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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Today is Mithrasmas. I did not get all my holiday knitting done (bad knitter, no biscuit!), nor did I get what I completed into the post to reach the recipient today. I am a bad knitter. Well, I'm a fairly decent knitter, and have mastered knitting, purling, knitting in the round, decreases, double knitting, Fair Isle technique, and lace. I mean I'm a bad person who is a good knitter. So I am drowning my shame in chocolate and fudge and eggnog.

I did, however, manage to finish two projects. The first is the hat for my niece.
This hat is made of Aslan Royal Alpaca, and was done on US 6 and 7 needles. My niece's favourite colour is green. My nephew's favourite colour is red, and I have another hat on the needles, exactly like this one, except that it is red and white, rather than green and white.

This is a hat for another friend.
Madeleine Tosh Superwash worsted, in Jade. This is a simple double rib, knit for 10.5 inches. It fit him perfectly.

Of course I still have a hat and a half to knit, a cowl, and a scarf. Plus two scarves for Grace and Maddy that I promised them a year ago. It never ends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Knitting Bowl

Chanukkah is come and gone, and I got a yarn bowl this year! I have to admit that I already have one, but it is packed away and in storage. This year saw the arrival of a new bowl. There are some great things about this bowl. First, it was made by my favourite local potter, Peter Grams. Since 1987 I have bought something from him every year, and since he dates everything, I can trace the path of my purchases. Second, it is blue, my favourite colour. And third, it was given to me by my friend Shari, who rather than enabling my yarn whoredom, gave me instead an accessory that will be useful as well as beautiful.

This is a close view, with a skein of Shibui sock yarn in the bowl.

This is a slightly different view.

I have already used my yarn bowl, and I love the way the yarn stays put and doesn't go flying across my work space (which is usually my bed, since it's the place where I usually sit whilst knitting). I'm excited to have this new bowl, and am looking forward to enjoying it for a long time to come. I've put a link to Peter's website, but here it is again, just in case anyone is in need of a yarn bowl this year:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Revealing the Form Hidden Within

I am not one to anthropomorphise my yarn, but I've been trying to make a beaded cowl for over a month now. The first attempt was too small. Instead of a cowl it would have been a choker. Not exactly what I was looking for. The second attempt is not staying on the needles, and I really suck at trying to pick up stitches that have slipped off the  needles. I am using Addi Lace needles, and am not really used to metal; wood gives one a nice tension between grippy and slippy, but metal needles just give you slippy. But I can't find wooden needles sharp enough to handle the knit-two-together-through-the-back I have to do.

A friend has suggested that sometimes the yarn is not meant to become what we want it to become, and that our task lies in discovering what the yarn wants to become. Michelangelo is said to have believed that he was merely the means by which the marble he sculpted revealed the form that was hidden within. I'm not sure that yarn has quite the same quality, though I could be mistaken. I'm using Shibui sock yarn. It's some of the most beautiful yarn I've ever knit with in my life. And it is totally kicking my ass. I am enough of a Westerner (and not so much of a Buddhist) that I will bend this yarn to my bidding. Addi Lace needles be damned.


Today is Small Business Saturday. I did my part by visiting a couple of local businesses to buy things.
First, of course, was yarn. Mind's Eye Yarns supplied me with six beautiful skeins.
Cestari is a brand I haven't used yet, but it's a solid worsted weight wool, and though you can't really tell, the colours here are a piney-green and light grey. This is 100% wool.

Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca, in cream and forest green will make a nice Fair Isle hat. I am looking forward to knitting this yarn, as it promises to have a good hand.

This is a yarn dyed by Lucy Lee at Mind's Eye Yarns. It is really a sock yarn, 70% superwash merino and 30% tencel, but will make a lovely shawl. Sadly, the picture does not do the colour justice, a muted emerald green. Perhaps when I can photograph it in sunlight it will show up better.

At the Stitch House, I got some Madeleine Tosh DK weight merino. I had a couple skeins lying about the house (as one does), and got two more to make a shawl.

Betty Drapers Blues is one of the colours I chose.

Cove is the one I had lying about the house (as one does). Together they'll make a gorgeous shawl.
Now, to whom shall I give it?


Not at all related to yarn, I also visited Patch NYC, a funky little shop in the South End of Boston. I got three Christmas ornaments (they didn't have the one I actually wanted, but told me there would be more coming in, and that they would hold a couple for me).

A black swan (the first time I ever saw black swans was at the hotel we stayed in when we visited Palma de Majorca, when I was about eight; they were swimming in a pond in the lobby).
A mushroom that reminds me of an ornament we had on our tree when I was a child.
Moby Dick, the great white whale.

Of course, I am not putting up a tree this year, but I thought I'd add them to my collection. Someday I will put up a Christmas tree again, and when I do, I'll proudly display these ornaments.

These were the result of my foray on Small Business Saturday. I didn't go to very many places, but I did shop in small, local businesses, and am happy that I was able to support them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trials and Tribulations

While I like to say that no one has ever died of knitting, I am the first to admit that one can experience setbacks along the way. Take the sweater I've been working on in Cascade 128. I cast on 94 stitches. At the armholes I decreased three stitches on each side, and when I got to the very end, I had one stitch too many. Now some people would just knit 2 together and call it a day. Not me. I'm proud to be a process knitter, and I will rip out the damn thing til I get the correct number of stitches.

The baby blanket I've been working on in Madeline Tosh DK has been put aside. I've restarted it in Malabrigo Rios, which means it's slightly larger. I've got about 23 rows left to go. No, I refuse to multiply the number of rows remaining by the number of stitches in each row. (It's 116 per row, so that's only 2668 stitches to go, not counting the bind off.) The baby for whom the blanket is intended is almost here, so I've got to get my fingers busy.

I am making my first beaded garment. I've never beaded with my knitting before, and while it looks terrific, I've only got about three rows done. This is a Christmas present, and I only hope it will be done before then. My plan had been to knit it during November (because of course the bay blanket would be done by now), but here we are, more than a third of the way through the month (almost half way!) and I haven't touched it. I console myself with the idea that I've only got 23 rows left of the blanket left, and will probably finish it this week. Then I have to block it.

The well laid plans of mice and knitter oft gang awry.

On the other hand, the gorgeous (if I do say so myself) sweater that I started about three years ago with the Rowan British Sheep breeds' yarn (Blueface Leicestershire) was giving me some grief (I'd finished the back, the front and the sleeves, and had joined the right shoulder, badly) has been rescued by my friend Claudia. She took out my stitches and rejoined the shoulder pieces, so now I can pick up stitches to make the collar. Picking up stitches, if you must know, is my idea of doing penance for my sins. If I believed in Purgatory, I figure I'd knock off 10,000 years for each stitch picked up. The downside (of course there's a downside) is that I cast this sweater on three (or possibly four) years ago,w hen I was more than 40 pounds heavier than I am now. The thing is going to hang off me like a toga. But I shall persevere. When it is finished, I'm still going to wear it, even if I have to wear three shirts to fill it out.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Dawning Realisation that the Holiday Knitting hasn't been Started

It has dawned on me that we are in the latter half of October and I haven't even started my Holiday knitting yet. Insert screams of despair here. It isn't that I haven't thought about it. And it isn't that I haven't collected yarn or burrowed through my stash for different skeins, hanks, and balls of yarn to turn into warm and soft garments. I just keep thinking I have a lot of time to get it all done. Guess what? I don't.

On top of all this Holiday knitting that has to get done, a neighbour whom I like is expecting. The last time we chatted she said she was due in seven weeks. That was three weeks ago. I actually have cast on a baby blanket (Madeleine Tosh DK, in the colour she calls Cove, on size US7 needles). I've done four rows. At this rate I'll be done with the baby blanket when the kid is about to go off to university. If I ever get it done it will be absolutely fabulous, and I'll post pictures when it looks like something more than a jumble of messy stitches, you know, when it actually looks like something.

I also realised a few weeks ago that I haven't made anything for myself all year. So I cast on a sweater, and am pleased to say that I need to knit about eight more inches and the back panel will be done. I've already done the decreases for the arm holes, but doesn't it always feel like the last few inches of a sweater take longer than 18 or 20 or so inches that come before? I swear, it will take as longer to knit those last 8 inches than it did to knit up to the decreases forthe armholes.

"Oh bother," said Pooh.
On the other hand, I'll have a wicked pissah sweater (or, sweatah*) when I'm done.

Oh, and I promised, a year ago, that I would make scarves for two young women I know. Those don't have to be done til January, but still. At least I've got the yarn picked out (Malabrigo Rios), and all the skeins are already wound into balls, just waiting to be cast on. Of course, there's the knitting that still has to be done, but isn't choosing the yarn and winding it half the battle?

Is it any wonder that when I go to knit night I am carrying four or five projects in my bag?

*Why yes, I am from Boston. How could you tell?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sweater in Progress

I spend a lot of time making things for other people. Sometimes I even make something for myself. Right now I have on the needles a sweater in a bulky yarn. Cascade 128, which apparently has been discontinued. I bought several bags' worth at the LYS a while back when it went on sale (half price! how could I resist?). I shall be able to make a sweater in brown, maroon, and olive. Right now the olive one is on the needles.

The first 10 or so inches of fabric for my new sweater. I'm using Yankee Knitter Pattern #30, though with the plain (rather than cabled) front. And, obviously, with ribbing rather than with roll. So far I've maintained gauage. I hope to finish the back panel (the one you see) this weekend, and get started on the front one soon. If there's enough yarn I'll make the maroon one with the cable up the front.

I have made several sweaters in my time, one for myself, one for a good friend, and one for the son of some friends of mine (yes, even though I made it a bit large, he was able to wear it for only one season before he outgrew it and passed it on to his cousin). I did make another sweater for myself, but got too fat to wear it (hey, grad school puts on the pounds!), but I've lost 40 pounds, so I think this one will fit me better. Even though I don't like sewing them together, I do like knitting sweaters. I should go through my bins and find the ones I've started but never finished. I think there are four, maybe five, of those. Now that I've lost weight, they might even fit.

And one of the best things about living in New England is our crisp falls and cold winters, just perfect for sweaters.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What's Your Price?

Just how much of a yarn whore am I? There have been times when I've decided to buy yarn instead of food. When I've decided to go yarn shopping instead of to a family function. When I've bought yarn instead of books, and I've had nothing to read.

I have worn a beard since October of 1981. I've gone down to a goatee twice, due to a major mistake in trimming (both times I forgot to put the guard on, so I scraped my beard down to the skin, and both times were right before Boston Pride; I am much more careful now), but I haven't seen my chin in over 30 years.

Last week, I was at one of my favourite yarn stores, just browsing (truth! I didn't buy any yarn that day), and the owner asked me what it would take to get me to shave my beard off. I told her that it would take yarn, and a lot of it. She asked how much yarn. I said, I'll sit at the table and you just pile it in front of me til I think it's adequate. And don't include any artificial fibres. Then the store got busy.

But I've been thinking about it all week. Just how much yarn would it take to get me to take off my beard? I reckon a whole helluva lot of yarn. A few hundred dollars' worth? A thousand? I don't know. I never thought about taking my beard off, since the last time I shaved my face, way back in 1981. I like having a beard. I don't like shaving. It irks me that I have to shave my neck, because, really, I do not like shaving. But if she offered me the right amount of yarn, would I do it? How long would I have to keep it off? I can grow a beard in about a week, so if I took it off I could have my beard back right quick. And think of all that yarn I'd get.

Am I that much of a yarn whore that I'll trade my good beard for a mess o' pottage yarn? I could be. Yeah, I could be, if the pile of yarn in front of me was big enough. And that would be a helluva pile!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sheila's Hats

Sue has been my friend for over 30 years. We met in high school and were on the school's literary magazine, The Literary Review, together. Five months and 20 days older than I, she graduated the year ahead of me.

Recently Sue told me that her mother, Sheila, has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and I immediately got into action. I've finished two hats, have two more on the needles, and plan two more after that. I also made her one of those big shawls that I call Bear Hug Wraps. I'm leaving in a moment to send her the hats and wrap.

I call this one the Easter Egg hat, because the colours remind me of a dyed Easter egg. It is Marisol Tula, 50% baby llama, 40% merino, 10% angora. Very soft, and a little quirky, like the woman who will be wearing it.

Ribbed for Her Pleasure. Cascade Eco Duo, 70% alpaca, 30% merino wool. This is so soft, warm and it is very splitty when knit. But it makes a very warm hat, and since it is just over 10 inches long, it can be folded double over her ears.

I will try to photograph the wrap and post it later. The other hats will be posted as I finish them.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Good Yarn No More

It's sad when you lose a local yarn store. Last week A Good Yarn in Brookline closed. It was a small shop with a nice selection of high end yarns. I went by to say good-bye, and got some yarn (of course) on their last day. It isn't like we have a dearth of yarn stores in Boston, but I liked A Good Yarn, and will miss the smiles and encouraging words from the people who worked there.

One of the things I've noticed about various yarn stores is that people either love or hate the folk that work there. I have found, with only one exception, that if I go in there with a big smile, some compliments about the yarn (and I can compliment even Cascade 220, that work horse of the knitting world), and a sense of excitement (and I am always excited to walk into a yarn store), that I'll get along with the owners and workers there. I've discussed various yarn stores with different people, and I often hear things like the owner isn't friendly, or that they didn't offer enough help. Seriously? There are several yarn stores in my area where I can walk in and be greeted effusively, sometimes get hugged, and get as much help as I need and want. I will say, though, when one is a man who knits, walking into a new yarn store will get you lots of questions and funny comments. Like it's so unusual for a guy to knit. Oh. Wait. It is unusual. Whatever. Still, at the Creative Stitch in Hingham, I was given a tour of the owner's personal yarn stash, the first time I ever walked in there. Talk about achieving SABLE!

There are, to be sure, yarn stores where I only go if I have to. There's one where a certain employee is known to be a nasty peice of work, and when discussions of that store come up, someone invariably says her name, "Lois? Oh, yeah. Well, she doesn't work on Wednesdays, so that's a good day to shop there." I'll have to try that tactic, and shop there sometime on a Wednesday, and see if my experience there is better. But other than that, I'm wicked happy with all my local yarn stores, and frequent them as often as I can. Or as often as my budget allows. Besides, I'm knitting from my stash. Stop rolling your eyes. I am knitting from my stash. It's just that my stash keeps getting bigger.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Turning Behrs into Bears

There have been several men I've known in my life (well, more than several) about whom it could be said that when they took their shirt off it looked like they were wearing a sweater. These guys are so hairy chested that you don't need to knit them a mohair sweater, they're genetically programmed to grow their own. But for the guys in your life who are not hairy chested, but who want to be, you could make them this.
You could make the hair colour match that of the guy you're knitting it for. You could increase or decrease the happy trail. You could give him a hairy back, if he wanted it. No longer do our smooth brethren need to stay smooth! Beardom can be for everyone.

Now if I could only find a pattern to match this picture I found on the internet. . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Will Be Good

When, as a young girl, the Princess Victoria learned how close she was to the throne (as in, next in line), she is reported to have said, "I will be good."

One of the LYSs I like to frequent has some Malabrigo Worsted on half price sale. Half price! For Malabrigo! I love Malabrigo! I want to marry Malabrigo! I want to have Malabrigo's babies! OK, maybe not. I don't like children all that much. And yarn babies would only felt the first time you gave them a bath.

I am trying to knit down my stash. I am trying not to buy yarn. I am trying to make things for people I'd never make things for, not because I don't like them, but because I don't know them well enough to make things for them. Take Margaret, for instance. Her daughter is one of my dearest friends, but I've only ever met her mother, Margaret, a handful of times in the 20+ years I've known Carlene. Last week I texted Carlene's husband (because Carlene doesn't really answer her phone), to get Margaret's favourite colours. Black and off-white. Well, she's Presbyterian, so I shouldn't have expected anything else. I have some kick-ass Karabella Margrite in a dusky black, about 612 yards (well, exactly 612 yards, 'cause each skein is 154 yards, and I have four of 'em), that would make a lovely shawl. It's 80% Merino, and 20% Cashmere, and is soft-soft-soft. And probably warm-warm-warm, too. I cast it on last night, all 360 stitches, and finished the first four rows. 

But Margaret's Margrite shawl is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the temptation of new yarn, stash busting and the will power not to buy more yarn, even though you really want it, because: a) you don't have a need for it; b) you don't have room for it; and c) you don't have the money for it. Now anyone who knows me knows I believe that the person with the most yarn when they die, wins! (Wins what, or from whom has never been established.) So I was buying needles yesterday for Margaret's shawl, and there in front of me were buckets and buckets of Malabrigo Worsted at half price. I wanted it! I am trying to knit from my stash!  But Malabrigo! At half price! Bugger! Bugger, bugger, bugger! That glorious purple! That warm teal! Oh, my aching wallet! I. Am. Trying. To. Knit. My. Stash. I could hear the yarn calling my name. "Ken, take us home! Add us to your stash!" And in my head, I could only scream, "No, dammit, no!" Because I am trying to bust my stash. 

In the end, I left with only my new needles. I left all that gorgeous Malabrigo in the sale bins. It might be there later in the week. It might not. 

I will be good.

Besides, another LYS I love is having a clearance sale on the remaining discontinued Cascade Pastaza.

No. No, no, no. I am trying to bust my stash. I won't get that, either.

I will be good.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tinking Mohair & Other Hairy Tales

Knitting with mohair is fraught with peril.
Knitting with three strands of mohair is fraught with even more peril.

So I'm making this scarf from Shibui Silk Cloud and I'm knitting and purling, purling and knitting like one does. And I'm knitting with three strands, like one does, because knitting with a single strand would make a garment so insubstantial, so ethereal, so . . .so . . . so wispy that it almost wouldn't be there. So there I am working with a triple strand and sometimes I only pick up two of the strands. And sometimes *duhn duhn duhn!* I only pick up one of the strands.


So I have actually tinked back on a mohair project and lived to tell the tale! I was successfully able to tink back about 34 stitches, and when I look at it, I can't tell where. Oh, it was tricky, I'll admit. Devilishly painstaking. One might even say it was hairy! And since I made the mistake at night, I waited until morning to make the correction.

Piece o' cake.

At least, that's what I want you to believe.

This is the project in question.

At the bottom is a block made from three strands of ivory; followed by two strands of ivory and one of graphite; followed by two of graphite and one of ivory; followed by three of graphite; followed by two of graphite and one of suit; followed by two of suit and one of graphite.

I am beginning to think it's a bit monochromatic, and that the differences between the graphite and suit aren't great enough to be really noticeable. But I am NOT going to tink back what's already there and throw in a few more blocks of ivory between the graphite and the suit. Not even I am that willing to tempt fate!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Provisional Cast On: Mishegas or Agita?

There's a reason I'm a knitter and not a crocheter. Beside the fact that knitting uses less yarn than crocheting and burns more calories, I just like the way knitting looks more than the way crocheting looks. However, last  weekend I attended a knitting workshop to learn about a specific pattern. The first row of stitches had to be kept live in order to graft the beginning and end together, so we had to do a provisional cast-on. I totally suck at manipulating a crochet hook, and had a hard time coordinating my hook and my knitting needle. A lot of crocheters say that knitting is hard because you have to manipulate two needles as opposed to one crochet hook. But using that crochet hook and getting everything to work out right took the devil's own time. Now that I know how to use the provisional cast-on, I hope I never have to try it again. Talk about agita! Talk about mishegas! Talk about mixing two cultures!

This project is called Shibui Mix. It is Shibui Silk Cloud (60% kid mohair, 40% silk), and is some of the softest stuff I've ever knit with. The colours I've chosen are Ivory, Graphite (which is grey), Suit (which is blue), and Ink (which is black*). In alternating blocks of colour, three strands of Colour A, then two of A and one of B, then two of B and one of A, then three of B, and so on, when it is finished, the two ends are grafted together (the reason for leaving live stitches on the first row and using the accursed provisional cast on) and you've got a loopy scarf for which you didn't have to cast on hundreds and hundreds of stitches (yes, I'm still working on the 1000 cast on lace weight scarf on US size 3 needles; why do you ask?).

When I've got more to show for what I've been doing, I'll post some pictures.

*When dealing with pretentious colour names I always wonder if it should be spelled blacque.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Journey of 10,000 Miles

It has been said, by wiser heads than mine, that the journey of 10,000 miles begins with the realisation that 10,000 miles is one hell of a long journey.*

I am making a scarf for someone who chose a beautiful hand dyed yarn, from Rooftop Yarns. The colour is maize, and it really is quite lovely.

It also is 980 yards of lace weight yarn.

I am making a mobius strip scarf for him. I cast on 1000 stitches, mostly because I am some sort of masochist. I've put stitch markers every 50 stitches, and so far I've done nine full rows, or 9000 stitches. But I'm not counting.** 

I've also got, after 9000 stitches, about half an inch of fabric. 

This is going to be one long-assed knitting project.

Since I'm doing it in stockinette, it's all knit, all the time.

He had damn well better appreciate this.

This is where I am right now. The scarf isn't all that frilly, but when you've got 10+ feet of fabric on a 48 inch circular needle, things tend to get a bit scrunched up.

Nine rows into the project and this is the fabric. That's about a half inch.

After nine rows, this is the ball of yarn, and the tag. It really is beautiful yarn, a superwash merino. And hand-dyed. I am looking forward to seeing it when it's done, because I think it will be quite stunning.


Of course, I've got about 9,750 miles still to go on this journey.

I think I need a cup of coffee.

*Actually, Lao Tsu said, "The journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step."

**OK, yes I am.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

FO Friday!

It's finished object Friday.

OK, so it's Saturday. I didn't have time to write up a post yesterday.

So I finished the scarf that was to be sold. After you break it down, I got about $1.50 per hour for knitting it. Still, it's my first sold object. I'm not so sure I want to sell my stuff. It might take me 40 or 60 hours to knit something, and I don't know who would pay the prices that would support a knitter. Even if one charged minimum wage, a 60 hour knitting job would come to over $450, and I don't know who is going to pay that kind of money for a scarf or sweater, even it is hand knit from fabulous fibres (and don't let's mention that the client will also be buying the yarn, which, depending on the garment, will add considerable expense).

Be that as it may, here is David's scarf. And David, modeling it. Of course, I finished it in the middle of a summer heat wave, so he won't be needing it any time soon.

This is the scarf all finished and looking pretty against my grey comforter.

Here is David, wearing his new scarf, in the summer heat. Well, give it a few months, and he'll be glad to have it!

The scarf is made of Noro Kogarashi, 51% silk, 49% wool. I used a 1x1 rib pattern, to get that stockinette look without the curse of the curl, and used a selvedge edge. It took two skeins to make this scarf.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spinning Wheel

Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary for Mind's Eye Yarns, one of the local shops I just love. People who made purchases during the sale were entered into a drawing for an Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel.

I won.

I don't know how to spin.

I don't care.

I'll learn.

I had my first lesson this week.

I totally suck at spinning, but I really liked it. I need to practice, and get another lesson or two (or many more) because it's really cool to see yarn from fluffy stuff.

Here's the wheel. I might name it Lucita (that's in Andalucian, so it's pronounced "Luthita").

Right now it's sitting in my room, just begging me to give it a whirl.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bad News, Good News

One of my favourite yarn stores, Mind's Eye Yarns, was having its 15th anniversary sale. I dropped in to buy some yarn, because one always needs more yarn. While I was there (here comes the bad news) I learnt that Cascade is going to discontinue their Pastaza yarn. I love Pastaza. It's half wool and half llama. It's warm, the colours are intense, and I really love it. They are discontinuing it, and expanding their Sitka yarn. Sitka is a lovely yarn, all warm and shimmery, but it is half again as much as Pastaza. I am vexed. I have to figure a way to buy all sorts of Pastaza before it disappears for good.

But bad news is tempered with good (here comes the good news). My name was entered into a drawing for an Ashford spinning wheel. I never gave it a second thought, because I never win anything. This afternoon I got a call from Mind's Eye. My name was drawn from the bowl and I am now the proud owner of a spinning wheel. The fact that I don't know how to use a spinning wheel (and can barely use a drop spindle) does not daunt me at all. Here I am, completely undaunted. La, la, la. Undaunted by the spinning wheel.

What the hell am I going to do with a spinning wheel?

Why, learn to spin, of course. Think of all the roving I can buy to add to my yarn collection! 

I'll post pictures when I get to see it. Because, you know, I have no clue what model I'm getting.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Birthday Yarn

This past weekend was my birthday (never mind which one), and as it has in past years, Webs tent sale fell just on the very day of my nativity. I'm so lucky! So a friend and I motored out to Northampton for the day, and I got myself some birthday presents. I love birthday presents!

Aside from lots of sale items, Webs puts up their own tent, but also, around the perimeter of the parking lot, are tents from local vendors, farmers, shepherds, and yarniacs. Things sold here are not things you can find in regular stores. While I didn't have much money, I was able to indulge a bit, and you can be sure that I collected business cards from every booth I visited. And I took copious notes. There's a certain burnished bronze yarn I want. Lace weight. It rocks my stripey socks.

OK. So even though money is tight, I bought myself some stuff, both from Webs and from some of the local vendors. Here it is in pictures.

From Webs, I got some Noro Kureyon.  The dominant colours are blues, cobalt, dark, intense, royal, with a few others thrown in (hey, it's Noro!). I am going to make yet another Noro Striped Scarf, but instead of using two of Colour A and one of Colour B and one of Colour C, I am using four different colourways. I think it will work, and if it doesn't, well, I'll still have an amazing technicolour scarf.
There's some purple, and red, and orange and black and green mixed in with all the blues. I'm really excited about this project. Maybe I'll even keep this scarf for myself.

I also got some Malabrigo Rios, in the delightful teal feather colour. I have a project already planned for this yarn, I'm making a scarf for the daughter of a friend with it, and for her sister, I'm making one in purple. I've got the purple yarn (got it in New Orleans in February!), and now I have the teal.
I love working with Rios, it feels so good to knit with.

I have seen this yarn around in a few places, but while I was at Webs thought I'd get it on sale. Jojoland Fantasia is a superwash wool, with vibrant colours. I think a 1x1 rib, in alternating rows will make something quite nice.
There is a bit of purple running through each skein which I think will work nicely together. There are other colourways that I like, and I think it would make a good sweater. I need to mull that over a bit.

There were a lot of other yarns at Webs that I saw that I wanted to take home with me. Madeline Tosh's entire collection yarns, in just about every colour, was just begging to be put into my shopping cart. Lorna's Laces were calling my name, too. Alas, unlike my first trip to Webs, when I had saved up mucho dinero over the course of the year, this time I was limited in my budget. But there will be other trips, and I took notes on all the things I wanted. And I should be able to order some of this stuff at my LYSs.
 Some of the yarn that was just hanging around at Webs this past weekend. Alas, I didn't buy any of this, but I was sorely tempted!

Yarns that I got outside, at the vendors' tents are unique and sometimes handspun or hand dyed. Brook's Bend Farm supplied me with two skeins of the prettiest Shetland wool, in undyed, natural hues (the website is still in development, but Suzanne Webber assures me that it will be up soon).
The picture doesn't do it justice, but the white is really very creamy, and the brown is an intense chocolate colour. I'm thinking a scarf or a Fair Isle hat. This yarn is so soft that I don't think I'll want to give it away. They had a nice collection of undyed yarns.

I will keep their contact info, and will definitely be ordering more from them. Hmmm, I'm thinking holiday presents.

Barbara Parry was there with her collection of Foxfire Fiber yarns. Her yarns are so beautiful, and every time I go to the tent sale I end up buying something from her. I haven't knit it up yet because I can't find a project worthy of her gorgeous yarns. This year I got yarn that is 80% wool and 20% alpaca. The colour is Nightshade, and I am thinking a scarf would suit this yarn.

The purple and black yarn, with a wee hint of brown, is so gorgeous, and so wonderful to feel. I might never knit with it! I'll just put my hand in the baggie and hold it.

Finally, from Rue at Kama Suutra Fiber Arts, this gorgeous hank of hand painted yarn. It is 100% superwash Merino, sock weight yarn, 405 yards. I could make a small neckerchief with this, or a lovely scarf.
 This yarn is very soft to the touch, and she also had a burnished bronze that I fell in love with. Alas, budgetary restraints kept me from getting both skeins. But I noted it and will order it when I can afford it.

 This was my birthday present to myself. The best thing is that I really do have projects for all this yarn, and will even keep some of them for myself! I had a terrific day, got some terrific yarn, and am looking forward to some terrific knitting!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Knit Night

I am finally getting serious about my yarn collection. Recently, I had to buy a couple more bins to hold it all. I've been putting the stuff that's been sitting on the papa-san sofa in my room into zip-loc baggies, and noting where I got it and what it is. There's a lot of yarn on my sofa for someone who isn't currently buying yarn. I wish there were an on-line way to catalogue the yarn, or something like Library Thing for yarn. Sure, there's a feature on Ravelry to list one's stash, but mine has gotten a bit out of control, and needs some serious catalogue help.

I have been attending a couple of knit-nights, on Mondays and Fridays. The one on Mondays is for gay men, held in a small and uber cool cafe. The other is held in one of the LYSs I like to frequent. The Monday group has kind of died a slow and painful death. I was the only person to show up the last two weeks, even though I'd gotten commitments from a couple of other knitters that they'd be there. I will give it a few more tries, and then I think I'm done.

The Friday night group has wine! I think that's why it's so popular. I stick to seltzer water, myself, since wine makes me giddy, and when I get giddy I tend to think of ice as the past tense of water. I am often the only guy who shows up at this knit-night, though sometimes there's another guy there. And often there's a dog or two there. Jeannie, a retired racing greyhound, is the sweetest dog, with a pretty face, and a strong desire to get skritched. I oblige her as often as I can.

It's gotten to the point where my Friday night knitting group is the high point of my week. I like seeing what everyone is working on, and usually bring three of four projects I have on the needles with me. Of course I usually only work on one, perhaps two, of them, but I never know what I'll be in the mood for when I am leaving the house, so I bring a variety to choose from. It keeps me out of trouble.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

More Charity Knitting

A couple of friends of mine who sing in the Boston Gay Men's Chorus asked me to knit up a hat for the annual auction the Chorus has as a fundraiser. While not overly fond of choral music (I have been in choruses in high school and in college; what killed it for me was singing Frostiana), I readily agreed to whip up a toque for them. Using some amazing Madeline Tosh Superwash worsted weight merino wool, I made this hat.

The colours are Betty Drapers Blues and Terra. I keep wanting to add a "cotta" to that, but that ain't the name, so I restrain myself.

My friends, who are both named David* (they go by Dave and David, or Dave and Theo -- don't ask, just go with it), and are collectively known as "The Daves" have been trying to convince me to start selling my knitting on Etsy (that is a post for another day).So I worked up a little description of the wool and myself:

About the wool
Merino wool comes from merino sheep, the aristocrats of the sheep world, who are, even for sheep, unspeakably stupid. Merino sheep produce very soft, warm wool, which spins beautifully and holds dye well.  Knitting with merino wool is a sublime experience. Wearing garments made from merino wool allows one to experience the sublime as well.

About the knitter
I have been knitting for almost ten years, focusing mostly on hats and scarves, occasional sweaters, and most recently, knitted lace. I only use natural fibres: wool, llama, alpaca, silk, cashmere and mohair. I prefer to eschew bamboo yarns, though I am sometimes seduced by its siren charms. I like working with jewel tones, tending toward cobalt blues and emerald greens, however undyed and natural coloured yarns have caught my attention. Recently, coming out of left field, is a fascination with yarns that are dyed red, especially knock-me-over-and-fuck-me red, as unscientific as that sounds, but one knows it when one sees it. Completely unprofessional photographs of some of my knitted goods may be seen at my knitting blog, The K is Silent, or on my Ravelry page, under the name bearknit. Commissions are cheerfully accepted, with prices ranging from more than you can imagine to more than you can afford. I may be reached at

*This happens in gay relationships. I once met a lesbian couple who were both named Cheryl.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Charity Knitting

This past weekend I went to the Stitch House for a look-see at yarn spun from the wool of Jacob Sheep. The National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association was there, because Jacobs can get Tay-Sachs and as a fund raiser, they sell yarn from a farm in Texas where this was initially discovered. So being the socially conscious knitter that I am, I bought four skeins of yarn from them. Farmer Fred, who owns the sheep, has named his beasts, and I bought yarn from Alexa and from Precious. The yarn itself is not as soft as merino, and is spun in such a way that it is thick and thin, but it knits up nicely, and I might make a shawl for someone using this yarn. I do have a cousin named Alexa, so there's a thought.

The NTSAD folk were handing out small skeins of yarn that could be knit up into 7X7 squares, which will later be sewn into a blanket, which will be auctioned off as a fund raiser. I have made one square using a seed stitch. I may make a second square (it's on the needles, but I'm doing it in stockinette and it's smaller and will need blocking *sigh*).

Surprisingly, using size US 8 needles, I got perfect gauge and have a perfect 7X7 square.

This is yarn from Precious.

This is yarn from Alexa. I think doing a shawl with wide stripes of each yarn would be kind of pretty.

Knitters at Stitch House working on their 7X7 squares.

It was an enjoyable day, and ended well: four skeins of yarn and a delightful tofu dish in Chinatown with a fellow-knitter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

David's Scarf

Last week saw David and me prowling the shelves at Stitch House in Dorchester, looking for a yarn with which to make him a scarf. He had said, when he asked me to undertake this project, that he'd had a green scarf that his grandmother had made for him when he was a child. It was a variegated green yarn, and the way he described it made me think instantly of acrylic.

I don't knit in acrylic.

No, not even baby things. For those I'll use cotton.

So with green yarn in mind, we looked at the shelves. What he ended up buying, Noro Kogarashi (51% silk, 49% wool), had some green in it, but like every other Noro yarn I've knitted with (Silk Garden and Kureyon), the colours were varied and moved from one to another. I was a bit surprised. But there is green in the yarn, and it's knitting up beautifully. I'm using a 1x1 rib, to give the effect of stockinette, but without the curl that stockinette inevitably has.

I've got about a foot of knitting done. The scarf starts with green, merges to brown, purple, grey, and back to two different shades of green. And I've only encountered one knot in it so far!

Detail of the golden brown merging into the purple and then the grey.

David is a newbie to knitting, and I am not sure he knows what he's getting into with this stuff. When I've got a few more inches done on it, I'll send him a picture to see if he likes it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Back In Line

OK, I've been absent for a month. So sue me. I have been working on several projects and haven't finished any of them (well, I did finish a chemo cap last night, but I haven't photographed it yet). A friend of mine has asked me to knit him a scarf and today we visited the Stitch House to get some yarn. He picked a lovely Noro Kogarashi (51% silk, 49% wool). I've knit with Noro before (who hasn't?), but never with Kogarashi. We balled the two skeins whilst at the shop.

Here I am balling the second hank of the Kogarashi. The first one is between me and the swift.

We talked about patterns and looked at pictures of different ones, but he didn't think any of them were his style. I think with this yarn we'll go with a simple 1x1 rib, because it looks enough like stockinette and will show off the amazing colours of this yarn. I will post pictures of it as it comes along.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I have been kniting another feather and fan lace scarf (two of three), and was almost done. I looked at it carefully, and noticed where I did a repeat of rows four and one right next to each other. I am the type of knitter that if there is a mistake, my eyes are instantly drawn to it, and I can't see anything else. I'll look at the item, and see the mistake. I'll look over the rest of the item, and my eyes will instantly be drawn back to the mistake.

So I frogged it back. Probably 15 iterations of the pattern (it's a four-row pattern). I picked up the stitches again, and just didn't have the heart to tink back a row to get everything aligned correctly (I also was supposed to have 36 stitches, and I have 38 -- oopsie). I'm sure it will work out perfectly, but i was sooooo close to being done. I had plans for finishing it that night, and sewing in the loose ends. Now it is just sitting on my bed, mocking me.

I hate being mocked, especially by an inanimate object.

I will address the problems with this scarf tonight. I'll re-knit the dozens of rows I just frogged. I'll finish this scarf, probably by the end of the week. But I'll be looking daggers at it the entire time, daring it to repeat rows out of order. Simply put, there are certain things up with which I shall not put.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I just returned from New Orleans, where I was celebrating Mardi Gras. Beads, daquiris, and yes, yarn! I took some time out from the parades and celebrations to visit Quarter Stitch to peruse the yarn there. I found a bunch of things I wanted to take home with me, but settled on four skeins of Malabrigo Rios, two in Ravelry Red and two in Purple Mystery. I already know what will be done with the purple, but the red skeins, which greatly appeal to me, are still without a project. But that red! It grabs you and shakes you.

I did a bit of knitting on the plane down to Mardi Gras, but never did any while actually in New Orleans. There were beads to be caught! Daquiris to be drunk! Hell to be raised! And I had a terrific time.

I'm back home in Boston now, with much to mull over. At the top of the list, what will I do with that red yarn. The secondary questions, what I'll do with the rest of my life, is really not as important. The beads are put away, the yarn added to the stash, and real life once again rears its ugly head.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bad knitter, no yarn!

I've not posted much recently, for a variety of reasons. Partly I haven't done a whole lot of knitting (I didn't pick up the needles between 3 Feb and 10 Feb) in the last few weeks. My mind has been elsewhere, and I've felt no call to the needles. Until this week. Finished a hat for Joel and started a scarf for Alex and worked on Carlene's lace scarf and made something that needs to be felted (with more to come -- plans, baby, I've got BIG plans!) and looked over a hat pattern for Tom and thought about making a sweater for myself (never mind the six or seven or eight sweaters I already have on the needles) and thought about a lacy scarf or shawl in the gorgeous Shibui mohair/silk I got and thought that I'd like to get more Shibui mohair/silk, but in green and maybe that gorgeous cobalt blue and did some prep work for my trip to New Orleans and can I think of anything to add without the use of a comma?

Deep breath!

I do love a run-on sentence.

One of the big things looming on my calendar is a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Of course I shall take some time out of a busy schedule, filled with parades, swamp tours, plantation tours, carousing, and dreams of fornication to visit Quarter Stitch, that delightful yarn (and needlepoint) store in the French Quarter. I might even buy some stuff. Or not, since money is tight. But I'll probably come away with something lovely. I always manage to find yarn that I can't find at home.

I'm bringing my computer to Mardi Gras. I'll post any new yarn I pick up. And my on-the-plane project is a chemo cap in cotton for the sister-in-law of a friend. I've got the pattern picked out, the cotton yarn, in a beautiful dusty rose, and the needles all put aside, ready to be placed in my backpack and keep me busy whilst in the air. And on the ground at the layover. And while my buddies are sleeping in (am I the only person who really doesn't need much sleep during MG? I believe that I'll get plenty of sleep when I'm dead) I can get some knitting done. Maybe. If I'm not out getting beignets and cafe-au-lait.

By the way, the Quarter Stitch still does not have a website. I think I'll speak to the owner about that. It's such a delightful store, it needs an on-line presence.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finished Object: Brad's Scarf

This was a very quick knit, a scarf for my friend Brad. It is made of Araucania Coliumo yarn, 70% wool, 30% silk. It is very soft, and was knit in a 1X1 rib, on size US 11 needles. It knit up very quickly, and I love that it looks like stockinette, and you can't see the line where there was a colour change.

Taking a page from the Brooklyn Tweed Striped Noro Scarf, I carried the yarn up the side so I wouldn't have dozens of loose ends to weave in. It took me a time or two to figure out the best way to do this (it's not like I'm a professional knitter), but once I did, it went quite swimmingly. I will mail Brad his scarf this week.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Manly Art of Knitting

As a guy who knits, I sometimes encounter. . . incredulity that I am playing with sticks and string. When I walk into an unfamiliar yarn store I am often confronted by a bemused clerk, wondering if I've wandered into the wrong place. When I wandered into the yarn store in Doylestown  a couple weeks ago, I heard one woman call out to me, "We're all ladies here!" I refrained from discussing the difference between ladies and women, hesitant to be accused of classism. However, as soon as I identify myself as a knitter, I am treated like a long lost member of the clan, the extended family, the mishpokhah of knitters.

One of the guys from Nine Inch Needles (our men's knitting group) has been known to knit on the subway! He says that if he is knitting on the subway then no one sits next to him. I rarely knit on the trains, usually because I almost always fall asleep when riding the trains. However, the trains can get pretty crowded, so maybe if I knit on the trains I'll get a bit more room to myself.

Or is that selfish?

One of the frustrations I have is that when a new book of knitting patterns comes out, there are usually only one or two patterns for men. I'm not inclined to buy a book with 15 patterns and only one of them is something I can knit for myself. There are several books written specifically with men's patterns as their theme, but almost all of them are written to the woman knitter making something for the men in her life -- husband, son, father, boyfriend, fiance, brother -- but with a very few exceptions, not written for men who knit.

I get it. We are a very small demographic. I go to a knitting night on Fridays, and I am almost always the only man who shows up. I like knitting with the ladies, but sometimes it would be nice if another guy showed up. But men knit. Really, we do. You'd believe it if you could see my yarn stash. We know that historically there were places men knit, like on whaling ships out of New England. There were long periods of down time between chasing whales and rendering their blubber. The hour were filled with crafts, knitting included.

And we know that knitting is a manly art. What could be more manly than a cowboy? That very icon of American manliness.
This book, from 1975, can be found on Amazon for a mere $175.99 (new), or $79.95 or $129.49 (used). Something tells me it isn't something I'll be adding to my library any time soon. But I like the idea that the Marlboro Man could whip up a quick neckerchief between drags on his cigarettes and while making all those little dogies git along.

Maybe I'll start knitting in public more than I currently do ('cause maybe knitting in hipster cafes doesn't really count). If anyone gives me any shit, I'll look 'em right in the eye and say, "Knitting. It's a manly art."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time Off

I have discovered the joy of making lace. I made a lace shawl for a friend for Christmas. I have made and am making lace scarves for friends for the just-passed reunion (one down, two to go!). I LOVE making lace. Just love, love, love, love it.

But there's a fly in the ointment. You knew there had to be one, didn't you?
While I like making lace, I have a hard time manipulating needles that are smaller than size US 5. I am not sure if it's my big ham-hands or if I just lack the dexterity. Years ago (I say it was 15, but it's more like 20), when I was studying ASL, I was the best fingerspeller in the class. I practiced fingerspelling every day, sitting on the subway trains and fingerspelling every word that appeared on the advertisements. It got to the point where I was better at fingerspelling than the teacher, who was herself Deaf.

I'm out of practice these days with the fingerspelling, but I thought that I'd be able to handle small knitting needles. Not to put too fine a point on it, but FAT CHANCE!!! I've got some lace on the needles right now, it's a gorgeous pattern, the yarn is actually the stuff recommended by the pattern's author, the colour is sublime, and I know who is going to get it when it's done. If it gets done. Because I can't make my damn fingers do what I want them to do when I'm knitting with these tiny needles!

Hey! I know! I'm using a circular needle with a 36 inch cable. I'm really used to using straight needles if I'm making anything other than a hat. It's not my hands' fault! It's the needles' fault!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Forever Yarn

This past holiday weekend I've been in Pennsylvania for the second annual reunion of friends from my grad school days (the first degree). Steve and Carlene and I drove down from Boston, Brad and Alexandra and their girls drove in from Maryland, and we all converged on Libby and John's house outside Philadelphia. Good friends, good food, and of course, good yarn.

On Sunday, several of us visited the James A. Michener Museum for the astonishingly brilliant exhibit on the Pennsylvania Impressionists. What an amazing show! The curator deserves major kudos for pulling this exhibit together. In short, I liked it, I really liked it.

After touring the exhibit, some of us decided to wander the shops in Doylestown. While my friends explored the bookshops, I hit the yarn store. Forever Yarn (no website, alas) has a terrific collection of high end yarns. I entered through the back door, and there were about seven women sitting in the front room. I heard one of them call out, "The place is full of women!" Like I'm not used to that. I replied, "On my Friday night knit I'm usually the only man there." When they realised I was a knitter, they were very welcoming. They asked if I'd made my hat (I had), and what was I looking for, and were very friendly. I was just looking around, seeing what they had and if any of it appealed to me.

They had a lot of yarn that really appealed to me. I only wish I had more money so I could have gotten some of the yarn I saw there. I did get some beautiful yarns (pictures to follow!), but I couldn't quite justify the absolutely beautiful Swans Island (100% organic merino), even though I wanted to buy out their entire stock. I did, however, take the information for this yarn, and when I am able, I will be getting some of it. Just gorgeous!

The yarn I did buy, though, is not just stash yarn. I've got plans for this stuff, y'know! First, there was some Madeleine Tosh. I've never bought Tosh before, though I've looked at it. I don't make socks, so it never occured to me that you could make shawls or fine scarves with it. So I got four skeins in two colourways to make a scarf. In the store, one looked like burnished gold, and the other a cobalt blue. But when I got them home, the blue looked more purple, but I think it's going to work anyway.
I think these will work well together. I'm looking forward to working with this yarn.

I also bought some Shibui Silk Cloud which is 60% mohair and 40% silk. It is a rich cranberry colour, and alas, there was only one skein left. However, after talking with the ladies, one of them said that she had two skeins that she was planning on exchanging. We exchanged information and she's going to check her stash, and if the dye lots match, she'll contact me and I'll buy it off her.
I am hoping that we have a match, since I will need the extra yardage for what I'm planning on doing with this yarn. And the picture doesn't do the colour justice.

Everyone at the shop was friendly, the owner told me that if I lived in the area she'd offer me a part time job (!) which just made me laugh. I'd love to work in a yarn store, but I'm not sure how much of my paycheque I'd take home. Something tells me that my stash would increase exponentially.

It was a terrific experience at Forever Yarn. The addition to my stash is very pleasing and everyone at the store was friendly and welcoming. I'm looking forward to a return trip at next year's reunion.

Forever Yarns, 15 W. Oakland Ave, Doylestown, PA  18901

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Feather and Fan

I just finished a silk lace scarf for a friend. I've never made a feather and fan pattern before, and I really enjoyed it. The pattern came from Mind's Eye Yarns and can be found here:

The yarn I used was Tao by Colinette, 100% pure silk. I've got two more of these on the needles for other friends, and am thinking of adapting the pattern to make a shawl. That idea sends goose bumps all over me, since I think it would make a terrific shawl. I'll also search Ravelry for feather and fan patterns, just to get a better idea about them.

This still needs to be blocked and I need to sew in the loose ends, but I'm really happy with it.
Now I've got a week to finish two more of 'em!