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 31, 2014

Assessing the Year

Things Knit
I got a lot of stuff done this year, however, most of it was for holiday gifts. I made three cowls out of Mecha. One was for my cousin, one was for my undergrad professor of Religion, and one was for me, and I wear it almost every day now, though it has stretched a bit. It's soft and warm and I like it a lot more than a scarf.

For the holidays, the official count is:
Six Honey Cowls
Three Grid Scarves
Three Irish Hiking Scarves
Two Feather-and-fan Scarves
Two Grace Jones Cowls
One Ombre Cowl

I got a lot of knitting done, sometimes making myself a bit crazy in the process. I wish I could knit faster, but I am not unimpressed with my output for the year. I churned out about 20 projects this year, and I'm happy with that.

Old Resolutions
I resolve not to buy so much yarn this year. I am at 21 bins, and could add one or two more.
All I can say is that the universe smacked me upside the head for this hubris. I bought a lot of yarn this year. Three trips to New Orleans meant a trip or two each time to The Quarter Stitch, and I also found a new yarn store in the Marigny, which was a lot of fun. I went on the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl, and spent double the money I'd budgeted for it, and then there was the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. These all added large quantities to my stash, but I also bought yarn through the year from a couple of LYSs that I frequent. Some of the stuff got knit up immediately, and some of it was for holiday gifts. I also bought yarn three different times for the same gift, each time finding something better than what I'd already got. I failed miserably in this particular endeavour, and if I make this resolution again, I'll really have to do better (and of course, I'm already saving money each month for both the NH Sheep & Wool Festival and for Rhinebeck).

I will knit my stash. I will use all that lovely beautiful yarn I've acquired over the years.
I tried, I really did, to knit my stash. I made four of the six Honey Cowls from stash yarn. One of the Irish Hiking Scarves was stash yarn. And that's about it. I failed miserably at this resolution.

I will finish the projects I have on the needles before casting on new ones. Well, most of them, at least. Well, some of them, I'm sure. In some sort of order.
I think I actually finished one project that was on the needles, maybe in January or February. But this was another resolution that didn't work out for me. I really need to assess what old projects I've got on the needles, and determine if they really need to be finished after all.

I will make some items for myself.
Uummmmm. Well, I did make a cowl for myself, in January. And that was about it. I would like to make some sweaters for myself in the new year.

I will blog more.
This is the one place where I shined. I wanted to write at least two blog posts per week, eight per month. I succeeded writing eight blog posts for six months. I wrote nine entries in one month, and 10 entries for another month. However, I wrote only seven entries for two months, and only three (!) for one month. However, I have written 12 entries the last month of the year. So, more or less, I will class this one as a resounding success!

New Resolutions
Knit more stash!
I really have to make this a priority. I have so many bins of yarn in my room, that I not only cannot navigate it successfully, I had to store six of them in a friend's basement. And I still can't walk around my room without bumping into bins of yarn.

Make more things for myself.
I love making knitted goodies for my friends. I love giving them things that have come from my wooden needles. I need to make a few things for myself. I'd like to make a few sweaters, and use some of the amazing yarns in my stash for things. These yarns were meant to be seen, not hidden away in a bin in my room.

Seriously limit yarn purchases.
I know I like to joke that yarn bought on vacation doesn't count toward stash, but you know and I know that it really does. I do not need to single handedly keep each of my LYSs in business. I know that baby llama is gorgeous, and only $11 per skein, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Well, I could mix the black with the grey and make a cowl for someone, I'm sure.

Learn to read charts.
I have already started this, knitting the New Bittersweet Cowl, and only referring to the chart. Of course, it's damn simple. Wait until I have to cable something.

Learn how to make socks.
Yeah, I have plenty of sock yarn, just don't know how to make socks. So I think it's time to learn.

Write more blog posts.
I'm pretty pleased with myself that except for one month when I only wrote three entries, I managed to turn out between seven and twelve entries each month. I will refine this resolution by trying to write better entries, so that as many as possible are well written, and not just filler that I churn out because I want to reach a certain number each month. In other words, I need to hone my writing.

And now, I need to go. I've got 25 bins of yarn that need knitting up.
Happy New Year, to everyone who reads The K is Silent.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Webs Yarn Carnage! Sort Of

I made it to Webs today, one last HURRAH! of seeing America's Yarn Store®. It's not like I need more yarn, but they are having their end-of-year sale. But it's the end of the month, a month in which presents were bought! ONOES! It means (cue sad trombone) that I can't spend too much money! Oh well, I don't need to buy that much yarn!

My friend Huw (also known as Hugh or Jay, take your pick) picked me up at 9:20, and we were off to the races! Huw drives a big white Landrover, with butt-warmers in the seats, so we were quite comfy in what he calls the Rolling Living Room. Traffic wasn't too bad, and we made it to Webs only four minutes after the GPS estimated for us. Not too shabby.

The store was busy, but not crazy busy. I saw my friend Alyssa who works at Webs, and at one point, we had enough time to have an actual conversation. It was good to catch up with her, since I hadn't seen her in almost four years.

So, the yarn I bought today.
Some gorgeous Madeline Tosh, in colourway Forestry. I would like to make another Honey Cowl (I know I said I didn't ever want to make another one, but I'm thinking at least two, maybe four more) for my niece, who likes the colour green.

Some Takhi Classic Cotton, since I want to try to make some wash cloths this year.

Zen Yarn Garden puts out this wonderful Serenity DK yarn, 90% superwash merino and 10% cashmere. It's 250 yards, and I need to make something lovely with it. This was the only one in this colourway, Wild Berry, so I might need to scour Ravelry to find at least one more skein. A cowl, perhaps, or something special for someone special.

Finally, in the warehouse, Kollage Yarns, Solace. It's 70% alpaca and 30% silk. I'm thinking a sweater. I got 17 skeins, so I should be able to make something warm. The colour is more of a steel grey, though it looks black in this picture. 

These were all the yarns I got. I tried hard to buy things that I wanted to make things with, rather than buying gorgeous yarn with no idea of what I wanted to do with it (okay, I did that with the Zen Garden, but it's soooo pretty!). 

My friend Huw bought me a magnet for my refrigerator! I think every yarn whore needs one!

In all, a very satisfying end-of-year trip to Webs!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Blocking the goods

Christmas has come and gone. I tried mightily to finish everything on time, and mostly did. Well, knitting-wise. Blocking-wise, well, that's another story. I did manage to get the two feather-and-fan scarves blocked. But they are still at my house, and will probably not reach their destinations until Monday.
These were spritzed with water before pinning. I decided not to do a full wet block, since they both contain silk, which tends to grow very large when it gets wet.

I am still making stuff for the January reunion. I have just finished the first colour stripe of the Ombre Cowl, and am about to add the second. This is a gradient cowl, using two strands of Colour A, then one strand each of Colour B, then two strands of Colour B, then one strand of B and one of Colour C, then two strands of Colour C. I just finished the part with two strands of Colour A. I know my work is cut out for me. These are the two Grace Jones Cowls that I finished.
Done in Juniper Moon's Moonshine, I hope they fit! 

I am already planning projects for after all the reunion knitting is done. Cowls, sweaters, hats, scarves, and lace goodies that will keep me busy throughout the year. And I'm sure that new projects will be added as I go along. Mercifully, I have most of what I need for yarn, but I'm pretty sure I'll get more as the year progresses. I am a yarn whore, and besides, the act of collecting yarn and the act of knitting are two different actions, which only sometimes intersect.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Running in Circles

I got a note from one of my closest friends in the entire world, who told me her daughter, who happens to be my god-daughter, is expecting something for Christmas.

O Spite! O Hell!

Last year I cast on the Milanese Loop cowl for my beloved god-daughter, Siobhan. Somewhere in the pattern, I made a boo-boo. And I can't find it. I think on one row or another I forgot to K2T, because I have an extra stitch. And in a lace pattern, an extra stitch is a bad thing. A very bad thing. I had put the cowl aside for a bit, because I can fix it later. Well, now it's later. Much later. Much too late. I am not going to fix it and finish it and mail it to Vermont in time for the Big Day.

So my solution? Last night I cast on the New Bittersweet Cowl! Because nothing makes more sense than tinking back hundreds of stitches to find the one mistake in a cowl you've already knitted dozens of rows for. I won't have this done in time, by any stretch of the imagination, but I might have it done by New Year's. And that falls within the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas. So I'm kind of on time. If not by American standards. I'm using some baby llama I picked up for another project and decided wasn't quite right for what I'd originally envisioned. I'm not at home right now, and don't have the yarn with me, and I don't remember the brand. But it's black, and it's soft, and it knits up like a dream. I am going at it on US 7 needles, though it would probably be better on US 6, but I don't have a circular needle that is long enough to make this cowl in US 6, so US 7 it is. It will look just fine.

True to my non-monogamous knitting self, I also have the Ombre Cowl on the needles, in mink! This is a gradient cowl, and I'm going with grey-white-black. I've already got about half an inch of fabric knitted up! It's not a hard project, but like everything else, takes time. I hope to have these two done by the end of the week. Then one more scarf to make next week, and I can devote the first two weeks of January to the sweater I'm making. When it comes to the knitting part, I have it all under control. It's the blocking that eludes me. I hope to bring some stuff to a friend's house tomorrow, where my blocking board lives, along with my blocking wires, and I can block the last three scarves.

I plan on drinking lots of spiked eggnog on Wednesday night. Just sayin'.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Most Glorious Place

I am going to Northampton, MA this weekend! O Joy! O Sublime! We're going to hear a concert by the Nields, a pair of sisters who sing contemporary folk music and who have awesome and tight harmonies (you can youtube some of their music here). And while we were in Noho, we figured we'd stop by Webs, America's yarn store. Normally, it's closed on Sundays, but I know that it is open on Sundays before Christmas. Except the last Sunday before Christmas. The day we'll be in Noho. So thinking I'd be going to Webs, at first I was like,

You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open
You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
March up to the gate and bid it open, open*

But then I was like, 

I guess I won't be going to "the most glorious place."

Well, worse things have happened to nicer people.

Knitting continues apace for the holidays. I do not think I'll get anything out on time. I just washed and wet-blocked the last honey cowl this morning. If it is dry by tomorrow, I'll wrap it and pop it in the mail to my friend in Texas, and hope beyond hope that it gets there in time. I cannot for the life of me find my knitting bag, with all my stitch markers, stitch holders, scissors, and most importantly, T-pins, with which I could block my niece's feather-and-fan scarf. I may need to send it to her unblocked. I might be able to block it at my LYS tonight, and if I can, I'll have to scurry like a bunny tomorrow to pick it up, wrap it, and get it and her brother's scarf in the mail (tomorrow I also have a Chanukkah party, a Christmas party, and a late-night cookie party; will this endless round of frivolity never end?) so it reaches them in time for Christmas morning.

Like I said, worse things have happened to nicer people.

Thanks to knitting maven Claudia, I learnt how to unbind the bind-off of the teal/blue Grace Jones cowl, and have started lengthening it. I have five more rows to go before I can bind off again. I'm not too worried about this one, since I won't need it til January, but I like to keep knitting. Tonight, after I finish it, I'll cast on yet another cowl, the Ombre cowl, in mink. I've never knit with mink before, and I'm looking forward to it. It will be a gradient cowl, holding two strands of Colour 1, then one strand each of Colour 1 and 2, then two strands of Colour 2, through to Colour 3. I'm going monochromatic, with grey, white, and black, since the person it is for likes that sort of thing. I might substitute a light brown for the black, but we'll see.

*Optimistic Voices, from the Wizard Of Oz, 1939
§ The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Some Cowls

Today is 16 December. It is the first night of Chanukkah (chag same'ach!) and I just bought the last gifts that are not knitting for friends this evening. It's a good feeling that all the knitting and shopping is at last done. Not including the stuff I need to finish for our January reunion (still knitting-knitting-knitting for that!), I have made six Honey Cowls, 3 Irish Hiking Scarves, 3 scarves I'm calling the Grid Pattern, and two feather-and-fan scarves.

Whew! No wonder I'm knackered!

These are the Honey Cowls I was able to manage. I had originally wanted to make 12 of them, but wisely stopped at six. I'd gotten quite tired of the pattern at this point. I still want to finish them out, but that might wait til next year.
The five on the left are Madeline Tosh: Tart, Betty Draper's Blues, Huechera, Cove, and Burnished. The one of the far right is tussah silk, purchased at The Artful Ewe, in Port Gamble, WA. Of all these cowls, four were knit with stash yarn! That was one of my goals this year, and with this particular project, I think I did OK.

Some close ups of a couple of them.



Tussah Silk

While the pattern itself is easy, I found that I spent an inordinate amount of time knitting these. I'm glad I'm done for a while with them. There are other, interesting and fun projects I've got in mind for the first few months of the new year. These include the Deathflake as a double knit scarf, the Red Dragon Beanie, the Ferrous Wrap, and maybe even some Fleur de lys patterns!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


One of my favourite cartoons ever was Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watersen. Of all the ones he drew when he was still drawing C&H, this has always been my favourite:

I like it because this was me as a child. Afraid to try something because I might not like it.
Operative word: might.

I am sometimes like this when it comes to knitting. I look at the picture of a beautiful pattern and I think, "Wow, that's so cool, I'd like to make that for someone." Then I read the pattern and discover there is a particular stitch I don't know how to do, and rather than asking someone's help, or looking up a video on the internet, I determine that I don't know how to do this, so I can never do this, and so, lovely pattern be damned, I'll never make it.

I have a lot of patterns in my collection that I've determined I'll  never be able to make.

So, one of my New Year's resolutions is to learn how to do stitches I don't know how to do. Little things, like knitting through the back. If I am unable to do it on the internet, then I'll ask one of the many knitting mavens I know. I refuse to be limited in my knitting any longer.

Oh, crap. I guess this extends to learning to read charts. There are a lot of things I'd like to make that are only charted, but I've never really learnt the secrets of charts (yes, I can read Hebrew and Arabic, and I can puzzle my way through Cyrillic alphabets, but knitting charts just stymie me). Le sigh. I think I have a steep learning curve ahead of me next year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Getting A Handle On Things

When I first began to knit, I said that I would only work on one project at time and that I wouldn't have a stash.

And then the Universe bitch slapped me.

I'm trying to get a handle on things. Right now, I am very focused on getting all the holiday knitting done. I've finished knitting the stuff that's due on Christmas day, and now I'm focusing on the stuff that needs to be done by mid January. I don't know if I'm going to finish the sweater. But everything else will be done.
Probably will be done.
Might well be done.
I think I'm done for.

Stash. What is it about new yarn? The smell? The colours? The jumbled, jubilant plethora of wooly goodness? I have so much damn yarn in my house I could open a yarn shop. I see yarn in the yarn store and I see new projects, friends bundled up in warm woolies, gorgeous handknits falling off my needles as I finish binding off.

The reality is quite other. I have bins and bins and bins of yarn. I say there are 25 of them, but I really don't have an accurate count. I have acquired so much yarn this year that I need to buy a couple new bins. There's so much of it, and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I don't have any place to put it, and have actually sent six bins over to a friend's house to live in her basement. At least until I'm in a new apartment and have more storage space for my obsession.

I need to think of my New Year's resolutions soon. I need to assess how well I met the resolutions I made last year. I already know that I cannot promise not to buy yarn next year. I've already started saving up money for the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival in May. And I've started putting aside some money for Rhinebeck in October.And then there's the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl in September. Maybe if I limit myself to just those three occasions next year? This year's promise not to buy yarn is already shot to hell, and good thing, too, since next week I'll be in Northampton, MA with some friends for a concert. Which means a trip to Webs. Well, worse things have happened to nicer people.

Who am I kidding? I saw some wonderful Arran weight yarn at a local shop, and the owner promised to order me some to make a sweater. And I want to make a traditional Irish sweater this year, in that wonderful lanolin-heavy cream-coloured Irish yarn. Yeah, I'm going to limit my purchases to just three festivals next year. I wonder if I will need to learn to read charts to make this sweater? Probably. Charts, like Estonian lace, scare the snot out of me. But if I make my quest to become a Knitter (as opposed to a knitter) then I reckon I'll have to learn how to read them.

O spite! O hell!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Time to Knit, a Time to Purl

The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us, "For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven." I have my own version of this passage that follows this lovely introduction:
A time to cast on, and a time to bind off; a time to knit, and a time to purl;
a time to choose yarn, and a time to put yarn away.
A time to knit quietly, and a time to hurl the knitting across the room.
A time to go with the flow, and a time to panic.

I am at the point of panic right now. I have completed the last project I need to have finished before Christmas. I still have three more cowls, a scarf, and most of a sweater to complete by mid January. I still have three scarves to block.  And all of it has to be wrapped and mailed so that it arrives in various locations around the country before the Big Day. And I still have most of last year's wrapping paper! I'm so frugal!

Of course, I have not completed a small list of things I wanted to complete. There were originally 12 Honey Cowls, not a mere six. I wanted to make a vest instead of a cowl for someone. And I am not certain now I will get the sweater I've got going completed. It's bigger than I thought it would be. Who knew that a 6'5" man would need so much knitting to make just the back panel of a sweater!

But I do have some complete projects.
The last of the Honey Cowls is finished. Madeline Tosh Vintage (rather than the prescribed DK), in Tart. I really like the way it came out. I just need to sew in the loose ends.

Feather and fan, in Juniper Moon's Moonshine. Deep pine green. I need to sew in the loose ends.

Now, on to the Grace Jones Cowl, which I have not touched in a week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Out and About New Orleans

When I began writing this blog, I said that it would be mostly about knitting. Which means that sometimes it can be about things other than knitting. This is my 23rd (?) trip to New Orleans. It's a place I really like to visit, and have often thought of moving here. I'm not sure if it would be a good match for me, but I have to admit that I am enjoying the current 75 degree temperature, while back home they're shivering in the 30s to 40s.
Standing with the Mississippi River behind me. I've never seen it so low before.
New Orleans is a strange town, a blue dot in a red sea. Not that there aren't conservative Republicans in town, but I've seen more signs supporting Mary Landrieu's bid for Senator than her opponent (he looks like he's had way too much botox). There are a lot of hipsters in NO, and a lot of . . . what to call them? My friend JP calls them Bohemians, my friend Poncho calls them Gutterpunks, and another, unnamed friend, calls them Trash. They are homeless young adults, often with dogs (which apparently are not fully vaccinated, or at all), begging for lose change, especially around the area of the French Quarter near the French Market. I mention them, because. . . .

Yesterday, I stopped by the Quarter Stitch, and asked the nice ladies there if they could recommend a cafe where I could get a cool, refreshing beverage (sweet tea, y'all) and where I could knit quietly, without being disturbed. Cafe En Vie was the recommendation, and I hied there with a slow haste (it's too warm to hurry around here). It's on the corner of Barracks and Decatur in the Quarter. Near the favourite hangouts of the Bohemians (let's use that term, so much nicer than the others). And while I was knitting my holiday gifties, a Bohemian walked in. He was tall and thin, and bearded. Not unhandsome. He was wearing a brown, sleeveless t-shirt, leopard print suspenders, leopard print fingerless gloves, leopard print tights, boots, and denim shorts that are known, I believe, as Daisy
Dukes. I wish I'd been able to get a full picture of him, but this is what I was able to manage.

Paraphrasing Rita Mae Brown, honey that ain't no southern boy, that's a miracle! He also had a small chihuahua in the chair next to him. It can never be said that New Orleans does not have its fair share of eccentrics. In fact, the city nourishes them.

One of the more delightful things you see around New Orleans, are koi painted on the sidewalk. A local artist paints them, for a fee. If I lived here, I'd definitely want to have some painted on my walk.

 These were taken outside Horn's, a restaurant on Dauphine St, outside the French Quarter, but they can be seen in various places around the Quarter and the Fabourg Marigny.

I think I mentioned that it's a quirky city. On Royal St in the French Quarter, there is a vacant lot, from a building being pulled down. On what would have been the second floor of the missing building, one sees this.
Why a bit of paneling, a bit of table and lamp were left behind, I can only imagine. Urban art, perhaps? In any case, just a fun bit of nonsense for the observant walker through the Quarter.

I'm not sure I could actually live here. But I know I could never stop visiting this city.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Return to Bornside Yarns

Failure is not an option.

So at noon I left my B&B, intrepid soul that I am, and returned to Bornside Yarns, and met Bette, the proprietor.
She was delightful,with a warm smile and a welcoming demeanor, and we had a wonderful conversation about yarn, Boston (her son went to MIT), and bath tub* Madonnas.
Bath tub Madonna, Somerville, MA
While I was there, I decided to get some yarn to make a warm shawl for someone. Not sure yet, but I know it will be something wonderfully soft. I got De Aire, by Plymouth Yarns. It's 100% fine merino wool, and looks like a knitted chain and the colourway is New England Nights. I've never knit with anything like this, though I've seen yarns like this in various stores. I'm thinking a triangular shawl, really simple, with a yarn-over increase at the end of each row.

New Orleans being New Orleans, Bette also gave me some lagniappe. After I purchased my yarn, she was asking what she could give me as lagniappe, and I said she didn't need to. Then she realised she hadn't rung up a single ball of yarn, and decided that this would be my laigniappe.
In beautiful shades of orange, it's 100% wool, and very soft. I thought it was Noro at first, but no, it's Universal Yarns, Poems. I'm thinking a warm hat, or maybe a soft cowl, very simple, not too many stitches, to keep someone's neck warm.

It was a fun little store, and I'm glad I made the effort to return. Bette has a sign over her desk, which she says is her philosophy.
If I'm not in New Orleans, I'm in exile!
For those of us who know and love New Orleans, it is a true statement.

*Sometimes bath tub Madonnas are put in these pretty shells, and sometimes they are put in real claw-foot bathtubs (with the claw-feet removed). Regardless, they are called bath tub Madonnas. One can also find other saints in these tubs or shells, St Anthony, St Francis, and Jesus with the Sacred heart being the most common.

More NOLA Yarn

In the novel, Dune, by Frank Herbert, the young Paul Atreides speaks with the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Moiaham about previous men who tried to become the Kwisatch Haderach, asking, "They tried and failed?"
And the Reverend Mother cackles and replies, "They tried and died."

Okay, I didn't die, but I tried and failed. I had read that there was another yarn store in the area, and after checking Google maps, learnt that Bornside Yarns is but a six minute walk away from the B&B where I am staying. Since the website had not been updated since listing the Thanksgiving weekend hours (closed Thursday through Sunday, open on Monday this week), I had to rely on common sense. No hours or phone number were listed, but being of sound Calvinist mind ("Keep your shop and your shop will keep you"), I reckoned the store would be open at 10:00 AM. So I left the B&B at five minutes to 10:00, and arrived at the store front at 10:06 (they weren't lying about that six minute walk!). If I had arrived on any day but Wednesday, my Calvinist instinct would have been correct. However, the shop opens at noon on Wednesdays. O Spite! O Hell!

 I looked in the windows, but didn't see much. But I think (and I could be wrong), that the shop extends to the back of the building. I didn't see much yarn in the window, but if there is a back, and hope springs eternal, I'll be adding to my stash! I'll try to visit later today or tomorrow.


Currently on the needles, I have two projects in Juniper Moon Moonshine (40% merino, 40% wool, 20% silk). The yarn is gorgeous, if a bit splitty. The green is a feather and fan scarf for my niece. I'm past the half-way point, but have put it aside for a bit of respite. While I love the way feather and fan looks, it can become a bit boring after a while to work on.

The blue project is my interpretation of the Grace Jones Cowl. The original pattern called for fat yarn on US 11 needles, casting on 48 stitches. I'm using a worsted weight, so I cast on 100 stitches, on US 7 needles. I'm working nine rows in each section, and  I'm at about 8.5 inches of fabric. I am really liking the way it is coming along.

I will be making one more of these cowls, in purple Moonshine yarn, since these are going to a pair of sisters. It's a rather meditative pattern to work on. 

I am no longer convinced that I'll finish all my projects in time for the holidays. But I'll keep trying and will do my best to prove myself wrong.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Orleans!

I landed in New Orleans yesterday. When I left Boston, it was snowing. When I arrived in New Orleans, it was almost 70 degrees. In fact today, it is in the 70s, and I'm in shorts and a t-shirt. I've ditched the winter weeds and I'm enjoying the sun and a great breeze.

I made it to the Quarter Stitch this morning. No visit to New Orleans is complete without a stop by one of the friendliest yarn shops I've ever been in.

And they wrap the yarn up so prettily, it's like opening a present when you get it home.

I fell in love, again, with the Malabrigo Mecha! I'm thinking a cowl for one of my kinfolk, with these colours.
These are, from left to right, Paysandu, Indiecita, and Whales Road.

And I bought two more skeins of Whales Road to make something for myself. Not sure what, yet, but it sure is pretty (well of course I think it's pretty; it's mostly dark blue with some purple, and I couldn't resist it).

I brought a lot of knitting with me, and worked on the feather and fan scarf in Juniper Moon's Moonshine. I'm past the half way point, but it sure seems like it's moving slowly. I am not certain I want to cast on anything new while I still have this scarf on the needles. But I have so much more to make! I think I'll cast on one of the cowls on Monday. If I'm working on two projects, I'll think I'm making some sort of progress. Of course it really slows me down, but I feel better if I can stress over two things at a time instead of just one.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Packing for the Trip

Well my bags are packed and I'm ready to go. . . .

I leave for New Orleans in just a few hours, for a ten day trip. I'm bringing along a few knitting projects, because, like rust and real estate, knitting never sleeps. The projects I'm bringing are three cowls, for Maddy, Grace, and Steven, a scarf for John, and the unfinished feather-and-fan for Michela. I had hoped to finish the scarf before Thanksgiving, but alas! to no avail. I am, however, past the half-way mark (added the second skein this morning). My plan for the week is to do a little sight-seeing, and a whole lot of knitting. I want to finish as many of these projects as I can while down there, so I reckon two days per project is about right. Right?

I'm mad. Absolutely mad.

While down there, I'll visit The Quarter Stitch (which finally has a website!), one of the most delightful and quirky yarn stores I know. And I'm hoping to make it up to Baton Rouge to visit Knits by Nana, and maybe any other stores I can find in the area. Like I need more yarn.

When I was visiting Mind's Eye the other day, I mentioned to the owner that next year was my year to knit for myself. 2015 was going to be all about me. She told me she'd hold me to that. But I've already seen some patterns and yarns that would be just perfect for various friends. I want to knit up the Deathflake pattern for Troy (this is a pattern on Ravelry, by Art Fiend). I want to make something for William, who wants the Eyeball boa, knit with Vitreous Humor yarn, made by Insubordiknits. And a shawl for Heather, the yarn for which I got during the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl. And of course I want to make a few things for myself. I've got some sweater yarn in my stash that is just raring to be knit up. And some of that awesome tussah silk that I got a The Artful Ewe really has been begging me to make something. And last year I got some gorgeous orange yarn from A Hundred Ravens, and just found someone who loves to wear orange, which is not a colour I can get away with. Just because a yarn is in my stash does not mean it is something I can wear (besides, this particular yarn was a gift from a friend last Christmas).

So maybe I'll try to intersperse some knitting for myself in along with some things made for friends. After all, I can't wear all the yarn!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blocking Day

When I learned to knit, I dreamt about making sweaters, socks, scarves, hats, and cute little stuffed toys. I have managed most of those, but not cute little toys. But when I learned, no one ever told me about blocking. Blocking robs all the joy of knitting from the universe. It's a harsh, cold, thankless task. But if goods don't get blocked, they don't always look their best. (Don't I sound like Little Mary Sunshine?)

So today is blocking day! I managed to block six of my projects (and then I ran out of pins). Four Honey Cowls and two Irish Hiking Scarves! My friend Huw invited me over, and I've been rinsing things out and rolling them in towels all afternoon. There are three more things to block, but we've run short on pins.

Here are four of the Honey Cowls drying on the rack. They expanded! When I finished them, they were too short to double over, but they stretched! They are, front to back, left to right, Betty Draper's Blues, Burnished, Heuchera, and Cove.

I also blocked two of the Irish Hiking Scarves, in Tosh and Malabrigo. You can't really see it in the pictures, but the Malabrigo colour is much richer than the Tosh.
I've never blocked without guidelines before, so I'm hoping these don't scallop when unpinned.

I still have one more Hiking Scarf to block, and a feather and fan scarf. On the needles, currently, are a Honey Cowl and a feather and fan scarf. I hope to have them both finished before the Thanksgiving holiday. All I can hear in my mind's ear is, "Knit faster, I hear banjos!"

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Random Thoughts

Dorothy Parker once said, "I hate writing, I love having written."

I have tried to start this blog entry three different times this afternoon, and each time I've deleted what I've written, sighed, and tried again. This is the fourth attempt. The problem I'm finding is that I've already spoken at length about feeling overwhelmed by my holiday knitting, and how I'm pretty sure I'll get it all done. Actually, I'm not at all sure I'll get it all done, I just tell myself that to keep from screaming in abject terror.

I did something I've never done before (damn, there goes another virginity!). I went on line and bought patterns from Webs. The Berroco Booklet, with seven different patterns. I only wanted one, the Millais shawl, but I'll live with the others. Actually, there are two others I'd consider making, the Wallis cowl and the Holman-Hunt shawl. But the sweaters are for skinny women, and I'm neither.

I also got the pattern for the cute little snow family I mentioned in an earlier post. I'll probably never make them, but I have the ability and the pattern, so maybe someday. A very plain men's sweater (basic, with a stockinette body and just some ribbing on the neck, cuffs, and waist), and a cabled afghan, which can be a lap blanket, a bed blanket, or a tent, depending on the weight of the yarn and the size of the needles. My goal for next year is to knit a few things for myself. So maybe that plain sweater, and the afghan. I've always wanted to knit a blanket!

Most of what excites me these days (finishing a project, buying patterns I'll probably never use, buying yarn!) would probably bore the bejesus out of anyone else. And I haven't really finished a project in a while. But when I bind off that last stitch, I feel like I've really done something, and then go cast on a new project. It's about all the excitement I can stand sometimes.

Speaking of excitement, while I couldn't go to Rhinebeck, my friend Kim did. And she brought me back a couple of skeins of yarn.

Approximately 120 yards each, a blend of Qiviut, fine Merino, and Silk. It hales from Springtide Farm, and is the softest stuff I've ever felt. I am not quite sure what I'm going to make with this yarn, but whatever it ends up being, it'll be luxurious and warm!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I know stuff is getting done, because I'm knitting my fingers to the bone. I'm a fat man with bony fingers. Sunday I spent the day with Hugh, and got a wicked lot of sewing in the loose ends done. Not the most glamourous part of knitting, but alas! the part that really must get done if we don't want our knitting to fall apart.

So, the goods on the needles.
The back panel of Brad's sweater, in Lamb's Pride Bulky. That's about 27 inches of fabric there, and I'm not quite done. About another six inches of knitting and I'll be able to put this on stitch holders, and begin the front panel.

This is the beginnings of a scarf for my niece. Her favourite colour is green, and this is Muniper Moon Moonshine. This colour is so rich in real life, and this picture does not do it justice. It's 40% merino, 40% alpaca, and 20% silk. You can feel the lanolin in it. And who doesn't love feather and fan.

This is the last version of my many iterations of the Honey Cowl. In Madeline Tosh Tart, it is a very fitting colour, since the recipient is known for her sharp colour sense,

I'm hoping to finish the cowl before I leave for New Orleans, but now that I've added the second skein, it looks like it isn't moving at all! Such a slow problem.

I have three projects I'm taking with me on my trip: the cowl, the scarf, and a mink neck warmer. It's all ready to go, and I leave in only 16 days!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Little Tiny Figures!

I am pretty much a basic knitter. I churn out scarves, hats, some shawls, and a few sweaters. Practical, useful things that are intended to keep the people I care about warm in the cold weather, sometimes something with a little flair to make them a bit fabulous, but really, when you get down to it, I'm a basic knitter.

So please explain to me why, when I saw the cover of the newest Webs' catalogue, that I went, “Squeeee!” It has the cutest little snowmen on it! Totes adorbz!

I have in my collection of knitting books several that give you patterns to make cute little objects.
Knit Your Own Dog, by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. I've got two of those (Volume I only, though I should probably pick up Volume II). I have a thing for dachshunds, and since I can't have a real one, why not knit my own? At least I won't need to scoop up after it.

A few years ago, when Prince William married Kate Middleton (thus making her The Princess William) my friends Franco and Adrian, who live in the UK, sent me a copy of Knit Your Own Royal Wedding. Fiona Goble put together a delightful tableau of the Queen, Prince Phillip, and all their family. She even included patterns for the Queen's corgis. Since the book was published before the royal wedding actually happened, some of the colours she chose were wrong, but since it's now in the past, a knitter could make adjustments (she showed Prince William in a blue jacket, when he actually wore a red one, and the Queen actually wore primrose, instead of blue).

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in primrose, not blue, at Prince William's wedding
I've never been interested in the Mochi Mochi knitted figures. When my LYS did a knit-a-shark knit-along for Shark Week (no, I haven't seen Sharknado 1 or 2), I thought they were cute and funny, but had no desire to make one. Besides, I know that the Polar Vortex would flatten Sharknado. I should look for a pattern for a knitted polar bear.

So here I am, gazing at the cover of the newest catalogue, totally entranced. I opened it up, and there, on the inside cover, was the information for ordering the patterns for not only the snowmen, but for the cute, stackable trees that are on the cover with them! The patterns are only $3.99! Not only totes adorbz, but totes affordable! And if I buy a few other patterns I saw that I liked, it would make it completely worth it.

Even if I do order this pattern, I probably won't knit the cute little snowmen (you can be politically correct and call them snowpeople if you wish, but I know they're a family of gay snowmen with the lovely little showchild they adopted from China). This just isn't my style. On the other hand, along with knitting my stash, next year I want to challenge myself to go off in new directions, to learn to be a Knitter, rather than a knitter. I have some really good role models for this, and maybe now and then I need to knit something a bit frivolous.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Yarn in Summer (Winter thoughts) and Finished Objects

One of the things that constantly amazes me is that yarn stores tend to have a drop in sales during summer. Really? People don't buy yarn in the summertime? Then when the hell do they get their holiday knitting done? There are only 48 days til Christmas and I still have a cowl to finish and a scarf to start. The other projects need to be ready by mid January, so I have a bit of wriggle room there, but seriously, I've done a metric shite-tonne of knitting to have ready by the holidays, and if I hadn't bought yarn or knit during the summer, no one, and I mean no one, would be getting anything from me for Christmas this year.

Admittedly, I don't work on big projects like shawls or sweaters during the summer. I live in an apartment that lacks air conditioning, and I do not want 10 pounds of bulky weight yarn in my lap. Which is one of the reasons why I put the sweater I mentioned in yesterday's post aside for a few months. It was too damn hot to knit it. But now the cooler weather is here, and I don't so much mind a few pounds of bulky weight wool in my lap.


I have finished a pair of scarves for some friends of mine. I still  need to sew in the loose ends, but the knitting is done. I am not sure if I'll block these or not. I've made this pattern many times, but I've

 never tried to block it before. The yarn is Fiberspates Scrumptious. It is 55% merino and 45% silk. I think it will pill something awful, but it was the first time I've used this yarn, and it's soft, warm, and should keep the lads warm all winter. The red one is for Mike, the purple one for Tim.

With the completion of these scarves, I've only got to finish one scarf (yet to be cast on) and one cowl (almost halfway there!) for Christmas. Everything else will need to be ready by mid January, in time for the reunion. I have an entire week off after Thanksgiving, so I'll take several projects with me to New Orleans, find a congenial cafe in which to set up court, and knit the days away. No, I don't need to sight-see in New Orleans. This will be my 21st trip there, and there isn't much left for me to see. Might try to make another trip to see Marie Laveau's tomb, since it had been vandalised and was undergoing restoration when I was last there in September. But other than that, I've seen it all, and done most of it.