Archive for the 'Lace it up' Category

Remember Rumpelstiltskin?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that Rumpelstiltskin has been finished for many weeks now, but not blocked.  Until last weekend!  When, overcome by the shame of having a project finished but not-finished, as you might say, I washed and blocked the durned thing.


This undertaking was somewhat hampered by the fact that I could not find my blocking wires, which naturally meant that I had to tear my house apart looking for them.  Because, you see, Rumpel was already washed and waiting to be put on the rack, as it were.  While I was instituting this search, I was talking on the phone with a friend of mine, giving him a blow-by-blow account of the search.  “Look under the bed,” he said.  “Isn’t that where blocking wires can usually be found?”  (He had no idea what blocking wires even were until our conversation that night.)  “No, they’re normally found in the hall closet!  Ha! Ha! Ha!” I laughed.  Guess what?  They were in the hall closet.  Huh.  Go figure.


But!  Isn’t he gorgeous!  (If I do say so myself.)  I am very, very pleased, which is a good thing, because if I weren’t pleased after the hundreds of hours I spent on him, I would…well, I don’t really know what I would do.  Bang my head against the wall.  Stick a knitting needle in my eye.  Run screaming into the woods.  You get the idea.



Final specs on Rumpelstiltskin:

Yarn:  Knit One, Crochet Too Douceur Swirls 70% baby mohair, 30% silk
purchased from Elann

Pattern:  Diamonds and Triangles (slightly enlarged) from Victorian Lace Today

Finished size:  about 4×8 feet

Time to knit:  forever


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.

In which Sarah comes out of hiding

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to begin blogging again, to the tune of twice a week.  Considering it is now the end of January and this is my first post of the month, we can all see how well that’s been working out for me. 

However, in my own defense, I do have to point out that here in northwest Missouri we have been having one hell of a winter.  Some uncharitable persons might think that unfriendly weather conditions could lead one to do more, rather than less, blogging, since one is effectively house-bound for days on end, but such persons have clearly never experienced a tough winter.  In point of fact, one spends a large proportion of time huddled on the couch (or in bed) in woolen garments and blankets, simply trying to keep warm and keep one’s spirits up:  no small task.  Unrelenting ice, snow, and bitter cold can be very lowering.

Because I live alone and can basically do whatever I want to with my living space, the area around my spot on the couch has been gradually filling up with yarn, fiber, pillows, napkins, remote controls, books, and other sundries, creating a sort of bulwark against the cold dark.  I fear that someday soon I will simply disappear into my nest and will have to be pulled out sometime in April, pasty-faced and blinking. 

But I digress.

I have been knitting (in my nest), and have been hard at work on Rumpelstiltskin, among other things.

Rumpelstiltskin 1-29-08                            (The observant among you will note evidence of the nest at the bottom of this picture.)

I am now close to the end of the second long side, about to turn the third corner with the edging.  Let me tell you, knitting on this edging has been a b****, like Ellen’s picot bind-off, only worse.  Cause there’s so much more of it, you see.  The only thing I can do is to attempt a Zen-like state of calm and acceptance while knitting on this thing.  Zen-like calm and acceptance do not come naturally to me.  I have more of a “flail around wildly while complaining and whining” approach to life.  It’s a gift.  Kind of a Protestant thing.

Rumpelstiltskin 1-29-08

When I’m not practicing Zen-like calm and acceptance, I’m wondering whether I will ever, ever finish this damn thing, and whether, after all, it is really worth the candle. 

But I have a vision:  myself, in my winter nest, wrapped up in a lovely lace-weight mohair shawl, fortified against the cold, snow, and wind by the lovely work of my own hands.

Somebody come pull me out in April, would you?

In which I encounter a lovely, but never-ending bind off

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Okay, I lied a little yesterday. I didn’t contact all the Democratic presidential candidates about my availability to work on the health care issue.

Only Hillary Clinton.

When I told Alex I had done this, he said, “You didn’t!”

“Oh yes I did,” I said.

He is now absolutely certain that a “Wacko Alert” has been placed on my FBI file. The FBI file I almost certainly have because of my romantic intrigue with a known Communist agitator during the waning years of the Cold War. Ah, those were good times, weren’t they? When we had just one big, monolithic enemy? How I long for those halcyon days again, those simple, happy times when we knew who to hate and why.

But I digress.

While I’ve been waiting for Hillary’s call, I have been busying myself with my dissertation and with Romi’s Ice Queen, a pattern with which I am obsessed.
This is my first Ice Queen, Kidsilk Haze and seed beads. I think it makes me look a great deal like Jackie O, don’t you? Just without the money. (Photo courtesy of SPR-Boston Photography Studio)

A side view:

I love the pattern, although that gorgeous picot bind-off is truly the bind-off that never ends.
There’s a song about that, isn’t there? Okay, all together now!

This is the bind-off that never ends,
It just goes on and on, my friends,
Some people started binding off
not knowing what it was,
Now they’ll continue binding off forever just because
This is the bind-off that never ends…

Oh, we could go on all night, couldn’t we?

My one slight regret is that the beads on this first one were such a close match with the yarn that they produced a—how shall we say?—well, subtle effect.

But I had a lot of beads left. So I started on a second Ice Queen:
A little higher contrast. Same materials, different yarn color.

Thanks for the great pattern, Romi! You definitely brightened up my bleak midwinter with your gorgeous design. And while Ice Queen is beautiful, it is also surprisingly practical; I’ve worn mine nearly every day since I finished it.

Patterns like this make me especially glad that I can knit.


Monday, June 18th, 2007

Once upon a time, lo these many years ago, I played the flute in the high school marching band.  (And I was pretty good, too, although that’s another story.)  When marching in parades, we did this complicated maneuver to turn corners that we called, appropriately enough, “cornering.”  It involved stopping, backing up in separate columns (are they ranks or files?  I think files…), marching in place, marching forward in those columns at certain times, making the turn, marching in place, and then marching forward in columns again at specified times.  All this while continuing to play.  Astute watchers could always tell the freshmen from the upperclassmen because we stopped playing during cornering and just faked it.  It was quite complex, but a beautiful thing to behold when done correctly.  Much, much prettier than simply “gating” around the corner.

Fast forward to present-day:  I have cornered on Rumpelstiltskin!  Not quite as complex as that marching band manuever, but still fairly pretty.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-18-07

You realize, of course, that this is just the first corner.  I have three more to go.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-18-07

I have faith that the little bit of pouchiness at the inner corner will resolve itself with ruthless blocking.

I have also begun to pack!  (Really, the line “We have not yet begun to pack!” would be so much funnier there, but I just couldn’t fit it in.  Sorry.)

packing for CA 

Here you see my suitcase.  Isn’t that fascinating? 

Here’s my theory of clothes-buying: 

1.  Buy the separates you like in a limited palette, and then everything will go with everything else.  No need to buy “outfits.”  So when you pack, you just pitch in the newest and best-looking clothes in the safe and secure knowledge that when you arrive, you can start pulling together gorgeous (well, OK, at least presentable) outfits at a moment’s notice.

2.  Buy or make a few really beautiful and eye-catching (dare I say signature?) pieces that will coordinate with most of your basics (see above).  This trip that piece would be the Handsome Triangle shawl.

Of course, like all theories, this one at times works best in theory rather than reality.  But, “Reach for the stars!” I always say.

In a related but so much more important vein, I have also begun to pack my knitting for the trip.  To that end, I had to wind off more of the laceweight mohair for Rumpel.

winding laceweight mohair

Here you see my swift and ballwinder, one of the best fiber-related investments I have made.  I believe that the possession of these two tools really separates the women from the girls, so to speak.  (Or I suppose you could look at it as separating the still sane from the obsessed, but that would just be uncharitable.)

Anyway, winding those balls was the first step down a travel-knitting road that will end in California.  I guess you could say that I’ve turned the corner.

The week’s notes

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

1.  Harvey and I have been watching Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (from Netflix, naturally) over the last week or so.  I must say, I had friends who loved this show when it was actually on TV, and I scoffed and shook my head at them.  But no more!  Now I see the appeal.  Thanks, Harve.

2.  I’m about to get to the first corner with the edging on Rumpelstiltskin.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-13-07 

It’s a long haul down those long sides, let me tell you.  And another one still to go!  Just keep knitting, just keep knitting…

3.  That cone of cashmere blend yarn is a fabulous prize.  In case any of you have forgotten, here’s what I made from my cone of the self-same yarn.

Handsome Triangle shawl

The Handsome Triangle shawl from Victorian Lace Today.  The cone that Ellen gave me had more than enough yarn on it to make the shawl with a whole extra repeat of the main pattern and that ruffled edging.  With a little bit left over for security’s sake.

4.  I have indeed been working on a cabled swatch based on the cream-colored sweater that Cameron Diaz wore in The Holiday.  Except that mine is red.

red cable swatch 

It’s early stages yet, but the plan is for that center cable to split into a v-neck in front and split in the back (like the sweater in the movie) for visual interest/shaping.  Oh, and it will be a pullover, not a cardigan.

5.  Harvey and I hit up the thrift stores in St. Joe today, and found some great bargains.  Sometimes you can get really lucky, you know?  What we were in search of was an old but still serviceable saucepan that we could use for popping popcorn (because I am one of the few people left in this country who make popcorn in a pan with oil instead of in the microwave–it’s lots cheaper that way and makes a girl feel like she’s actually cooking), which we found along with several other things.  For example, I found a perfect little shot glass–just one!–which I guess is really all you need when you live alone, as I do now. (Except when Harvey is with me, and I wouldn’t be doing shots with him anyway, now would I?)  I also found a very cool pair of elastic-waist rayon pants in a batik-like print.  Apartment pants, my sister-in-law would call them.  And now that I live in an apartment (for the time being, anyway) I can really use those kind of pants.

6.  I’m starting to get a little nervous about packing for the trip to CA.  Oh, not the clothes.  Clothes are just clothes, after all.  No, no.  The knitting.  What knitting should I bring?  Should I bring Rumpel?  I could get lots of edging knitted on the plane.  Or maybe the pink baby blanket I started a month ago?  Perhaps I should start a new pair of socks; that’s always good travel knitting.  Of course, I’ll have to bring more than one project, since it would be unthinkable to finish the one project you brought on a trip and then have nothing to knit!  In fact, I can’t imagine the horrid feeling of getting on the plane for the return trip without something to knit.  Or, more accurately, I can indeed imagine that desperate, sinking feeling.  Don’t want to go there.

See you all in California!

Progress is slow

Monday, June 11th, 2007

…on that durned lace edging, but is being made, nevertheless.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-11-07 

I’m about halfway through the first long side of the shawl.  I regret to say that this edging is a tad, um, how do you say?–tedious. 

Rumpelstiltskin 6-11-07                                          But pretty.  And you will all be relieved to know that I have not yet stuck a size 0 knitting needle in my eye!

But, on the bright side, Mother and I went shopping on Saturday, and she purchased a suit to wear to the wedding (with a jacket, no less!), so that means that I myself will be able to wear the Handsome Triangle shawl.  Soooo, that means that Rumpelstiltskin doesn’t need to be finished before the 20th, after all.  Whew.  I was beginning to think that I’d have to pull an all-nighter this weekend.  Maybe two all-nighters.  And then I’d be completely useless all week long.  So you see how once again disaster has been averted through strategic shopping.

And now, as my contribution to our one-year blog anniversary, I would like to post a couple of completely gratuitous dog photos.

Sammy & Abby 

These dogs belong to a friend of mine–the black one is Sammy, and the yellow one is Abby.  Abby is absolutely top dog in her household, and routinely pushes Sammy around, even though he is bigger and seemingly tougher than she is.

Abby                                                         How can you say such things about me?  I’m just as sweet as can be.

Actually, now that I come to think of it, isn’t that the way things really should be?  The female is in charge, has final say in all matters, and usually (if not always) gets her way.  Gets my vote.

Happy one-year anniversary to all our dear readers!

Lace edging

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I have finished the main body of Rumpelstiltskin and have moved right along to the lace edging.

Rumpelstiltskin 6-6-07 

As with most lace edgings I have experienced, beginning this one has given me a feeling of utter and absolute despair.  It’s one hell of a long way around this shawl, and I in my infinite wisdom made the shawl even a little bigger than the pattern called for.  Why couldn’t I have left well enough alone?  Why, WHY, WHY?

And yet, there is absolutely nothing to do but push forward, in the hope that somehow I will be able to finish this project by June 20, the day I leave for California and my sister’s wedding.  Hah!  I should live so long!

Rumpelstiltskin 6-6-07

(In case you’re wondering, the pink yarn above is just the crochet cast-on, which will be removed once I have circumnavigated the entire shawl and the live stitches will be grafted to the invisible cast-on loops.) 

OH MY GOD.  Let me just stick a pin in my eye right now.  This is way, way worse than the I-cord edging on Nicola, which some of you may remember.

Since I’ll be spending so much time sitting there (knitting, doncha know) over the next couple of weeks, Harvey and I picked out some new pillows for the couch.

new couch pillows

These came from Tuesday Morning, as do many good things that end up in my house.  Well, except the ones that I score from garage sales.  Anyway, aren’t they pretty?  We’re going for kind of a soft, muted look.

OK.  Going back to that edging now.

Brace up, little friend.

The Holiday

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Yesterday I watched The Holiday, a sweet but rather predictable movie starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law (always easy on the eyes, if nothing else).

In the end, I was more interested in the knitwear the main characters wore than I was in the storyline.  (Although, if truth be told, I didn’t miss much by losing focus on the plot for a little while in favor of figuring out the sweaters.)

As a matter of fact, I had to load up the movie again this morning and do some selective forwarding, reversing, and pausing in order to get some sketches of those sweaters.  Lots of good inspiration there.

sweater sketches

sweater sketches

I was particularly interested in this cabled sweater, worn by Cameron Diaz.

sweater sketches

It has some very clever shaping on the back, which both moves the cables around in a flattering way and provides some waist shaping.  Very cool.

Also, it has a striking attached shawl collar/buttonband which is one large, bold cable.  Then that cable is repeated in a smaller incarnation on the fronts and back.  The wheels in my head are turning…

I myself have been having my own little holiday–hanging out at my parents’ house and dogsitting while they’re away for a long weekend.  I get to hang out with their bassett hound, Izzy.  (Or as Harvey tells people, “Izzapoo.”  Her full given name is Isabella Maria.)

Izzy                                           “Aren’t I sweet?  How could anyone not love me?”

She is very sweet, and it’s a good thing, too, because she is also very spoiled.  My mother fixes her oatmeal every morning, and she has her own couch.  I think she’s been a little unhappy this weekend with the lack of breakfast oatmeal.  Yesterday, when I went upstairs in their house (where she cannot go because of the steepness of the stairs) to write my post, she got mad and started pulling yarn and knitting out of my knitting bag.  I guess she showed me.  (Well, I suppose she really did, since today I brought her over to my place to write this post, where I can keep an eye on her.)

You will all be happy to know that I have been working diligently on Rumpelstiltskin, and I am almost finished with the main body of the shawl.  Just 2 1/2 more repeats to go, and then I’ll start the edging.

Rumpel 6-4-07

Rumpelstiltskin 6-4-07

(That’s my parents’ couch that Rumpel is reclining on.)

Two and half weeks to go.  Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.

Oh, and one more thing.  I forgot to picture this yesterday in the roll call of my garage sale finds.

silver pitcher

An Oneida silver pitcher.  $5.  Pretty, huh?


Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Harvey and I went to Krug Park in St. Joe today to have a picnic.

Krug Park

We took Hugo with us, who told me that he would really like to catch a duck.


He said that would make his day, if not his whole week.  But I had to tell him no, that these ducks are not for eating.


He didn’t really understand, and told me that it was very unfair of me to spoil his fun in that way.


I think he still loves me, though.

Rumpelstiltskin is a getting to be such a big boy.  Thirty-one out of thirty-nine repeats finished.

Rumpelstiltskin 5-25-07

I’m ashamed to report, though, that my attention wandered today, as it is so apt to do.  I started playing around with a couple of balls of Jaeger Celeste, a rayon/linen ribbon yarn. 

Jaeger Celeste 5-25-07 

I’m still trying to figure out ribbon yarns and what works best with them.  What I like about them is the almost meaty feel they have when knit up.  What I can’t seem to ever come to grips with, though, is their lack of stitch definition.  Intricate stitch patterns don’t work out very well.

I’m beginning to sense a glimmer of a design coming to me, after working with a couple of simple lace patterns and ripping them out, fiddling with some different decorative decrease methods and ripping those out, and trying out two different needle sizes.

But it’s no picnic.