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May 29, 2003

Fantastic Felted Bags

There are some fantastic felted bags being made out there. Have you seen what Mare has been doing? Or Melissa's felted handspun bag? And in my brief swing by Knitting-N-The-City the other night, I saw a great blue and red striped triangle handbag made by Genia. I want to get in on some of that action and make a day pack or a tote bag. No matter that I don't really need any more felted bags.

Then, there are all the people embarking on the entrelac Forest Path Stole from the latest issue of Interweave Knits. I've never considered trying entrelac before; I've never seen a design to tempt me until now. I think this pattern is destined to be my first (only?) foray into entrelac.

I've been watching the knitting lists for news of what yarn everyone is planning on using for this stole. [This has been my primary stalling technique to avoid actually buying yarn for this project]. At a total of $150 for the Suri alpaca called for in the pattern, the price of the materials for this stole is a bit steep. I've obviously got no problem spending money on yarn, but this may be a case where I don't require the top of the line. I've been reading the discussions of the properties of different fiber types and how they might effect the realization of this shawl. I'm going to let everyone else do the test knitting for me to determine what the best substitution may be.

Frankly though, that fact that I'm paying attention to an in-depth analysis of the properties of Suri versus Huacaya alpaca, or any other fiber, amuses me; especially since I can still remember the "yarn is yarn" mindset of my early knitting days when I actually started knitting an Alice Starmore's Fulmar Aran sweater out of Wool-Ease I bought at Hobby Lobby. [Would you believe I was getting gauge?] I still have that one in the stash somewhere. I think the only reason I never finished it was because I was living in Texas at the time, and well, it was freaking hot there and I knew I would never have a chance to wear it.

Ah, those early days when I could do things like knit a sweater I had no use for in a yarn that wasn't really appropriate (and would be considered downright distasteful to some) without a care in the world, blissfully ignorant about what I was doing and what I was missing. I was the best knitter I knew, because I was the only knitter I knew. Well, those days are gone, aren't they?

Now, I see all the possibilities in the range of projects and yarns available, and the high level of knitting skill that can be achieved; and a certain amount of my knitting comes with comparisons and judgments attached. That's a shame. [Yeah, I think too much].

And now, for something completely different...

I love my yoga class. If I were fantastically wealthy, I would put my yoga teacher on my personal staff and have a session with him every day. I always leave class feeling better. Of course, the next day I am sore. Not "ohmygod, I think I broke myself" sore, but "hello, I'm a muscle you don't use often" sore. It's not all peace and relaxation; he makes us work, and it feels good.

08:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 27, 2003

The edge of nowhere

I'm back from another trip to the edge of nowhere (aka: very northern Wisconsin). I was on a whirlwind trip to see my family and attend my nephew's graduation party. Instead of socks, this time I brought the Knitting Pure & Simple cardigan to start. Yes, everyone else is knitting adorable little summer tops and I'm starting yet another 100% wool sweater. I think it's an illness.

the lake at mom and dad's

Perhaps I should dig deep into my cache of abandoned summer knitting projects and find something more seasonally appropriate to put at the head of the queue. Then, when CPS is finally finished, I can launch right into something that I may actually have a chance to wear in the next six months. Nah. Suffering is good for the soul, right? I've reached near sublime levels of self-denial with my non-participation in all the fun knit-alongs organized by Alison. Why give in now? Besides, the next thing I should work on is an afghan for my very kind neighbor who has watched Molly three times in three months while I was doing all my gallivanting. Just what one needs to knit as the temperatures start to rise—a nice, cozy afghan.

MYKP asked about the filling for juggling balls. I don't know much about juggling balls, I can't juggle. I did try to learn once in college and never got beyond the 'throwing one ball up in the air and catching it' stage because I have no hand/eye coordination. I think the formative years when I was supposed to be developing such skills I was sitting somewhere reading a book. As a result, I now try to avoid most spherical objects other than balls of yarn.

If I wanted to try again to learn to juggle and still do lots of reading, maybe I could visit the site I found with step-by-step written instructions but no pictures. This site also has detailed information about making and buying juggling balls (with pictures), including what you might want to use for filling. Some of the possibilities mentioned include: polypropylene pellets, millet (bird seed), rice, and builder's sand. This site goes into more detail than I thought possible about the potential pros and cons of different type of juggling objects. [Given the painful level of detail provided by some knitting blogs (ahem), how can I still be surprised?]

My summer Knitter's came in the mail this weekend [Yes, I still have a subscription hanging on] so I checked to see what they used for their juggling balls and they recommend polypropylene pellets. Apparently, such things can be obtained from craft stores.

Additional potentially redeeming qualities of the latest issue of Knitter's are an article on adding shaping to knitted garments and a pattern for a simple shaped sweater that hadn't really caught my eye in the design gallery but looks much more interesting in the magazine. [Maybe I'm just being generous because I can't stay mad for long].

Today's beauty tip from the world of science: the perfect eyebrow.

07:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 21, 2003

on the ball

"The socks rock.... the balls rock... the rest needs to be weighted at the bottom of a river with rocks." - Ginny.
I say, "Ginny rocks," she summed up my opinion of the latest Knitter's perfectly!

Ok, I agree with all of you who think the mitered socks deserve some attention; I just may have to give them a try. Moreover, as someone who bought an issue of Spin-Out solely for the garter-stitch glove pattern, I think that in some circumstances, one good design makes the purchase of any one issue of a magazine worthwhile. However, I still must say that the quality of most of the recent designs makes it pretty hard to justify a subscription to Knitter's anymore. The 'bleh' stands.

MYKP [check out the brand new blog], also likes the juggling balls. They caught my eye too; couldn't you imagine a non-bleh sweater with the same yarn and patterns?

A few years, ago I became temporarily obsessed with knitted balls (much like I was with the garter-stitch gloves). I made a bunch of them from free patterns I found on the web and gave most of them away. Yesterday, I did a quick Google search to see what patterns are still available out there. I found a selection of different types, but not all of them have pictures.

  • This one is knit as a series of parallelograms, the points of which get sewn together at the end.

  • This one is from the index of KnitList gifts and is knit in the round. In form, it's probably the most similar to the Knitter's pattern.

  • This is another one from the KnitList. It's knit using short rows to form a series of 'orange wedges'. Here's another page from Judy Gibson with this pattern, modifications, and pictures. I've made some of these and liked them.

  • The pattern for Judy Gibson's swirl ball (with a picture) is also available from the KnitList index. This one was fun to make as well.

    And finally, this is my favorite...

    Talk about your 'magic ball

    A knitted puzzle ball from the Winter 1994 issue of Knitter's magazine. (This issue is still available). Twelve separate little wedges are knit in the round and stuffed, and then, are sewn into three separate pieces that can be combined to form the ball.

    Hey, how'd you do that?

    I had a lot of fun making these. I only stopped making them because I was moving and gave away my jumbo bag of fiber fill. At one time, making these was the planned use for all my little leftover scraps of Koigu because I thought that would be very pretty. I could still do that, but then I'd have to give up on my 'socks of many colors'.

    04:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    May 20, 2003

    Knitter's = Bleh

    The design gallery is available for the Summer issue of Knitter's magazine. Bleh. I think I'm going to start my own design notebook and wait for the next issue of Knitty.

    04:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 15, 2003


    Not much time for blogging today, I'm getting ready to go out for dinner and I'd still like to get some knitting in. Here is a little gift for you instead.

    It's as big as your head!

    This breathtaking iris is blooming in the common garden of my condo.

    The monthly K2P2 meeting is this Saturday at 4:30pm in the Friendship Heights Border's book store. Come on, it'll be fun!

    [CPS Update: 9" of the right front done; left front and back done]

    02:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 13, 2003

    Color My World

    Have you seen that the color of US currency is changing? Today, the the new 'colorized' $20 bill was unveiled. How freaky will that be? I know this is hardly an earth-shattering innovation to people living in just about every other country in the world, but forgive me if I think this is just plain cool. Color My World Of course, they aren't taking it all the way, at least not at first. It looks like 50s and 100s will be next with 5s and 10s maybe to follow after 2005. Forget about the $1 bill though, they aren't even going to bother with one of those new glamor shot portraits of George. Looks like we may eventually have to spend those Sacagawea golden dollars and not just hoard them in coffee cans.

    On the list of things to do tonight: close up the toe and weave in the ends on my boring brown socks.

    brown socks

    I followed my basic sock pattern as usual, but this may be the first time I wish I would have done something a little different. They don't fit me as well as my socks usually do; the heel is a bit too deep. I think it may be due to the yarn—Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport. I have some red Nature Spun too. I think when I make socks from that I'm going to try decreasing fewer stitches for the short-row heel and see if that doesn't produce a less pointy heel.

    03:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 11, 2003

    Thanks, Mom

    I love you, Mom!

    08:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 09, 2003

    Slow and steady...

    ...wins the race. Oh, wait, this is knitting, not a race. Then why do I feel such pressure to go faster and get to the end? The end of what?

    I am making some progress on CPS; last night I finished the left front and I'm ready to start the right front tonight. It's been hard to make any progress the past two weeks. First, I was out of town; and since I've been back, I just haven't been feeling very well and not much of anything has been getting done around here.

    CPS neck shaping

    You've probably noticed that the ABRA fund has pretty much ground to a halt. The only forward progress there this week has been due to my yoga class on Wednesday, and I only went to that because I've prepaid. I didn't want to go, but by the end, I was glad that I did. I took this same yoga class last year and really enjoyed it. It gets my mind off everything and gets me to focus on just one thing at a time. I could learn to apply that to the rest of my life. I am the Queen of Multitasking-and I mean that at the micro-level, not just the macro-level. At work, I cycle through the windows on my computer, flitting from one application to another, spending nanoseconds on one task before flitting on to the next. I apparently have the attention span of a gnat. At home, I'm no better. I'll sit down to knit while watching TV and surfing the web and will still pop up during commercial breaks to attend to household tasks. It's surprising that I get anything done at all. To tell the truth, not much does get done.

    All of this is more than just being busy or having many responsibilities or trying to be efficient, it's more like trying to avoid unhappiness and dissatisfaction through constant motion. Dissatisfaction with what? With everything. With existence. Dukkha. [Yes, I've been reading a bit about Buddhism lately].

    So, I have been trying to focus. That's why I've restricted myself to working on one major project at a time. [Obviously though, I haven't been refraining from acquiring for future projects. Oh, boy!] It's getting tougher to maintain that though. I've reached the almost halfway point of CPS and my attention is starting to wander. Everyone seems to be joining up for knit-alongs of fun summer tanks and sweaters. Over at Alison's there are plans to start a new sweater every two weeks for the next month! I am so tempted to join in on one of them, but can I really afford it (after all, I decided not to buy the yarn and start Sitcom Chic) and do I have the time?

    I suppose you could argue it either way: "Don't be bound by meaningless, self-imposed restrictions! Have fun now!" or "Be true to your efforts toward growth and responsibility. This small discipline will extend to other facets of your life." Is one truly the "correct" answer? Will either path ease my overall sense of dissatisfaction? [Yes folks, welcome to 'another knitting blog', where you are almost guaranteed to get your daily dose of existential angst. Would you believe that I do have a well-developed sense of humor and some people actually think I'm funny? No, really, they do].

    I guess I'll keep going on CPS for now. I'm not tired of working on it, the difficulty is forgoing that pleasant rush of starting a new project while I see everyone else embarking on fun new adventures. [Maybe not seeing so much finishing yet though]. Perhaps for a change of pace I could dig out a work in progress that I've set aside, something I haven't worked on in a long while. [That really sounds like a hoot and a half, doesn't it?] Or maybe I'm start that neckdown sweater out of the Carodan; although, can you believe I don't have the needles called for? How unsatisfactory is that?

    Knit each stitch, be in the moment, be the stitch, oooooommmmmmmmmm...............

    08:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 06, 2003


    All of you who would like to see a picture of dour, moon-faced me wearing Kilim can go to Fiber Raven Soiree and see the pictures that Sheila took at MS&W. [Now you know why I prefer to put pictures of inanimate objects, rather than myself, on my blog]. You can also see pictures of some other mighty fine knitters wearing their very impressive creations and the beautiful yarn and fiber that Sheila purchased.

    Melissa asked what I plan to do with my non-sock yarn yarn. I bought some Knitting Pure & Simple patterns and thought I would try out my first topdown sweater with the Carodan Farm yarn. The future of the Persian Rose is still up in the air. I'm going to have to play around with it and see what it feels like becoming. I wish I was better at that. I don't often buy yarn without a specific use in mind because I'm so bad at looking at a pile of yarn and imaging it as anything other than a pile of yarn. Case in point: my major yarn purchase from last year's S&W.

    Brooks Farm Fiber

    This is some gorgeous lace weight 100% kid mohair yarn from Brooks Farm Fiber of Texas. I have no idea what to do with it but it deserves to be something wonderful. It feels like an incredible waste to have it just sitting in my stash, but I'm terrified to do anything with it.

    Finally, for anyone who enjoyed Manor House, there are transcripts of chats with the producer and some of the cast hosted by the Washington Post. Yes, "Sir" John really is an ass and a half.

    05:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 04, 2003

    Festival Booty

    You can just call me Cleopatra because I'm Queen of da Nile when it comes to the amount of money I spent at the Sheep and Wool Festival. Truly, it's not any amount I wasn't prepared to spend, but certainly I have gone right up to my limit.

    My booty from the festival

    I thought about going back to the festival today; but after being at a conference all last week and at the festival most of the day yesterday, I was exhausted this morning. Besides, Molly has been missing me and was pretty pathetic in her need for attention last night. So, I've spent the day resting up for my return to work tomorrow and lavishing affection on a bossy little grey cat.

    I had a good time yesterday. I ran into lots of people I knew and met some new people too, although not as many as I would have liked. I did get to meet Louise and put a face with the blog. I'm sorry I missed so many other people. We'll plan better next year, eh? [Also, if anyone in the area would like to meet up some other time, let me know].

    I got to the fairgrounds right around 9am yesterday morning. The weather really was just about perfect—cool and intermittently cloudy. I picked up a festival catalog at the information booth and got right in line for a t-shirt. After that, I was on a quest for something I missed out on last year, a basket.

    Last year, it seemed that everyone was walking around with one of these great baskets, but by the time I found out where they were coming from they were gone. This year, I searched for them first and found them in the main exhibition hall. [I wish I could tell you the name of the booth, but I can't seem to find my receipt at the moment]. For the rest of the day, I was faced with breaking the bad news to everyone who asked that the baskets had been in the main building, but were all sold out by 10:30am.

    With that quest fulfilled, the rest of the day was subject to any whim. I stayed in the main hall and dropped by the Philosopher's Wool booth to show Ann and Eugene my finished Kilim. They were both excited and complementary about the completed sweater. I had been wearing my polar fleece jacket, but Ann encouraged me to wear Kilim even though there are still a few rough edges left to tack down. I was tempted to pick up another kit, but I need an extended change of pace before I undertake another PW; and there was so much left to look at, I couldn't make any big yarn purchases yet.

    Another booth I stopped at in main hall was the Mannings, which as usual, was mobbed. There, I picked up some Fortissima Cotton Colori sock yarn in color 0004 and some more Koigu, this time color P107.

    I also picked up a couple of glass buttons at the Button Pie booth. I was thinking I might like one on a Sitcom Chic. Of course, the irony now is that won't be able to afford the yarn for that sweater for months.

    a slice of Button Pie

    I spent most of the rest of the day looking though the booths in the barns and exhibition buildings, planning out my final purchases of the day. There were so many beautiful yarns to choose from that it was difficult to make a final decision on anything.

    I picked up a few patterns, chatted with the other knitters I ran into, and had lunch. After much consideration and temptation, I purchased some 2 ply worsted weight 55% mohair/45% wool yarn from Tregellys Fibers. The color is Persian Rose. I also picked up some teal worsted weight yarn from Carodan Farm Wool Shop and another skein of Sockotta, this time in shades of blue.

    I wish I could have mustered up the will to go again today for the Sit and Knit and to meet more knitters, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. I hope everyone who went had a good time and I look forward to hearing about other knitter's experiences and purchases.

    07:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)