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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Accessorising My Knitting

Many years ago I knew someone who had a t-shirt that read, "Every morning I wake up and give thanks for my God-given ability to accessorise." I am not that person. I cannot accessorise to save my life. I can't dress myself, either. I can, however, help someone else accessorise, and I can even tell someone what to wear to make themselves look good. This talent does not extend to myself.

Yesterday a friend gave me a new t-shirt. And even though it is a t-shirt, it is a knitting accessory.

It's a Knittin' Kitten. Or a Cowl Cat. I'm not sure which. But I look forward to wearing it, nonetheless.

Knitting is good for more than just yarn and achieving SABLE. It's good for accessories, too.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's the Little Things That Get You

I have been trying to get a fair amount of knitting done. I have finished the ashes-of-roses shawl though it still needs to be blocked. It's five feet long and took five skeins, so I still have one left to make something else for the Divine Adrienne. I'll post a picture of it when that has happened.

Right now I've got two, count 'em, two honey cowls on the needles, even as we speak. Or write. Or type. Whatever. I really like the way these knit up quickly, and the pattern is enough to keep me interested and relaxed. With a knitted row, and a patterned row alternating, I can keep knitting at these til my legs get tired (not that I knit with my legs, or even my feet, but I tend to sit in a tailor position on the bed whilst knitting, and the arthritis in my right knee means every now and then I have to straighten my leg out; if I'm knitting whilst sitting on a chair, this isn't usually an issue). It's a good thing that these knit up so fast, because my plan is to make six of them. Knit in Tosh DK, below are the cowls in the Cove colourway and the Burnished colourway, respectively.

Cove Honey Cowl

Detail, Cove Honey Cowl. I love the bits of aqua blue in this colourway.

The Burnished Honey Cowl. It really does look like burnished bronze.

I also cast on a sweater last night, because I don't have enough to do. But since the back will be all stockinette, all the time, I don't have to worry about thinking about it until I bind of for the arm holes (three stitches, each side). The front will have a cable, but even that is not onerous. Since this is a sweater for a very tall man, it's going to be miles and miles of stockinette. Oh, and even though my friend Bee would pitch a fit and probably deck me, I'm going to live dangerously and not knit a gauge swatch! Why? Because I've made this sweater four times already, and have always gotten gauge.*

At some point I need to get back on track with the two Milanese Loop cowls I've got going. I'm at the point on the blue one (Betty Draper's Blues, Tosh Vintage) that the pattern is beginning to show up and one can see how pretty the lace is. One cannot tell from the picture on the printed pattern because it's just a drape of knitted yarn around some model's neck, and the delightful detail is completely impossible to see. Really, what are these photographers thinking when they take pictures of a finished object?

Honestly, the more I knit, the behinder I get.

*OK, maybe I will knit a swatch for the sweater. Because I'm using different needles than is my wont, and it might, just might, a teensy bit, affect my gauge. I just want you to know that I am not going to enjoy knitting that swatch, no, not for a single instant, and that I'm going to resent the hell out of it. Because it's the little things that get you when you're not paying attention.§

§This was a song by Jim Infantino, a local Boston folk singer, and performed by his band, Jim's Big Ego

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Well Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Oft gang awry.

I thought about all my knitting for the year this morning. Here it is nearing the end of March, and I haven't done any Christmas knitting yet. This is what I hope to accomplish this year:

New Projects
Five Honey Cowls (stash yarn, all of 'em)
Two Cabled Scarves (stash yarn)
Two Seed Stitch Cowls (need yarn, for two different cousins, probably Malabrigo Mecha)
One Sweater (already bought yarn)

Abandoned Projects on the Needles
Siobhan's Cowl
Kristen's Cowl
My Sweater (blue)
My Sweater (brown)
The Scarf That Never Ends (not really abandoned)

If I can pull all these projects off, it will be a major coup! I have all the Tosh I need for the Honey Cowls, I just need to find it (it's somewhere in one or two of the 21 bins!). The scarves will use yarn I got in New Orleans last month. And the big sweater for the giant takes yarn that I got when I returned from New Orleans. It's sitting in the bag, begging to be knit up. I think I will cast it on when I finish Adrienne's shawl. I like to have one project at home and one in my backpack, and sweaters get too big to carry around. I might take it to knit night, but mostly it will be done at home. Which means I'll be dragging the cowls around in my pack.

I am so close to being finished with Adrienne's big pink shawl that I can almost taste it. I'll probably get another 20 rows with the current skein, and then I need to cast on the final skein. I want it to be about five feet long, and I'm at about 50 inches of fabric. Then I need to block it. Eeep.

And because no post is ever complete without some pictures, here's some Tosh in my stash for the Honey Cowls.
Huechera, for Carlene.

Lolita, for Dolci.

Moreland, for Sue.

Fathom, for Libby.

 Not pictured, alas, is Burnished, for Alexandra.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Herd of Knitters and WIPs

First, I want to post a picture that was taken by Jamie Tan, the Events Coordinator at Brookline Booksmith at the reading by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

All the knitters are holding up their knitting, right before SP-McP came on to speak. I can actually see myself in the picture, holding up the Scarf That Never Ends. What a great night that was!

While I have many more than just two projects on the needles, right now I am concentrating on only two, the Cable Shawl for Adrienne, and Cilla's Honey Cowl. Seen below, is he Cable Shawl:

I have just begun the fifth skein (of six) and it is about 48 inches long. It will be wider when blocked, and I'm really happy with the way it's turning out.

The other thing I have on the needles that is taking my attention is:

This is the Honey Cowl I'm making for my friend Cilla. The yarn is Tosh DK, the colourway is Cove.
I've picked this up and put it down, and it goes slowly. I can get about four rows done in an hour, for all that it's 220 stitches. But I like it, and plan to make a few more of these.

My plan tonight is to go to my LYS and cast on the Infinite Sweater (I'm calling it that because the recipient is 6'5", and I'll be knitting stockinette for many rows). There is a group that meets to work on sweaters, and though it costs $20, I reckon I'll get some good advice. If I can get anywhere on the sweater, I'll post a picture later in the week.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

North Shore Yarn Crawl

This weekend is the North Shore Yarn Crawl, involving about 14 stores north of Boston, from Winchester to Gloucester, and in between.

I am not participating.

I am saving my money.

I have realised if I buy anymore yarn, I will have to start sleeping on the sofa.

I also don't have a car, and most of these yarn stores are not accessible by public transportation.

I think that's the real reason.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yarn Harlot!

Last night I made my way to the Brookline Booksmith (about 8 subways stops from my place) to see and hear Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot. She has just released a new book, The Amazing Thing About the Way it Goes, which is not about knitting, but which is about other aspects of life. I've got several of her books, enjoy her humour, and even though this book is not about knitting, I very much enjoyed it (yes, I have already read it: I bought it on Sunday in anticipation of this event).

Not only did she read one of the chapters that I really liked (about when the underneath of her front porch was invaded by a skunk), but she read it in such a way that anytime I read her stuff I'll hear her voice (and yes, she has a strong Canadian accent). She also revealed the three cities in North America where she will never visit again, because something humiliating happened there. Those cities happen to be Memphis, Pittsburgh, and Calgary, and the retelling of these stories had many of us in tears, we were laughing so hard.

I picked up a copy of Knitting Rules, and asked her to sign that, along with the new one, and one I had at home, All Wound Up. I do like having signed books.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, signing one of my books.

I wonder if she knows how lovely her smile is?

Waiting for my book.

The Yarn Harlot with the Yarn Whore. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lace Knit-Along

I was at my LYS last week, knitting with my friend Libby H., when the owner asked Libby if she'd be interested in organising and leading a lace knit-along. Libby is a lace goddess. She has been helping at a lace workshop at the store, a workshop I wasn't able to attend because of prior commitments. She makes lace the way I make hats: often, with skill, and skillfully. Her lace rocks.

Libby wasn't too sure, but I asked her to consider it. I've done some lace, but I'm really intimidated by it. First, I don't know how to read a chart, so if the lace pattern isn't written out in line-by-line directions, I'm screwed. Second, there are often directions in lace that I don't understand. Knit two through the back? What the hell does that mean, and I say, "Oh, I can't do that," when probably, with a little effort, I probably can. Third, lace often involves counting, I get so freaked out by making sure that there are enough stitches that I am never sure if I am getting and accurate count. After casting on 200-plus stitches, I count by twos to 20, then to 30, then to 40, then to 50, then to 60, then to 80, and so on, and wonder why I have the wrong count. I almost always miss 70. I don't know why this happens, but there it is. Sometimes I count 70 twice, which is just another way to screw up my stitch count. Even when I put a stitch marker every 20 or 25 stitches, I still manage to screw up the count, and usually have to count it several times before I know how many stitches are actually on the needle. Hey, counting is hard.

If Libby agrees, and we actually have a lace knit-along, I'll be sure to join up. I want to stop being afraid to knit lace, and actually make some of the things I've favourited over on Ravelry.

Here is an example of lace I've made. It's the Upstairs pattern, byWolke7 on Ravelry. I've done it twice, once in lavender and once in red. This one is in the discontinued Cascade Epiphany.

Friday, March 7, 2014


I am not a well organised person. Oh, I try to be. I attempt to put my yarn in zip-loc baggies. I attempt to put my zip-loc™ baggies in bins. I try to keep each Work-In-Progress in its own plastic bag, so I can easily place it into my backpack on my way to knitting, or just to have, because leaving the house without knitting makes as much sense as leaving the house without books. Or shoes. Or clothes.

But though I try to be organised, I'm just not. Looking around my room, I see odd balls, hanks, and skeins of yarn. Leftovers, not-touched-yet, still-in-a-hank, already-in-a-centre-pull-ball, labeled with a project, not labeled with a project, and free range yarn. Sitting on my floor is a bin filled to the top with yarn-filled zip-loc(k)edbaggies, because I cannot find the lid to it. (I can't lift it to the top of my Wall O' Yarn, either, thanks to my sprained wrist.)

(The most recent bin. All these yarns are from my trip to Seattle, purchased at The Artful Ewe. Now if I could only find the lid!)

On the night stand there are needles. Single needles, paired needles, circular needles of various sizes, and maybe even some loose DPNs. Oh! the humanity! There are stitch markers, waiting to be reunited with their various mates in their various containers in the bag that holds those sorts of things. There are patterns tucked between various bins in my Wall O' Yarn, because I mean to knit them up soon, like this week, or at least cast them on, someday soon.

It's not that I want to be disorganised. I try, oh, how mightily I try to keep it all together. But there are so many more interesting things to do than sit around and organise stuff. Things like, oh, knitting. And reading. And playing Sudoku. And hanging out with friends (time which I spend knitting). Taking time to put it all together isn't as interesting to me. It isn't as much fun, and let's face it, knitters just wanna have fun! That's what they really waaaaaant, is to have fuuuuun!

Ahem. Excuse me. I started channeling Cyndi Lauper there for a moment.

Like dear Queen Victoria promised, when she was a mere slip of a princess, I will be good. I will find the lid to this bin. I will gather the untamed yarns and place them in zip-locbaggies. I will buy a new bin to hold more yarn (though I'm not sure where I'm going to put it, because I've run out of room and cannot stack the bins any higher than they are right now). I will organise and be disciplined. And maybe I'll discover a few new suprises like I had last week when I found three skeins of blue yarn I didn't know I had. Maybe there's something really cool hiding under the disorganisation and that will make it all worth it.

Damn, I'd better get some fabulous yarn and hide it under something to make that last part work.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Little Weird

I am making a shawl for my friend Adrienne, an ashes-of-roses shawl in bulky baby alpaca. Fat yarn means fat needles, and fat needles mean visible progress at a fast rate. This particular shawl is based on the Irish Hiking Scarf, but I added two more cable rows, and I've changed it from all front cables to front, back, front, back, front. I like it, and it gives the shawl a bit more depth. And like I said, it has cables. So far, I've cabled 11 times. And I love cabling.

But on of the weird things about me is that when I put my knitting away, I cannot stop on a cabled row. I have to knit at least two more rows after it, or, if I don't have the time, I stop on the row before the cabled row. And why is this, you might ask? Because it feels like cabling the yarn is torturing it, and leaving it on the needles at the cabled row is hurting it.

Yeah, I know. Weird. Yarn doesn't have any feelings. But it is stretching so, and let's face it, when one knits the following row after a cabled row, everything is a bit tight, especially around where the cable occurred. So removing it from the needle, and then adding another row after that, helps to let the yarn, well, relax. It isn't straining as much. It isn't quite as tortured. It lets the yarn feel a little more groovy.

Well, I never said I was rational.

Here is the shawl I've got on the needles right now. I have just added the third skein (of six), so it's just about 1/3 done. It's just under two feet, and when it's blocked, the cables will pop, and it will be a bit wider, enough to be a proper shawl.  

Just look at those cables. They're gonna >POP!< when it's blocked!