Friday, April 30, 2010

Where not to knit?

Location, Location, Location
Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you liek to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub? TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo5

I would knit it here or there. I would knit it in a house, I would knit it with a mouse. I would knit it in a box, I would knit it with a fox. Oh, wait that is not knitting, that is green eggs and ham....

Actually, I feel naked without a project. My projects are weirdly well-travelled, since I often take them places and never take them out of the bag... Like knitting project security blankets. Work has seen many a project come and go, despite the fact that they won't let me knit at my desk.... Silly people! Right now I would have to say that it depends on what project has my attention at the moment where it is going for knitting. Remember this setup? (Don't FANTASTIC pictures deserve a second showing??)The Aeolian, for example, is ONLY being knit in the recliner in the den. Too stinking complicated to pack up and go, not to mention what a disaster I could make of this pattern if I got even slightly distracted! I am making terrific progress on this one since this is my week to be tethered to the laptop to work from home in the evenings....
Also on the needles, to cover all whims and locations, I have Passiflora which is just easy and chunky enough that I can work on it anywhere. I think I could walk and knit this at the same time, which comes as a blessed break from the teeny-tiny bead-laden lace work.... Not that it has seen any travel time yet, but I WOULD take this one to Barnes and Noble or Starbucks for coffee, knit anywhere that I might sit and chat.....
Additionally, I have a ziplock bag full of sock just waiting to go to the beach tomorrow. (See, I am a dreamer, I hold on to the dream! I WILL go to the beach....) I figure that the yarn is not all thick and sweaty and I don't care overmuch if I get sand in it.
So, I guess the question is more Where WON'T I knit????

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Learn something new?

A New Skill
Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork. TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo4

Yes to all of the above....! I have always been a girl to jump in with both feet. Rarely do I let anyone tell me what order the learning should come in.... One of the first things I ever learned to cook, after all, was crepes. If there are directions, I figure I can muddle through!

Actually, The Mom and I took a class in Fair Isle a couple of years ago at SAFF, and I am really glad that I did. The stuff with the left hand was something I did not have the confidence to try on my own.... But I believe that is what it all comes down to, confidence. (I think it is actually the secret of life, confidence, but don't get me started!) Once I was empowered by that brief but useful lesson, I was off!

The next year, The Mom and I took lace knitting, also at SAFF. Nothing against the quality of the class or the instruction, but it was a complete waste of time and money for us... We were already at a skill level where we easily could have done it ourselves. We just hadn't been CONFIDENT enough to trust ourselves to do it. Talk about empowered. Realizing THAT has completely set me free!! I know that there are still things to learn. Goodness knows that I have never knit continental, entrelac, backwards.... But I believe that I can find out how to do it. I can figure out from books and the ever-helpful internet. Last resort, I shall avail myself of the wonderful community of experts at my fingertips on Ravelry! I am a knitter. I am a GOOD knitter! I can do ANYTHING! :-)

Sigh. I love knitting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Great Knitters of Inspiration and Intimidation!

One Great Knitter
Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way. TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo3

Wow, this one is harder than the others! Always easier to talk about myself than someone else, I guess.... I have also tried not to read too many of the other posts for this topic before hand, because everyone that I read I say, "Oh, I love that person, too!!" I think I have it narrowed down to two Great Knitters... I just hope that I can do them justice!!

1. I love Norah Gaughan. Everything she does, whether I could wear it or not, is fantastic! The only thing I have managed to finish of hers is the Kingscot Cardigan from Twist Collective. It is my favorite thing I have ever made! She just manages to create such a sense of avant gard cool without making anything stuffy or unwearable.... It is a delicate balance, and I love her for it! I have seriously considered doing a year-long Norah Gaughan fest a la Julia and Julia, where I pick six Norah sweaters and just knit my heart out.... Caberet Raglan, here I come!
2. Anne Hansen of Knitspot is a constant source of awe and inspiration for me.... And intimidation! Her blog is so lovely, happy, serene. She creates such loveliness! I bought the Maplewing Shawl pattern, seen here, at SAFF last year. At that point, the pattern seemed well neigh impossible for me to accomplish.... I have gotten some lace behind me now, so I feel like it is somewhere within the realm of possibility.... someday!
All of her patterns are something to aspire to in my mastery of knitting. Wing of the Moth, Bee Fields, Trevi.... Artichaut is next in my queue! All so lovely! I am seriously considering another year knit along for stunning, complicated lace shawls. Why are there so many wonderful designs and so few days in the year??
The intimidation factor comes in with how easy she makes it all seem. Garden that would feed 20 all season long? Just a beautiful day with soil and sunshine! Lace shawl that I have to turn the tv off to have any hope of working without mistakes? Travel knitting! Whip up a sock pattern? Filler between other projects! I would pull my hair out.... But that is part of the appeal of the blog, the joyful sense of serenity with which she accomplishes such a creative, love-filled life. Anne, you are my hero!!
I think some of the reason I love knitting is all the creative people.... We are so lucky to live in a time when technology provides access to a great community of people, designers, blogs, and awesome patterns. It is the perfect knitting storm!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Knitting Holy Grail.

An Inspirational Pattern

Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so! TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo2

So, in the saga I laid out yesterday, I mentioned watching the girl knit at the Starbucks in Charlotte, how magical and peaceful it seemed. Here is what I am just sure that she was working on:

If she wasn't knitting Lady Eleanor, I am pretty sure that I don't actually care! In my mind, she was knitting away on what I consider to be the most beautiful and inspiring piece of knitwear out there.... I bought the book Scarf Style by Interweave Press before I even had HOPE that I could learn to knit. I justified it by telling myself that it had crochet in it, too. (I think there are two crochet patterns in the whole book.... Don't mess with my self-delusion!) Everything in the book is so, so beautiful, but Lady Eleanor is special. I think this one represents to me more than just a project that I would love to knit someday.... First, it is entrelac which seems to me to be the penultimate of knitting difficulty. Second, I think I just want to BE the girl in that image. I want to be so lovely. I want to be the kind of girl who can pull off wearing such a dramatic wrap.... This shawl is a lifestyle, an idea of what I want my life to look like, to be like.

So, you see why I can't make it yet, right? It is as if it would mix the knitting matter and anti-matter and end the knitting the universe! If I master entrelac, would knitting become passe? Boring? Would I have been-there-done-that? And if I dreamed all this time about this shawl then looked stupid or fat, would I lose the will to live, to dream about ideal lives?? Can I face taking this from perfect ideal to possibly flawed reality??

Now you all think I am a little crazy, right? Here I am, exposing my deepest, darkest knitting neuroses to the light, showing my furry underbelly. (Metaphorically. I swear, my underbelly is actually not furry.) Be kind to me, will you??

In less dramatic knitting news, here are the promised pictures of WIPs. This is the Aeolian, represented in a picture that shows no beads, but darned if that isn't almost the actual color of the yarn.... I never thought it would get to this point, but I am in a weird place with this shawl. I know it is going to be so very lovely, and I LOVE the yarn, but the pattern has gotten a little tedious here on the 11th repeat. I am trying to muscle my way through.... No matter how long the rows are, there are after all only 12 repeats of this pattern to complete. I think I can, I think I can....

And here is the beginning of the Passiflora, take two. The first time I somehow misread the instructions and omitted all the Sand Stitch from the beginning of the knitting.... It looked mighty funky, so FROG. I am really enjoying working on this in contrast to the much more complicated, attention hogging lace knitting on the shawl. It gives me a little mindless, meditative time when lace is too much. And it goes so fast! After I took this picture yesterday afternoon, I doubled it in size and then moved back to Aeolian! I just hope wearing a sweater made out of an aran weight wool blend does not cause me to actually melt in my car one day this summer.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I used to tell people I could learn to do anything but knit....

Today is day one of Eskimimi's Knit and Crochet Blog Week, or as it is has come to be known, KniCroBlo, which I personally enjoy much more! I have never stopped being 14 years old, have I?? (Then how did I get so old??? I guess that is a question for another day...) Anyway, Eskimimi has thoughtfully provided prompts for blogging for the whole week, to light the proverbial fire under our patooties, and I have decided that this will be a good way to get moving on the blog posting and maybe make new imaginary blog friends! So the prompt for today, day one, is this:

Starting Out

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda? TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo1

True story, I used to actually say in job interviews that I could learn to do anything except for knit. I think it got me a job as a bookkeeper once, which it turns out is something that I CANNOT actually learn to do.... (Seriously, you need a bookkeeper so you turn to an art historian??? What were we thinking??) Now, I have turned that clever hook for job interviews into a terrible lie....

We were always big crocheters in our family. My grandma was rarely without a project, my mom dabbled occasionally, and I was always crocheting something... My grandma could knit, though, and knitting had taken on magical proportions in my imagination. She had this cardboard tube of aluminum knitting needles, all the shiny round ends were at the top when you opened the tube like a futuristic silvery bouquet. I opened that tube probably a thousand times when I was a kid. Many times, armed with K-Mart acrylic yarn my grandmother tried to teach me to knit. I was impossible. I have never seen such horrific lumps turned off a knitting needle in my life.... Pathetic. And my threshold for that kind of frustration was very, very low. I have always picked up new crafts easily and this seemed like the worst kind of mockery of my skills. If I was that terrible and frustrated, it must actually be impossible!!

This only added to the mystical appeal of the craft. Magically, OTHERS were able to do it and I couldn't.... To this day, whenever I cast on a summer weight sweater, I think of my Aunt Billie who knitted away in the eighties at our house on the cutest North-Carolina-summer weight sweaters. (Those of you in the South know what I mean by North-Carolina-summer!!) I couldn't look away! So perfect, so beautiful, so impossible for me to understand. I was so jealous! My mom and I both remember being amazed that she was KNITTING SOMEPLACE OTHER THAN ON HER OWN COUCH. Foolish, foolish non-knitters! We have come to understand now.

Fast forward through many years of such incidents: jealousy, trying to learn from my left handed mother, blobs of yarn, crying, throwing knitting needles.... See our heroine in graduate school, stressed to the eyebrows, feeling like class going, test taking and paper writing comprise the entire universe. I had seen a girl in Starbucks a couple of months past knitting away on what I now know to be the Lady Elanore Stole, an object of great desire to this day. I probably creeped her out staring at her, the way her fingers flew, the peace she seemed to be working in.... I was already foolishly buying Interweave Knits and wallowing in impotent envy of people who could produce such beautiful work. I found out that the Carrboro Arts Center hosted classes and a new session of Beginning Knitting was about to start. It was a steep fee for a student without a full time job, 180$, but what are student loans for, right?

There I ended up, at the police station in tiny little Carrboro, whose arts center was too small to accommodate the class! Our teacher was this amazing Scottish woman, whose name I sadly cannot remember, who had a MASTER'S DEGREE IN KNITTING. What a concept! A Master's Degree in something I wanted to do for fun! She was incredible. Worked some kind of magic on me, and somehow I picked up every new stitch and concept like I had been doing it my whole life. I feel as if my brain had learned to knit over and over but my hands had been stubborn. It was like that class was the final "CLICK" that it took for my HANDS to learn to knit. Duck to water. Made a mockery of all the tears and throwing things of the past. I have never looked back.

I enjoyed it so much and became so obsessed with the activity that The Mom picked the needles back up when I learned. She hadn't knitted since the 70s. The rest is history. Here we are today, never without a project or two at hand, unable to visit a coffee shop or friend's house without yarn. Fiber fairs, multiple notebooks of patterns, online shopping, Ravelry, knit-alongs.... Knitting bliss!

I can honestly say that nothing has ever made me happier than the magical transformation of string into something beautiful. The magic has never been lost. Look at this! I made string into a SOCK! Wow, that is pretty and I can wear it! To say nothing of the pure alchemy of creating lace out of nothing!! I shrug aside any suggestion that my life is unbalanced, that this has become an addiction.... If this is unhealthy, I don't want to get better.

So, there is my story. When I get home for the evening I will share fresh pictures of Aeolian, which is marching along, and Passiflora that I have shamefully not been able to restrain myself from casting on! (See, obsessed!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I wanna go to the beach. Whine.

The Mom and I bought this:
So that I will not look like this after a day in the sun:
Now I want to go to the beach on Saturday. It is supposed to be 89 degrees on Saturday, which means everyone in the state of South Carolina will probably be at the beach. But I am having trouble caring. I want to take Steve (the ebook reader, my boyfriend) and go lay on the sand, in the shade, and feel the breeze blowing. This week, however, will actually never be over. It is like one of those old Twilight Zone horror short stories... It will just keep going and going. By now it should surely be Friday of next week!
The only downside I can see for a short road-trip to the beach this weekend is that I am NOT foolish enough to think I can knit alpaca into beaded lace under a canopy on the sand.... I have been making such happy progress on the Aeolian that I have the conflicting urge to sit in the lazyboy with a shawl and a teeny-tiny crochet hook this entire weekend.... Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What not to do with a crochet hook.

You may have noticed that yesterday's post included yarn wound into a big old ball by hand.... I'll wait while you look. That is a result of the strangest knitting disaster I have ever perpetrated, and for some embarrassing reason, I have decided to share that with you here. Sit back and enjoy a laugh at the sequence of events that let to the existence of that hand-wound ball of lovely:

1. Found a very tiny crochet hook in the floor of my car while cleaning it out to drive The Mom to the bead store on Saturday.
2. Didn't read the size on the hook, just stuck it in the little well on my dashboard for the trip there and back, around three hours total.
3. Got the crap annoyed out of me by a VERY shiny metal crochet hook rolling around on my dashboard. In the sun. Flash, roll, fall off, put back, repeat.
4. Came up with a brilliant solution. Pulled the cone of laceweight yarn out of the bag in the back. Stuck the hook in the middle of a tightly wound cone of alpaca silk yarn. Hook down. I am obviously a genius.
5. Thought that I had solved the problem and dismissed the whole thing from my mind until I got home and got ready to cast on.
6. Tried to pull the hook out, the one that I was convinced that I was going to need to bead the shawl I was starting with this yarn. What happens when you try to pull a crochet hook BACKWARDS out of a tightly wound cone of alpaca silk yarn? NOTHING. Doesn't even wiggle.
7. Tried to push it through forwards. Guess what happens when you push a crochet hook forward into a cone of laceweight yarn that is taller than the hook is long?
8. You guessed it. It disappears completely. No amount of poking it with your fingers or with other long implements like, say, three different sizes of knitting needles does anything but make you worry you are chopping your yarn up.

That is right, in eight easy steps, I managed to FEED A CROCHET HOOK (that I needed to use with the yarn) TO A CONE OF LACEWEIGHT YARN. Now, THAT is talent!

Thus we arrive at the place where I spent two entire hours on Saturday night winding a ball by hand, like a treasure hunt, trying to uncover my crochet hook. All's well that ends well, right? And hey, I got to pay very careful attention to the new Dr. Who! (Who, geek?? Me??)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beady goodness.

I finished the Haruni, will show more when I get it blocked. Took a trip to the bead store in Surfside Beach on Saturday so I could start my Aeolian shawl.... I got beads (four boxes of them!) that match the yarn PERFECTLY. It is such a perfect match that they are almost invisible.... I struggled with that, couldn't decide if I wanted to go for the blend or the contrast. I guess it remains to be seen if I end up liking the low contrast, huh? What I am telling myself is that it is like water at night, with a subtle glitter of moonlight through clouds. I can spin such a fantasy about yarn, can't I? See above my new beading workstation, complete with this magic velvety mat that keeps the beads from rolling.... Amazing stuff! I am starting to get into the rhythm of putting beads on every few stitches, too. (Now that I said that, there will be a terrible beading disaster, won't there??)

Now I am sick and will go to bed shamefully early. I hate being sick.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My cat liked to hide in boxes.

Rest in peace, Nicky, 1998-2010. Wherever you are, I hope you are not suffering anymore.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Prom Night.

Behold The Mom, crowning the Wilson High School 2010 Prom Queen! This is my fourth prom all together, and my second with my mom.... Silly, I know, but we had a great time... And a great day shopping for prom dresses! I thought as I approached 40 in a childless state that I might have moved past any potential prom dress shopping, but NO! I got a great dress. So great, in fact, that I am going to have to start inventing cocktail dress occasions so that I can wear it again. That and the being-swallowed-by-a-boa-constrictor underwear.... Not that I am looking for excuses to wear that again....
Here are the obligatory before-prom photos. Nicky got in on the action, and we couldn't resist, even though it meant showing fish-belly white legs to the internet. :-)
The Mom and I partied the night away.

Continuing knitting disasters....

Remember this? Beautiful, huh? I took this picture in the vain hope that I could convince myself that I hadn't allowed the color changing yarn to ruin the project. Don't think that is possible? Check this out:

Yep, nothing soft or subtle about that change. I didn't even have to do anything to accomplish it.... It wasn't because I broke the yarn when the dog spilled malt on it. It was just the way the color change worked out. Whose bright idea was that?? So when I got to about three inches of unadulterated sand color after that hard line transition, I finally gave up and admitted that it looked terrible, and that I would never love this shawl again if I didn't do it. That's right- frog. No life line. Just plain ole' pull-the-needle-out frogging. It still makes me light headed to think about it.
Here is the scene at my house last night. Not for the faint of heart. I ended up frogging to about three rows above the hard line, which was an entire day's worth of progress, an entire chart worth. THEN, in the most difficult knitting maneuver of my entire life, I put (hopefully!) 96 stitches of cobweb weight yarn knitted into a random pattern of yarn overs back on the needle. And tinked back three more rows.

Today, on my Good Friday holiday that I took today since I actually worked on Good Friday, I have put about ten rows back on it. That was before I cleaned the kitchen and took a long hot bath. I am still not 1oo% convinced that it was a successful move, since there is still a color difference where I picked up the yarn. Not nearly so bold, true. We shall see how it goes as time and charted rows pass.... I may never get over the trauma!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My dog is seriously in the dog house.

This is my beautiful Jojoland Harmony yarn, soaking. The dog spilled chocolate malt on the skein where it was resting while I napped this afternoon. She looks very ashamed. I may forgive her if the yarn dries ok. Maybe.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Once and Future Socks.

I know I love this yarn. Wanna know how I know I love this yarn? I have, in the last 24 hours, started this sock three times. I got all the way through the first repeat of the lace pattern for the Swan Socks by Wendy Knits at least once. I am telling you, though, a grizzly bear could have gotten a big old paw even in the second attempt. The Miss Babs Yummy is holding up nicely to the frogging, I have to say!

This, contrary to my usual history with photos, is a pretty decent representation of the color. This is my Miss Babs club yarn, Oriental Poppy in honor of Georgia O'Keefe. I madly, madly, madly love the color, which is only slightly more orange than I am showing here. The pattern that came with it was cuff down, though it was lovely, so I have decided to deviate and do the Wendy KAL sock for this month. Birds, stones, you know!

Not that I have fallen out of love with the shawls... Don't get me wrong. I am still motoring along on the Hanami shawl. I have gotten through the sixth repeat of seven basketweave repeats.... I can't explain why I needed something else to knit. Somehow the pattern is both too complex and, after the SIXTH time I have done the exact same thing, too tedious to work on uninterrupted. Hopefully, knitters will understand what I mean by that.... I have to concentrate hard to get it right, but on the seventh repeat, there is nothing new happening.... I needed me some variety!!

I think I may be spending too much time thinking about this stuff....