Archive for the 'Pathological knitting or “I can quit any time”' Category

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.

These activities are dangerous

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

While the debate about Minnie’s suitability for me continues to rage in the comments, I did want to say a couple of things:

1) I think the decision to knit something is often based on the level of interest one has in the pattern (here, the beading, the interesting stitch patterns, the rather interesting shaping of the garment) and the yarn one has chosen (here, Classic Elite’s Classic Silk, which I still love and stand by fully). The question of knitting challenge, however, is often tragically ill-matched with the question of the wearability of the garment in question.

In this case, particularly with the question of the whether this interesting garment was really going to look good on a short, curvy woman who frankly needs to accentuate her waistline lest she look like a small, peripatetic sausage.

2) With all due respect to commentators Helena, Cindy, Lorinda, and my own sister (and y’all know I love you), I am not reknitting those sleeves in any way, shape, or form.

Those sleeves are dead to me.

In the meantime, while I decide if I ever want to knit again or if I would rather sell my stash and large cache of Addis and begin a 12-step program for recovering knitters (I’ve already admitted that I have a problem…Minnie, that is…), I’ve been dealing with other issues.

As you may know, this dog
is the light of my life. As a shiba inu mix, she is also an excellent guard dog.

The combination of her need to patrol the perimeter of our property and her need to be outdoors as much as caninely possible has meant that we have always had a dog door for her so that she could go into the fenced backyard at will. She is not a digger or a fence jumper, so I can allow her this freedom even when we are not home. She loves it and it has always worked out just fine.

Last Thursday, however, Alex got home before I did to find that the fence gate was open. And where was Shelley? Sitting right in the middle of the yard as if nothing unusual had occurred. Like the terribly good dog she is.

Nonetheless, I nearly had a brain aneurysm when he told me this. I think I said something measured, calm, and thoughtful like, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”

Like my entire family had died in a plane crash.

See, the great thing about me is that I meet every crisis with aplomb. Right. But never say I don’t have a good sense of drama!

Although there was a space for one, we hadn’t wanted to put a lock on the gate for reasons of convenience and the latch had always seemed pretty reliable. Until now. So I began casting about for some sort of intermediate solution—something to keep the gate from blowing open in the wind, something short of a lock.

Here’s where it paid to be a knitter:
Latch reinforcement fashioned of U.S. Size 8 aluminum knitting needle and blue point protector.

Please keep door closed. With a knitting needle if necessary.

This kept me happy for about 18 hours while I searched for a more permanent solution. That’s when it occurred to me that a carabiner would probably be perfect for the task.

So I bought this on Friday:
The Neutrino!

Wonderfully, it had a tag attached to it that read: “Warning, this product is for use only for rock climbing and mountain climbing. These activities are dangerous. You are responsible for your own actions! Misuse can result in SERIOUS INJURY or DEATH.”

I felt rakish and adventuresome just buying such a thing.

I am no rock climber, but this tag has led me to reflect upon the relative merits of knitting as a pursuit. There are fiascos like Minnie of course. But then again, it occurs to me that every time you buy point protectors or stitch markers, they blessedly don’t come with a tag that essentially says, “Fool! Now you gonna die!”

I find that heartening. Maybe I won’t quit knitting after all.

The Closer

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

I am closing on my new house today.  This simultaneously excites me incredibly and scares the peewaddin’ out of me, as my mother would say.

On the one hand, I get to pick out everything myself, arrange it all to my own liking, and stay up till 3 a.m. playing the piano if I want to.  Yee haw!  On the other hand, I’m going to have to mow the lawn, hook up the washer and dryer, and find a way to float my own boat financially.  Oy vey!  The idea of personal growth is all well and good until you’re actually forced into it, I find. 

So at this point, when I’m not actively freaking out, I’m actively packing.

boxes                                                                      Boxes full of books, mostly.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I actually have not done that much packing up until now.  There are several reasons for this, the first and foremost of which is that the process of buying the house has been so fraught with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, that I think on some level I felt that to start packing would be to tempt fate.  Totally unreasonable, I know, but there it is.  Also, I am moving a total of two blocks down the street, and as Ellen pointed out with her recent move next door, there are just some things that are easier to just pick up and walk over.  (Or, in my case, set in the front seat of the truck.)  And, let’s face it, I am naturally lazy.

But now I have begun!  It’s never too late!

And I’m reminded once again (as if I really needed it), just how much yarn and fiber I have.  Witness this large tub o’ stash.

tub o' stash                                                      Now, this may look like a manageable tub full of fibery things, but that actually could not be further from the truth.  It is HUGE.  It is a (brace yourself) 55 gallon tub.  Luckily, it has little wheels on the bottom so that it can roll around on the floor.  I am carefully not thinking of the moment when I have to lift it into the back of the truck.

Then, I have a closet full of fiber and yarn. 

stash closet                                                                    The top.

stash closet                                                                    The bottom.

I am certain that the builder of this apartment thought of this closet as a linen closet, and if you look closely in the photos above, you can see a set of pink sheets and a couple of purple towels.  I’m using it as a linen closet, see?

As far as the amount of stash in there, well, I really don’t quite know what to say.  But I will remind you that I never moved all the stash out of the house I lived in with Rob.  There is at least as much, if not more, still at the house.  Ahem.  Let us just draw the curtain of privacy over that issue, shall we?

When I absolutely have to sit down and calm myself, I am doing a little knitting and spinning.  I started the second sock for my soldier buddy.

second soldier sock 

And I’m working on the wool/silk laceweight on the Kromski.

wool/silk on wheel 

It’s humbling to me to try to spin this fine.  The yarn keeps breaking, or I don’t get enough twist in it, or sometimes I get too much twist in it.  I learn what I need to do, and then I lose focus or try to go too fast and I forget.

Like I said, personal growth is a harsh taskmistress.

Please sir, I want some too

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Congratulations to Ellen and Alex on their great good fortune in getting such a swell little house to live in and to Alex for his acquisition of that fellowship!  I tell you, it couldn’t have happened to two nicer people.

Having said that, though, I confess to just a wee bit of jealousy.  I can’t help feeling that it’s about time a little bit of good luck fell to me, as well.  I kid you not, folks, it’s been a tough, tough winter.

Harvey and I looked at the other little house yesterday.  It’s a perfectly nice place, but somewhat bland.  I have a hard time picturing myself living there–carpeting everywhere but the kitchen and bath, square little rooms, square little house.  I didn’t find it very inspiring. 

Then we went back to the first little house this afternoon with the realtor and a contractor to get a rough idea of what it would cost to gut and remodel the kitchen and bath.  Um…quite a bit.  I left with a good deal of sticker shock.

Can you tell I’m having a pity party this evening?  Complete with domestic beer and ice cream.

It’s a good thing that I started yet another new knitting project.  That can always make one feel better–or at least as though, as bad as it may get, something may yet be accomplished.

baby blanket 

I decided, although I don’t know anyone who is currently pregnant with a baby girl nor anyone who has just had a baby girl, to start a very girly baby blanket. 

With mitered squares!

baby blanket 

Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks that mitered squares are attractive just anywhere.  Like, say, on a skirt.  But I do hold with a mitered square baby blanket.  It seems to go more quickly than your average baby blanket.  Each little square gives one such a sense of satisfaction!   (Particularly helpful at the pity party!)  Plus, it’s so easy to figure up just how much time making this baby blanket will take.  If every square takes about 45 minutes, and I’m going to need 48 squares, I will invest….

Thirty-six hours of my life in mitered squares. 

Plus whatever kind of cute little edging I devise at the end.

So, let’s say a nice round 40 hours.  If you paid yourself $10 an hour for your work, that would be a $400 baby blanket.  Even if you paid yourself only $5 an hour, it would be a $200 baby blanket.

Sheesh.  Give me another beer and some more ice cream, somebody.

Party on!

‘Tis the season

Monday, November 13th, 2006

To start feeling frantic about Christmas knitting.  (And baking, as well, but perhaps that’s another post.)

Here’s what I have in my lineup:

1.  A pair of cabled gauntlets, in this yarn:

Zara merino

Filatura di Crosa “Zara” merino wool.  Wonderfully soft. 

(The above-mentioned cabled gauntlets are actually the “secret project” I was working on several weeks ago.  I submitted the design to Knitty, and it was rejected.  Oh, well.  The pattern is soon to be offered on the blog, though.  So there, Knitty!  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!)

2.  A Moebius scarf, from this pattern:

Moebius pattern 

And out of this yarn:

blue angora

(The observant among you will note that this yarn has been pictured on the blog before.  Seems I’ve figured out what to do with it.)

3.  A felted tote bag from a pattern by Janet Scanlon of Knitkit out of purple and salmon-pink wool. 

felted tote pattern and yarn

4.  An as-yet-undetermined gift for a male relative.  Something manly, soft, and quick to knit.  Any ideas?

I realize that even this relatively minuscule amount of gift knitting flies directly in the face of my resolve to knit only for myself this year, but I am weak.  Weak.  (Plus I already own all this yarn, so I can make these gifts for free.  Thus saving enough money to buy more yarn and fiber.)  And a handmade gift always means more, right?

Why, no, I haven’t cast on for any of these projects.  Thanks for asking! 

Holiday baking has not yet been addressed.  Let the anxiety joy of the holiday season begin!

What’s in your bag?

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

I’m going on a little trip this weekend with my sister-in-law, Pam.  We’re going to St. Louis to visit Rob’s brother and his family, and we’re taking the train from Kansas City.  You know what that means, don’t you?  Lots and lots of wonderful, relaxing knitting time.  So, my thoughts today naturally turned to the all-encompassing question of which knitting projects to take.  Should I try to take things that are simple?  Small?  Something new?  Something I might be able to finish?  Or, perhaps, all of the above?  Because, after all, nothing could be worse than running out of things to knit on a trip.

Of course I must take Blue Bamboo, since this is likely to be the most uninterrupted knitting time I’m likely to get on her.

blue bamboo 10-24-06

And then, for those moments when I need something easy and portable, the sherbet socks, which as you know I’ve been working on since late summer.

sherbet socks 

And in the “something new” category, this skinny pink scarf that I started last week.

pink scarf 

This is Reynolds “Rapture,” 50% merino and 50% silk, and it is really luscious stuff.  Perfect in this openwork rib pattern, if I do say so myself.

I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to clean out my small knitting bag.  I dumped it out on the bed:

knitting bag contents 

The contents:  1 knitting book, 1 knitting magazine, remainders of 6 different sock yarns, 6 partial balls of yarn (some large, some very small), 1 full ball of yarn, 4 circular needles, 3 swatches in progress (attached to 3 of the aforesaid needles), completed swatch of the tufted yarn, the sherbet socks, several handwritten charts, and a yo-yo.

I must admit that I have dumped out this same knitting bag more than once in the past few months, and all or nearly all of the same things were in it then, too.  They all went right back in, obviously.  I’m not sure why it should be so hard to clean out a knitting bag, but there it is.

My question for all of you:  What’s in your knitting bag?

knitting bag


Thursday, October 12th, 2006

I wrote on Tuesday about how I really like mohair.  I got to thinking about that, and about how much mohair really is in the stash.  In the interests of full disclosure, I offer the following photographs.  Keep in mind that I have photographed a representation of each yarn, and that many, many more balls of each exist in the stash unphotographed.

My name is Sarah and I am a fiberaholic.

mohair 2006 

1.  The cone of purple mohair.  I have two of these cones.  Someday I am going to make a beautiful little cardigan/jacket out of this.

2.  The white half-ball of mohair.  Actually, this yarn is almost gone. (Although there is more than I have pictured here, naturally.)  That’s because I made my sister a sweater set out of white mohair several years ago.  (You’ll have to pester her for a picture of that one.)

3.  The ball of lilac mohair.  I have about 12 of these balls.  One word:  Ebay.

4.  The ball of black mohair.  About 15 balls.  Same word.

5.  The primary handpainted mohair.  This is from Ellen’s Half Pint Farm (not our Ellen) and it is beautiful.  There are 3 big balls.  It is awaiting a fate as beautiful as itself.

6.  The ball of sage green laceweight mohair.  2 balls of this.  It is gorgeous and someday I will make something gorgeous from it.  Promise.

mohair 2006 

7.  The green ball of mohair.  I think I have twenty of these.  It was on a great sale on elann.  What can I say?

8.  The grey ball of mohair.  See #7, above.

raw mohair 2006 

9.  The gigantic Ziploc bag of unspun kid mohair.  We’ve talked about this before, haven’t we?

10.  Not pictured:  lilac/teal/pink handpainted mohair.  Purchased at Rhinebeck many moons ago.  I was swatching with this in a quilted pattern this summer.  Remember?

Okay, this is the meat of it.  What I haven’t included:  yarns that are wool/mohair blends, like Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride, of which I have a largish amount destined for a sweater.  And then there’s the blue mohair blend, and the handspun mohair skeins, and the Dale yarn which I’m pretty sure has mohair in it…

I can quit any time.

Memento mori

Monday, October 9th, 2006


If you come to visit us in Boston, you will have to visit the large number of 17th- and 18th-century “burying grounds” with which Boston is richly endowed.

It’s frankly non-negotiable.

We are historians by trade so we are fascinated by these memorials to early Bostonians.
Certain individuals have maintained that we are just morbid and temperamentally macabre, but they will not be invited back.

This Columbus Day weekend, we have been delighted to host Red and her mother (who you will remember from the Outer Banks adventure of early August).
Red here comments to her mother on how much she enjoyed the last four cemeteries we just visited and how eager she is to visit a few more. At least, I think that’s what she was saying…

Alex, meanwhile, contemplates the grave of Joseph Tapping. By the time Tapping was Alex’s age, he had been dead for two years.
It is a sobering thought.

Here’s the detail of the carving on the Tapping stone:
Time and Death put on their boogie shoes.

What with all these rather grim reminders of our own mortality, a trip to our nation’s oldest continuously operating pub was clearly in order:
Said oldest pub is the one to the left, but the one on the right isn’t any spring chicken. These pubs are located directly across from Boston’s quite affecting and powerful Holocaust Memorial, which probably hasn’t hurt business either.

Then it was off to Quincy Market:
Paul Revere used to have lunch at the food court inside here almost every day. He especially liked the surf ‘n turf combo, including as it does one selection from the land category and two from the sea category.

Stick around folks! We got a million of ’em. And we’ll be here all week!

Red enjoyed some fried dough with extra powdered sugar:
Happiness on a plate.

Speaking of reminders of one’s own fleeting days on this planet, did I mention that I used to babysit Red when she was a baby? Now she’s here in Boston looking at colleges. Because she’s actually going to college next year.

How is this possible?

When I was a kid, I used to hate it when adults said things like that.

But to everything there is a season:

At the end of our long day out in the city, we returned home for a revivifying spot of tea. Fortunately, I had, at Alex’s request, just knitted some highly functional hexagons to serve as a teapot trivet and matching coasters.

The yarn is Main Line from Knitpicks, 75% cotton, 25% wool, in colors “Red Velvet Cake” and “Cocoa.”
I must have been feeling peckish when I put in my order.

The idea for the hexagons and the basic instructions came from Norah Gaughan, whose wonderful book arrived shortly before our guests.

So many delightful arrivals, and such a lovely weekend.

Burying grounds and all.

Oh, I’m crafty

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

I got all fired up about making my own ribbon yarn this past weekend, went up to the studio, and dove right in.  I found some brocade fabric living on a shelf and the instructions for making one’s own bias tape (aka yarn) and started sewing.

I used a French seam, in the hopes that it would discourage ravelling on the on-grain cut edges.

making ribbon yarn 

So basically, you cut a largish square of fabric, cut it in half along the diagonal, and then sew the straight grain edges to one another.  You end up with a tube of fabric which you cut around and around on the bias to create bias tape, or, for the purposes of our discussion, ribbon yarn.

making ribbon yarn

Obviously, the bigger the square, the more yards of yarn you would end up with.  Of course, this is partially governed by the width of your fabric, or in my case the length of fabric yardage that was on the shelf to begin with.  It’s a little bit time consuming, but fairly simple really.

making ribbon yarn 

I wound up my yarn, taking care to keep it flat.

ribbon yarn 

After rummaging around in the stash to find a likely candidate for a coordinating, much lighter weight yarn, I came up with some purple angora blend.  I had unravelled this yarn from a thrift store sweater some time ago, and then, because it was so extraordinarily thin, plied it on the wheel into a 3-ply yarn.  (OK, I realize I am starting to sound somewhat nuts–I suppose this would be the “pathological” part of the post.)

I started out using size 13 needles, and after 8 inches or so realized that the lace wasn’t looking as scribbly as I wanted it to.  So I ripped.  Maybe not such a good idea.  The ribbon that I ripped out pretty much fell to pieces:  it got very frayed and the seams just fell apart.

I began again with size 19 needles.

scribble scarf 

Much better.  It’s not particularly easy to deal with, though.  If I were to do it again (which I might), I’d change a few things.

1. Use a less slinky, less ravelly fabric.  This brocade is prone to just ravelling away under your hands.  There must be a happy medium somewhere between a fabric that has a nice drapey hand but isn’t going to create fringe when you breathe on it.

2. Cut the strip a little wider.  I aimed for 3/4 inch; maybe 1 inch would be better.

3. I’m not sure the French seam was really necessary.  Perhaps a straight stitch next to a zigzag would be sufficient.

I still see lots of possibilities here.  Oh, I’m crafty, all right.

My Preciousssss

Friday, September 1st, 2006

Some of you know that I have, ahem, a rather large stash.  I’ve been thinking lately about some of the yarns and fibers in the stash that may very probably never be knitted or spun because they are just too lovely, rare, and/or otherwise precious.

This is kind of a weird phenomenon, I know, and completely inexplicable to non-knitters and even some knitters who do not stash.  (Yes, it’s true, there are knitters like that out there.  Bizarre.)  But some things are just so beautiful in the skein that I feel I could never, never do them justice on the needles.  Other yarns have been discontinued; if I used them I would never be able to get more!  Still others I only have one or two skeins of, having purchased only that many for reasons that are lost to memory.  (Usually these reasons have to do with finances, sadly.) 

Here’s a good example of that first category:

handspun from hand-dyed roving                                      This is handspun singles yarn from a handpainted roving.  I have a fear that whatever I make from this will not live up to the yarn.  I was really happy with this yarn when I spun it; what if I ruin it when I knit it?

alpaca laceweight                                                       Hand-dyed (but not by me) alpaca laceweight.  This photo cannot possibly convey the delicate beauty of this stuff.  Again, what if I ruin it or pick the wrong pattern?  I have a sinking feeling this yarn won’t respond well to ripping out.

In the second category:

Green Mt. Spinnery Silkspun                                      Green Mountain Spinnery Silkspun in a gorgeous vibrant purple, which unfortunately, my camera did not pick up well.  I bought this on sale some years ago, and I only have six skeins.  This yarn is discontinued; if I knit with it, then I won’t have it anymore, see?

blue angora                                        Austermann Angora Wolle.  I only got three balls from Elann when it was for sale; now there is no more.  This sort of falls into the third category, as well.  What am I going to do with just three balls?

And, squarely in the third category:

hand-dyed yarn                                                     this one ball of hand-painted singles.  I got this at NY Sheep and Wool several years back.  I know now that I should have purchased many more balls, but alas, I did not.

As far as fibers go, I think my main problem is simply not knowing what to do with certain things.  This is particularly true of these two small batches of hand-dyed mohair curls.

mohair curls

mohair curls

They’re sooo pretty just as they are!  And shiny!  I just don’t have enough faith in my spinning ability to tackle these.  What’s spun is spun. 

So, for all these yarns and fibers, my only solution for now is to go to the stash from time to time and visit them.  Pull them out.  Pet them.  Admire them.  What can I say?  Knitters are freaky people.