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, April 29, 2015

Mood: for cattle, or a reason not to do something?

I've been thinking about writing a post all day. And now that I'm finally in front of my computer, pictures downloaded and ready to upload here, I'm  not in the mood to write a blog post. I am so very mindful of Frank Herbert's book, Dune, where young Paul Atreides, not in the mood to practice with weapons that day, is told by Gurney Halleck (who is the Weapons Master, if I remember aright) that mood is a thing for cattle or for making love. He then proceeds to attack the Young Master and gets him to practice after all.

So here I am, in front of the keyboard, typing so very bravely, mood or no.

Last night I cast off the second Spiral Staircase Shawl, in Tosh's Fragrant, and cast on the third. I'm not sure the yarn is quite right for this project, it's a hand dyed merino/mohair that I bought when Mind's Eye was owned by it's original founder. It's a pretty yarn, all variegated blue, and all, but I'm not convinced that it's the right yarn for this project.  I made a swatch on both a US 5 and a US 6, and decided on the latter. I think that was a mistake, too. Of course, I've only done one iteration of the pattern (plus a bit more), so I guess I could take it off the needles and try again, or search through my endless stash to find something more apropos for the recipient of this latest endeavour. But it has to be in tones of blue, since she likes blues.

This is the yarn, about 350 to 400 yards of really pretty hand-dyed stuff. I may frog what I've got and try it on a smaller needle, or just rummage through the stash. I've got to have some blue Tosh somewhere, I reckon.

While I've been dithering over this is the right yarn, or even the right needles, I've also started casting on for a project I plan to complete before I fly to New Orleans in two weeks. Using some Cascade that's 70% merino and 30% silk, I'm going to make a New Bittersweet Cowl for Brandon's mom. It looks like I'll finally be meeting her, since I've been invited to his niece's 8th Grade Graduation. I reckon she'll be there, too, so I need to bribe her make a good impression on her. The yarn is a deep chocolate brown, and the silk makes it shimmer slightly. I'll post a picture when I've got more than half the cast-on complete.

Finally, when the the third iteration of the Spiral Staircase is done, and the chocolate brown cowl is given away, I'm going to make a fourth Spiral Staircase for the sister of the one who's getting the third one. I scored some gorgeous Zen Garden on sale. I'll bet it knits up just wonderfully!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Only 250 Days Until Christmas

Because I am either insane or a slow knitter, I've already begun the knitting for Christmas 2015. I think I began in late February. The details are hazy, but last night I cast off the first project for the upcoming holidays.

Madeline Tosh Vintage, superwash merino, colourway Purple Basil

I've got 250 days to complete several scarves, shawls, cowls and whatnots. But I'm done with the first, a Spiral Staircase Shawl, by LizAnn Petch. It's a free download on Ravelry (my favourite kind!), and I've already got the second on the needles. This second one will be a gift to my friend Adrienne who is letting Brandon and me stay at her place in Provincetown for a week. She likes pink, so I did my best to find a lovely pink yarn. Tosh's Fragrant. I'm not sure who comes up with the names for the various colours at Tosh, but whoever it is, he or she certainly has a vivid imagination.
I've completed another iteration of the pattern since taking this picture, so there are now seven points on the shawl. It is knitting up fairly quickly, and now that I've mastered the (to me) bizarre bind off, I'm really enjoying it. I have already begun my spreadsheet for who is getting what for Christmas, and I think I'll be able to raid my stash for a lot of these shawls. One of the advantages to having achieved SABLE, I reckon.

The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival is less than a month away! I have started to peruse the list of vendors at this year's festival, and already know which ones I want to visit. I've been stashing money away each week, so as not to upset the budget in a big way, My goal is to buy things I cannot buy in local stores, so no Tosh for me that trip. I will be out of town during Webs' big Tent Sale this year. I had hoped to make it one more time, if only to buy things from the local vendors who set up in the parking lot. Perhaps another time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Yan, Tan, Tethera

I am reading, among several other things,* Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching stories. They reference a counting system once found in England that was used to count sheep, starting with yan, tan, tethera. Since I am the product of a good liberal arts education, I looked up Yan, Tan, Tethera and whilst reading the article, discovered that it was also used to count knitting in some part(s) of England.

The words seem to be based on Brythonic Celtic languages (Welsh and Breton are the surviving examples of Brythonic languages; Irish and Scottish Gaelic are surviving members of Goidelic languages). The article gives several versions of the counting system, and anyone can see the connexions between the given words. I followed the link listed to the Wiki article on this counting system being used in knitting, and was sent here. The numbers are listed as follows:

  1. Yahn                             11.  Yahn-dik
  2. Tahn                             12.  Tayn-dik
  3. Tether                          13.  Tether-dik
  4. Mether                         14.  Mether-dik
  5. Mimph                         15.  Mimph-it
  6. Hithher                        16.  Yahn-a-mimphit
  7. Lithher                          17.  Tayn-a-mimphit
  8. Auver                            18.  Tether-a-mimphit
  9. Dauver                        19.  Mether-a-mimphit
  10. Dik                                20.  Jig-it

Part of why I find this so fascinating is that when casting on hundreds of stitches, I'll put stitch markers every 20 stitches. Now, if I can memorise this counting system, I'll feel like I'm part of an older knitting tradition. Sadly, it appears that the use of this counting system in England is extinct. I think we should revive the tradition. This is the type of thing that makes me happy, and exclaim, "Cool!" I know, I'm kind of geeky that way.

* I'm also reading Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion, by Anne Somerset,
Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, by Jung Chang,
Joanna: The Notorious Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, & Sicily, by Nancy Goldstone
I have a thing for historical biography, and just finished (again) George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, by Miranda Carter

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tired Legs Mean I Can't Knit

I have decided that since my fat clothes are getting too tight (I feel like too much sausage stuffed into too little casing), that it was high time to return to the gym. So I'm in my third week of getting up at 4:00 am and trudging to the gym so I can do 50 minutes of intense cardio exercise. So far it is working, and I'm losing two pounds a week (weigh-in day is every Friday, and I'm down 4 pounds! who knows what the end of this week will bring?).

What's the downside to all this exercise? Well, I'm at the gym when I would normally be knitting. I usually get up at 5:00 am, turn on NPR's Morning Edition, listen until 7:00, and knit. Renee Montaigne, Steve Inskeep, and David Green are my morning buddies while I knit a few more rows. I have to admit, while I really love seeing the pounds melt off me, I miss my morning news time. And more, I miss my morning knit time.

I suppose I could knit when I get home at the end of the day. I tried that last night. I got home around 7:30 pm, and stretched out on the bed. I'll pick up the needles in a few minutes, I thought. But stretched out legs felt so good, and I didn't want to curl them up to sit like a tailor (which is my most common position when knitting at home). And then I didn't want to get up and walk across the room to fetch my knitting (my legs are tired!). I finally turned the light out, long before my regular bed-time, because I realised that's what my body wanted. Sleep, glorious, healing, wonderful sleep!

I need to get my butt in gear, and get my knit on, because I've promised a friend some caps and a few other things. He's recently had a bout with cancer, and finds that he cannot get warm since undergoing chemo. The free caps offered at his hospital tend toward the more feminine styles and would never fit his big melon of a head, and he's a big ol' bear of a man. He likes blues and greens and olive colours. I'm going through my stash now to find some stuff for him. I need to get some bulky alpaca to make him a man-shawl, though I won't call it that. It's a soft blanket to wrap around your torso when you're shivering. I have some Malabrigo Mecha that I think will be just perfect. Tonight, after work, tired legs or no, I'm starting a new cap.