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, January 30, 2014

Acrylic, and the Loss of Virginity

Michael Stipes lost his religion. I'm losing (my fibre) virginity.

As I have noted in the past, I am a self proclaimed yarn snob, and I only knit with natural fibres. A friend has asked that I make him a hat with a yarn that has reflective string running through it. I agreed, and discovered when I got the yarn that it is 93% acrylic, and 7% “other”. To add insult to injury, I'm knitting it on plastic needles, US size 17 (which give my hands cramps). But we do things for our friends that we would never consider on our own. Meanwhile, there is gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and wailing and lamentations as I surrender my natural fibre virginity and take up (and I shudder here) with acrylic.
This is Lumio, from Schachenmayr, a German yarn, and it really does reflect light in the dark. Scary. 

I've realised that this blog, while ostensibly a knitting blog, is really about my stash. I post more pictures of the yarn I've gotten (and which has disappeared in the cavernous bins that house my stash (and I feel that I ought to capitalise stash, thus, Stash)) than I post of my finished objects. Part of this is that I while I start many projects, I don't always finish them (thus the resolution this year to work on abandoned projects, and of course, to photograph them). And since most of what I make I give away, I don't always photograph it before I give it to the recipients, because it's taken so damn long to make it and I want to get it to them ASAP. And, of course, I'm all about my Stash. I am my Stash, and my Stash is me. Or in French, le Stash c'est moi!

I offer here a Work in Progress, or a WIP. This is something I started, for myself for a change, and I'm almost done. I have about 15 rows to go (and two more colour changes), or about 2625 stitches, not including the bind off. This is a cowl made of Malabrigo Mecha, the colours are Persian (the dark blue), Polar Morn (the light blue) and Cervas (the red). Except for the Persian, the rest of the yarn is leftover from the cowl I made for my cousin Alexa, seen below (the cowl, not Alexa). I am using leftover yarn, rather than adding it to my Stash (which is a Very Big Deal for me).  

And finally, Alexa's cowl, finished.

Done in seed stitch, as penance for my sins.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sacre Bleu

With apologies to Christopher Moore, who has written an extremely witty novel, also titled Sacre Bleu.

Blue is my favourite colour. I am often hard pressed not to buy blue things, simply because they are blue. About 12 years ago, a couple of friends and I were at the outlet shops in Kittery, ME, and I was buying some shirts. I had already bought about five shirts from various stores, and towards the end of the day, we were in one of the last stores. I was eyeing a blue polo shirt, trying to decide if I needed it. My friend asked me, “Ken, how many polo shirts have you already bought today?” And I told him I'd gotten five. “And what colour were they?” he asked. I paused, and said that all of them were shades of blue. “Do you really need another blue polo shirt?”

It is much the same with my yarn. I love blue yarn, and can't seem to resist it. I remember one day at work, I assessed what I was wearing. A blue shirt, blue jeans, and blue socks. I also had a blue hat, a blue coat, and a blue scarf. Only my shoes and belt were not blue that day. I decided then that I needed to be less monochromatic.

But still, I can't resist the siren call of blue, especially blue yarn. Some of my stash includes these blue babies.
This was some yarn picked up for me by my friend Claudia when she went to Rhinebeck, and I couldn't. It's Cephalopod, and the colour is Traveler, 100% superwash fine merino. I have two skeins of this, 280 yards each.

Who can resist Madeline Tosh yarn? I certainly can't! The colour is Fathom, and I have it in both DK and Vintage (worsted) weights. I know there are two skeins of the DK. There might be three (or more) of the Vintage. Two hundred yards each of blue merino, superwash yarn!

This is one of two skeins of Baah Yarn, 100% superwash merino. There's 400 yards each of this stuff, and this is the only yarn for which I actually have a plan and a pattern: Bigger On the Inside, by Kate Atherley (see it on Ravelry!), a Tardis inspired shawl. The colour is London Blue, and it is London Police Box blue to perfection.

Three different blue yarns. I have other blue yarns in my stash, but these three were sitting next to each other in a bin, and I was struck by how very similar they seem to be, but how different they really are. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Raiding My Stash

Along with vowing to knit up abandoned projects (three so far, and we're still in January!), I am also vowed to start knitting my stash. I keep thinking about taking yarn out of the bins, and assigning a project to it, knitting it up, and. . . giving it away. I keep almost none of the things I knit. Because, really, what am I going to do with a lace shawl or cowl? And seriously, how many hats and scarves do I need? (I am mindful of a line from Absolutely Fabulous, "You can never have too many hats, gloves, and shoes.")

I am actually quite surprised at how reluctant I am to raid my stash. I think of the beautiful yarns I have lying in all those bins, and think that once it's knit up, it's gone. It's no longer a part of my stash. And it is likely that I'll never have that recipe agaiiiiin! yarn ever again. I feel like I'm giving away a part of myself. I am my stash, and my stash is me.

I have promised a friend that I would make her a scarf, and I have the perfect yarn for this particular project. It's a hand dyed set of skeins from Barbara Parry at Foxfire Fiber and Designs. It's been in my stash since I bought it at the Webs Tent Sale from Barbara's tent, on my birthday in 2012, and I've thought about knitting it, but never had a project that quite suited it. Now that I know how to make a Noro Striped Scarf (thank you, Brooklyn Tweed), I reckon I can do the same with this, without changing skeins every other row. Knit it up in a 1x1 rib, so that it looks like stockinette, but doesn't curl, and displays the absolutely gorgeous colours of this yarn.

The colour is Nightshade, and I am going to ball it and start knitting it today. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Forever Yarn: This Year's Haul

I meant to post this yesterday, but there was so much to do. I'm in Pennsylvania, visiting friends for our annual Pushing Fifty Party and HDS Reunion. We made it to Doylestown, I made it to Forever Yarn, and discovered I'd left my wallet at home. Luckily, my very beloved friend Libby offered to buy my yarn (she warned me she was putting limits on my purchases, not because she's cheap, but because she doesn't want to enable my yarn whoredom). The very delightful Yan, owner of Forever Yarn, was not working, since she was at the Vogue Knitting in New York. I was very disappointed not to see her, but I assuaged my dissapointement with some fine yarn.

Since I did not want to put too big a dent into Libby's wallet, I limited myself to only four skeins, though there were several others I wanted to buy. But I practiced restraint, moderation, and good sense. I discovered that MadelineTosh is now making a chunky yarn. Why didn't I know this already? There was only one colour in the bin, Robin Red Breast, but I will look around and see if I can find chunky Smokestack, because it would make a wicked awesome hat or scarf.

This is the MadelineTosh Chunky.
I'm not usually given to reds, but this really appealed to me. I like it because it's muted, and there's a hint of blackness to it.

Neighborhood Fibers has some really beautiful yarns. This is a laceweight, and the colour is Randall Circle (all the yarns are named after neighbourhoods in and around Washington, DC). I was hoping to find a red skein, for a specific project, but there wasn't any. There were other colours that appealed to me, but this was the one I settled on.

Finally, two skeins of mink. I've never seen mink yarn before, and this stuff is soft, softer than alpaca.
Mimi Lotus Yarns from China, in a deep blue. I've never seen this brand before, and never this fibre. It looks like a fingering weight, and each skein is about 315 yards. Might become a shawl(ette) for someone. I'm looking forward to knitting it up.

Next year I hope Yan will be at the store. I really missed seeing her. And next year, I won't forget my wallet, so I can do a bit more damage and increase my yarn stash. Even though I'm not really buying rogue yarn this year.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Honey Cowl

Cowls. I'm mad about them. I've got three of them on the needles right now, even as I type. No pictures, of course, because I'm at an internet cafe, and the projects are at home.

I've got two Milanese Loop cowls, in different weight yarns, which were to be Christmas presents (wha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!) and a cowl in Malabrigo Mecha for my cousin Alexa (which is about 2/5 complete). But then, on the Book of the Face, I saw my friend Dreux was making the Honey Cowl by Madeline Tosh with his own gorgeous homespun. I must make this cowl.
This is Dreux's homespun.

And this is his rendition of the Honey Cowl.

That is knitting up just beautifully!

I, alas, do not have any beautiful handspun, because I suck at spinning. But I have a large stash, with an enviable collection of Madeline Tosh in DK weight. I have multiple skeins of several colours (because I am a yarn whore). I can make this cowl! In fact, I can make this cowl with the recommended yarn! The great thing about having a ginourmous stash is that one can decide to make something because one likes a pattern, and of course the stash will contain multiple skeins of the recommended yarns. Of course, now I have to find it. I know it's in one of the bins, but which one? That's the downside of having a ginourmous stash.

I am going away for the long weekend, and need to bring a couple of projects with me. This would be a good one.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Five Things

1. I've been making progress on the abandoned projects project, having finished one and made a lot of progress on another. I have six more iterations of the pattern for the teal scarf to be done. As God is my witness, I am never making another Ameeta scarf again.

2. One of the things I've been thinking about, after Reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is about knitting in public. I don't do it very often, certainly not on the subway. Knitting on Boston's crowded MBTA can be done, it just can't be done by me. One male knitter I know says that when he knits on the subway, no one sits near him. Might be worth a shot.

3. Which isn't to say that I haven't knit out in public, just not on the subway. I've been seen knitting in various cafes around Boston, I've knit in public at the Prudential Center, and in the lobbies of hotels. I've gotten a few comments, mostly of the "that's so cool!" variety. When I was working on the double sided dragon scarf, I had several people come up to tell me that it was wicked pissah. Though they might have used a different phrase.

Which reminds me, I need to find the double sided dragon scarf and the various skeins of yarn I got for it, and finish it.

4. I have kind of realised that I don't like wearing scarves. So I'm wondering if a cowl might be better suited to me, because when we were experiencing the Polar Vortex my neck was cold.

But I didn't want to wrap my scarf around myself, because it gets all tangled up with my courier bag (in which I carry my computer, my book, and, of course, my knitting). So today I got some yarn and I will make myself a cowl. Malabrigo Mecha, two skeins of Persia, and some leftover Polar Morn. Lots of blue. Should be so very manly. If I had any photos of the yarn, I'd post it, but I'm here in an internet cafe and not really able to take decent (like any of my photos are decent) photos of the yarn.

5. I have five days to remember the safe place I put Libby's feather-and-fan scarf, which I finished last year but have yet to block. Well, I blocked it once, but it didn't work out. I sent her a text (since I'll  be seeing her next week) asking if she had a blocking board. She doesn't, but pins things to the bed. So if I'm not staying on the air mattress, I'll try the same thing. Well, if I can find the scarf. I know it's someplace safe, though

Monday, January 6, 2014

Frogging for Fun, if Not Profit

My original plan was to make two Ameeta scarves for a pair of sisters. I worked on them at the same time, but along the way, made a mistake on the teal one and left it aside, concentrating on the purple one. Then I put that one aside, because contemplating ripping out so much of the teal one left me weak in the knees.

I just picked them up, after 11 months, to finish. I wisely finished the purple one first. Here it is, isn't it pretty?

Last night I frogged back at least three and a half iterations of the pattern. It's an 18 row pattern, so a lot of yarn got frogged. I even frogged past the point where I joined the second ball of yarn, so now I've got awhile to go before it is anywhere near done (according to my calculations, I have completed 12.5 iterations of the pattern, and the purple scarf took 28 iterations of the pattern before I bound it off). I picked an easy place to start anew, a row that is straight knit across. I frogged all the way to the row just before the all-knit row, and then put the scarf on smaller needles, and then tinked my way across to make sure every stitch is on the needle orrectly (because one of my talents is being unable to tell if a stitch is sittingon the needle correctly). I'll knit a row, and then finish this particular iteration of the pattern, rows 10 through 18. I think that my mistake was that I knit row 9, and then knit row 11, which caused everything to go all higgeldy-piggeldy in the first place.

I really hate it when that happens.

So, here is the teal scarf, before I tinked back all those rows. The arrow shows where the mistake occurred. But I've got 11 days to knit 15.5 iterations of this pattern. If I do but two iterations per day, I'll make my deadline. If I do more than that, I'll be ahead of the game. I'd been drinking hard cider, so I wisely waited until today to begin the Great Ameeta Re-knit. Because my gauge gets really loose if I've been drinking.

And that brings me to another point. I knit the purple scarf on size US 6, 16 inch, circular needles. The fabric is tight and a bit stiff. The teal scarf is being knit on US 6, 24 inch, circular needles, and the fabric feels much softer and looser. Both scarves are being knit with Malabrigo Rios, all four skeins purchased at Webs in Northampton. It make sense that the purple one feels tighter, since I had less slack than the teal's needles allow. I should have realised this from the very beginning. I hope the recipients don't mind. And if they do, well, there's nothing I can do about it.

Post Script:
I awoke early this morning and was able to knit one and a half iterations of the pattern, bringing me to 14 full repeats. Now if I can do two more today, I'll feel good about my progress. I think if I can get three rather than two iterations done each day, I'll feel better. It has to be done by Friday, 17 January.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Non Monogamy: Part Deux

I have said in the past that I am a non-monogamous knitter. I have several projects going on at the same time. There are reasons for this. I usually can't fit a sweater in my backpack, so I'll work on that at home, and carry a hat with me when I go out. Or a pattern might involve a lot of counting: (k2, p2)2x, k11, and so on, that I really don't want to bring to my local stitch and bitch, since there are times when the knitting is secondary to the socialising.

I have decided this year that I am going to knit my stash, and, perhaps more importantly, try to finish as many in-process (read: abandoned) projects as I can. In fact, I've even made a Google spreadsheet to chart my progress in these on-going (read: abandoned) projects. I don't even know how many of them there are, but I have a feeling there are quite a few.

Right now I'm working on a pair of Ameeta scarves for a pair of sisters, one in purple, one in teal (the scarves, not the sisters). I was working on them at the same time, rows 1-9 on the teal, rows 1-9 on the purple; rows 10-18 on the teal, rows 10-18 on the purple; lather, rinse, repeat. Then I skipped a line on the teal, turning the RS into the WS and the WS into the RS, and I realised I'd have to frog about 20 rows. I've put the teal scarf aside, and am working solely on the purple. When the purple is done, I'll have a hard cider, and pick up the teal, rip out those offending 20 rows, and correct the mistake. My deadline is MLK weekend. I am being dilligent, and have already worked nine rows on the purple scarf this morning. (Did I mention we've had a wicked mega blizzard in Boston, and I don't have to go to work today? Guess how much knitting I plan to accomplish today? I'm finishing that damn purple Ameeta scarf today, if it kills me!)

Ahem. Right.

Other projects that are on-going (read: abandoned) are the Scarf That Never Ends (I dropped a stitch, and don't have a crochet hook small enough to pick it up, and I always forget it when I go to the LYS where I can borrow a hook); the brown wool sweater (didn't bind off enough stitches on the arm hole row, and need to frog back about 18 inches of fabric); Kristen's Milanese Loop (I made a mistake somewhere in the previous row of 224 stitches, and need to go back and find it and correct it); Siobhan's Milanese Loop (I put it aside to make a bunch of chemo caps); my blue wool sweater (which I put aside so I could finish all my holiday knitting, which I didn't accomplish); two iterations of the Noro Striped Scarf (which were boring the hell out of me, even the one I was making for myself); and probably other projects, if only I were brave enough to root through my bins.

As dear Queen Victoria said, when she was a mere slip of a princess, “I shall be good.” I shall find and finish those projects. And I won't buy yarn this year. Well, not much. I am looking forward to the yarn shoppe in Doylestown, PA when I go down there this February.

I can't be good all the time.

Dear Queen Victoria as a young girl. "I shall be good." 

Anne Taintor: I can't be good all the time.