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.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Only 250 Days Until Christmas

Because I am either insane or a slow knitter, I've already begun the knitting for Christmas 2015. I think I began in late February. The details are hazy, but last night I cast off the first project for the upcoming holidays.

Madeline Tosh Vintage, superwash merino, colourway Purple Basil

I've got 250 days to complete several scarves, shawls, cowls and whatnots. But I'm done with the first, a Spiral Staircase Shawl, by LizAnn Petch. It's a free download on Ravelry (my favourite kind!), and I've already got the second on the needles. This second one will be a gift to my friend Adrienne who is letting Brandon and me stay at her place in Provincetown for a week. She likes pink, so I did my best to find a lovely pink yarn. Tosh's Fragrant. I'm not sure who comes up with the names for the various colours at Tosh, but whoever it is, he or she certainly has a vivid imagination.
I've completed another iteration of the pattern since taking this picture, so there are now seven points on the shawl. It is knitting up fairly quickly, and now that I've mastered the (to me) bizarre bind off, I'm really enjoying it. I have already begun my spreadsheet for who is getting what for Christmas, and I think I'll be able to raid my stash for a lot of these shawls. One of the advantages to having achieved SABLE, I reckon.

The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival is less than a month away! I have started to peruse the list of vendors at this year's festival, and already know which ones I want to visit. I've been stashing money away each week, so as not to upset the budget in a big way, My goal is to buy things I cannot buy in local stores, so no Tosh for me that trip. I will be out of town during Webs' big Tent Sale this year. I had hoped to make it one more time, if only to buy things from the local vendors who set up in the parking lot. Perhaps another time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Yan, Tan, Tethera

I am reading, among several other things,* Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching stories. They reference a counting system once found in England that was used to count sheep, starting with yan, tan, tethera. Since I am the product of a good liberal arts education, I looked up Yan, Tan, Tethera and whilst reading the article, discovered that it was also used to count knitting in some part(s) of England.

The words seem to be based on Brythonic Celtic languages (Welsh and Breton are the surviving examples of Brythonic languages; Irish and Scottish Gaelic are surviving members of Goidelic languages). The article gives several versions of the counting system, and anyone can see the connexions between the given words. I followed the link listed to the Wiki article on this counting system being used in knitting, and was sent here. The numbers are listed as follows:

  1. Yahn                             11.  Yahn-dik
  2. Tahn                             12.  Tayn-dik
  3. Tether                          13.  Tether-dik
  4. Mether                         14.  Mether-dik
  5. Mimph                         15.  Mimph-it
  6. Hithher                        16.  Yahn-a-mimphit
  7. Lithher                          17.  Tayn-a-mimphit
  8. Auver                            18.  Tether-a-mimphit
  9. Dauver                        19.  Mether-a-mimphit
  10. Dik                                20.  Jig-it

Part of why I find this so fascinating is that when casting on hundreds of stitches, I'll put stitch markers every 20 stitches. Now, if I can memorise this counting system, I'll feel like I'm part of an older knitting tradition. Sadly, it appears that the use of this counting system in England is extinct. I think we should revive the tradition. This is the type of thing that makes me happy, and exclaim, "Cool!" I know, I'm kind of geeky that way.

* I'm also reading Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion, by Anne Somerset,
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, by Jung Chang,
Joanna: The Notorious Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, & Sicily, by Nancy Goldstone
I have a thing for historical biography, and just finished (again) George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, by Miranda Carter

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tired Legs Mean I Can't Knit

I have decided that since my fat clothes are getting too tight (I feel like too much sausage stuffed into too little casing), that it was high time to return to the gym. So I'm in my third week of getting up at 4:00 am and trudging to the gym so I can do 50 minutes of intense cardio exercise. So far it is working, and I'm losing two pounds a week (weigh-in day is every Friday, and I'm down 4 pounds! who knows what the end of this week will bring?).

What's the downside to all this exercise? Well, I'm at the gym when I would normally be knitting. I usually get up at 5:00 am, turn on NPR's Morning Edition, listen until 7:00, and knit. Renee Montaigne, Steve Inskeep, and David Green are my morning buddies while I knit a few more rows. I have to admit, while I really love seeing the pounds melt off me, I miss my morning news time. And more, I miss my morning knit time.

I suppose I could knit when I get home at the end of the day. I tried that last night. I got home around 7:30 pm, and stretched out on the bed. I'll pick up the needles in a few minutes, I thought. But stretched out legs felt so good, and I didn't want to curl them up to sit like a tailor (which is my most common position when knitting at home). And then I didn't want to get up and walk across the room to fetch my knitting (my legs are tired!). I finally turned the light out, long before my regular bed-time, because I realised that's what my body wanted. Sleep, glorious, healing, wonderful sleep!

I need to get my butt in gear, and get my knit on, because I've promised a friend some caps and a few other things. He's recently had a bout with cancer, and finds that he cannot get warm since undergoing chemo. The free caps offered at his hospital tend toward the more feminine styles and would never fit his big melon of a head, and he's a big ol' bear of a man. He likes blues and greens and olive colours. I'm going through my stash now to find some stuff for him. I need to get some bulky alpaca to make him a man-shawl, though I won't call it that. It's a soft blanket to wrap around your torso when you're shivering. I have some Malabrigo Mecha that I think will be just perfect. Tonight, after work, tired legs or no, I'm starting a new cap.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Drowning in Garter

It's been two weeks since I've felt motivated to write. Mostly because my knitting has not been inspiring me. I'm all about the meh these days. The last two times I went to knit-night I did no knitting, and fell asleep in my chair with neither yarn nor needles in my hands.

Something had to be done.

Something was.

I started a new project, that even though is all garter stitch, has me counting stitches, making yarn overs and it's coming along splendidly! You know, sometimes even garter stitch can rock! The other night I cast on the four stitches of Spiral Staircase Shawl (corrected), by LizAnn Petch, and am loving every stitch. I think it should have been called The Sea Serpent's Back, or Dragon Ridges, or some such. But then I probably read too much fantasy as a youth (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was my favourite book as a kid, and I loved the chapter about their encounter with the sea-serpent).

You can see the ridges taking shape, and while I get the staircase name, I still prefer the sea-serpent reference.
The yarn is Madeline Tosh Vintage, the colourway is Purple Basil. I love this colour!

I am also making a garter stitch baby blanket, in Cascade Superwash 128.
When I've finished each strip, I'll sew them together. I might rearrange the order, and I might make a couple more strips. I got two skeins of each colour, and will be able to make a few more. I've got about a double dozen rows to go and I'll be done with these. But I have to admit, it's boring!

The final garter stitch project currently on the needles is this cowl.
Made with Lamb's Pride and an unremembered yarn, it was supposed to be a garter scarf, two rows of the Lamb's Pride, two rows of the other, making a stripey scarf. But the friend I am making this for, wanted a cowl, so I am doing 206 stitches of knit, followed by 206 stitches of purl. It's coming out well, it looks good, and I think it will wear well when done, but like the project above, it is boring! I find myself going brain dead while knitting it. I wonder what I can do to make it less mind-numbingly tedious? I thought that it would be a good project to bring to knit-night, but I hate to drag it out because it bores me so. Well, the sooner I get it done, the sooner I don't have to knit it anymore. I'll get on it, right after I finish my sea-serpent!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Here's Looking at You

I have finally finished the eyeball scarf I've been working on since January. It's ready to go home to William, its new owner. Now we just have to coőrdinate our schedules to do this. 
On Friday night, I glued little black glass beads to the felted irises, and I threaded a very sharp needle with Regia sock yarn and proceeded to stack the eyeballs on this yarn. 

Since I'd forgotten my needles, and didn't want to buy a new set (because, really, who needs to pairs of US 35 / 20 mm needles?), I cast-on the scarf on Sunday. The original pattern calls for a total of five stitches, but I chose to cast-on nine. Holding the two yarns together, I began to knit them up, and every now and then I'd slide an eyeball down and knit it into the scarf. Placement of the eyeballs was somewhat haphazard, but there were enough for a three-foot-plus-a-bit scarf.

The eyeballs that are on the dropped yarn-overs kind of dangle. They're creepy.

While this wasn't a difficult project, if I ever do it again, there are some things I'd do differently.

  1. I would make more eyeballs. Fifteen just isn't quite enough, I think I'd aim for 20.
  2. I would needle-felt the irises as a flat sheet, on a sponge or something, rather than felting them right onto the eyeball.
  3. While making the eyeball, I'd attach the felted iris and start rolling it along toward the end of the eyeball making process, so I wouldn't have to needle-felt it onto the eyeball.
  4. I think I would glue or somehow tie the eyes to the yarn (I used Malabrigo Rasta for this project, in colourway Porrinho), rather than trying to thread them onto a sock yarn thread.
  5. I'd cast-on fewer stitches. Five didn't seem to be enough, but I think nine was too many. Maybe seven would do the trick.
  6. I think I will call my version of this yarn, Here's Looking At You.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

N is for Neville

I have hit a snag. A small snag. I'm bored with my knitting. Not bored with knitting, but bored with my knitting. Right now I have several projects on the needles, and they're all about garter stitch, no stockinette. Cue Megan Trainor.

I'm working on a garter stitch baby blanket. I'm knitting blocks in various colours that will be stitched together when done. Garter. Stitch. Blocks. I must have been perfectly evil in a past life to deserve this. I'm working on a cowl that is supposed to be an all garter stitch scarf, but my friend wanted a cowl, so I'm knitting 206 stitches of garter and then 206 stitches of purl, so it looks like garter.

And I am so terrifically bored with these two projects that I'm not knitting when I have the chance at home.  I know I have to finish them, but would it be wicked of me to work on them just a little bit and then work on something just a bit more, oh, I don't know, a bit more fabulous? A double knit scarf? Or maybe I should learn to make the stuffed bears, snowmen, and platypus toys that are so charming? Or a kick-ass shawl? Or some lace?

Oh, and the Blue Water Cowl?
I hit a snag on the Blue Water Cowl and I don't want to talk about it.
I have to tink back an entire row.
said I don't want to talk about it.

I think I'm going to think about corgis instead.

N is for Neville is from the Gashleycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey, 1963

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Too Many Projects to Decide

In the novel Bingo, Rita Mae Brown has one of her characters say, "The happiest day of my life was when Frances moved in, and the second happiest day of my life was when Frances moved out." Knitting is something like that. My supreme joy is casting on, a new project, ripe with possibilities! My second joy is casting off, the ripeness fulfilled, reaping what has been sown. And in between is all that knitting.

Don't get me wrong. I love knitting. The physical act of creating knit and purl stitches is something I truly enjoy, or I wouldn't do it so much. But sometimes the interminable knitting can be a bit much.

So I have kind of overwhelmed myself. I've got five projects on the needles, recently bought or stash-picked yarn to make four more projects, and the kind of helpless feeling that I don't know what to do next, which project to work on right now.

This is the first project I cast on. It's a kit for a striped scarf I picked up on the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl back in September. I offered to make it for a friend, and he said it would be better as a cowl. So this completely knit-in-garter scarf has become knit one row of 206 stitches, and purl one row of 206 stitches. It's a bit wonky where I change yarns, but I'm determined not to be too concerned about that.

And I promised my friend Dolci a cowl, and she likes purple. I cannot, for the life of me, find the two skeins of Lolita Madeline Tosh I got when Windsor Button closed (I think I bought out their entire stock of Tosh, except for two skeins, the colour of which I did not like). So I cast on some Malabrigo Worsted to make a honey cowl, which I did not photograph, because I've only done the first four rows of stockinette and I think the first row of the slip stitch pattern. Right now it doesn't look like much of anything at all, and I'm not sure it's the right yarn for the job.

I've also cast on this cowl, in a dark purple Baah La Jolla yarn. 
I've not done much more than the six rows of ribbing and the first row of the lace pattern, but what is really cool about this cowl is that every knit stitch is ktbl, a technique I didn't know how to do, and learned just to make this project. Now knitting through the back loop isn't all that hard to do, but when you've never done it before, it's a bit counter intuitive. Now that I've done six rows of over 200 stitches with ktbl I'm an old pro at it. This is the first of my Yuletide knits that I've cast on this year for Christmas 2015 (cast on 2/9/15). I want an early start.

When I went to knitting on Friday night, there was an offer for $10 in store bucks (sort of like a credit, I assume), if you could make a scarf for the homeless by the 28th. I spent $30 on superwash Cascade 128 and for needles (hey, we're talking ten bucks' credit here!) and this morning attached the second ball of yarn, so I'm just past half way done.
This year's winter has been brutal, with over six feet of snow, temperatures in the single digits (if not below 0). So this will be a very small contribution to the well being of our city this year. I've been thinking about this a lot, and I have a lot of leftover yarn that is just sitting in my bins. I reckon I could take some of the superwash and make hats for the homeless. I think this will be a project for this year. 

For upcoming projects, I have these that I can show off.
For Brandon's mom, a honey cowl in Malabrigo, colourway Volcan. She likes brown, and this stuff is just lovely.

For William's eyeball scarf, I chose this Malabrigo Rasta, colourway Porrinho.
This weekend I counted out 75 yards and tied a wee slip knot there, since the original Vitreous Humour is that length. I'm still not sure how to attach the eyeballs. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
A plate of eyeballs.

For myself, a cowl in this, also Rasta.
I need to wash the Mecha cowl I normally wear, and need something to use while it is drying. This knit on US 17 needles. I  need to sit down and do it, because I don't think it will take all that long.

I'm also contemplating a sweater, in Donegal Tweed, a cobalt blue. But I need to think about where I'd fit it in, because I still have Brad's sweater to finish.

I think I've bitten off a bit more than I can chew. I need to learn to pace myself, and not cast on so many things at the same time. Somehow the adage applies here: You cannot have a baby in one month by impregnating nine women.