Saturday, January 31, 2009

odd, that.

I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 70s. Ties to and love for that city continue to run strong and deep.

The last pic in this post is one of my favorites of my dad. He died a little over eight years ago. Lung cancer in a lifelong heavy smoker. No surprise. No major tears. Love him a lot, but okay with it all, y'know?

But I cannot read this essay or others like it without the tears flowing. In a good way. But it surprises me and makes me laugh every time. 

I spent much of last weekend alternating between choking up and laughing out loud as I transcribed many ESPN interviews as a rush job for a Super Bowl documentary that will air this weekend. I liked the Cardinals interviews. I LOVED the Steeler interviews. 

My dad would've been 68 today. Tomorrow, I will pin Steelers buttons from my childhood onto my shirt and the rest of my family will wear their Steelers paraphernalia as we gather with old friends to watch the Steelers in the Super Bowl, again :-), and remember one of their biggest fans, whose shenanigans and Steeler-love live on. 

Because even though we packed the Pinto and the U-Haul and physically pulled away from the 'burgh 30 years ago, our roots clearly still reach all the way back there and the Steelers Nation is not bound by geographic location. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the startitis epidemic

I couldn't help but laugh when I walked into Leah's room this morning and noticed this chair. How many handknits and WIPs can you spot? I see at least 10! She's like a mad scientist, only with yarn. All the symptoms of Leah's chronic startitis were there a year and a half ago, with a full-blown case now, for which there is (luckily) no cure.

And nearby, a simple woven sash/strap that she's working on using the 4-harness table loom. I think crochet is a gateway drug. It all started off so innocently, but now she's progressed from a simple hook to the big leagues, looms and Addi Clicks, cashmere and silk.

She dove into the Cece cardigan pattern a few days ago and is halfway up the 2nd sleeve now, using yarn we scored last spring. Her version will be longer than shown, and probably even a bit tunic-length so hopefully it'll last her a couple/few years.

Meanwhile, the beadmakerbaker is brewing up some mad science glass button concoctions of his own. These are each 1" in diameter and, besides being really beautiful, I think, there's something uber satisfying about holding them in your hands. We lurves them.

Didja notice the distinct lack of my own projects to share here? That's because my knitting is a major FAIL lately.

I am not knitting a(nother) Forest Canopy Cowl because the Malabrigo Stonechat was pooling.

I am not knitting a green gansey for Scott because the yarn biased terribly.

I am not knitting a doubleknit hat for Scott because now I know I do not enjoy doubleknitting (but at least I have now learned how it's done!).

I am not knitting the myrtle something or other wrap from Victorian Lace Today because it just wasn't floating my boat.

But I am not discouraged, oh no! Something's bound to turn up and go well eventually. Tonight there will be a tossing of the stash and there will be much knitterly inspiration this weekend, so there is hope! Actually, I am knitting another Flutter scarf because I enjoyed that pattern so much, but I can't exactly get excited about it because it's a fall-back route chosen since everything else I've made lately just plain sucks. :-)

There's always weaving or spinning or Viking knitting or house cleaning...nah, I'm not that desperate!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


When meeting the newborn daughter of a knitterly friend, it's an opportunity to knit wee baby things! I already had the baby sheep hat stashed away for just such a day. Leah wanted to add something to the gift too. We've known about Christine's Stay-On Baby Booties pattern for a long time, so Leah grabbed some sock yarn and DPNs and scurried off to do her thing.
With no help from me (which is good because I've been happily up to my eyeballs in work), she whipped these little tootsie-warmers out.

They're ultra-stretchy, so hopefully they'll last this sweet babe a good while. Baby snuggles all 'round, shared with the open arms of a half dozen other knitters in the room, including one who is a fan of Scott's silly sheep stitch markers, had a variety of them with her and has sent others to friends' homes across the country. (I'd link to those silly guys, but it looks like they're all sold out for now, with most recent thanks to a knitter in the UK. Which reminds me, omg, you guys, the buttons -- the BUTTONS he's making lately -- awesome! I wish I could knit faster and use them all.)

Another outgoing knit is one of Leah's Swirls hats. Seven commenters out of eight said they'd like to give it a home and the Random Number Generator chose the 7th commenter,

so, Coleen, it's coming your way soon! Thanks, everybody, for playing along!
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

the next step

Hoo boy, look at how the kiln turned up the purple in those glass beads I showed you yesterday! The buttons along the back of the picture also went through the annealing process, but they're encased in clear class and remained more amber with a slight iridescent sheen. It's all good.

Filling time while settling on some bigger projects, I finished a Claudia hat.

I forgot to do the knits through the back loop, but Jesse doesn't seem to mind. He snatched this hat right up and claimed it as his own, stating he now prefers it over his Habitat hat because it's a little longer. Yes, he insists he can still see out from under there. 

Conveniently(?), Scott lost his own favorite handknit hat today (it was ratty and really needed to disappear, so I'm not sad) and says Habitat is perfect for him.

mmm...lava lamp swirly glass beads

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

sunny day, sweeping the clouds away!

Mmm...sunshine makes for some nice pictures when the subject is glass. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to get a picture that would convey the iridescent sheen in some of the buttons Scott's been making lately. I didn't have any luck that time, but today, success!
I'm also partial to the tone set by a loom-in-use, sitting in a morning sunbeam. We'll probably look back and cringe at the mistakes made in planning/executing this woven piece, but we're definitely learning as we go, so it's all good.

To illustrate the mysteries of working with glass, I present some beads- and buttons-in-progress.

Believe it or not, these were all made with the same glass. Same rod, even! Sometimes we know enough so that Scott can control the effects and variations, but sometimes not. A little trial and error with these, trying to blend what we know, what is happening with the glass that is currently beyond our control, and what we'd like the beads and buttons for Leah's Sylvi coat to look like.

The cluster of five beads toward the front left are double amber purple glass. The six buttons along the back are double amber purple glass encased in a clear dome, which magically transforms them to something with a bit of iridescent sheen among the more subtle swirls. The three beads to the front right are also double amber purple glass, unencased, but worked in the flame to bring more of the purple hues to the surface. To complicate matters, the colors will likely morph yet again as they go through the annealing process (heating and slowly cooling in a digitally controlled kiln for optimal strength and durability), so it's always fun to open the cooled kiln and see what surprises it gives us!
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

one we like, one not so much

Well, I guess it was bound to happen eventually. Leah finally, on her fifth one, knit a Swirls hat that neither of us love. Nothing wrong with it; just the colors are not favorites around here. What is that, anyway? Chartreuse?! Grellow?! That's what we get for stepping outside of our happy purple-green-blue box. ;-)
Anybody out there want it? Leah says it's a freebie for anybody who might be interested. Just leave a comment (make sure you're signed in and/or leave an email/Rav ID/blog in the comment text) by Monday, January 26, 5:00 p.m. If more than one person wants it, we'll do a random drawing. Please be aware that this is a bucket style hat with a loose fit. If you like your hats snug, this is not the hat for you. If it doesn't find a home among this blog's readers, into the charity pile it'll go.
Another new knit in the past few days is my Forest Canopy Cowl out of Malabrigo Silky Merino. This one's a keeper.


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Sunday, January 18, 2009

good day for a neckwarmer

There are a few inches of new white fluffy stuff outside, so Leah decided, after shoveling and sledding, that it was a good day to put the finishing touches on a couple of neckwarmers.
Yarn: Berroco Foliage
Buttons: vintage plastic flowers from GiGi's button box

Yarn: Debbie Bliss cashmere Aran
Buttons: glass, made by her dad

And now we're ready for some Steelers football!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

one winter day

Recently recovered from what I *swear* was fever and ague (except for the malaria part), I was working on Jesse's felted clog slippers, which I have beaten and boiled mercilessly to get them to felt down to size. They've felted excellently, but are still too big. Last ditch effort: take scissors to them for a remodel. Just might work. Will keep you posted.

Scott was warping a second-hand loom, using freebie yarn from a kind fiber fanatic, happy in a sunbeam, wearing his favorite handknit hat on his follicularly-challenged noggin. :-)

And Leah was giddy about her newest Swirls hat (what is this, the 4th or 5th, maybe?). I love seeing her chubby little 10-year-old fingers in this pic, with fingernails kept short for ukulele playing! Her knitting belies her age.

Enliven, Enrich, Enjoy! banner in our stairwell, a burst of cheerful color in a cozy woodstove-heated home, comfortable and content when everything outside is stark white/gray and frozen solid.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

brrrrthday cowl

Pattern: Birthday cowl

Cast on: January 10, my birthday!

Yarn: Mmmmalabrigo silky merino

For: my sister

Why pic is blurry: dusk, temp near 0º, me without a coat.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

jaws' natural predator

Squirt, mild-mannered maiden when his humans are home

Crazed attacker of shark hats and protector of his domain when left in charge.

Jaws has not succumbed to injuries sustained and will live to face his tiny foe another day.

Meanwhile, the Knitters mesmerize a guy passing by, who did a double take and a U-turn to ask all sorts of questions.

Looking forward to arrival of double amber purple glass today so Scott can make the beads and buttons required for finishing Sylvi! Also, since we've been out for five of the last seven evenings, looking forward to a quiet night at home. 
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

needles flying

Jesse recently got a set of fatigues to wear during his two Airsoft leagues' games. The previous owner's name patch said Jordan, which obviously needed to be re-done. So Jesse dug out the embroidery floss and some appropriate fabric for a patch, stitched his name, and sewed the patch to the jacket.
As he was putting away the embroidery floss box, he pulled a small photo album out of the drawer. "What's this?," he asked. Oh, that's the blog before I had a blog!

It's a photo album of many of my projects from the late 80s and here's the facing pages that just happen to show two projects I mentioned in my last blog post -- my brother-in-law's sweater and one of my uglyblankets, much of which was crocheted during a trip to Ohio to see the Grateful Dead. See, my friend Jim and I drove in a blizzard to get there, only to discover that the first show was canceled because of the weather. It was a doozy of a storm, so we basically camped out in a hotel room for three days with a bunch of friends. I crocheted through all the yarn I had brought with me, but there was a store within walking distance that had acrylic yarn (which is what I was using at the time), so off I went to get more. You can crochet a lot of granny squares while laughing with friends for a few days. We finally did see a show or two, then headed back home, from Ohio to Connecticut, via back roads because the interstates were all closed because of the storm! See? Good times and good memories stitched into these projects!

And the next generation of silly stitchers keeps moving along. Leah made another snood/slouchy hat this week. Same pattern as the first one, this one longer and slouchier, made from leftover yarn from a toddler dress my mom knit.

As I was snapping this pic, I noticed that she's wearing a handknit snood, a shawl that she wove out of Scott's handspun yarn, and earrings made from some of the very first glass beads I ever made. (Yes, first beads *I* made. Did you know I had an interest in glasswork first? I took the first couple of lampworking classes and Scott later became interested.) Accessories R Us. :-)
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Friday, January 09, 2009

from the archives

You know it's winter when Scott pulls out this toasty sweater. I knit it for him almost 20 years ago (holy time warp, Batman, 20 YEARS?! how did that happen?!!!) out of some superwash Lopi substitute. I must've made a half dozen sweaters from this pattern, including one that I made for my sister in three days in the 80s, the remnants of which were used in some scrappy hats (here and here) for charity in 2007. I gave all of the sweaters away and doubt any of the others are still around, but Scott likes his a lot and it's holding up very well. I was living in a knitterless vacuum at the time, knitting and crocheting while trekking around on Grateful Dead tours with a bunch of my friends. Not quite what you'd imagine someone doing on a Dead tour, eh? Oh so much fun!

It's funny how I can think back all the way through my life and peg what handcrafts fit into what era. The hobbies have shifted through the years, but there's always been something.

My brother-in-law (who rec'd a navy/red/gray version of this sweater) once asked if I might implode if my hands were still for 10 minutes. If I'm lucky, we'll never find out. :-)
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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

swirls 3

Pattern: Fiber Trends Swirls Hat

Yarn: Noro and mystery yarn from the yarn tag sale stash

Mods: Brim knit w/ bigger needle for bucket style hat, a few rows left out of the top portion for a shorter, more rounded dome

Verdict: Knit in one day while she was sick recently, Leah is as psyched about this third Swirls hat as she was about Swirls 1 and Swirls 2. She might keep this one for herself (she says that about all of them), but has already started Swirls 4 as a gift for a friend's upcoming b'day party. Has proclaimed that she LOVES stranded knitting.


It's good that one knitter in this family is making progress on things, as the other knitter is floundering about, attempting to get Jesse's slippers to felt down to size, swatching this and that for a sweater for Scott, tossing the stash, browsing library books and Ravelry. I haven't quite settled on the next big project yet, but narrowing in on it! Meanwhile, charity hat knitting is filling the void and I have a sudden strong urge to get back to the spinning and also do some wet felting (from roving, not knitted first).
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Monday, January 05, 2009


Leah and I recently watched Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop series on DVD, on loan from the library. Elizabeth was kind enough to let us in on the secret that a tam is knit in the same fashion as any other winter hat and gets its distinctive shape solely from the blocking process. That would explain why the tam Leah knit in November turned out like more of a regular winter toque!

So into a soak it went, then blocking over a Tupperware lid, since our dinner plates were too big. Ta-da! Tamification!
We both love the kaleidoscopic star pattern.
Thanks, Elizabeth!
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