How to drive someone crazy from 1100 miles away

23 November 2006

Dressed for Success

Can I show off my beautiful niece in her new sweater?

Doesn't Walter look warm and snuggly?

And the requisite action shot. Hey, you try to get a 14-month-old to hold still for digital.
It's really nice and roomy for Walter to get on over her clothes. Jenn and I have decided to forego the embroidery in favor of the simplicity of the ribby border. It's not like we can't add them later if we feel the kid needs more zazz. But in case you don't know and want to, the specs on the sweater are as follows:

Yarn: Handspun Romney purchased from this nice lady at Rhinebeck. I notice she doesn't have the dyed yarn for sale on her site, but the colorway was called "Pesto" (in case anyone wants to contact the nice lady about the color) and the yarn is very natural and earthy to work with. Smells very faintly of clean sheep, too, which I happened to really like (I've had handspun smell like unclean sheep which I did not like at all, and I have seen handspun so overprocessed that it smelled like absolutely nothing, which seemed too anaesthetic to me). Wasn't really thrilled about the color fading a bit, but I hear if I had given the yarn a warm water and vinegar soak it would not have been so bad, so I blame myself, and not the nice lady. Did I mention how nice she was?
Gauge: 4 sts to the inch on US size 9 straights.
Pattern: Made up as I went along. HAH! And I knitted the flower shaped shank buttons right in with a tiny crochet hook, same way you would bead as you go.

My favorite part? Walter didn't want to take it off. She seemed to really like it.

My holiday was less than great, so I am just leaving this great image of a kid in a handmade sweater for you all to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

20 November 2006

A learning process

In which we learn the importance of washing the swatch.

So, I bought a nice chunk of handspun at Rhinebeck in a pretty green, a very sagey and herbal green, and it was destined to become a sweater for sweet little Princess Walter. I wound up a ball and then made my dutiful little gauge swatch instead of guessing at some gauge and hoping it was okay (incidentally, the gauge I guessed at was dead on, but that is not the point). I made up a pattern for a cardigan with a little border into which I intend to embroider a few lazy daisies, and happily cast on and finished all five pieces in record time. Bound-off little cardigan pieces for my one year old niece. I was so excited. I knew if I blocked first, finishing would come out a lot easier, so I ran a sink full of room temp water and some Woolite. Gently laid all the pieces into the water and walked away as calmly as possible.

I came back a few minutes later and noticed something odd about the foam on the top of the water. It was blue. The rinse water (both first and second) was also blue. Huh.

The lovely green of the yarn has become downright limey. I know, I should have washed the swatch to find this out sooner. And I am a little nervous to do the embroidery in anything but a plasticky (is that a word?) acrylic now, to avoid the white daisies absorbing any more dye that might wash out of the fabric. And yes, they must be white to go with the buttons I knitted in. Not to mention, I will do the finishing with the same yarn, which doesn't really match anymore. I don't want to wash the seaming yarn first; I'd prefer to sew up the seams, do the embroidery, and then give it a reasonable soak to even out the seaming and body colors. That way, I will know the daisies will stay white and hopefully it will all at least match in the end.

But it's not what I wanted. It's not the color I had in mind. And I won't post a picture until it's all finished up so someone can tell me it looks great finished (who really wants a bunch of pictures of cardigan pieces, anyway?).


There are other things going on in my life right now (like crashing a knitting party Thursday night and Thanksgiving plans) but I am too sad about the green that is no more.

Wash your swatches, people!

13 November 2006

Happy happy joy joy.

In case you haven't been there yet, go check out CygKnit. She's got news.

And incidentally, the title of this post is an homage to their wedding recessional. Yes, they did play Ren and Stimpy at their wedding. I blame Mr. CygKnit, myself, but she had to agree to it sometime.

Congrats, girl.

08 November 2006

Working through the new stash

I have been knitting up a storm.

Here we have my finished New England Fall Colors Beret, from Morehouse Merino:

It is blocking on the lid to some baking dish. And, oh! The colors! This picture and crappy background does them no justice whatsoever, but since I look the way I normally look on my days off, I am not about to model it (besides, it is soggy and smells like wet sheep right now), and it is dark outside, anyway, so you just deal with the crappy color representation, okay? Matching scarf getting cast on later tonight.

I bought some sage green handspun from a nice lady at Rhinebeck. She was spinning in her stall, and I just thought that was too cool to pass up.

This is the beginning of a cardigan for Walter. Pattern? I don't need no stinking pattern! I am winging this sucker right into existence! Those little reverse stockinette blocks at the bottom will house embroidered lazy daisies. This is the back, and it's already halfway finished. I cast on just this afternoon, so if you subtract the time I wasted for having to frog the first attempt due to a minor math error (the biggest problem with the make-it-up-as-you-go-along method), and take into consideration that I have to work sometime this week, this whole sweater ought to take me about ten days to finish.

Do not hold me to that.

Damn, I love knitting for tiny people. Is it any wonder I haven't even wound up the yarn for Yoshi's socks yet? Hmmmm, huge-ass feet or tiny baby torso... Tough decision, since these two things are almost the same size.

And does anyone realize but me that I am casting on two projects in one day? Does anyone remember how much I hate to cast on?

Other projects are going okay. I taught Jenn to kitchener, and she finished her first sock; now we are both trapped in the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. I haven't even cast mine on; she stopped in the middle of turning a heel to rescue Walter from certain doom and doesn't remember what she was doing, and is not anxious to rip back to where she did know what she was doing(Hey, it's her second sock EVER, cut the girl some slack).

I divided Yoshi's sweater for the armholes and it is going very slowly. I am figuring out how to knit the sleeves into the curved armholes in my head (as if I am going to be ready to do it any time soon). I don't want to reference other patterns; I want to figure it out on my own and see if I am as clever as I wish I was. Am. Whatever. I am a little worried about it, though, so hopefully his arms aren't pointing forever up when he gets it. I am shooting for sometime in December, so he might actually get to wear it this season. I'm also going to whip out a quick gaiter for him to wear while on the motorcycle, probably in some washable silk blend the really nice peoples at the Knitty Coffeeshop Forum recommended. But that will require buying more yarn... and groceries seem a little more important right now, since I have so much nice new yarn to play with.

03 November 2006

Part Two, in which I meet Admirable Women, am entertained by Olive the cat, and get up to Mischief First Class

More Rhinebeck! Yaaayy!

Did I mention the imaginary rodents? No? WELL, Swan decided to try to put on over on me and made up this animal, a "wood-chuck*", and kept claiming to see them on the side of the road, "sleeping". I will have you know, Swan, I did not then and do not now believe in the existence of such creatures as "wood-chucks", so you can stop with the funny-ha-ha joke. There are no "wood-chucks" just like there are no "baby pidgeons" or "midget cats".

I wore the Cookie Monster sweater on Saturday, and have firmly resolved to knit myself sweaters for every day of the week so I can always feel "that way", the way that says "this looks nice and everything about it is my doing". I received lovely compliments on it, one of which I will relate to you now.

I met Stephanie. Swan was standing in the Socks that Rock line, and I decided to take a little walk around building A, which housed Grafton Fibers, Golding, and lots of other beautiful things, like knitters in the throws of yarn-acquiring passion. I was just browsing about and I look right and recognized a certain shawl of which the wearer needs to be very proud. I looked up slightly from the shawl and saw the infamous huge freakin' hair (which seemed to be behaving itself for Rhinebeck). I admit, I was a bit dumbstruck. I really admire Stephanie Pearl-McPhee; not only is she a very talented knitter, but funny as all hell and, according to her friends, an incredible family woman. I enjoy her books not because she wrote them but because they are genuinely enjoyable; her style is sincere yet amusing, and I always learn something from her. So I said in the stupidest voice I could muster, "Oh, you finished the shawl."
Harlot: Yes, I did.
Me: It's gorgeous. (Wishing I had said something intelligent like, may I see the other side or even do you mind if I touch it?)
Harlot: Thank you... That's a beautiful sweater.
Me: DUH.....
Harlot: (touches sweater) It's really soft.
Me: (a bit loudly) ThankyousomuchitismyfirstsweaterandIamwearingitforthefirsttimetoday!
Harlot: Oh, there's no charm like a first sweater. (turning to Juno) Look, it's her first sweater, feel how soft.
Me: (blushing and melting into the floor and realizing that everyone but me is still talking)
Harlot: It was nice to meet you.
Me: bye...
And then I was a bit starstruck for about an hour.

I didn't want to bother her again (and I was embarrassed and a bit shy), she seemed quite busy with all the fibrous goings-on (and I certainly do not blame her), so I took my photo op later... and I present to you, Yarn Harlot and Enchanting Juno in Natural Habitat:

Shortly after was the Blogger Bingo meet-up, where I met this nice lady:

I figured I had already blown my starstruck stupid moment on Stephanie, so I was not going to waste another opportunity to meet a woman I admire (girl is self-employed running an online knitting mag, how cool is that?). I walked right up to Amy Singer, Swan in tow to get the picture for me, and said as cool as I could, "May I be a dorky little fan girl for a moment?"
Amy: Of course!
Me: (pulled out my Pixie, made from her first book, and put it on)
Amy: OH MY GOD I LOVE THAT! Can I have a picture?
Me: Only if I can too.
And I felt much better after that. She gave me the requisite "I heart Knitty" button, I declared to her that I absolutely do heart Knitty, and we've been best friends ever since.

Welllll.... not really. But every time she saw me, she pointed and said "Pixie!" and I feel I got some cred back. She even put her picture of me on her blog. She really is the sweetest woman; she was spinning silk at Morehouse Merino later that night, and don't tell Swan, but... I was slightly interested.

More celebrities...
I met Debbie Stoller. I told her I taught myself to knit out of the first Stitch n Bitch book (yes, all by myself), and thanked her very much. Then, I told her I was wearing one of the patterns out of it (To Dye For), showed her the slight modifications I had made, and she complimented me heartily. Thanks, Debbie. Thanks for all the times you've inspired me, which is MANYMANYMANY. Girl, you got it goin' on. Sorry about the pic, but I love it anyway.

Meet Melanie Falick and Betty Christianson, of Weekend Knitting and Handknit Holidays, and Knitting for Peace, respectively. Again, inspiration. I talked to Betty about the PL Blankie, and she loved the idea that charity was keeping my friendship strong. I told Melanie about Yoshi's stocking (out of Weekend Knitting), and she was touched that I was warming my boyfriend's Grinchy heart with a pattern forom her book. And Melanie had the coolest riding boots on... wish I could pull that off in Florida.

And then everyone was very tired, so I relaxed on the most decadent bed ever:

That's all the sale yarn at Morehouse Merino. It's on a daybed in the middle of the store. They looked at me funny.

BTW, that scarf? Swan's second project ever, and she did it for me. Props, girl. Right back at you. I love that scarf.

Sunday was much running around at the festival, running into people we'd met at the book signing the night before like Sarah and Tina, and getting generally tired and cranky. So, Swan took me to her home, where Mr. CygKnit prepared us a lovely meal of Chicken Marsala. Sadly, there were peas.
No peas for me, please. I hate them. They pop and squish and taste funny I will never hear the end of it from the CygKnit family.
Fortunately, Olive the Cat came to my aid with a lovely butter rum fondue.

Olive only entertains her guests with the very best, and made this from-scratch fondue to welcome me into her home. Then she hissed at me like there was no tomorrow. Those of you who read CygKnit will recognize Olive from her many adventures in eating angora fiber, chasing wild bunnies, licking Kool-Aid dyed yarn, accidentally consuming iodine, and catching snakes.

There will be pictures of my haul as I swatch them. It is all put away now and I am not getting it out again because everyone in my house will make fun of me, including Yoshi, even though I brought home Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Granite Peak for some socks for him.

And as promised, some Hallowe'en mischief. I rolled Walter's house; I knew I could get away with it.

* - I am not stupid. I know there are woodchucks. It's just funnier this way.

02 November 2006

What I did on my New England vacation in words and pictures, by Lisa, age 30, Part One

Holy crap, I don't really suck! Here are my pictures of Rhinebeck!

Swan and I met up at Hartford Airport on Thursday afternoon, made a deeply emotional stop at WEBS (of which there are no pictures, I was fresh off the plane and the camera was packed), and promptly drove for a slow eternity through some gorgeous New England foliage. When I get to take pictures of the haul I brought home, you may notice a fall colors theme running through parts of it, but that's for another day. In the meantime...

Here's our mostly creepy motel room:

Here's what we were mostly convinced was blood on the ceiling:

Can you see it? The two funny smudges that barely show up?

We went to the Morehouse Merino shop, Sheep's Clothing, on Friday. Amazing place.

Absolutely beautiful colorways, nicest staff EVER, and this across the street:

Enough Prozac to cheer up a third world country.

They close at six so the staff can run naked through the shop, I think. That's what I would do anyway (and why I can never, ever get a job in a yarn shop with street-facing windows).

Here's Swan, happy with her yarn acquisition:

And here's me, next to the little waterfall-y creek behind the store. Fall colors. We don't see much of that down here in the tropical South. I was really inspired.
I bought a kit and needles for a beret (because I look really good in hats, wink at Cyn). I bought matching yarn for a scarf. I made Swan wind me a ball and cast on within hours of getting back to our room.
More tomorrow. Small doses of Rhinebeck are best.
Preview of coming attractions: knitting celebrities (not celebs who knit, but celebs who are celebs because they knit), a story about imaginary woodchucks, relaxing in the best bed ever, and Olive the Cat entertains. Also, Hallowe'en mischief, if I can get the picture to download properly.
Oh, and by the way: the camera? It was buried in the laundry basket of new stash sitting in the bedroom. Where'd all that new yarn come from?