Tuesday, July 31, 2007

ooh, now I get it!

Remember last week when I mentioned how I keep knitting and knitting, and not buying myself any new yarn, but the stash just doesn't seem to be getting any smaller? I now think I know how this might be possible. It occurred to me today, as I'm sitting at my desk surrounded by a giddy Leah's acquisitions of the past week.
The black yarn in the back right corner of the pic might be mine, to knit into socks for Scott, but there's silk in that yarn, so a certain somebody just might lay her cotton-pickin' fingers on it before I get around to it. At least the young designer has agreed to share her droolworthy new book with me, since I gave her a lift to the bookstore. :-)

Anyway, great weekend of camping, as expected. Rain on Saturday didn't dampen any spirits, especially since the kids were already playing in the river and didn't mind the raindrops one little bit. There was a parade (Leah marched in it, Jesse rode his bike alongside the best candy-throwing participants, and the rest of us cheered the whole thing on), a fascinating presentation about old cemeteries, fishing, s'mores, and the first stitches by a new knitter.
I mostly knit socks, but also made a couple of kid-sized hats for charity over the weekend. I still need to do some finishing work on them, but you get the idea. The patterns are from Knit Hats!, a book borrowed from the library.

The yarn is from a bag of leftover Lopi-like yarn. I don't think it's actual Lopi brand, but I used it when I made a bunch of Lopi style sweaters about 15 years ago and have had the remainder ever since, so I figured it's time to use up the leftovers and get that bag out of here. Three finished (first one knit the previous weekend) and still more to come. See? I'm trying to tidy up the stash, but it appears I'm going it alone. Maybe it's time to lower my goals a bit. Okay, so at least I'm tidying up the stash of Lopi-like yarn! Bah.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

oh well

I've been knitting from the stash this summer, clearing out some yarn that's been marinating in there for a while. I don't want the stash to go away completely, by any means, just sort of get decluttered a little bit. Out with the old, in with the new; discovering buried treasures; making the most of what we have...that sort of thing. And I've been feeling like I'm making mighty fine progress, too. Haven't bought myself a single skein of yarn since the spring, I don't think, and have managed to churn out a nice selection of hats and gloves and socks as small summertime knitting projects that don't need to rest on your lap during the warm days. I have even held off on purchasing new Philosopher's Wool kits, though I have two chosen and can't tell you how many times I've added them to my virtual shopping cart before regaining control of my dangerous fingers and slowly backing away from the keyboard. I have been to Creative Fibers and Mocha's Fiber Connection and Webs and Village Wool and Sit 'n Knit for assorted reasons and with assorted people, not to mention CT and MA Sheep & Wool festivals, all without buying myself a single skein. Surely I'm making an huge improvement in the stash control, I thought.

But, see, Webs is having a sidewalk sale today and it just happens to be right off the highway on an exit I will be passing anyway. And it's likely to rain over the weekend while we're camping, so local attractions that can double as places of refuge (See? Refuge. It's all about keeping my family safe in a storm!) may include Adams Family Farm or Green Mountain Spinnery or Margie's Muse. But I've shown so much restraint lately and been knitting so much that certainly it must be time to feed the stash, right? Right?!!

So I opened the stash closet this morning to evaluate and...:::sigh:::...it seems as full as ever. Yes this is only a small portion of it. Yes there's more on my desk. And on the other desk. And a couple of bags of it by the door, destined to be donated somewhere. And a fair amount scattered around Leah's room. And a big box of spinning fiber downstairs. And a closet full of felting fiber in the dining room. (Think I'm kidding? Be careful when you open that door -- avalanche!)

Ah well, there are worse addictions. Webs, here we come! :-)
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

gathering data

I have occasionally wondered exactly how long I could be entertained by the process of creating fabric with sticks and string. There have been occasional longer snippets of knitting time that did not exhaust my interest, but this weekend was an opportunity for more extensive research. We were again camping in Vermont at a place where my kids happily alternate between riding their bikes, swimming in the river, and participating in the naturalist's offered activities. Scott toodles off to deeper areas of the river in hopes of catching us a fish dinner. often with success. This allows me the freedom to hang out by the campfire all alone (yeah!)...

walk the trails and share in the fun by the river (yeah!)...

and get my sometimes-way-too-grown-up 12 y.o. to model a goofy little kid hat with promises of s'mores. :-)

Preliminary results of this experiment indicate that three solid days of knitting, relaxing, and enjoying Vermont with my family is Still Not Enough. Luckily, there's much more to come this summer. Subsequent data collection will be evaluated and results reported in this technical journal.

(There was actually quite a bit more knitting accomplished, but these photos will have to suffice to illustrate my point for now, as work awaits.)
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

a break in the action

After many days of swimming (beach, ponds, stream, friends' pools), outdoor performances (Aztec Two-Step; a Macbeth show that got rained out but we enjoyed the pre-show Ecofestival anyway; and Talcott Mountain blues fest),...
free movies (Silver Screen, Bookworm Wednesdays, and cashing in a xmas gift card for HP flick), and spectacular skies as intermittent sprinkles and storms rolled through,...
it's time for again embracing the good stuff waiting for us at home. We've been (happily) socializing non-stop for a while now, but I'm working extra this week and Jesse has a bit of a summer cold, so we're now (equally happily) spending more time with our library books, back yard, and projects at home.

Leah recently joined a children's textile arts online group. In between the fingerless gloves/gantlets she's been making (pics to come soon), she's also doing the monthly knitalongs through that group. Each day they send a few more rows of a pattern that can be knit in cotton as a dishcloth/washcloth/lightweight afghan square or, as I did with the Dragonfly and His Food pattern above, knit in wool as an afghan square.

Thanks to Lori at Of Faith and Fiber blog for including me in the Rockin' Girl Blogger awards! I don't do orange, but her Socks Formerly Known as Sizzle most DEFINITELY rock!
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Friday, July 13, 2007

romping with the ravelers

I first heard about Ravelry, the new online knitting/crocheting community, back in May. It sounded like it could grow to become a good resource for finding out other people's experiences with patterns I was planning to knit, information that has previously sometimes been a challenge, so I went ahead and signed up then. There's a waiting list to get in because they want to grow slowly and take time to work bugs out of the system, so I didn't give it much thought and just figured my invitation would come through eventually. Apparently a few other folks also thought it sounded like a good idea because there are now thousands awaiting invitations. Mine came a couple of days ago and, though I haven't spent a whole lot of time there yet, I can already see what a cool niche this is filling.

I set up my profile and entered a few projects, but mostly I've been poking around to see what's there. I already found a couple of project that could be on my to-do list and a few groups that I'd like to explore. It's very helpful to be able to type in the name of a pattern and get feedback from others who have made it, including modifications they've made to the pattern, errors they may have found, different forms of construction, etc. What I like best so far is that it's not just a big database. There are ample opportunities for different personalities and styles to show through, and the site itself has little bits that just make me smile, like in the Ughs category for ugly projects, the button to close out of that area doesn't just say "Close." It says "Make it stop." :-)

Leah's been out a lot the past few days, but she just came into my office and saw the screenshot above. She knows about Ravelry from assorted podcasts that we listen to together and she immediately recognized the image. "You got a Ravelry invitation?!" And now she wants to set up her own membership so she can share her projects there too. She knows a fun fiber thing when she sees it!
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


In between cooling off in assorted bodies of water and enjoying free movies in overly-chilled theaters, there continues to be a steady stream of stuff being made around here.

Top L: Dancing Goddess, wet felted on muslin base, inspired by this Spirit Goddess Window Decal
Top R: Vibrobot, a totally goofy and fun little project from Make magazine
Bottom L: Irish Hiking Scarf knit for charity by Leah
Bottom R: a nuno felted silk, merino, and firestar bag in progress, with its intended glass button closure

Best of all, there's been plenty of reading, locally grown foods eaten outdoors, relaxing outside in the evenings, and classic summertime fun to keep us cool, comfortable, and happy. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 08, 2007

is it getting warm in here?

Oh, my family, they have requests. Lots of requests. Specifically knitwear requests. They'll keep my needles happily in motion for y-e-a-r-s. I have a mental list of Scott's requests and Leah's list is so long that I keep telling her she better knit faster because there's no way I can make all the things she wants. But Jesse? Nuthin'. Doesn't wear sweaters. Has gloves that he likes. No need for a scarf. Not interested in warm wooly handknit socks (or at least so he says, though he does seem to enjoy stealing them from my sock drawer in the winter).

So, on packing away the winter wear this spring, when the boy's favorite balaclava was proclaimed too worn out to keep around for another snow season, he said, "Can you knit me a new one?" You bet, kiddo!

There are many free online patterns for a balaclava/head sock/helmet liner. Jesse chose this knitted helmetliner pattern and some Patons Classic Wool Merino from the stash. He even agreed to model the finished project, even though it's July...with promise of some fresh raspberries from our bushes after we took the pictures. :-)

I made the neck portion about 4" longer than the pattern called for, which was a good move. If I knit another one, I'd do the ribbing around the face in two sections, top curve and bottom curve, with overlapping intersections near the eyes, because it gaps out a bit at the eyes when he pulls the bottom curve up over his nose, as for snowball battles and crazy sledding fun, but such details are not important to a 12 y.o. boy in the midst of snowstorm glee. This pattern also called for decreases in such a way that the ribbing around the face looks less neat than I'd like, but again, I figured it doesn't really matter on this type of project and I knew the recipient wouldn't care as long as it keeps his ears and neck warm during snowstorm romps.

Also off the needles this week: a pair of socks in Cherry Tree Hill yarn, received for my birthday in January and mostly knit while the kids were splashing about in ponds or the ocean lately.

As usual, toe-up construction, magic/figure-8 cast-on (I'm not sure which I actually do, but it works for me, so I haven't bothered to look it up), 2x2 ribbing on size 2 needles, Widdershins gusset and heel, plain old loose bind-off at the top. I'd like to find an improved bind-off for socks, so I hope to try the one Brenda Dayne has mentioned on Cast-On lately. Socks are easy, mindless, portable, practical, lightweight knitting...perfect in the background while visiting with friends.

I'm just glad there was no one else around with a camera while I was taking sock pics. The contortions required for such a feat were quite entertaining to raspberry-munching boy, who giggled hysterically at my efforts at socky self-portrait.
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Friday, July 06, 2007

chronic startitis, a case study

Patient is a 9-year-old female who complains of not enough time to do all the projects she wants to do. Symptoms started at approximately age five, when patient learned to crochet. Symptoms originally intermittent, now chronic, rated 8 on 0-10 scale where 0 is no projects and 10 is an insatiable desire to make things and learn new skills.

Patient admits to symptoms within minutes of getting out of bed and frequently experiences both primary and terminal insomnia secondary to projects in progress. Patient often mutters, "Just one more row."

Symptoms affect activities of daily living, causing inability to traverse bedroom floor, hypervigilance regarding pointy needles, and difficulty passing yarn storage area without indulging.
Symptoms are exacerbated by blogs, friends who knit, hobby nights, library visits, podcasts, and even the patient's own mother and both the paternal and maternal grandmothers. Family history also includes maternal great grandmother with severe symptoms for more than 80 years. Patient states inspiration is everywhere, all the time.
Symptoms are unaffected by the reality of weather, sizing, or costs, as patient will work on wool projects in the heat of summer, make things knowing "they will fit somebody," and will scavenge fabric and yarn from Goodwill, Freecycle, the dump fairies, cast-offs, and even well-meaning strangers. Patient even admits to offering her father's handmade glass beads or mother's handmade soap in exchange for needles or yarn, with full support of these enablers.

Recommendations for treatment include attendance at meetings with others who share patient's addiction(s), visiting only clean and well lit yarn stores, safe scavenging with savings account prophylaxis, and befriending others who create responsibly. Follow-up is PRN; however, this is anticipated to be a life-long condition.