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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I found out last night that one of the very few friends I'm in touch with from my high school days (there are four I'm still in touch with) has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her hair has fallen out due to the chemotherapy she's been receiving, and she is not very happy about that. So I've decided to mobilise some of my knitting friends and have asked them to knit a hat for my friend. So far I've gotten a yes from Nomi, Lisa, Erick and Dana. I've got e-mails out to several others and am waiting to hear from them. I reckon this close to Christmas I probably won't hear from them til after the hols. However, if I can five or six hats together, I'll be happy.

Me? I'm making a shawl, out of chunky alpaca. Plus I'll throw together a couple of hats. Maybe a decent hat and maybe a silly one.

If you read this and I have not contacted you, and you are interested in making a hat for my friend, please e-mail me at . Because a bald head need to be kept warm.

Monday, December 20, 2010

To Ship or Not to Ship

What do you do when you've made a gift for someone's inamorata, and before you can ship it off to them, they break up? Do you send it? Do you keep it? I have a friend for whom I knit some Christmas gifts. I made something for her son's girlfriend, and just yesterday, knowing there was trouble in paradise, I took a quick peek on Facebook and discovered that he is now listing himself as single. High school relationships seldom last forever, but when I was knitting holiday gifts this summer, things looked good and I decided to include her in the family roll of gifts. Now what do I do with it? If I send it will it rub salt in the wounds? His? Hers? Do I keep it, and give it to someone else? I live in New England: there is always someone who needs a warm hat. But I made this with her in mind, choosing colours specifically for her. Decisions, decisions.

In other had news, I still have one more hat to make. I had hoped to be done with knitting holiday gifts this weekend so I could ship it all off. But this hat is giving me major tsuris, it has ear flaps, and it's done flat. I am really bad at sewing up seams on hats, so I try to make them in the round at every opportunity. I'll get it done today ('cause I really have no choice), and ship things off tomorrow, and hope that they reach their intended recipients before the big day.

After the holidays are over, I am going to do some knitting for me. Sure, I still have a list of requests (and even people who've bought the yarn), but I want to make something for myself. Or maybe finish one of the sweaters I have on the needles. I need some new sweaters, and it would be good to finish up the one I'm making with Rowan's British Sheep Breeds undyed wool. It's all knit up, front, back, sleeves, and I just need to join the pieces and make the collar, block it, and it's ready to wear.

Maybe after the new year I'll start again on projects for friends.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sound the Retreat!

So, trolling the knitting blogs as I am wont to do, I discovered that there is a men's knitting retreat in May next year, at Easton Mountain in New York. This is most auspicious for me, since it falls on the weekend of both my birthday and my graduation from library school. I had already planned not to attend my graduation ceremony, since I've been through a couple of masters' ceremonies already, and I have no living family whom I can invite. Friends don't inflict graduation ceremonies on friends, so what would be the point? Plus it's a major birthday for me, one of those ending in zero. What better way to celebrate both a major birthday and the completion of yet another degree than sitting around knitting with a bunch of guys? Plus I've heard the swag is going to be wicked pissa awesome.

Registration will be opening sometime this month. I will forward the information to a couple of knitters I know. Maybe they'll be able to go, too. Maybe some of us could carpool there, since I am not quite sure how to get from point A to point B. And I wonder what projects I'll take with me, and what kind of knitters will be there, and what we'll do, and where we'll go, and what kind of stuff will happen. Beyond knitting, I mean. 'Cause I know I won't be able to knit for four days straight without some other things going on.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Selvedge that edge, Mister!

With Christmas bearing down upon us, exhaling its cold breath on our sweaty necks, I had the sudden realisation that I had damn well better get the rest of my presents knitted up and in the mail, or some people won't be waking up to knitted goodness on Christmas morn. Of course, it's already too late for the goods that are winging their way to Canada, but there's always Boxing Day, right?

To gain some respite from the Christmas madness (yes, yes, I know, I have to finish that hat and sew in all the loose ends on that scarf! I think I need a martini -- Sam, better make it a double), I started a scarf for a friend of mine. She picked up some Noro Silk Garden and we found a pattern that we liked, brooklyn tweed's noro scarf. I have to admit I've never been a big fan of Noro yarns. While the colourways are gorgeous, invariably the yarn breaks somewhere in the middle. While they attach a new yarn, in the same colourway, to the end, it is always a jarring change, not the gentle misting from one colour to the next. It has happened in every single ball of Noro I've knitted, and though it hasn't happened yet, I do not doubt that it will before I come to the end of this scarf. However, this is knitting up right pretty, and while the colour changes are not quite as dramatic as the one in brooklyn tweed's photo (go ahead, click the link: you know you want to!), it is still quite pretty and subtle. Of course, I've only knit up about eight inches of it so far, and the colours haven't really changed all that much, but I'm including a photo of this work in progress. I'll try to take more as the scarf lengthens.

Heather's scarf, in progress

Notice that there is a selvedge edge on this scarf. I've never done a selvedge edge before! I knew the theory, of course, but not the praxis. I'm so excited! And the edge is coming out cleaner than any thing I've ever knit before. Why did I wait so long to try this technique? I think it's going to become a regular part of everything I make. Well, at least for scarves.

If you click on the link, you can see the pattern, but if you choose not to click (and poorer will you be if you don't), the pattern is thus:
Cast on 39 stitches on US 7 needles (I'm using US 6)
Knit 1, Purl 1 across two rows.
On the second row of each stripe, slip the first and the last stitches purlwise.
Knit two rows with yarn 1, then two rows with yarn 2, alternating up the scarf.

Please note that this is not my pattern, and that it is by brooklyn tweed. And really, go take a look at his blog. I promise you that you will be very glad that you did.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Taming the Beast

Hello, my name is Ken, and I'm a yarn-aholic. (Hi, Ken.) It has been four weeks and three days since I've bought yarn.

Not that I mean to mock people in recovery, but I have been trying to get a handle on my penchant for buying yarn that I don't need, don't have time to knit, and don't have anyone to whom to give it. Let's face it: a big ol' bear does not need a cashmere scarf. No, really, he doesn't. So of course, I've done what every person trying to avoid his addiction does: I've mired myself in it. I have started working in a yarn store, Sundays only, and just through the holiday season. My first day was last Sunday, and it was just wonderful being surrounded by all that amazing yarn. The Malabrigo! The baby alpaca! The Cascade Eco-wool! The lace-weight alpaca! The Cascade Epiphany! The Noro Silk Garden! OK, maybe not the Noro Silk Garden. But still, I wanted to take it all home with me, especially the Malabrigo Rios superwash.

The other thing that keeps me from buying yarn right now is that I'm not working, and I don't have the cash reserves to spend on yarn. So if I feel the need to go shopping, I just go look in my stash boxes (I promise, pictures of the stash are going to happen, after the semester ends), and I usually discover something in there that I'd forgotten I had. Last time I looked I found some cobalt blue lace weight alpaca. When did I buy that? Or the six skeins of purple/lavender heathered wool/alpaca blend in DK weight. I don't recall buying that, either. But it's pretty. Really pretty. But six skeins of it? What was I thinking? Was I planning on making a shawl for someone? For whom? I have no idea.

My problem is that if I see a yarn that I like in a colour that I like (usually in some shade of blue or grey, though that isn't necessarily a given), then I'll want a couple of skeins. Just to see how it knits up. Maybe a scarf, or a hat or something small, just to get a feel for the yarn. I made a scarf out of some Rowan yarn (and damned if I can't remember what it was) that was so soft and silky and warm. I just wanted to see how it would look outside a skein. Looks terrific in a basket weave.

I get my first pay-cheque from the yarn store. I must not spend it all on yarn. This is going to become my new mantra. I must not spend it all on yarn. Because you know I'll want to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Are You Serious?

I sometimes wonder if I am a serious knitter. I don't follow specific designers, I am not interested in becoming a designer, I don't know a whole lot about yarns (I know what I like, and while I'm always willing to experiment with yarns, and I have my favourites, I have been told by People Who [Think] They Know that my favourites are rather pedestrian), and I've never knit socks. I read other knitting blogs, and the authors wax rhapsodic about this designer or that. Um, who? Should I know who this person is? I think I have Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears, but I don't consider it my bible. Hell, I don't consider any book my bible.

I am in danger of being exposed as a fraud.

But I like to knit. I always have a project in my backpack. I have no problem whipping it out and working on it when I'm waiting at the doctor's office or if I get to class early. I like to make hats. There is nothing quite so satisifying as finishing a hat that I know will keep someone's head warm. I like to make sweaters. Hell, I like making sweaters so much, I've got at least eight of them on the needles right now, in various stages of completion. Does this make me a process knitter? Or a product knitter? I don't know

I think what I like about knitting is the yarn. I like the feeling of various yarns against my hands as I make each stitch. I like to collect the yarn. This might be why my yarn stash has gotten so completely out of control. As Miz Lucy says, "The hobby of collecting yarn and the hobby of knitting are two different hobbies, which only sometimes intersect." Sometimes I like a specific yarn for what it will do. Sometimes for how it feels. Sometimes for how it looks. Berocco Ultra Alpaca is an example of the first, it combines the elasticity of wool with the warmth of alpaca. My favourite worsted for hats. And such great colours. I like Rowan's British Sheep yarns, the way they smell like sheep, the way they feel, rich in lanolin. I like Cascade Pastaza for scarves and hats. The colours are intense and the yarn is soft and warm. And I've got my eye on some Malabrigo Rios. Just as soon as I come up with a project for it, since I'm trying oh-so-hard not to buy yarn just to add to my stash. 

Maybe I'm not serious about knitting. Maybe I'm just a hobbyest. Just give me some sticks and some string, and I'll happily sit in the corner and knit the evening away.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finished Objects

I have almost finished my Christmas knitting. I've got one hat and one scarf to go. But the rest of it is done, as well as the stuff for the reunion party that was rescheduled from October to January. My friend Jesse took these photographs of all my FOs.

Alpaca Shawl for someone

Alpaca Shawl for Steven

Three Shawls, Alpaca, dark blue for Libby,
light blue for Gayle, purple for Carlene

Me, modeling Libby's shawl

Jake's Scarf. Malabrigo, double knitted

Alyssa's Scarf. Alpaca, Irish Hiking Scarf

John's scarf, Blythe Baby Camel.

Some hats,Cascade Pastaza, Nashua Wool

All the Goodies!

Me with all the Goodies!

I still have Madison's hat on the needles, it will be a heathered purple in an Alpaca (90%) / Wool (10%) blend. Plus a scarf for KWL (pronounced, "Cool," because she is), done in horizontal stripes, but double knitted, in the same colours s the checker-board scarf. I am hoping these won't take me too long.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Nine Inch Needles

On Monday nights I can usually be found at the Diesel Cafe in Davis Square. Nine Inch Needles, a gay men's knitting group has its weekly stitch 'n' bitch. We start knitting around 6:00 pm, and finish up any time between 8:00 and 9:00, though one night a couple of guys stayed til almost 11:00.

We knit, buy a few drinks (I like the raspberry lime rickeys), and get all caught up with each other and our knitting. We trade patterns, help each other with techniques, make lewd comments, cruise the hotties who walk by, lend the odd scissors, tape measure, stitch marker or cable needle as needed. We discuss musicals (who likes 'em, who doesn't, which ones are good, which are a waste of time), varieties of yarn (alpaca? cotton? wool?), and we train our baby knitters, two guys who joined us and started learning (or, in one case, re-learning) the fine art of knitting.

Next semester I probably won't be able to make it very often to Nine Inch Needles. I've got three classes on the docket (Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Saturday morning), and will need Monday nights for studying, I'm sure. But for now, it's my weekly social event that keeps me sane.

Here are a few of the lads with whom I knit. I'll try to take more photos as other guys show up.





Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knitting Buddies

I am taking this week off, and one of my plans is to get the rest of my holiday knitting done. On Monday I met with my friend Nomi in the early afternoon, and then last night I met with my knitting group, Nine Inch Needles (a post about them another time). Today my friend Kim is coming over to knit (plus go to see Harry Potter), and tomorrow or Friday my friend Erick will come by for some knitting. Sunday NIN might get together at someone's house for more knitting. I've got three more holiday projects to finish up: two scarves (one is on the needles!), a scarf which needs to be frogged and re-cast on, and a hat that is making me weep. The yarn is gorgeous, the pattern is going to drive me to drink. But I shall persevere.

Yesterday's meeting with Nomi was fun and relaxing. We met at a local ice cream shop (and yes, ice cream was consumed!) and just got all caught up. I'm wearing my new Boukhara kippah that I bought right before we met. I've always wanted a Boukhara kippah (don't ask me why, I just really like them), and Nomi took a picture of me wearing it.

We are both knitting hats, Nomi a hat for a homeless shelter, and me, a hat for my friend Jeff, who lost the hat I made for him a couple years ago. The afternoon went by too quickly, but it was such fun to reconnect with Nomi and to knit (and eat ice cream!) together.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Outta Control

It's kind of embarassing when you go to pay for your new yarn and your bank card fails.
Because you only have $4.67 in your account.
Because you already bought almost $200 worth of yarn within the last 24 hours.
And isn't it nice that the yarn store owner knows you and lets you take the yarn home, just send a cheque next week, thanks.

I went to pay for said yarn yesterday. And while I was there, picked up some other stuff that caught my fancy. Cascade has this beautiful alpaca/merino yarn in natural colours that I just couldn't resist. Two skeins for a new scarf for me, thanks. And a couple skeins of a wildly coloured malabrigo that I couldn't put down. Should I take it? Should I leave it? What will I make with it? Arrgghh! So I bought it.

I have promised myself that when the mishegas that is school ends for the term that I will take some pictures of some of the more beautiful yarns in my stash. I'm hoping my friend Jesse will help me with this project, since I don't really have a place to actually photograph stuff. And I might ask Todd to help with it, since he's a wicked good photographer, and can maybe offer advice.

But I was asked at the store if I photograph my finished objects, since I am always buying so much beautiful yarn. Well, no. Once I'm done I never think to take pictures of the stuff I make. But this has put the bee in my bonnet and I'm going to try to photograph all the Christmas presents before I ship them off. And the stuff I made for the reunion that got rescheduled to January.

But I'm out of control. I need to rein in the impulse to buy more yarn. And more yarn. While it may be true that the person with the most yarn when they die wins, I'm not so certain I'll be up for using the prize.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knittin' Man

As a library student, one of the most common assignments across the board is the annotated bibiliography. I have taken nine courses, and have done seven of these things. After a while it ceases to be a pedegogical tool, and becomes a tiresome chore. However, for my History of the Book annotated bibiliography, I decided to look at knitting books that contain only patterns for men. Most knitting books I've encountered are written for women, and the majority of the patterns they contain are for women's garments. Often the books will include a couple of patterns for men's garments: a sweater or vest, a scarf, a hat. But there are a few books out there that are filled with patterns for men's garments. Most of them, however, are written for women knitters, women who are making something for the men in their lives: husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, boyfriends, sassy gay friends. Titles like Never Knit Your Man A Sweater* *unless you have the ring, by Judith Durant, assume the knitter is a woman. There are other books where the title doesn't give them away, but after reading the introductions, one knows that the intended audience is women who knit, not men who knit.

Ah, but there are exceptions to this rule! One of the best titles out there is Knitting With Balls by Michael del Vecchio. Sadly, this book is out of print. And I would like to note that throughout the book, the author lets the reader know that knitting is a manly art, that men have knitted through all the ages, though I have to admit that these are some of the gayest patterns I've ever seen.

There are some fun things here, but I'm not sure how many men are going to wear a mohair mobius scarf.

I own a lot of these books that are filled with patterns for men's clothes but are written for women knitters. Erika Knight's Men's Knits; Bruce Weinstein's Knits Men Want, which contains "10 rules every woman should know before knitting for a man," and so on. All written with men's patterns for women knitters.Of course I can ignore the supposed insights into men's psyches, the general rules for what men are looking for in knitted garments (though these are often true), but I think I'd like to be taken seriously as a knitter.

Fortunately, we have some books, like Knitting with Balls, that address the male knitter. Annie Modesitt and Drew Emborsky wrote Men Who Knit & the Dogs Who Love Them, and Kritin Spurkland's The Knitting Man(ual), all are either written for men who knit, or assume a gender neutrality that implies men can knit their own garments. I think it might be time for authors of books for men's patterns to either adopt a gender neutral tone, or to realise that male knitters are ought there, and will not be ignored.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Double Knitting

Tragic though it may seem, I grew up in the '70s, the era of shag carpets, polyester, and double-knits.  Shag carpets were seen in all the playrooms in my neighbourhood, usually in shades of lime green. Polyester? I'll bet they had to kill six duPonts each to make some of those outfits. And dressy trousers that were available were labeled double-knit. I'm not sure what that meant, exactly. Double-knit. It was blaring on all the signs, on tags attached to the trousers, and seemed to be the best thing since sliced bread. I must say, ever since I've had any say in what I wear, I have avoided double-knit trousers. Shirts, too. They all seem to be made out of polyester.

However, this weekend past I attended a workshop on double-knitting, and it had nothing to do with either polyester or cheesy trousers from the Watergate era. I had tried to learn double knitting on my own. I am making a Harry Potteresque scarf for a friend, and I didn't want to do it in the round. I also didn't want it to have the thin stripes of yarn visible on the backside where I changed colours. So I instantly fell upon double knitting. I watched an instructional video on YouTube, and discovered about casting on (which I did, but dismally), and that I needed to carrry both yarns in front when I was only purling with one of them, and likewise, carry both to the back, when I was only knitting with the other. What I didn't catch onto was the way to keep the garment closed. The scarf was joined where I changed colours, but the other side was wide open, a gaping maw of stockinette. Well, thought I, I'll just block it and sew it when I'm done knitting. How else do you close this stuff?

The workshop showed me a better way to cast on. It's a bit tricky, and I'm none too co-ordinated doing it, but it is, in the long run, easier than the method I devised. I learned about twisting the yarn to close the garment on the sides, two different methods! I learned a lot about this technique, and can't wait to try more of it. Of course I have to make a hat! And some scarves! What fun!

The scarf I started for my friend? Harry Potteresque? Remember that? Yeah. I've knit about half of a couple of balls of yarn, I'm about a quarter of the way through. The whole thing will need to be taken off the needles, and begun again. The. Entire. Thing. But now I know, and the end result after the massive frogging witll be prettier and more stable. And I got a couple of ideas on a way to make the ends look cooler than I had originally planned. I'll post pictures when I finally get it done. Lessee, how many weeks til Christmas?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lace 'n' Stuff

Last year I made my first lace shawl. I had promised Miss Caroline, the mother of a good friend, a shawl in light purple or lavender, whichever I found first. I tried several yarns, one, a lovely alpaca-wool-silk that I bought in Canada (the brand was Aztec, if I can remember a-right) had a sheen to it, sedate, lovely, but with a bit of pizzazz. A touch of flair. And soft! Really lovely stuff. Unfortunately, I didn't really know what I was doing, and that yarn didn't work out for me. I started to resent the yarn. The fact that the shawl wasn't coming together was the yarn's fault! Yeah! How dare this yarn be all nasty and recalcitrant and refuse to get all knitted up for Miss Caroline's shawl. Miss Caroline is one of the nicest people I know, with a wicked* sense of humour and a sharp eye that doen't miss much, if anything at all. How could this yarn do this to Miss Caroline? What did she do to you that you should treat her like this?

I put the shawl aside. And felt guilty. Really guilty. See, I'm ethnically Italian. I get the Catholic guilt thing. Add to this that I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood, and I have a lot of Jewish guilt, too. Guilt is a funny thing. It makes me procrastinate. The guiltier I feel, the less likely I am to do whatever it is that is weighing on me. You could almost think I enjoy wallowing in the guilt. Sort of like a luxurious bath. Calgon Guilt, take me away!

Eventually, I found another yarn, mostly bamboo, with a bit of silk. That stuff was fine. Pretty. And the silk gave it that sheen that catches the sunlight. So I knit that puppy up in almost no time! Well, no time for lace. It took a few weeks, and there were setbacks. Like the time I was visiting my friend, Miss Caroline's daughter, and was working on the shawl. I put it down for a moment, and when I came back to it, one of Miss Caroline's grandchildren had taken it off the needles. Ninety-nine stitches of a 32-line pattern on small needles had to be put back on. No, I hadn't used a life-line. I had bought the mercerised cotton for lifelines, and even carried the spool in my knitting bag. But I had never actually used a life-line. Yes, there was tinking that night.

Eventually, the shawl got finished. Hooray! But it had to be blocked. I had a mental block about blocking the shawl. I'd read all sorts of things about how to block a shawl. You needed wires, or had to run a string through it and I was, frankly, intimidated. Finally, I just blocked it like I would a sweater. No strings. No wires. I just pinned it to my blocking board, spritzed it and let it dry. It worked. I finished knitting the shawl in October, 2009. I blocked it in July, 2010. Miss Caroline got it shortly thereafter.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of it. So my friend took a couple of pictures of it for me before she sent it to her mother. Naturally, she photographed it Right-Side-Down. Here are a couple of pictures of it that she took. She's promised me when she sees Miss Caroline over Thanksgiving, she'll take a few more.

The pattern is Upstairs Shawl, by Michaela Behrends. It can be found on Ravelry.

*wicked in the Boston sense, as a superlative.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On Being a Yarn Whore

I bought yarn this weekend. which is precisely what I don't need right now. As mentioned in yesterday's post, I have nine bins of yarn. And other extraneous yarn strewn about the flat. I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head.

But I am a yarn whore.

So, I bought some beautiful green eco-wool + to make a sweater. Three skeins ought to do it. And I bought some brown eco-wool to make a vest for someone. And then on Sunday I bought some more eco-wool to make a vest for me. And of course, there was this beautiful mohair just sitting there, calling my name, "Ken, knit me." How could I resist the siren call of mohair? It's so soft and fluffy and pretty. So I'll make an easy shawl with it, but for whom?

I really have to stop walking into yarn stores. I don't need any more yarn. I could dress a small village with what I've got in my stash.

But I can't resist.
Because I am a yarn whore.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Achieving SABLE*

I am a graduate student in library science. The Spring '10 term was pretty awful. I was working at a job that I didn't like, taking a course that was knocking the stuffing out of me, and generally being all depressed. I was in class two nights a week, at my internship one night a week (and Sundays), and in the library all day on Saturdays and on Sunday evenings. The only night I took off from this mishegas was Friday nights.

Every Friday night I would get off the subway one stop early and visit my local LYS, Mind's Eye Yarns. And every Friday, I would greet Lucy, the owner, and say, "I'm not gong to buy any yarn tonight." Then I would proceed to buy anywhere between $50 and $175 worth of yarn. Not that I had time to even knit this stuff up. It really was just retail therapy, and made me feel better for a little while. Until I had to get up early the next morning to get to the library when it opened at 8:00 am so I could fit in some studying.

But I had yarn.

I was surveying my yarn stash this weekend. It fills nine large plastic bins, and there's overflow in a small container (which is really overflowing) near the bins, and then lots of zip-loc baggies with one or two skeins in the living room near my sofa. Not to mention the plethora of yarn stashed away in my bedroom that has yet to make it to any of the nine bins.

There's lots of cool stuff in there. Lots of pastaza, eco-wool, and alpaca. There's bags with 15 or 20 skeins that are destined to become sweaters. There's sock yarn, and I don't even know how to make socks. There's cashmere, lace weight alpaca, and mohair. There are strange things that I bought on sale (who can resist wool/silk yarn dyed a grape-purple at $2.00 per skein?) that I have no idea what to do with. And let's  not mention the abandoned projects projects that are currently on hiatus. Or vacation. Yeah, that's it! Those projects waiting to be done are on vacation.

Not a pretty sight.  You'd think someone who wants to be a cataloguer when he grows up would have his stash better organised.

You heard it here first: Over winter break, I am going to organise my yarn stash! I am going to catalogue my stash! I am going to figure out what projects are on the needles and what needs to be done to finish them! I might even finish one or two of them!

Yeah, right. I hope I live to see it.

*SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectency

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why, we just have our hats

There is a story told of a traveler to Boston, who approached a Boston Brahmin matron, and, admiring her hat, asked, "Madam, where do you Boston ladies get your hats?" The great Boston lady stared at him uncomprehendingly, and replied, "Our hats? Why, we just have our hats."

I like to make hats. I like to wear them in the cold weather, and I like to give them away to friends, after asking them their favourite colour or colours. This month was supposed to have seen a reunion party for me and my two former housemates, Steven and Libby, to celebrate the fact that we are all pushing 50, to get together with each other and some friends from the days when  the three of us lived in the house we named Le Maison du Futon, after the futon sofa in the living room. My original idea was to knit a shawl for Libby and Steven each, in bulky alpaca. Then I figured I'd knit one for Steven's wife, Carlene. Then I realised that it would be nice to make something for Libby's husband, John. Then when we decided to invite some other friends from those days, I thought that hats or scarves for each of them would be a good idea. I can knit up a hat in a day or two so I didn't think it would be a problem.

Well, the shawls are all knit. The scarves are done, except for the blocking. And the hats. Five hats, all knit up, and ready to be worn as soon as the cold weather arrives.

I spent much of the summer knitting all these gifties. I didn't work, as I'd promised myself, on any of the sweaters I have on the needles, just waiting for me to finish them, so they can be worn when winter comes. And then Libby, a minister (did I mention Lib and Steven and I had all met up when we were in divinity school?) called to say that there was a pastoral need for her in her congregation the weekend we'd planned out party. Her next free weekend isn't until January, so the party is postponed. At least the knitting is done, and will be ready in January when we hold our reunion.

These are some of the hats I made for my friends.


Alexandra's Hat, pastaza, wool/llama blend
Brian's Hat, pastaza, wool/llama blend
Brad's Hat, pastaza, wool/llama blend
Seth's Hat, nashua, Italian wool
Some of the hats

Cynthia's hat, while done, was not photographed, mostly because I forgot to put it in my bag the day I took these pictures. I like making hats, since it's done quickly, I can play with the stripe patterns, and I can adjust the colours for the person who will be receiving it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yarn Snob

I have no idea where this picture came from. A friend sent it to me recently, knowing it would amuse me. I'd love to try knitting with stuff like this. Imagine a hat made of this stuff: you'd be able to light your way home on dark and rainy nights.

OK, let's get it out of the way. I'm a yarn snob. I only like to knit with natural fibres. Wool, alpaca, llama, and sometimes silk and bamboo make up my collection of yarns. And I'm beginning to shy away from bamboo, since the process of creating yarn from it does horrible things to the environment. I like the way wool smells, sometimes very sheepy, redolent with lanolin. I love the softness of alpaca, how good it feels against skin. When I'm knitting, I always smile when I come across a bit of bracken entagled in the yarn. Even though it might be dyed fire-engine red, or autumnal sky-blue, this fibre was once part of a living animal, and I marvel again at the millenia-old partnership between humans and beasts.

All that said, I am not such a snob that I will disdain common yarns. Cascade 220, that work horse of the knitting world, has some amazing colours, and makes a warm wool hat. Beruocco ultra alpaca, that 50-50 blend of wool and alpaca, makes terrific hats and scarves, with the warmth of alpaca and the memory of wool. Which is not to say I'll turn down something exotic and wonderful if it's in my budget. And as God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again someday I'll knit with qiviut.

But I won't knit with acryllic. No. I don't like the way it feels, I don't like the way it drapes, and I don't like the way it can't be blocked. I know that it's great for baby things: blankets, hats, sweaters. I don't have any babies. And I'm not so foolish to knit things for them since they'll out grow anything I make before I get it off the needles. OK, I admit to making a few baby hats. I use cotton for those. But no acryllic. Not now, not ever.

Give me natural fibre. And I'll make you something that will keep you good and warm through our damp New England winters.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In my  Digital Libraries class, we learn that when creating a digital library, one must have a mission statement and a vision. I'll skip the vision for now, and think about the mission.

In the six or so years that I've been knitting, I've become both a fibre snob and a yarn whore. I'm becomming more involved with it, and as I enter my last year of graduate school, I am beginning to think I don't so much want to be a librarian, as much as a yarn store co-owner. Rather than catalogue books, I'd like to catalogue yarn.

My intent is to use this as a knitting blog, albeit with some forays into other topics. But by and large a place where I can talk about my knitting, and what I'm trying to do with it. I'm not a designer, or a fibre-guru. Just a guy who likes to knit, and who obsesses about it from time to time. Sometimes I'll even try to post pictures here of things I'm working on or have made. Maybe even talk about my stash, which is beginning to get out of control.

Knitting. The K is silent.