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.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Hampshire Sheep & Wool!

I have been so busy that I haven't even had time to think about writing. But I'm on vacation this week, and in New Orleans. What could be better than sitting in a cafe in front of the computer in the Crescent City, banging out a blog? Besides, Brandon had to work today.

Last weekend Huw, Lucy, Peter, and I went to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. We got there early in the morning, and we stayed for the entire day. It was glorious! There was yarn! There were sheep! There was yarn! There were alpacas! There was yarn! There were bunnies! There was yarn!
Freshly shorn alpaca with big hair
 

I had a list of vendors whom I wished to visit, and was able to make it to all of them. And I bought yarn from all of them, too. My list included Mad Color Fibers, Good Karma Farm, Decadent Fibers, Dirtywater Dyeworks, and Jan Marek Raczkowski Studio. I also patronised several other booths (I'm generous like that), and took the cards of several others, because, you know, my cash is a finite resource, and storage space is getting limited. But I had the best time, and a wicked fun conversation with the owner of Mad Color Fiber (she had dyed her hair purple). The colours in her yarns are so deeply saturated, and gorgeous. I actually went back to her booth to pick up one last skein of yarn. I actually have projects in mind for three of the skeins I got!
This is Rock Lobster, in Blue Face Leicester yarn. She also had a wonderful red called He's Not Dead Yet, but it was not the weight I wanted. But I can always order it on line. This red will become a Spiral Staircase Shawl for someone. The red is so intense.
Land of Oz, for a special niece who likes green. I'll probably knit these two skeins at the same time, since the colour values are slightly different.

From Good Karma Farms, these skeins are 60% alpaca and 40% wool. They'll make a man shawl for a friend of mine who is a one-year cancer survivor, but who cannot get warm.
800 yards of warm wooly goodness, waiting to be knit up.

And from Dirtywater Dyeworks, this gradient fingering yarn to make into a shawl or cowl. I've got a pattern in mind, but I'm not sure for whom yet. I've never really knit in fingering weight. The needle recommendation is US 1 to 3.


Other yarns were purchased, but I don't have people of projects in mind for them yet. I'll post them as I think of them. I am hoping that these yarns don't end up languishing in my stash, but get knit up right quick.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mood: for cattle, or a reason not to do something?

I've been thinking about writing a post all day. And now that I'm finally in front of my computer, pictures downloaded and ready to upload here, I'm  not in the mood to write a blog post. I am so very mindful of Frank Herbert's book, Dune, where young Paul Atreides, not in the mood to practice with weapons that day, is told by Gurney Halleck (who is the Weapons Master, if I remember aright) that mood is a thing for cattle or for making love. He then proceeds to attack the Young Master and gets him to practice after all.

So here I am, in front of the keyboard, typing so very bravely, mood or no.

Last night I cast off the second Spiral Staircase Shawl, in Tosh's Fragrant, and cast on the third. I'm not sure the yarn is quite right for this project, it's a hand dyed merino/mohair that I bought when Mind's Eye was owned by it's original founder. It's a pretty yarn, all variegated blue, and all, but I'm not convinced that it's the right yarn for this project.  I made a swatch on both a US 5 and a US 6, and decided on the latter. I think that was a mistake, too. Of course, I've only done one iteration of the pattern (plus a bit more), so I guess I could take it off the needles and try again, or search through my endless stash to find something more apropos for the recipient of this latest endeavour. But it has to be in tones of blue, since she likes blues.









This is the yarn, about 350 to 400 yards of really pretty hand-dyed stuff. I may frog what I've got and try it on a smaller needle, or just rummage through the stash. I've got to have some blue Tosh somewhere, I reckon.

While I've been dithering over this is the right yarn, or even the right needles, I've also started casting on for a project I plan to complete before I fly to New Orleans in two weeks. Using some Cascade that's 70% merino and 30% silk, I'm going to make a New Bittersweet Cowl for Brandon's mom. It looks like I'll finally be meeting her, since I've been invited to his niece's 8th Grade Graduation. I reckon she'll be there, too, so I need to bribe her make a good impression on her. The yarn is a deep chocolate brown, and the silk makes it shimmer slightly. I'll post a picture when I've got more than half the cast-on complete.

Finally, when the the third iteration of the Spiral Staircase is done, and the chocolate brown cowl is given away, I'm going to make a fourth Spiral Staircase for the sister of the one who's getting the third one. I scored some gorgeous Zen Garden on sale. I'll bet it knits up just wonderfully!

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 coĊ‘rdinate 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.