at it. My teacher had six different wheels for us to try. I tried the $350 wheel. I couldn't even get the kinky glob of wool to go onto the bobbin. I tried the $450, the $525, and the $650--no dice.

I was dejectedly slumping on the cute little spinner's stool, when I raised my eyes just long enough to notice that sweet, quiet, unassuming Alex (easily the worst drop-spinner in the class) was busy putting up beautiful lace-weight on the gigantic 30-inch Saxony wheel. Yep. She looked up and saw my wistful (okay, maybe 'slightly hostile' is a more accurate term) gaze and said, "You've got to try this wheel! It makes it so easy!" She jumped up and insisted that she was done. I dragged my pathetic self over to the giant and gave it a whirl (well, actually a treadle) and what do you know? It worked! I spun! I'm going to have to retract that last sentence and say, rather, that IT spun. And it spun like buttah. The treadle motion was so easy and smooth that I was finally able to forget my feet and get my hands to work.

The price of the 30-inch colossus? You don't wanna know. I wish I didn't know. Possibly I could buy it in two years if I sneak the grocery money into a secret account and just feed the family ramen noodles. Twelve hundred and fifty dollars. Yep. One-two-five-oh. My spinning teacher kept comparing wheels to cars, pointing out that a Saturn and a Rolls Royce will both get you to your destination...BUT I WANT THE ROLLS! ARRRRRGH!

So to make myself feel better, I bought some yarn. Yes, of course it was a good idea. No, I don't think that putting the yarn money into the aforementioned secret account to save for the Rolls is a better idea. Hm. Well, I've already wound one hank into a ball and I'm swatching so it's too late to take it back. Besides, this pattern speaks to me. The yarn sings to me. I'm being lulled back to my happy place just thinking about it. I'm going to post the picture and then go finish my swatch. I know it looks a rather nubbly, but you should feel it--it's so smooth and silky. Ahhhhh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

(silent) poetry reading

Welcome to another Blogger's (silent) Poetry Reading. I first read about this from Kim, who read about it on Cara's blog, who refers to the original site. I'm all for it. The world needs more poetry reading.

Last night I started reading Terry Tempest Williams' book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (I'm a little chagrined that I haven't read it before. Isn't it required reading for anyone who lives in the Western United States? I'm pretty sure it is. I haven't actually gotten into the book yet since I had to read and re-read and then sit and think about this marvelous poem. End of aside.) Williams includes this poem as a preface.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Spinning Thursday

I have declared today to be Spinning Thursday. Huzzah! Why all the fanfare? It is because I have crossed the threshold and entered the scintillating world of spinning! I spin! I am a spinner!!! Here is my humble first hank o' handspun yarn: a lofty bulky two-ply Corriedale-cross, taken from greasy wool to plied yarn all by myself!!!!! Okay, I had a lot of help from my teacher.

And next week--next Spinning Thursday--we get to try out the wheels! I'm beside myself, can you tell?

No comments, please, about the so-bulky-that-there's-almost-no-twist plies. Hopefully, I'll keep getting better at it.