This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Thursday, 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.