Tuesday, November 27, 2007

incoming, outgoing

Incoming: 3 sweaters from Goodwill, $8.
A few snips and some unraveling results in a hat, felted slippers (in progress, not pictured), and POUNDS of great wool, which will go into a holding pattern until I decide what it will become.
Outgoing projects, destined for a warmer knitting/crocheting setting. Mine includes mittens, Coronet hat, and socks. Maybe just a wee bit unrealistic/overly ambitious?
Besides books galore, Leah's goodies include quick crocheted dishcloths and her first entrelac project. Psyched!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

bsj, nyc

Welcome to any visitors who heard about our glass and fiber obsessions on the Lixie Knits It podcast!

I cast on for Eliz. Zimmermann's well-known Baby Surprise Jacket a few days ago, partly as a stash-busting exercise and partly because, though I've seen pics of this sweater all over the Internet, I still couldn't quite understand how it works. The curious thing about it is its funky construction, described by many as an amoeba or knitting origami. I found some good pictures of one in progress, but still wanted to knit it myself. It is totally irrelevant that the only baby-to-be in my life is a pretty far stretch away -- my brother-in-law's brother's first child. Whatevah. Gots the yarn, gots the pattern -- must cast on.

Once Scott's bakery got past the Thanksgiving rush, he decided it was time to fire up the torch again. I think he's on a good track with these small floral buttons he cooked up, but unfortunately there are some sooty imperfections in the clear glass. He cleaned all the tools and glass along the way, but there were still a few dark spots, so we're wondering if it's some sort of impurity in the boro or something that he should be doing differently. If any lampworkers out there know, we'd love to hear from you. The little paper snowflakes in the background came home with us from Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk performance in New York City this weekend. This show and NY trip were excellent in every way.
I don't usually like to show a bunch of progress pictures here, but corrugated ribbing takes me f-o-r-e-v-e-r, so reaching this point on a mitten cuff feels like a huge accomplishment. They'll be the mittens on the cover of Knitting Marvelous Mittens by Charlene Schurch. I started a pair a while back with a plain cuff because corrugated ribbing is so painfully slow for me, but at the time I didn't think the highly patterned mitten looked right with a plain cuff, so I tore it out. (Although now that I look back at that picture, I think I was a fool for tearing it out. Too late now.) Anyway, I am ga-ga about the Selbuvotter mitten patterns, but the book isn't available in our library system, so I'm very tempted to buy it (which, if you know me very well, you'll know that this is a pretty significant statement), although I'm really not sure that I'll enjoy knitting such detailed mittens/gloves. My solution was to again try a pair of mittens from Charlene Schurch's book, available at our library, and then see if I'd want to do it again or if I never want to see another colorwork mitten pattern in my life. To be determined. Although now that I'm looking at those Selbuvotter mittens and gloves, I'm noticing how many of them have plain or just striped cuffs. Hmm...even more of a temptation.
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

tying up loose ends

I've been trying to finish some works-in-progress lately so I'll have a clean slate to start some new projects. I mentioned a few days ago how I knit the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat in the chunky yarn Scott spun, but it turned out too small because I'm an idiot who can't read directions, so I tore that version out. Argh, but the good part of this process is that I learned to cable without a cable needle along the way. So I cast on again with larger needles (10.5, I think, up from 7s) and re-knit it. Mysteriously, on this second try I used EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF YARN (how is that possible?!), but the hat's circumference was fine. Only problem I ran into this time was that it was a little shorter than I'd like, so I picked up stitches around the bottom and knit down some ribbing. Happily, mission accomplished! The cable work is somewhat lost in the colorway variations, but it's still a good hat -- super soft and squishy and full of happy memories, since we won the fiber at Spa Knit and Spin last winter.

The last little finish-up from the depths of the knitting bag is this super thick pair of socks. I think they'd be called house socks by most folks because they'd be too thick to fit into shoes, but I bet they'll be fine in the roomy Birkenstock clogs that I wear all winter. Jesse's modeling them here and they're obviously too small for his huge feet (this thing where his shoe size is keeping pace with his age has to stop eventually, doesn't it?), but on me they're warm and cozy and just right. I tried a stretchy bind-off option that I think I read about on Wendy Knits. I think it's ruffly because the yarn's so thick, or maybe I did it too loosely. Regardless of the reason, I doubt I'll do it again, as a loose plain ol' bind-off seems to work fine for me and is less fiddly. Still, it was worth a try.

There are a few new things on the needles now and I'm psyched with how they're turning out and the new techniques I'm learning from them. Stashbusting all the way too, so it's nice to be getting around to using some yarns that have been here for a while.

Scott sold a bunch of buttons at the Knitting Nook in Coventry. If you're out that way, the store's focus is on handpainted and local products, so you might want to consider stopping in for some special yarn.
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Friday, November 23, 2007

all about the accessories

That crafty gal o' mine just loves to find her own way, teach herself new techniques, and make up projects from her own imagination. She asks for help when she needs it, but mostly she likes to take the ball and run with it. Some of her recent projects are:

Seven Sisters cable (in Stitchionary) fingerless mitts, with mirror image twist

Small herringbone rib (in Stitchionary) fingerless mitts

Handwoven wrap, made on triangle loom from Scott's handspun yarn, with closure received as a gift from Leslie Wind

spiffed up flip-flops in progress

Lately she's also very much into following recipes to cooking delicious meals with minimal assistance, so yum!
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

nom nom nom nom

This little project is possibly the silliest thing I've ever made. It's the shark hat that Leah and I first saw on Ravelry, so we got in touch with the original designer, who was kind enough to give us her rough draft pattern in exchange for feedback, clarification, and any improvements. Leah's knitting one too, but I finished first.

The changes I made were mostly minor, like knitting the hat in the round and changing the decreases to be mirror images. And of course, when there's a beadmaker in the house, he must sometimes expect challenges like making black and dichroic oval beads to use as shark eyes. :-)

The main change I made was to fiddle with the mouth and teeth a bit. Allie, who knit the original, says the felt teeth she used tended to roll up under the brim, and also her ribbing didn't hold to the head as well as she would have liked. I made the ribbing longer and then extended it even further with red, so it stays on the head very well now. After about five tries, I came up with knitted teeth that I'm fairly happy with. The way I finally did them, they didn't have quite enough length, so I added a quick crocheted edge so make them a little more prominent. Only drawback is that they lost some of their pointiness in the process. Maybe on Leah's version, we can improve on this.

Leah is knitting hers for cousin Zach (shhh...no telling!). I really had no destination for mine, just knit it because it makes me laugh. Upon completion, though, it occurred to me that it might be just right for a certain bald-headed fisherman. He agrees and is undoubtedly silly enough to wear it in public!

There's a backlog of finished objects here, so more to come now that I've taken advantage of some daylight to take pics.

Meanwhile, lookie who's on the Philosopher's Wool Picture Yourself Here section (first row of From You to Us) again!

While the title of this post is suitable for the sharky head-munchy content, I'll sign off with another fitting animal noise for the day. :::gobble, gobble, gobble::: Happy Thanksgiving, U.S. friends!
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

run, young knitter

I had the pleasure of hanging with a young knitter and his mom earlier this week. (I forgot to take his pic while we were together, but I snapped a shot of his hands in the car afterwards.) It's a good thing I met him then, not now, because he's bright-eyed and excited about knitting his own hat. I finished a bunch of things earlier in the week, so I was pretty upbeat about this whole knitting thing at the time too. I guess that's good because it would be kind of tragic if I had been the voice of the thoroughly beaten knitter, telling him how the knitting gods will stomp his ego and the simple act of wrapping string around sticks will sometimes bring him to his knees. You think I'm exaggerating? For your entertainment, I will provide a list of the ways in which the knitting has beat me senseless in the past few days:

1. Knit Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat on size 7 needles. Curse the inconsistency of needle sizing in the U.S., as the 7 I saw on quick glance at the pattern is mm, not US size. No, of course I did not swatch. Yes, I did notice that the hat was coming out small, but Leah wasn't home to try it on, so I just kept going. Sho' 'nuf, too small. Tore it out.

2. Picked up the stitches and tore out the flipping bottom edge of my handspun cardigan. Tried 365,472 variations of stitches and/or needles in an attempt to stop the bottom from curling. No luck. Called out to a knitter friend in desperation. Temporarily abandoned in disgust.

3. Cast on for the Aran Watch Cap from Hats On!, following instructions for the stretchy yarn-over tubular cast-on. I got everything set up and reached a point in the instructions, at the end of a page, where it said to begin working. So I did. K1 P1 for quite a few rounds. With this cast-on, there's waste yarn involved, so I was going to remove that when I noticed that it looked like there would then be nothing to hold that cast-on together. So I went back to the instructions in the book and turned the page to discover the very important next few steps that I should have done if I didn't want this hat to fall apart in my hands. Tore it out.

4. Just about to turn the heel on the second of a pair of short socks, using leftover yarn from another pair, when it became clear that I would not have enough to even get up the heel on this sock. Into the trash they went.

5. Sewed the sleeves on the handspun cardigan, only to then remember that one sleeve was significantly shorter than the other because when I knit them last year, I wasn't sure where the shoulder seams would fall, so I left both on waste yarn to finish later. Forgot about this while the project sat untouched through the summer heat, then blindly bound them off and sewed them on. Clipped and removed the long arm.

6. Cast on for Trellis, for no particular reason other than that I think it's a cute pattern. Got my butt kicked by the combination of splitty, slippery cotton yarn; slick Addi Turbo needles; and a left twist stitch. Abandoned.

So, today I might warn the young knitter to consider carefully this path he's on. It might be wise to run as fast as he can AWAY from this hobby, before it turns into a sickness, an obsession. But, being the brave and strong young man he clearly is, I have a feeling he'll continue his quest to conquer the sticks and string. I wish him luck.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Remember a few days ago, when Scott and Leah were spinning one evening? Here's what they were spinning (L from Sereknity, R from The Painted Sheep):

And when I walked into my mom's room at the rehab place (for therapy after total knee replacement) the next day, here are the flowers on her windowsill:

Kind of cool how the colorways echo each other, isn't it?

And tonight I will be holding these handspun skeins close to my heart, staring out the window, and dreaming of my dear family, so far away at a friend's beach house in Rhode Island. :::sniff sniff:::

bwahaha! They really are having a blast with friends for a sleepover at a beach house, but anybody who knows me knows my evening is more likely to involve Magic Hat #9, rockin' tunes, and doing whatever the heck I want, without interruption or anybody requesting anything of me. YaHOOOOOO! Posted by Picasa

or is it Mandelbrotschooling?

I've mentioned before how our life- and learning-style is much like a romp through time and space on James Burke's Connections. The unexpected connections happen wonderfully often, sometimes in rapid succession for a short period of time and leaving us breathless, like a fireworks finale. Except there's nothing final about it.

The past few days have been just mind-boggling with the a-ha! moments and fun with friends and new experiences and joyful surprises, each leading to more to be explored. The intertwined quiet times are providing the perfect balance, some of which was spent visiting with a friend who took to knitting in a heartbeat and went home with yarn, needles, and ribbing in progress for her first hat.

We bounced from fractals to lava to pirates to David Gilmour to sharks to the Waltons, then Leah settled in to make a dream swatch headwrap as a gift for a friend's birthday.

We are raking and baking, decluttering and chattering, playing and creating, listening and watching and learning and growing...and every step branches off to more paths for possible exploration. With one eye on the exciting things to come, we're also taking time to focus on unfinished projects from the past, like Leah cutting her first steek on my handspun cardigan as it nears completion.

To top it all off, this weekend we were gifted with a set of framed Storypeople prints chosen by someone who gets it/us, each print fitting one member of this family especially well. My favorite, of course, is mine:

feels like some kind of ride but it's turning out just to be life going absolutely perfectly

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lady Eleanor's in rehab

This is the Lady Eleanor Stole from Scarf Style. It was my stealth knitting for a couple of weeks, but is no longer a secret because I gave it to my mom for her birthday yesterday. You may remember that she had a total knee replacement last week. The treatment for her resulting pulmonary emboli kicked in and they finally kicked her out of the hospital, so yesterday was her first full day of physical therapy in the rehab center. Wow, what a difference a day (with professional support and guidance) makes! She made huge strides, literally and figuratively, so there was definite reason to celebrate on this particular birthday, although in a very different way than usual.

The wrap is made from one colorway of Paton's Soy Wool Silk. I have always been curious about this technique, entrelac, which looks like woven strips of knitting but is actually all connected and knit in one solid piece from a variegated skein of yarn. So clever and way easier than it appears! My pic doesn't show the fringe very well, but that's a nice touch on this project. You can see a better shot of the fringe on another wrap here or in the 456 examples of it on Ravelry. I originally meant to learn to knit backward so I could eliminate the need for frequent turning while knitting this project, but I never did get around to it and the turning really didn't bother me after all. I'll still probably learn backward knitting sometime just because I'm curious about it.

Leah and I popped in at a knit night on the way home and had a thoroughly enjoyable time chatting and noshing with a bunch of knitters, spinners, dyers, and all-round friendly folks. What a refreshing way to round off another great day.
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Things have been a little bit hectic lately, so last night we all settled in for a quiet evening and the first half of Gone With the Wind. I, of course, was knitting. Scott and Leah decided to have a spin fest. Leah is working on fiber from The Painted Sheep , bought at the Coventry Farmer's Market Fiber Twist; and Scott is spinning fiber from Sereknity, won at last winter's Spa Knit and Spin. Jesse was at the other end of that sofa in the distance, laughing like crazy and pretending not to notice how pretty Scarlet is. And Kodi was doing what she does best...lounging. Good for all.
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Sunday, November 04, 2007

measuring time in wooly goodness

Neckwarmer = Pre-op process for mom's total knee replacement.
Made for a friend, knit in Malabrigo and embellished with one of Scott's buttons.

Easy hat = Post-op evening.
Made for charity from Scott's handspun and leftover yarn from the Mirelle hat.

Most of a shark hat = wait for CT scan and treatment plan for mom's pulmonary emboli.

Value of a few good knitting projects during long waits = priceless.
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