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.