Sunday, September 21, 2008

my excuse for being a slacker

Guess what?!? I have a new thing to neglect while blogging. No, it's not another child. (Please, don't stick a fork in me--just take my word for it: I'm done.) It's homework! I've gone back to school and Holy Schnikey, I LIKEY. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy school. My kids think I'm nuts. What do they know? I'm challenging my brain and it is muy fantastico. I'm not sure if it will lead to more or less blogging. I'm pretty certain that there will be less knitting/spinning content, but I think there might be more philosophizing and generalized navel-gazing going on. In that last sentence, I managed to get a Z into 3 of the last 6 words. Huh.

Some spinning...

Crosspatch Creations Totally Tubular Spinning Kit: 4 ounces of fiber divided up into 12 little batts--a joy to spin. I used long draw for it all and I heart long draw. Combed fiber + long draw = a fluffy, fuzzy woolen-spun yarn. I don't know how many yards, but I think I'll make something lovely for my mother out of it for Christmas. (I think that's my urge with all my handspun because my darling mom is so appreciative of handspun. Love her.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Weedy Surprise

And no, I'm not talking about my garden. It's that Baby Surprise Jacket again. (I'm a little too pleased with myself for dyeing some yellow yarn and calling it "Mustard Weed" so that not only the color, but also the name coordinates with the blue/yellow "Flowering Weeds".) But in today's installment, the jacket is fully completed--buttons and all. I thought I'd mention the rounded neckline, since that's the only modification I made to the pattern.

The original pattern has a squared off neck. I wouldn't normally mess with a square neck, because I really like square necklines, but I just wanted to see what a curving neck opening would look like. In the pattern, when it directs to cast off a bunch of stitches on each side for the neck, I simply cast off 3 at the beginning of the next two rows, then cast of 2 at the beginning of the next two rows, then cast off 1 at the beginning of the next bunch of rows until I had cast off the originally specified number of stitches. The edge was smoothed out with the applied i-cord, but I think it's still maybe a little lumpy. I think I'll be doing the regular neckline in the future; the angles of a square neckline echo the shaping on the front of the sweater, and it just looks right. Favorite part of this project? Doing the i-cord edging. It's such a perfectly gratifying way to finish off an edge. I want to put i-cord on everything now.

I have 2 skeins of Hello Yarn Fat Sock (DK-ish weight, super-springy merino) in Zinnia. I've been trying valiantly to make socks out of this yarn, but every time I get about an inch on my needles, I start having visions of a particular Baby Surprise Jacket (that's a Ravelry link) that I saw in the same yarn--and it was soooo adorable. My real problem is that I'm too selfish to give away anything made out of this treasured yarn, so I've resisted the BSJ urge. Alas, resistance is futile. My weapons are useless. (Save yourselves!) (Does anyone else have lines from Star Trek Next Generation and Tommy Boy flitting through their heads?) I want to cast on today. And it can be my new car-knitting! And I could just knit the sleeves and body a little longer to make it big enough for PeeWee! But maybe I ought to finish the Bog Jacket collar and button bands first. Hmmm.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I stayed up late tonight to do dishes. Not to read, not to knit, not to spin, and not even to watch the Olympics. I finished the dishes and now here I am, actually typing a blog post! I'm stunned, too.

I have been knitting a little, here and there. I finished the body of a Bog Jacket for PeeWee that has been my car-knitting for the past 6-7 months. I started it with some Noro Silk Garden that was left over from Boberly's entrelac hat I made last fall. When I ran out of that, I bought a couple of random balls of Silk Garden from my LYS. Then I bought a few more balls of Silk Garden as souvenir yarn this past spring when I was in Solvang, California for an art show. I'm not really sure how much yarn I used... I plan to finish the jacket off by picking up stitches up one front edge, around the neck and back down the other front edge, then knitting button bands and a shawl collar. I have to add on a couple inches of width to the jacket with the button bands because when I started this project, PeeWee was a lot smaller than she is now. :)

I've also been doing some gift knitting for darling Prairie Mama Kim. She's due in about a month and I'm taking this Baby Surprise Jacket over to her tomorrow. (Kim, if you read this before I get to your house, just act surprised, okay?) I subscribe to the Spunky Eclectic Fiber club, but in July, I got sent the sock yarn of the month by mistake, instead of the fiber of the month. I think it was meant to be, since the colorway (Flowering Weeds) just cried out to be made into a BSJ and the pretty yellow made me think of Kim. I adore this pattern. This was the first time I've knit it and it was a delight. I HEART Elizabeth Zimmermann. (Sisties, she's the designer of this pattern and the Bog Jacket above--and though she has passed on, I consider her to be my Knitting Muse and Guru.) About halfway into it, I got worried that I would run out of yarn, so I pulled out some of my undyed Henry's Attic Kona DK (superwash merino that matched the weight of the Spunky DK sock yarn perfectly) and dyed it a coordinating yellow.

My babies started school this week. I have one big baby who is now in high school. I have another baby (who is actually bigger, though younger, than the big-baby-high-school-freshman) who is now a Big Man on (middle school) Campus. I surprised him with his first cell phone (you got to love pay-per-use phones, huh?) and he's pretty excited, can you tell? My next two babies are still in elementary school, and then the baby of all is here at home. She strapped on a back pack this morning and asked if she could go to school, too. She was pretty disappointed that she didn't get to stay at the school with the big kids. (Can you see the look on my Middle Child's face? He was peeved that I made him stop for a picture.) Sigh. Where did my wee precious darlings go? Why can't they grow up already and stop breaking my heart with how fast they change? I have a recurring desperate fear that I'm going to blink and they'll be old and I'll be really old and I won't remember any of the clever and adorable things they did (are doing)...whatever. I need to go to sleep. I should have left the dishes for morning.

Friday, June 27, 2008

mustard pickles

I dyed some of the mountain of superwash merino I have hiding in my closet. I actually dyed this about a year ago with PAAS Easter egg dye tablets and it was gross. The pinks and blues ran together and made a muddy lavender--and I mean MUDDY. I decided to overdye it with a huge dose of yellow. The yellow turned out--as perhaps you can tell--not ochre, not sunshine, but rather PEE yellow. The splotches of green might save it, though. The color name for it shall be Mustard Pickles--either that or Poopy Diaper. Well, at least I had fun with the dyeing process.

I sent some to a friend and I'm going to spin the remainder soon (after spinning the Toxic for the Snaky Blanky, of course!) and see what happens. This could be very exciting. In my world, yes, this is big excitement. Shut up.

My mother made the best mustard pickles when I was young. I need to find her recipe and make some this year. Did I mention the ravenous bunnies in my back yard? I have no more carrots. The beans are gone. They don't seem to care for the zucchini, onions, or tomatoes. My kids have named the rabbits. So much for the tragic and horrible fate that I had planned for them to meet (the rabbits, not my children). There's one named Mr. Cinnamon Boots. See my problem?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Snaky Blanky startup

I spent the past month gradually spinning up my November subscription to to the Hello Yarn Fiber Club. This is superwash Corriedale wool in a colorway called "Toxic". And in a cosmic turn of events, I hurt my back again last Tuesday--So I spent the following 3 days lying down and swatching crochet patterns out of a Reader's Digest knitting and crochet stitch pattern book that my children gave me for my birthday. (It's not Barbara Walker, but it's okay.)

It started out innocently enough: I just wanted to do something mindless. Swatching crochet stitches goes so fast that you can work, hate, and rip out a stitch pattern in a matter of minutes. Wouldn't you know it, I happened on a stitch that I LIKED! I was just a wee bit loopy from a pain pill, so I messed up the directions and came up with my own version of the stitch pattern. I have decided that I must make an afghan with it. The original stitch pattern is called "Long Waves", but it looks more snaky and sinuous to me, so I shall call it the Snaky Blanky. It's a Poisonous Snaky Blanky because it's made out of Toxic materials. Har har. I love this yarn--what's not to love about handspun in these colors?

I started out with 8 ounces of this fiber and got about 310 yards of 2-ply aran weight yarn. My calculations yielded the somewhat discouraging news that I'll be able to make a itty-bitty afghan of about 36 x 14 inches with this amount of yarn. If there weren't already enough reasons to love Ravelry, I have been rescued by the Hello Yarn group there. I went fishing for generous souls who might be willing to exchange any of their Toxic fiber for some of my other hoarded Hello Yarn club installments. I had two takers on the trade (Bless you Vickie and Felicia, if you read this) and Adrian (Hello Yarn, herself) let me know that she still had a pound of Toxic in storage. It's a Ravelry Miracle!

All together, I'll end up with 36 ounces, which should be enough for a 36 x 63 inch afghan. I might end up blocking it into the more conventional dimensions of 40 x 60--or I might just leave it long and skinny...snaky. (Hmm. I have a tendency to get caught up in themes.) The first batch of traded fiber arrived today, and I'm going to try really hard to let my back finish calming down before I start spinning it. I predict that I will last 2 days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

some summer spinning

Spun on my Schact Matchless using long draw!!! (I love long draw.) It's dreadfully underspun and SO fuzzy. It was a bit of a fight to spin because it was a barely-blended batt and the chunks of silk, mohair, wool, and soy silk didn't always want to get along while drafting.

Kind of a boring post, but there we are. Maybe I could add in some personal details...things like: We have rabbits in our back yard and they ate my eggplant plants. I'm peeved. They haven't touched the tomatos yet, at least there's that. I hurt my back again. I'm infatuated with crochet; it's fast. I tried to knit a baby sweater for a new little niece while I was on a 10-hour road trip to a funeral a couple of weeks ago. It was a dismal failure. I backed into a parked car last night. PeeWee is piteously proclaiming, "I need foooooood!" So is Joe. So is everyone. I've fallen out of love with food. I used to love food. I used to love to cook. I'm tired of it. I think I need a private chef. Yeah, that would do it. Maybe Bob will do it... Okay, enough of the daydreaming, they're starting to gnaw on my ankles.

Monday, May 12, 2008

tweedy jacket in progress

I need to finish this jacket in three days. I need to ship it and the pattern to the magazine before my Resident Artist and I leave on Thursday for a show. I can't even compare knitting this jacket with that first magazine sweater. I've discovered that it wasn't the deadline or the knitting-for-hire aspect that killed the joy for me on the first one. Rather, it was the cotton yarn. This (ah, wool!) is Plymouth Tweed which is so satisfying to knit. With its mossy, felted texture, I can knit with my eyes shut--but I don't want to because of the happy little jewel-like flecks and nubs. O Tweed, how I love thee!

Today is my Middle Child's birthday. What does he want for his birthday? He wants to go camping. He's much more of an adventurer than we usually think. I don't want to crush that outdorsy spirit in him, but it snowed here less than a week ago. Brrrr. That's all I have to say.

And finally, in case anyone wondered:

blog readability test

Huh. If a person's self-esteem were too tied up in whether they feel smart or not, this would be a little bit of a downer. Junior High? Fortunately for me, my self-esteem is securely grounded in whether or not my kids have clean socks each day.

I can't wrap this up until I've bragged a little bit about my children. They gave me a splendid Mother's Day. Boberly made breakfast (served to me in bed!), lunch, AND dinner. And dessert. Pancakesbaconeggsorangejuice, turkeysandwiches, roastedchickenmashedpotatoesgreensalad, and strawberry shortcake. She marshalled the other kids and they did all the clean-up. I took a 4-hour nap after lunch and it was an AWESOME day.

What? There's a lady in a gold lame body suit with shoulder-to-floor white fringe along her back and a romantic ringleted bouffant 'do on the TV telling PeeWee to jump up and do a dance with "glitter hands" and "razzle-dazzle". I've clearly been sitting at this computer too long. Where did the Backyardigans go? Now there's a guy playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" with hand-farts. ?!?!?!? This kind of reminds me of a music professor at Utah State who used to entertain his Music 101 students by playing the classics on his nose-flute. Bizarro.

Monday, May 05, 2008

no harlot sightings here, just mini-burgers

I did not go to Salt Lake City yesterday. That endlessly clever knitter Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a. The Yarn Harlot) had a tour stop at the SLC Downtown Library promoting this delightful little book. I was going to go. Prairie Mama Kim and I had it all planned. Saturday night arrived and Kim called, exhausted from a day of selling at a craft boutique (and the lady is gestating, you know) and begged off. Even still, I planned to drive South by myself and enjoy the solitude of the drive, followed by the connection with knitters at the library. Early Sunday morning, I looked across PeeWee's head toward my Resident Artist and decided that I like him better than the Yarn Harlot. So I didn't go. I don't see him much on weekdays--or even Saturdays--and Sunday is really our only day.

After church, we made mini-burgers that were served with leftovers from a veggie plate I had made for my sister-in-law's baby shower. Little slices of cherry tomato, baby pickle chips, tiny green onion rings. I usually back away from the presentation of precious food to my children; I just don't have time for that sort of thing, yada yada. But maybe I don't have to be so serious all the time? Yeah.

It's a beautiful Monday morning. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, PeeWee is sleeping, I am blogging. I will type quickly and then lace up my shoes for a walk. The little darling will probably awaken before I finish this paragraph. Thre is a lone hyacith in view through my patio door. I have a formerly-magnificent rock garden in my back yard. When we moved in to this house 12 years ago, the previous owner's daily tending of the garden was evident in the riotous spring display of daffodils, hyaciths, tulips, basket-of-gold allysum, bergenia (which has the entertaining common name "pig squeak"), candytuft, and moss phlox. It was beautiful. Now, the intervening years of neglect have left us with bindweed, crabgrass and a lone pink hyacinth. Oh, and I see one daffodil.

I have grand plans this year. I'm getting more sleep on a regular basis than I have since Before Children, so I'm going to reclaim the rock garden! (Or at least a portion thereof.) It stretches the entire width of my back yard, and I'm going to start with the part that is visible through my living room window...if one is facing due east...and not using any peripheral vision. Yes, and I'm going to plant a vegetable garden this year. I have often had a couple of tomato plants and some summer squash, but this is the year of the Potato. And the Carrot, and the Bean, and the Eggplant, and the Cucumber, and the Onion, and maybe even the Corn. And RASPBERRIES!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

cloudy thoughts

MagKnits is gone. (MagKnits: formerly an online knitting magazine.) Gone. GONE. Poof, in the blink of a monitor, no more. Some designers didn't even have backup copies of their patterns and it's too late now.

I just finished reading The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel. It has given me much to consider. Is leaving early cowardice or courage? Is it a good thing to leave before the second act, before the plot gets too messy, before things start to unravel? Is there really solace in that? Or is one cheating oneself (who says "oneself"?) by trying to avoid the sticky tangled consequences of the first act?

I stay up too late at night by myself. For the sake of a few hours of my own thoughts, I handicap the next day with inadequate rest. Is that my way of leaving early? Am I trying to give myself an excuse for not being fully present in the daytime? Is this pathological avoidance or laziness? Am I thinking too much about this? (Finally a question with a clear answer!) Yes. Go to bed.

But first, how about a picture to liven things up? Remember those Miranda Mitts from the last post? When I was experimenting with the mitered rib, the first yarn that I tried was a beautiful cream wool/silk/angora handspun. After I knit and ripped back 3 or 4 times, I decided that maybe angora wasn't the best fiber to experiment with--but here is a picture of it. Note the kiwi fruit. I was feeling poetic.

Tina, you said "Blog more" but this probably isn't what you had in mind.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Miranda Mitts (no early bird here)

***I keep editing this post to fix little errors in the pattern. Sorry.***
***Edited a link due to the demise of MagKnits...Sorry again.***

I'm on a bit of a roll today, this being my second post in one day. Nevertheless, I'm bummed. I wrote a pattern last fall for some mitts knit from my handspun. I intended to submit it to Knitty or Magknits or somebody, but I suffered a crisis of confidence and did nothing. After my last post, I was messing around with Ravelry's pattern linking and I thought I'd post my mitts so I could link to them on my designer page. Then I had a bright idea: I decided to check out MagKnits deadlines and maybe submit the pattern. I clicked over to MagKnits, glanced at their current patterns page and saw (dun dun duhhhh) a pattern for mitts that have the SAME styling, though a rather more refined version (skinny yarn, more complicated construction). D'oh!

I've decided to stop dithering and post this pattern. I swear to you all that I did not copy Sarah Wilson and her lovely Angularities; I knit these during the 2007 Little League baseball season. I have witnesses.

Here is the pattern, which I suppose should be announced with a flourish, but instead it's getting more of a dismissive wave...

Miranda Mitts
by Valerie Wallis

One evening while folding laundry by the oh-so-romantic flickering glow of the television, I wrapped a knitted washcloth around my wrist, curious to see how the diagonally-knit ribs would look as a sleeve. My sweetie looked over and said, “Ooo, that’s sexy.” That’s pretty much all the motivation I needed to figure out this pattern.

There was never any question of what yarn to use; since learning to spin last winter, I’ve been trying to find ways to wear my handspun on a daily basis. This 2-ply merino was my first wheel-spun yarn and the fiber was handpainted by etsy-seller Nettie and Tuddy ( The ribbing makes for a very accommodating and stretchy fabric. The centered double decrease creates a crisp line that stands in contrast to the nubbly, rustic handspun. A finger loop keeps the point in place on the back of the hand and I find it rather evocative. Perhaps Miranda on her island would have made herself something similar.

One size

Wrist, with ribbing unstretched: 6.5 inches
Length, point to point: 9.5 inches

70 yards of fluffy aran weight yarn; 8 WPI
Fiber used in sample mitts was spun from 1.6 oz of Merino wool

1 set of five US #10/6mm double-point needles
1 size H crochet hook

3 sts = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Centered Double Decrease (CDD): Slip 2 stitches at once as to knit. Knit the next stitch; pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch.

Cast on 36 stitches. Divide stitches between 4 DPNs with 10 stitches on 1st needle, 8 on the 2nd, 10 on the 3rd, and 8 on the 4th needle. Join, being careful to keep stitches untwisted, and work in the round.

ROW 1: *YO, (k1, p1) 3 times, k1, CDD; (k1, p1) 3 times, k1, YO, k1. Repeat from *.
ROW 2: *(P1, k1) 4 times, k1; (k1, p1) 4 times, k1. Repeat from *. (As you knit this round, knit the 1st stitch from needles 2 and 4 onto the ends of needles 1 and 3 so as to position the stitches for the CDD on the next round.)
Row 3: *YO, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1, CDD; (p1, k1) 3 times, k1, YO, k1. Repeat from *.
Row 4: *(K1, p1) 4 times, k1; (p1, k1) 4 times, p1. Repeat from *. (Again, as you knit this round, knit the 1st stitch from needles 2 and 4 onto the ends of needles 1 and 3 to position the stitches for the CDD on the next round.)

Repeat these 4 rows until work is 6 inches long, ending with row 2 on needles 1 and 2, and casting off in pattern the 17 stitches on needles 3 and 4. The last stitch of the round (the side rib) shifts to the front of needle 1 to become the first stitch of the next row (19 sts remaining).

Begin working back and forth, creating the top point of the mitt. (Be sure to stop making yarn-overs unless you want a square-edged mitt rather than a pointy one, which actually could be interesting…but would probably just look floppy.)

Row 1 of Point (RS): Slip 1st stitch as to purl, *(p1, k1) until 2 sts from center st, p1, CDD, (p1, k1) to end.
Row 2 (WS): Slip 1st stitch as to purl, follow rib pattern across row, accommodating center stitch whether it should be k or p.
Row 3: Slip 1st stitch as to purl, *(p1, k1) until 2 sts from center st, k1, CDD, k1, (p1, k1) to end.
Row 4: Repeat row 2.

Repeat these 4 rows until only 3 sts remain. Work a CDD on the RS to decrease to 1 stitch. Using a crochet hook, chain 10 and join with a slip st to the back of the point. Draw yarn through loop to fasten off. Now make another.

Weave in ends. Block if desired.

Copyright 2007 Valerie Wallis. This pattern is provided free for personal, non-commercial use. Stores may not sell this pattern or give it away to customers. This pattern may not be redistributed in any way without permission of the designer.

All text and images on this site is copyright the author, Valerie Wallis. Images and text may not be used on other sites without permission of the author.

embossed daisies

Marly (Hiya Miss Marly!) called me a couple of days ago from her location at a magazine rack about 800 miles away from me. Why? Why indeed. Because she's a sweetie. Because she was looking at the latest (May 2008) issue of Creative Knitting Magazing. Because she saw my name. Wheeeeeeeeeee! (Little plug for Creative Knitting: Its niche is accessible knitting. If sometimes the challenging designs of those other wonderful knitting magazines makes you heave a big sigh, check out CK. I think this latest issue has a particularly nice balance of simple yet charming designs. ) (And I'm talking about the other designs, because I'm trying desperately to keep from pointing out all the flaws in mine. Relax, Valerie.)

I haven't received my copy yet, but the magazine has pictures of the current issue's projects on its website. I found this link: Embossed Daisies. It features a drastically cropped photo of the sweater which serves to show off the model's sparkling white smile and a glimpse of the sweater's collar. Oh yes, and the sweater drooping a bit from her elegant, narrow shoulders. It looks to me like they steamed the stuffing out of that cotton yarn, because if you click over to the magazine photo, you will note a vast difference in the appearance of the knitted fabric versus that shown in my photo...

The day I took that photo, I vowed to my friend Jenny (who graciously modeled the sweater for me) that I would never knit for pay again. Well. Somehow, as in childbirth, the pain of that endeavor has faded and I'm ready to have another (sweater) baby. I'll be doing a tweed jacket for CK's January '09 issue. This one should be much better--after all, I've done this before...heh heh. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

and one month later...

It's March. The snow is melting, crocus are popping, the days are lengthening--I love spring. What else do I love? I love books. I love new books. I love this book. And I'm in it: my Meathead hats, my brown slipper socks, and an afghan square.[excited giggle] It's a beautiful book with sweet patterns, and lovely discourses on knitting communities. Writing and most of the patterns are from Larissa "Stitch Marker" Brown and Martin Brown, two very nice, deep-thinking people. Knitting + Philosophy = Love. (And did I mention the Entomology Mittens and Hat (scroll down a little) in there by Adrian" Hello Yarn" Bazilia? Aaaaaaaadriaaaaan... I think I love you...)

I also love spinning. My back is doing better, so what do I do? Do I sit at the computer and get my taxes ready for the accountant? No. Do I go for invigorating walks in the fresh spring air? No. Do I sit and spin? Yes.

I've had this Falkland wool in the colorway "Ravelry" from Spunky Eclectic on my Schacht wheel since Halloween. I was finally able to finish up enough this past weekend to merit plying. This is just under 2 ounces of fingering weight 2-ply. I have about 2 ounces left, but my SpinnerADD got the best of me and I started on something else...

In the second picture, we again have Falkland wool, also from Spunky, called "Pie for Everyone" divided in half and plyed with two different singles that I had languishing in my Great Pot o' Fiber. (I have a very big ceramic pot in which my fiber stash resides. I cannot show it to you at this time because I let Bob take my camera on a field trip today. The Great Pot o' Fiber started out as a covert hiding place for fiber, but about 5 Spunky Club shipments ago, I gave up on the "covert" part.) I plyed the darker skein with a wool-silk-soysilk-mohair batt from Splitrock Ranch. It was such a lovely batt, but once I spun it, it kind of murked out. Plying it with the brighter Pie for Everyone brought out all the fun colors of the batt again. I quite like this tweedy skein--plus it's soft and silky. Ooooh, shiny...

The lighter skein is plyed with a batt that I carded at Yarn School from random floor fiber. It was a rusty-orangey-red color and though I love the resulting color of the skein, it is rough stuff. I spun the second half of the Pie while talking with my kids about book orders (very exciting stuff at chez Wallis) and it is SO overspun. This is a prime example of how spinning tightly will cut your yardage. The two skeins are the same weight, but the light one has about 1/3 less yardage.

Lastly, we have some yarn that I dyed for the Holiday KAL-CAL as a prize. I had so much fun dyeing this yarn. I have over-dyed things in the past simply because I didn't like the first go-round of dye. This batch, however, I overdyed on purpose. First I did a cool version of rainbow colors on the yarn, then I overdyed it with blue and I really liked the watercolor effect of it. I hope the prize recipient liked it too! (The bauble is a little bracelet that I made to match the yarn. And I printed up those yarn labels and everything. Woo. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snow Day? I'll have one, please.

It seems to have become a point of pride with our school district that we don't need no stinking snow days. True, the temperature is above zero, but wouldn't you think that a foot of snow on the roads and white out conditions would influence the decision? No? All righty, then. We shall just say a prayer of thanks for 4-wheel drive and please grant us clear intersections. Are you somewhere warm? Would you like a cooling shot of a pretty blizzard? I shall oblige...

You know what? I'm going to stop playing coy and just spit out all the stupid things whirling in my brain. I get too caught up in worrying about the possibility of my idiocy, as revealed on the internet--not just the regular real-life dorkiness, coming back to haunt me in the future. Who cares? And I like crafty blogs with opinions. So. Henceforth I shall be unburdening myself of my strongly-held and perhaps even controversial beliefs about knitting, spinning, dyeing, and crocheting!

Yes, that's right--I have returned to my crochet roots. All it took was a polite request from a sister-in-law and BAM! A cute little crocheted cloche for my darlink neice. You want instant gratification? I give you the Hailey Hat. Vee-oh-la! Here it is as modeled by LB, my 7-year-old. She picked out this particular shot and I must agree that the I'm-holding-my-breath-until-you-let-me-stay-home-from-school look is rather engaging.
  • Pattern: Hailey Hat (It's mine own! I have grand plans to present it all tidy and spiffy in a PDF, linked on the side bar--so if you read this months from now and don't see it, please contact me and nag profusely.)

  • Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease--But any worsted weight yarn would do. Low maintenance was a high priority for us on this one, thus the cotton-acrylic blend.

  • Rating: I give this one a 10, Bob. It's got a nice beat and I think I could dance in it. It's fast and CUTE, just like your favorite Hollywood cheerleader stereotype. You'll be weaving in the ends before you can say "Ready? Okay!" The top has a wee bit of a doinky point that I'll need to fix, but as a whole, I'm irritatingly smug about the little thing.

  • I remember reading years ago in Maggie Righetti's Crocheting in Plain English about how she was entranced when she first saw someone creating crocheted lace out of thin air. I agree, beloved Maggie, it is magic. (It looks like Maggie Righetti's "Plain English" books are in new printings and I'm so pleased. I highly recommend them.)

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    thrift is empowering

    I have a little book entitled Raising Kids with Just a Little Cash. Somewhere near the front of the book, the author recommends repeating her mantra (Thrift is empowering!) if one needs encouragement. I repeat it often. (Art as a career is a rollercoaster.) This book can open your eyes to a Whole New World of Frugality. But back to the subject at hand...

    I've been thinking about the state of my yarn stash and my desire to be more committed to current projects. Then what do I see? A fine example of Knitting from Stash from the A.D.D. Knitter. She suggested that a medal might be in order to recognize her resourcefulness. I have to say that I agree! As my little PeeWee would say, "Jood Job!" So here's your medal, Heather. :)

    I have stayed up way too late messing around with the graphics program. Gentle readers, if any of you know of someone who deserves recognition of their empowered knitting, please feel free to snag this award (saving it on your computer, of course) and spread the love. Thrifty Knitters everywhere, I salute you!

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    brunette ambition

    Yet Another Work-In-Progress:

    I have plans. Yes. I have ambition. I am going to be a better person, yea even a better knitter. I'm going to finish something. I know that statement is directly contradicted by the presence of Yet Another WIP, but I'm hereby resolving to go finish that Brea Bag for my sister-in-law and then Eric's convertible mitts before I knit anything else. AND, I'm going to go fold the mountain of clean laundry on my couch and put it away before I knit! (This is intended to be a mitten for moi, knit from my handspun--Shetland wool dyed by Spunky Eclectic. Crazy colors, huh? You should have seen the wool before it was spun.)

    But first, some Personal and Religious Musings:

    I'm a Mormon. I know this comes as no surprise to my sisters (hi sisties!) and my local pals who stop by the blog, but I thought I'd just lay it all out there today. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the man that I revere as a prophet of God, Gordon B. Hinckley, died last night. I have such gratitude and love in my heart for him. All sorrow that I feel is totally selfish. I know that he's rejoicing with Christ and his loved ones. I'm also engulfed by feelings that I'm not able to articulate very well--conclusion being that I need to expect more of myself. I need to do more to reflect God's love and light--as President Hinckley did.

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008


    Lest you think I am one of William F. Buckley types who use words like "preternatural" in everyday conversation, I must disclose that "pertinacious" is today's word of the day. (I love the word o' the day. I try really hard to use it throughout the day, but I often find it difficult: "Children, my poor nerves have become quite friable as a result of your faineant behavior." Huh?)

    It seems perfect timing, then, that Ali is having a Finish-an-FO contest and today's word describes the quality of being stubbornly persistent--which is what I'll have to be to get this FO completed. You'd think that I would have no problem getting this taken care of, but I think I need an extra dose of resolve to finish it. I started it as a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. I didn't get it done in time, and now I'm a worried that the handles and finishing of it will disappoint her. I know, I know. Just get it done already and quit fretting. All-righty, then.

    This photo is all washed out, by the way. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted and the color is Burnt Orange. It's perfect for this pattern, the Brea Bag from Berroco. I'll try to get better exposure when I have the FO Glamour Shot this weekend. There. I've said it out loud. I'm committed. (Committed. Hmm. Sometimes I think that would be nice: plenty of reading time, someone else doing the cleaning, wearing jammies all day, maybe even a padded room...)

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    WIP it

    This? This was supposed to be a Christmas gift. Yeah. My New Year's Resolution is to finish this and its mate before next Christmas. Really, I think I could finish both of them today, if I declare it a holiday...

    Here you see the mostly-finished-first-half of a pair of convertible painting mittens for my darling, will-paint-in-any-weather husband. I know you're looking at this mitt and saying, "Is she married to a bear?" And I would just have to reply that you would not believe the size of his palms unless you saw them yourself. He also has rather short fingers, and he needs the little mitt-fingers to be short enough that he can use the sides of his fingers to get traction when opening paint tubes. Thus the dimensions of this mitt. I'll pick up stitches on the back and knit a mitten flap to cover his fingers that will be lined in some handspun alpaca/angora blend that I've carded together from fibers I got at Yarn School. That should do the trick. The gray yarn you see here is Araucania Nature Wool Chunky. I like this yarn a great deal. It has lovely kettle-dyed color variation and it's very sturdy--yet softer than you'd expect. I have enough of this same yarn in olive green to make a sweater for my honey. If I start next week, I could get it done by next Christmas, whadda ya bet?