This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Progress and other musings

Life, and posting, would be so much easier if only I had internet access at home. But I don't, and we are entering the season when cafes which provide internet are closing earlier so I don't have enough time to bang one of these puppies out. The tribulations of modern life. O spite! O hell!

Enough whining. I am almost done with the first of the two scarves I'm making for Tim and Mike. I ended the first skein on Mike's scarf the other day, and added the second yesterday morning. I reckon it will be about five feet long when done. I am also going much slower than I had projected.

I wonder about my inability to accurately reckon how long something will take me, or how much time in a given week I'll have to knit. I also don't figure on fatigue from sitting in a tailor position for a long time, which is usually how I sit on my bed at home where I do most of my knitting.

Trying to get a handle on this, I realised that the first half of the scarf was 30 inches long. So if the second skein will produce the same length, then I have to knit 10 inches each day to finish with a five foot scarf. I was able to knit the requisite 10 inches yesterday, and this morning before leaving for work, I was able to knit 30 rows, which is about five inches. So, another 30 rows before bed, and I'll be on track for this project today. If I can knit up another 60 rows tomorrow, I'll have it done, and can embark on the next project, which is the mate to this scarf, only in purple.

I am pretty sure I can get everything done before it's all supposed to be done. I am calm, I am collected, I am cucumberesque. No, really. Because I still have almost two months before Christmas, and three of the cowls don't need to be done until mid-January. And I'm confident. I am. Really.

I just wish I were independently wealthy so I could devote more time to knitting.

I am determined that next year I'm not going to do this to myself, and that I am actually going to knit some things for myself. I want to make a few sweaters, and actually use the yarn in my stash to do it (though I saw some awesome blue tweed yarn from Scotland that looks like it would make an awesome sweater). I also want to knit myself a traditional Aran sweater, in that creamy Irish yarn that is redolent with lanolin.

Next year will be the year of selfish knitting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Yarn Gets Notional

What happens when the gorgeous, expensive, silky-merino yarn you bought for a project (two, actually, scarves for a soon-to-be-married couple) fights you even while you're casting on? I tried casting on this afternoon and couldn't get the right number of stitches, the yarn kept splitting when I tried to knit it, and this was after trying to cast on six different times.

I have heard it said, by knitters who are much more experienced than I, who are, in fact, better knitters than I will ever be (which doesn't mean I don't try to push my limits, but I'm still scared stupid by Estonian lace), who are adamant in their belief that if the yarn doesn't want to be the project you intend for it to be, then it won't happen. And if it does happen, then it will be a long road of sorrowful knitting.

As an atheist, I have a hard time giving agency to yarn (never mind the Universe, so don't let's talk about karma, 'kay?). It's an inanimate object. I bought it to knit up some scarves for my friends, and while I have a pretty limitless stash, I don't have the right colours (purple for him, and red for him) in the same type of yarn. (Yes, I'm making matching scarves: fibre, pattern, number of stitches. Deal with it.) I could buy more yarn, but I'm trying to de-stash, not re-stash. But back to my main point (yes, I do have one). Does the yarn tell us what it wants to be? What if we want it to be one thing, and it wants to be something else? Who wins? I mean, I paid good money for this stuff, and to have it be so recalcitrant is quite unnerving. Can it be balky, and not take the shape we want for it? If I don't knit this stuff up into the scarves I'm planning, then I really won't have any use for it. I have four skeins, two in each colour, and I got the last two of the purple. Returning it is not an option, since one skein of each colour has been wound (and cast on, and cast on, and cast on, and cast. . . well, you get the picture). I want to know just who this yarn thinks it is that it can be so defiant and not knit up into what I picture it to be, nice warm scarves for people I care about. If yarn can get notional about what it wants to be knit up into, what happens when I buy enough of something to make a sweater, and it decides it really wants to be a shawl? Cheeky.

I will admit that I was having a bad day, and while I was knitting with the small group, one of the knitters was being very unsure of her project and kept asking me about yarn choices, pattern choices, needle choices, methods of felting (about which I am no expert, having felted only once, not that she was making a felting project, and besides, she was knitting with a yarn that was 75% acrylic), and I probably should have realised that I was not going to get any of my own work done today and just focused on her questions (which is not my job, I know, but sometimes you just have to suck it up).

So maybe the yarn was not doing what I wanted it to do because I was having a bad day, and I was distracted by the questions of a not-really-newbie knitter who was anxious about her yarn choices (she doesn't understand my dislike (read: disdain) of yarns that are acrylic), and who wanted to talk about patterns while I was trying to count stitches I'd just cast on.

Or maybe the yarn really doesn't want to become a scarf for my friend, and I'm really screwed.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Finished Object Friday!

I have two objects that were recently finished. I'd hoped to add a third (almost done with that damn scarf!), but alas! I still have about another five iterations of the pattern to go through. So I'll be done tomorrow. Feh.

This is the feather and fan scarf, knit in an intense purple (so why does every picture make it look blue?), from a handspun/hand-dyed yarn I bought in the Provincetown farmer's market when I was there in July. It is 60% merino, and 40% silk (and is splitty as all get out!). But it's pretty. The ends need weaving, and it wants blocking, but this is how it looks now.
It's five feet long, and I think it will keep the recipient quite warm.

This is the Honey Cowl, made from tussah silk, added to my stash last year, from the delightful and eclectic store The Artful Ewe, Port Gamble, WA. Tehis is a smokey grey, with highlights in green and yellow. 
The ends need to be woven, and it needs to be blocked. And I'm still not sure who is going to get it. But it sure is pretty.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cool as a Cucumber

I am calm. I am collected. I am cucumberesque.
I am calm. I am collected. I am cucumberesque.
I am calm. I am collected. I am trying not to freak the fuck out with all the knitting I want to get done before the holidays kick me in the nuts.

So I think I have it in hand. I'm knitting an Irish Hiking Scarf for my nephew in Malabrigo Rios, Ravelry Red. The texture is really different from the Madeline Tosh ones I've already made. I've forgotten how pleasant it is to knit with Rios.


I keep track of the rows by making a hash mark for each row completed, I am alternating colours for days: black on even days, red on odd. And measuring it at the end of each day. Since I have Thursday and Friday off this week, I hope to finish it before Saturday. I reckon I have about 18 more iterations of the pattern to complete.
This is the card where I'm tracking my progress.

I've divided the weeks of the month for each project. This week is the nephew's scarf.
Next week are the scarves for Tim and Mike, some friends of mine. I'll be doing the same pattern for them, and it's a fast pattern, so I reckon I'll get them done in a week.
The third week of October is for my niece's scarf. Not sure what I'm doing there, nor how long it will take.
The fourth week of October is for Kristen's cowl. Not sure of the pattern yet, but I do have the yarn.
The month of November is put aside for Brad's sweater, Steven's neck warmer ('cause he's a guy, it isn't a cowl), and maybe the fingerless gloves for Lauren and Rachael.
The first two weeks of December are put aside for the Grace Jones cowls for Maddy and Grace.
Steven's warmer and the cowls for Grace and Maddy can wait til January if they must, since I won't be seeing them until then.

I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Progress Report: three months before the holidays

It was Lao Tzu who said, "The journey of 10.000 miles begins with the realisation that 10.000 miles is one hell of a long journey."

OK, no he didn't. He did say, "The journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step."
When I started my holiday knitting in March, I had ambitious plans. I made a list with a dozen cowls, half a dozen scarves, a sweater, a vest, and maybe even some hats.

It is the beginning of October, and I have admitted defeat. I am not going to complete 12 Honey Cowls by Christmas (I've done four, and have one on the needles!), and while I might get four more scarves done, it will be through sheer bloody mindedness. Plus the sweater on the needles that is almost half way done (well, I've got 18 inches of fabric, and need to get to 21 before I can indent for the armholes, then another 12 or 13 inches of knitting to finish just the back).

What have I accomplished thus far?

  • Four honey cowls
  • Two Irish hiking scarves
  • One bulky knit scarf
  • One feather-and-fan scarf
Eight items for about six-and-a-half months' knitting. 

Feh.

The following projects and yarns are what I hope to accomplish before the holidays set in and when I'm done, I can sit down with a giant martini.

Scarves for Tim and Mike
Scrumptious Chunky by Fyberpates. Red for Mike, purple for Tim. I'm thinking a quick pattern of two rows of garter, two rows of 1x1 ribbing, repeat. It knits up fast and looks good. This stuff is 55% merino and 45% silk. 

Scarf for Michela
Juniper Moon Farm's Moonshine! At 40% wool, 40% alpaca, and 20% silk, this is rich and luxurious. I'm not sure what the stitch definition will be like, so I'll do a swatch. If the definition is good, I'll go for a cable scarf, maybe the Irish Hiking Scarf, by Adrian Bizilia (check out the Ravelry page, it's a free pattern!). I got this yarn on the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, with a scarf for my niece in mind.

Scarf for Peter
Malabrigo Rios, in Ravelry Red! I know the stitch definition in this yarn is good, so I'm thinking of the Irish Hiking Scarf. I think my nephew would like it. I got this yarn at Quarter Stitch in New Orleans.

Cowl for Kristen
Madeline Tosh Vintage, colourway? Tart, of course! Not that Kristen is a tart, but she'll be vastly amused by the name of the colour. I would like to do a fast cowl for her, even though I really like the Honey Cowl, I think it might be too slow to knit (what with all the stuff I need to get done!). I'll look through Ravelry to find a decent pattern. This yarn is from Stitch House in Dorchester. I grabbed the last two skeins.

Cowls for Maddy and Gracie
More Moonshine from Juniper Moon Farms. I think Maddy likes purple, and Gracie likes teal (yes, that lower yarn is teal, though you can't tell from the picture). I got this on the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, with these two young women in mind. I didn't have a pattern at the time, but I'm thinking the Grace Jones Cowl (see Ravelry, it's really cool!). 

Neck warmer for Steven
I have yarn. I have an idea for a pattern. I just don't know which yarn or which pattern. Steven doesn't like scarves, but he does like his neck to be warm. I have some beautiful orange yarn by A Hundred Ravens which might do well for Steve. Have to think about it.

Scarf for John
This beautiful hand spun black (undyed!) alpaca was gotten from one of the tents during Webs' Tent Sale. It's from Donna Young from Western Massachusetts. I think I have only 300 yards, so I have to think carefully about the pattern. I had wanted to do something with cables, but, first, I'm not sure John is a cable kind of guy, and two, I don't think I have enough to make a long enough cabled scarf with this. But it's soooo lovely!

And of course, the sweater for Brad
I've got about 18 inches of fabric here. It's Lamb's Pride Bulky, 85% wool, 15% mohair. It's fat yarn on fat needles, and it knits up right fast. I got it at Mind's Eye Yarns last January, right after our reunion. I started knitting it in July, but I think now that it's cooler, I'll enjoy it more.

Nine projects in three months? It took me just over six months to knit eight projects.
Can I do it?  Of course I can make it!

Which is why I'll need the a-fore-mentioned martini when I'm done!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Morning Miscellany

I'm still exhausted by the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, but, I must press on. I still have a metric shite-tonne (is it a swear if I type it in British English?) of knitting to do for the holidays. I'm almost finished with the feather and fan scarf, just nine more inches (and a bit) and it will be done! I reckon that if I knit three inches of fabric every morning, why, then it will be done it no time a-tall!
 Detail of Feather & Fan

Feather & Fan

I will move onto the scarves for my niece and nephew after this are done. Red Malabrigo for him, Green Juniper Moon Moonshine for her. I'm looking forward to knitting these, and think I'll use the Irish Hiking Scarf pattern.

The other thing on the needles is a honey cowl, done up in tussah silk, all from The Artful Ewe, in Port Gamble, WA, which I bought last year. I just added the second skein last night.

I wasn't sure if I liked the colour, but in the sunlight, it really shines with bits of black, grey, and green. I'm not sure who is going to get it, though.

Over the weekend, I moved six bins of yarn to a friend's basement. It's not that I don't want my yarn (I do, I want all of it!), but that I have only one room in my apartment, and 25 bins of yarn take up a lot of space. So, until I'm living in a better (and roomier) situation, those six bins (and probably another five or six) will be living "off campus" as it were.
There's a lot o' woolly goodness in them there bins!

This weekend, I opened my mailbox, and discovered this:
My friend Joe found it in California, and shipped it to me. The last time I mentioned this book, about a year ago, I had seen it on Amazon, and they were charging well over $100 for it. Not worth it for a book published in 1972. I know that Joe didn't spend that much on it, and I am absolutely delighted with it! It gives basic step by step instructions for men to knit, advises them to let a "professional" block their items for them, and includes these projects:

  • A dog bed (for man's best friend)
  • A cap (done flat, with the seams crocheted together)
  • A wall hanging (to display the blue ribbon your horse or cow won)
  • A blanket for your horse (knit on a rubber hose that has been sliced to an appropriate size, the ends sharpened, and knit with extra bulky/chunky yarn)
  • A slipover sweater (a vest, basically two squares of knitted fabric, sewn along the sides, leaving armholes and a neck hole)
  • A hammock (knit with rope on pool cues or shovel handles)
I think I would like to knit the hammock, actually.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, part the third.

There is so much I want to blog about, but not having internet at home has put a couple of road blocks in my way. There's the rest of last week's yarn crawl, the fact that I have moved six bins of yarn to a friend's basement, or the cool new book I received from a friend, or the frustration of hunting for needles that I know I own but cannot find, or the frustration of knitting several rows on a honey cowl, but seeing no change in its width, or the fact that my feather and fan scarf only needs 12 more inches before its done!

Deep breath!

OK, let's finish out the yarn crawl. We went to a total of seven stores on Sunday (and to two stores during the second and third days of the crawl, for a total of nine!). I really can't remember the order, so here is some of the yarn I got on the crawl

At Elissa's Creative Warehouse, I bought these two intriguing skeins. TSC Artyarns, a merino wool yarn that I think will be fun to knit up.
I also ordered some yarn from the Creative Warehouse, but they called me to let me know it will be a while before it comes in. Which is not a bad thing, since I have so much to knit right now.

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At The Black Sheep in Needham, I think I fell in love. Several times. They have a really nice selection, and I got some wonderful yarns, a few patterns, and decided that their big door prize was the one I was going to try to win in the drawing (I've since sent in my passport cover).

Some beautiful Road to China yarn, by The Fibre Company, which is alpaca, cashmere, baby camel, and silk, is really lovely stuff. It is lush, luxurious, and will be fun to knit up!

What trip to a yarn store is complete without some Malabrigo Finito?  I'm thinking about a lacy shawl for the niece.

Black  Sheep was selling this little oddity: a zipper with a ball of yarn. You got a free pattern to make a scarf in one colour, then to knit the sides to attach to the zipper, for a zippered cowl. I have absolutely no idea if I will ever make this, or for whom, but it was quirky and I liked it.

This pattern uses Baah Yarn to create a beautiful cowl. Want to try it, it looks like a fun and challenging knit.

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A trip to JP Knit and Stitch was fun, but a bit more disappointing. I hadn't been there in a long time, and their selection of yarns was smaller than I remembered. They are primarily a fabric shop, and it almost feels like they are phasing out the yarn. They do, however, carry Dirty Water Dyeworks yarns, and I was delighted to add this skein to my collection.
This is Clara, 100% blue faced Leicester. All 550 yards of it! I am really looking forward to knitting this up. DWDW is a local company, and I've seen their stuff before at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival.

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The final stop on the Yarn Crawl was Mind's Eye Yarns. Always a delightful place to shop, we called them en route, because we weren't sure we'd get there before the 5:00 PM closing time. They told us to come on over, that they'd wait for us. And so we did!
I got this wool to make a big heavy shawl for a friend. I think this will be the knitting I bring with me to the reunion in January. Well, one of the projects, at least! This is put out by Brown Sheep, and will knit up very nicely.

 This kit is one skein of Lamb's Pride, and another skein which I cannot remember, to make a striped scarf. Hugh has already cast his on, and I will do the same soon. Looks like a fun knit, to create a striped scarf with the stripes along the length of the scarf.

Mind's Eye also had the best swag! There was a tote bag with the yarn crawl's logo, and these goodies:
A skein of Cascade alpaca! 

This pattern, and. . .
 The yarns to make it! Kraemer Yarns, which I'd never encountered before. I wonder if I'll knit it up? I know at least two people who have recently had little girls, though this is more for a toddler. I'll think about it, though.

Finally, in our swag bag were these two skeins of CoBaSi (cotton, bamboo, silk) yarn by HiKoo (which does not seem to have a website). I've wanted to try this yarn out for a while, so here's the perfect opportunity!

So, this was the 2014 Greater Boston Yarn Crawl. It was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year. Maybe I'll be able to hit up some of  the stores I missed this year.