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.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Forever Yarn, Doylestown, PA

It's the annual trip to Pennsylvania for the reunion with my old housemates and some other friends from our divinity school days. The reunion I missed last year because I'd just moved to New Orleans. But I'm here this year, and another couple had to miss because of a horrible virus one of them picked up from the kindergarten where she teaches. But their (young adult) daughters are here, and they are such delightful young persons!

Every time I come to this reunion, we make our way to Doylestown, about 25 minutes from where my friends live, and hit up a couple of shops, the same ones every year: the yarn store, the used book store, and the chocolate shop. I missed the book store this year because I spent so much time in the yarn store, but I did manage to make it to the chocolate shop!

I walked into Forever Yarn, and immediately was greeted by Yan, the owner, with a delighted smile and a hug. We caught up on the news, I apologised for missing the shop last year, and she took me around showing me new yarns, the Madeline Tosh (she knows my weakness!), and was particularly proud of the Swift Yarn, and the colourway the dyer made personal colourway, Uptown Graffiti. Just lovely. It was a terrific time with her, and the other ladies who were sitting around the table knitting. Brandon was with me, and actually picked out a skein of yarn for me to make him a hat. Seriously, I need to teach him how to knit.

My haul was modest, a mere six skeins (plus one that Brandon bought). I'm on a limited budget, you know. I think I'm going to start saving for next year's haul with my next paycheque. This year's haul includes the following:
Of course I had to get some Madeline Tosh! I can't get it at any store in New Orleans, and I need to feed my addiction. I'm thinking a hat or a striped scarf with this, the red is Tart, and the off-white is Birch Grey, in DK weight. I always love the names that the Tosh folk come up with for colours.

More Tosh! Silki Merino this time. The colourway is Beach Bonfire, and it's a 50-50 blend of silk and merino wool. Brandon likes pink, and picked this out, and has requested a hat. It's a DK weight and really feels good.

A new yarn being carried is Swift Yarns, which are hand dyed in New York City! These two skeins are 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. And no, I'm not making socks with them.
The dark blue colourway is named Lady Macbeth, the white-speckled-with-blue is Blueberry Hill. I'm thinking another Death of the Moon shawl for these. The picture does not do them justice.

This is also Swift Yarns, in Yan's signature colourway, Uptown Graffiti. She gave this skein to me, a bit of lagniappe. Such a New Orleans feel, and her generosity is so very much appreciated. It is a four ply sport weight yarn, made of superwash merino.

Brandon bought some yarn for me to make a hat for him. Not a colourway I would have chosen, but he likes the bright, the bodacious, the neon. The colourway is Venus
Qing Fiber (pronounced "Ching," like the last Chinese dynasty), are hand dyed in the UK. The fibre content is 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, and 10% nylon. It is surprisingly soft, and will make a nice warm hat for the not very cold winters we have in New Orleans. I'm looking forward to knitting this up, since the shop samples Yan had were very lovely and had a nice drape. Please note the link is to the dyer's Etsy page.

Finally, a photo of Yan and me, holding my new yarns. Yan insisted we take the picture in front of the Madeline Tosh display, since I have such a love for that yarn.

Yan, the owner of the shop, and your author, holding my newest acquisitions to my stash.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From UFO to WIP

I know I haven't been writing much. I've actually been knitting. A lot. No, really, but I'm writing this at work and don't have any pictures of my current project with me, so you'll just have to take my word. I picked up an old UFO, a sweater I promised to my friend Brad. I was unable to attend our reunion last year, and being clever, I knew I had so much time to work on it that I put it off to work on other projects. Now we're leaving for the reunion tomorrow night, and I'm nowhere near where I want to be. I didn't actually want to finish it, but I did want it to be at the place where I could join the front panel to the back. Since I only see Brad once a year I wanted to measure the panels against him, to make sure they fit, because he's 6'4" and I've never knit anything for anyone so tall. The pattern doesn't quite take into consideration someone of Brad's dimensions.

The back panel is done. I think, but I won't really know until I measure it against him. The front panel, well, I've been working like a busy beaver on it for the last week, getting up at 4:30 in the morning so I can get 10 or 12 or more rows done each morning, which equals about two inches of fabric. I'm in the middle of the seventh repeat of the pattern, and just did the cable plus two rows before I left for work this morning, and we're at about 14 inches now. I had planned to knit the day away on Sunday, maybe doing thirty or forty rows (between six and eight inches of fabric) while listening to the Egyptian History podcast of which I've become so fond (what do you want to know about Hatshepsut and Thutmose III? I'm all about the 18th Dynasty!). But alas! I was convinced to appear in a commercial filming for the NOLA Tourism Board, and spent the entire day, from 7:00 AM til 5:00 PM working on the damn thing. I won't say I had a terrible time,but it was rather tiring to be on my feet all day. I'd never done anything like it, and while I'm glad I've done it, I feel absolutely no reason to ever do it again. I feel much the same way about the Grateful Dead. I'm so happy that I went to one of their concerts once, but never felt the need to go a second time. And now, well, I can't. So it all works out in the end.

Tonight I have to pack for our trip, since we are driving from New Orleans to just north of Philadelphia. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to knit in the car on Friday, when I'm not doing my share of the driving, But I had wanted to work on smaller projects, like a hat for Kyle and a scarf for Karen. Projects that are more easily managed in the tight confines of a compact car.

As may be, I know I won't be anywhere near ready to join the two panels when we leave tomorrow, but I have made a valiant attempt at it, and am  not displeased with the progress I've made. But still, I do wish I could have pulled it off.
I have made this sweater before, and this gives an idea of what the finished project will look like. Though the current iteration is in a different shade of blue, denim, as opposed to Persian. I had made this for myself, but had gained so much weight by the time I finished it (a couple years after starting it, since I was interrupted by grad school), that I ended up giving it to my friend Brian. Then I lost all that weight, but by then, it was too late to ask for it back. The pattern is a Yankee Knitter Design, pattern #30. The yarn I am using is Lamb's Pride bulky, in denim blue.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lagniappe and What I Worked For

Well hello, 2017! I can honestly and desperately ask, "What fresh hell is this?"

But enough about politics. I need a respite from the fray, from marches and on-line arguments with trolls and people so stupid I cannot believe they can walk and breathe at the same time.

This past weekend Bornside Yarns had their annual sale. The way it works is that Miss Bette puts up an on-line list of her sale yarns, mostly things that have either been discontinued by the manufacturer, or things she has decided no longer sell well enough to keep in stock. It's a first come, first serve sale, and as things are sold, they are marked, Out of Stock. I was asked to be one of the people who came in on Saturday morning to help fill the orders. We took the lists in the order in which they were received and put each item into a large brown grocery bag. These were tallied up, the customers, some local, some distant, were notified, and we, who had been asked to help in this endeavour, were paid in yarn. Ooooh, yarn! I had decided not to buy any sale yarn when I heard about it, because I really am trying to knit my stash (and so far have knit two projects this year with stash yarn!). But Miss Bette promised, so I took her up on it. And this is what I got.

Two red, one green, one black and one brown skein each of Nature's Shepherd, by Brown Sheep.
The red is labeled as Fire and the black as Obsidian
 The plan is to make a red pussy hat for a friend, and then with the remainder to make a red and black wool hat for someone. Red and black were my high school colours, so it is with mixed feelings hat I approach that project, seeing as I considered my years in Junior and Senior High School to be exercises in state sponsored terrorism.
The green is labeled Clover and the brown as Rich Earth
I fell in love with the green yarn while I was helping to pack the bags, and no one claimed it after all the orders were filled so I decided it needed to come home with me. I am thinking either a striped scarf or a hat. I'm leaning toward the hat idea, because scarves can be boring to make.

There was also some Rowan to be had. Rowan yarns are in a bit of a tizzy because from what I understand their British maker has discontinued them, or the distributor has stopped distributing them (which explains the cessation of the British Sheep Breeds yarns that I loved so much, and which I bought in abundance when they were discontinued).

These four skeins would make wonderful hats or scarves. Pure wool, they are soft and so knittable. And such a lovely dark navy blue.

The other Rowan yarn I scored was two skeins of a blue and purple heathered yarn.
 You can't really see it in this picture, but there is a very subtle heathering to this lovely wool.

The last thing I came away with was three skeins of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk). There were two skeins on sale, and I decided to get them, but there was a third skein on display, a bit shop worn, which Miss Bette added to my haul as lagniappe.
The colour is listed as Cabernet, and in real life, the yarn really does look like a glass of that wine.

I'm just giddy thinking about what I can make with all this yarn!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fibre Goals for 2017

Last night at knit night one of the women made a suggestion that is really resonating with me. Write down your knitting/fibre goals for 2017, and fill a bin with stash yarn that you'd like to knit by the end of the year, emptying the bin. I like this suggestion  a whole lot. So I've been thinking about what I could put in such a bin from my extensive stash, what do I want to knit in the coming year?
  1. Death of the Moon Shawls, for Libby, Carlene, Alexandra, Lisa, Adrienne, Kristen. 
  2. Finish Brad's sweater, of which only one panel is done.
  3. finish my double sided dragon scarf.
  4. Finish the brown sweater I've had on the needles for at least five years.
  5. Make a bunch of hats.
  6. Make my Icelandic sweater.
  7. Scarf for Tom.
  8. Learn to use my spinning wheel.
I think this is biting off a bit more than I can chew, since it takes me so long to make the Death of the Moon shawls (Ravelry pattern, by Josh Rykes), and I've got six of them planned. But if I could make one a month, really dedicate myself to knitting, and maybe do something in the months between, that might work out. And there are other things I want to do, like work with some of the Neighborhood Yarn I've picked up over the years from my trips to Pennsylvania and Forever Yarn. I wonder if I could throw in a couple of scarves or shawls using the yarns from that lovely store?

I also want to make a couple of things for myself next year. I don't think I did that at all this year. I really didn't get a whole lot done, and I'm not exactly proud of that. I want to make more time for knitting and for working with fibre. It's not enough to have an amazing stash. I need to use it as well. I have certainly achieved SABLE and I'm not going to live forever, so I really need to start getting all this gorgeous yarn on the needles and made into a finished object, and into someone's hands.

Recently I finished the latest (well, second) iteration of Cthulhu's Unspeakable Hat (free Ravelry pattern by Finlay Logan), using Berroco Ultra Alpaca, in black and emerald green.

The recipient has a large head, and I struggled to make sure the floats were long and the knitted Fair Isle part stretchy enough. I guess I'll know after Christmas when my friend's husband opens his gift.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yarn Acquisition.

For someone who is intent on not acquiring new yarn, I seem to be inundated with it recently. Some of it was gifted to me, and some of it was purchased by me. Regardless, I am now the proud owner of fourteen new skeins. And, miraculously, two of them are being knit up even as I type. Well, not exactly as I type, but a project using them is on the needles, and may well be finished soon. I'll post that yarn when the hat is done. . . .

In my entry of 31 October, I mentioned my friend Kim went to Rhinebeck  and wrote me, asking if there was anything I needed. After culling my list to one thing, she sent me the most beautiful skeins of yarn from The Periwinkle Sheep. One in elderberry and one in vintage blue.

In November, My friend Sheeri went to the Eastern States Exposition Fiber Festival, and I asked her to get me two skeins of Periwinkle Sheep, so I could make a couple of Death of the Moon shawls (Josh Rykes) with them. She sent me these skeins, in The Witch's Cauldron and Clearing.

My plan is to pair them thus:

Vintage blue with The Witch's Cauldron.

Elderberry and Clearing.

I'm very excited get to knitting these, and am thinking of making a knitting calendar so I can get all my projects done next year in time for whatever delivery date I need for them.

Right before Thanksgiving, my friends Erick and Josh came to New Orleans for a visit. Erick is also a knitter, and a few months after I moved here, one of our favourite stores in Boston had a sale (they were going to strip and re-finish the floors), so all the yarn was half price. Erick got there the second day and said the place was almost completely cleaned out. But he was able to find a couple of things for me, which I'm counting as my Christmas present. I plan on wrapping these and opening them on Christmas day.

Here we see two lovely skeins of Baah La Jolla, in Powder blue. I have no idea what these are going to become, so I'll be perusing Ravelry's patterns when the time comes.

Then there is this single skein of Singin' the Blues. I think this should probably be paired with a very light colour to bring out the variegated shades in the yarn.

I don't have a lot of reds in my stash, and this addition of Garnet pleases me immensely. I'm trying to imagine a pattern for this, and what will pair best with it.

Erick also brought a skein of Sage. Another thing to ponder, what to pair it with and what to make with it. I love Baah yarns. The knit so beautifully and feel so good when they're on the needles.

What would life be like without Madeline Tosh? I can't find it locally, so Erick brought me Dandelion, which is 90% superwash Merino wool and 10% linen. It's a fingering weight, and I can imagine a light shawl made from this.

Erick found a bag of DPNs of all sizes, made in China. I am constantly misplacing my DPNs, so maybe these will help me when one of a set disappears.

I admit to a little retail therapy, Zen Yarn Garden's Serenity Silk. It is 75% superwash Merino, 15% cashmere, and 10% silk. The colourway is Blackberry-viola. Bournside Yarns got some in recently, and I was going to be good and not buy any yarn at all, but my cat, Serious Black, had to be put to sleep the week after Thanksgiving. He had developed a tumour and was not eating, so our vet thought it best to end any discomfort he might be feeling, and we agreed.

Serious Black, the Feline Overlord who is most sincerely missed by his human servants. We only had him for two months, but he really won our hearts. Ave vale atque, Serious Black.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Some Hats

I made some hats! My first ear-flap cap and a beautiful bear Fair Isle hat. One worked out well, the other, well, not so well. The first, the ear-flap cap, was knit in undyed alpaca which I had bought at Rhinebeck in 2011. It's worsted weight, though not tightly spun, so the effect is that it feels softer than alpaca normally does. I got the pattern for free on Ravelry, one by Deby Lake, though I added my own design elements. In the middle section, rather than using a Fair Isle motif, or self striping yarn, I used a solid milk-chocolate colour. I like the way it looks, and I think it will be very warm for its recipient, who lives in upstate New York.
 The only negative thing I can think of about this pattern is the I-cord. They are so boring to knit.

The second hat came out beautifully. The colour work looks good, I like the yarn, since it's my favourite, Madeline Tosh Vintage. The colourways are Celadon and Whiskey Barrel, and it looks so good! Unfortunately, even though I went up a needle size when doing the colourwork, the hat is too tight. I can barely get it on, and when I do one can see the floats under the knitting. And I know the person I made it for has a larger head than I do. So I have to scrap this one and figure out how I can knit it so that the floats give more stretch. I might also add a few stitches to the hat, and rework the decreases.

These hats are done, and I am already on a second forray of Cthulhu's Unspeakable Hat, a Christmas gift my friend Phyllis wants to give to her husband. The ribbing is done, and I've just started the stockinette portion. I hope to have it done by the middle so this week, and if I do, I'll post a picture!

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Naked Eye

I am 55 years old.
I have been wearing glasses since I was 12.
I have been wearing contact lenses since I was 18.
I have been wearing bi-focals since I was 35.
I have been wearing bi-focal contact lenses since I was 49.
This morning I realised that I can see my knitting best when I am not wearing any glasses or contact lenses at all. That's a hell of a thing to realise after going through as many eye exams as I have.

My very dear and beloved friend Lisa is visiting me in New Orleans, and since we've been friends since we met in 1975, having her with me is like a homecoming. We've gone to the yarn stores, we've walked along the Mississippi, we're going to have beignets this morning. And this morning I woke up earlier than she, and sat in the kitchen knitting a hat, wearing my glasses, looking through the reading lens and realised that when I needed to tink a stitch, or count the stitches on the needle that I was peering under the glasses, using my naked eye. I took off my glasses as I continued to knit, and was amazed that I could actually see my stitches better than I could when I was wearing my glasses.
Lisa at one of the many Little Free Libraries in my neighbourhood
 I have known for a long time that I have better vision with glasses than contacts (this has to do with how my very slight astigmatism is actually not corrected in my right eye, because it isn't bad enough to warrent correction). But since I detest wearing glasses I have put up with slightly less than perfect vision in my right eye for the last 37 years. I've learned to adjust and compensate. And I am now wondering if the reason I've stopped knitting as much as I did when I lived in Boston is because, since I usually don't take my lenses out until bed-time, the discomfort of knitting has become greater than the pleasure. Not that I took the damn lenses out earlier, but there seemed to be more light in my room than there is in my current living room. Or maybe my eyes are growing dim with age.

Since I do not want knitting to be uncomfortable, I shall endeavour to remove my lenses earlier in the evening so I can get some after-work knitting in.
Knitting without glasses