Archive for February, 2008


Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Or 10 Cheering Thoughts for a Cold and Snowy February Night

1.  “What’s terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate.  To pretend that you don’t need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you’re capable of better.”
–Doris Lessing

2.  Read this poem. 

3.  Watch this video.  If you have children or grandchildren, do you remember when they laughed like that?

4.  Look at your yarn.

yarn 2-21-08

5.  Pet your fiber.

fiber 2-21-08

6.  “Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
–Robert A. Heinlein


7.  Make Caramel Sauce
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, place 1 cup sugar.  Allow the sugar to sit, undisturbed, until it begins to caramelize.  Stir with a metal spoon until all the sugar is liquid, golden, and no longer grainy or opaque.  Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat 1 cup of heavy cream until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.  When the sugar is ready, remove the sugar pan from the heat and pour the hot cream into the sugar.  Be careful!  The cream/sugar will bubble and froth violently.  (Be sure to use a big enough pan from the get-go.)  Stir the caramel with a whisk and place back over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the caramel is smooth.  Allow to cool before using.

I typically store this in the fridge in a Pyrex measuring cup and heat it up in the microwave to pour over ice cream.  That is, what I don’t eat outright with a spoon.

Oh, and you can make caramel in any amount you want.  Just use equal parts sugar and cream, and start caramelizing the sugar using only 1 cup in the pan.  Add more sugar in 1-cup increments when the first bit is caramelized.

You really should make this at least once in your life, just so you can brag to your friends about it.  (And because it is totally and deliriously delicious–way, way better than the caramel sauce you buy in a jar.  Trust me.)

8.  Check out some cartoons. 

9.  “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

10.  Live in hope. 

Sockward ho!

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I am a sock-knitting addict.  There, it’s out.  The first step to healing is admitting the problem.  To make my addiction worse, I quite self-centeredly knit almost all my socks for myself.  Selfish, selfish, selfish.  I offer the following proof:

First up, a finished pair of socks in Regia cotton.

Regia striped socks
I finished these several weeks ago and have been wearing them happily since.

Next, another pair in Regia cotton, first sock not yet finished.

Regia socks in progress 
This colorway of the Regia just called out to me from the nest last week, and I was compelled to cast on.  I think it has something to do with the gorgeous, summery saturation of those reds in the middle of this neverending cold winter.

In a similar fashion, last week I was also compelled to wind this black/grey superwash handspun off into a ball and cast on for yet another pair of socks.  (You see, in my world, it is not necessary or even desirable to finish one pair of socks before starting another.  Come visit!  My world is a happy place!)

handspun sw sock
This first sock of the pair lacks but the final grafting at the toe.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, when I was heading out to my spinning guild meeting, well, I had to have something to take with me to spin.  Something new!  Something beautiful and impressive!  (Naturally I could not take something I was already working on.  How could you even think that?)  I did a little digging and came up with a black and red superwash mill end roving and another red superwash roving.  I combed them together on my handheld combs and out came:

combed maroon superwash
this maroon roving.  Definitely greater than the sum of its parts.  It has a kind of shimmery beauty that I was certainly not expecting.

maroon superwash on bobbin

maroon superwash on wheel

What will I make out of it?  Why, socks for myself, of course.

Go ahead. Make my day. Sarah-style.

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008


My picks for 5 favorite blogs.

OK, here goes:

1.  The Panopticon
The unbelievably hip (and hilarious) adventures of Franklin and Dolores.

2.  WandaWomanKnits
This woman makes beautiful stuff, and she looks gorgeous modelling it, too.

3.  Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy
Beautiful knitting, beautiful photos.

4.  JoLene Treace Unraveled
Wonderful designs and thoughts on designing.

5.  Redhead Ramblings
Lorinda’s a delightful person who has been a friend to our blog since the very beginning.

There they are–my five picks.  Enjoy!

Go ahead, make my day

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Shoot, I kinda feel like the popular kid for once. Both Hanna and Karen have bestowed upon us the…

I am deeply touched.

We are now “it,” and therefore shall now bestow in turn the “You Make My Day Award” on ten other blogs. My five are below and I trust that my sister will shortly add her share.

1. Affiknitty: She’s smart, she’s funny, and she’s just got that certain je ne sais quoi. And also…who’s going to argue with irrational exuberance since 1969? Which is nearly as long as I’ve been irrationally exuberant. Or just irrational.

2. Enchanting Juno: Here’s a woman who knows the uses of enchantment! Also edgy, funny, sharp as a tack, and the proud possessor of a powerful bullshit detector. Love that!

3. Mama Urchin: Beautiful—and I do mean gorgeous—photographs, a marvelous appreciation of the wonders and varieties of food, great cook (again, from the looks of those pictures), kind, gentle, sweet, and smart.

4. Sean’s Soapbox: Okay, maybe a little unfair because he is a real-life friend and a very good one, but I enjoy seeing what he’s knitting and hearing about what he’s up to on the days I don’t see him in person. He’s a fabulous knitter. One of the best I know.

5. Yarn Tails: Diane shares my love of animals, knitting, beautiful things in the outdoors, and people who either shoot straight or keep their safety on. So to speak. A lovely person and knitter to have gotten to know through these internets.

And a sixth: not knitting, but if you just wanna go, “Aw!” check this out: Odyssey of the Tot. Yeah, I have to admit that sometimes I watch the little videos of my friends’ incredibly cute baby over and over…and then one more time. I challenge you to find a cuter kid.

Everyone else can make my day—at least if he or she lives in one of the 22 Super Tuesday states—by voting in the primaries.

Oh, and last, but not least, I’m nearly done with the second Ice Queen:

Scrumptious close-up:

I love it just as much as the first one.

To teach, to learn

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I had an exciting and fun new experience last week, which is an exceptionally good thing at this point in the winter when so much seems dreary and tired.

I taught a sock knitting class at Woolcott, specifically a class on how to make socks on two circular needles.
Here is my little class sock.

I feel that everyone should know this technique, which is my standard practice. Even if you decide to go back to your DPs or to magic loop it (or to switch between all these methods), it’s worth knowing about the two circular needle method. Good to have options, you know?

I had five students, all very focused and eager to learn. Although not all that eager to be photographed—perhaps some of them are in the Witness Protection Program?—which is why you don’t see them here.

Teaching is as much an art as a skill, I think, and teaching something intellectual (read: abstract) is vastly different than teaching something primarily physical and applied (like knitting). I’ve done way more of the former than the latter, so I have to admit that there are certain challenges, although I like to think that meeting them will make me a better teacher in the long run, no matter what I’m teaching.

For one thing, there are special difficulties in conveying a skill that relies, ultimately, on having a “feel” for how much tension to keep on the yarn. And with socks in particular, on conceptualizing how what you are doing now in the knitting contributes to the architecture of the finished product, on “seeing” in 3-D and allowing that to guide you in your next steps.

It can be hard to find the right words or metaphor to make these things clear. Especially when these are things you have been doing since you were a rather small child. In other words, in some ways, I find it harder to teach something that now feels “natural” to me (even though it isn’t at all) than something I could still viscerally deconstruct into its component parts.

So these are things I try to be mindful of and work on as I teach. Teaching knitting, though, gives me a greater appreciation for what we do as knitters. Because handcrafts are really quite devalued in our culture at this stage in the game, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this is just some little thing we do, that it is no big deal, that it isn’t special, that anyone could do it.

Which they could. But for most people, it would take a lot of patience and a lot of practice to get really good at it.

So if you’ve gotten really good at it, you should take pride and give yourself some credit.

And if you are just learning, you should give yourself some time and space not to be perfect for a while. In my experience at the shop, adults have a hard time allowing themselves the time to proceed up the learning curve because they are used to having mastery in most of the things they do. They get frustrated learning knitting in a way that kids, who are used to having mastery in almost nothing, don’t.

If I had one piece of advice to give beginning adult knitters, it would be: allow yourself to learn at your own pace, give yourself credit for learning something new, and accept that there will be mistakes and that those are—if I may be a little “Miss Mary Sunshine” for a moment—opportunities for learning.

Eventually, you’ll get really good at knitting, too. And the rewards of that, believe me, will be worth all the difficulties.