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, December 22, 2016

Fibre Goals for 2017

Last night at knit night one of the women made a suggestion that is really resonating with me. Write down your knitting/fibre goals for 2017, and fill a bin with stash yarn that you'd like to knit by the end of the year, emptying the bin. I like this suggestion  a whole lot. So I've been thinking about what I could put in such a bin from my extensive stash, what do I want to knit in the coming year?
  1. Death of the Moon Shawls, for Libby, Carlene, Alexandra, Lisa, Adrienne, Kristen. 
  2. Finish Brad's sweater, of which only one panel is done.
  3. finish my double sided dragon scarf.
  4. Finish the brown sweater I've had on the needles for at least five years.
  5. Make a bunch of hats.
  6. Make my Icelandic sweater.
  7. Scarf for Tom.
  8. Learn to use my spinning wheel.
I think this is biting off a bit more than I can chew, since it takes me so long to make the Death of the Moon shawls (Ravelry pattern, by Josh Rykes), and I've got six of them planned. But if I could make one a month, really dedicate myself to knitting, and maybe do something in the months between, that might work out. And there are other things I want to do, like work with some of the Neighborhood Yarn I've picked up over the years from my trips to Pennsylvania and Forever Yarn. I wonder if I could throw in a couple of scarves or shawls using the yarns from that lovely store?

I also want to make a couple of things for myself next year. I don't think I did that at all this year. I really didn't get a whole lot done, and I'm not exactly proud of that. I want to make more time for knitting and for working with fibre. It's not enough to have an amazing stash. I need to use it as well. I have certainly achieved SABLE and I'm not going to live forever, so I really need to start getting all this gorgeous yarn on the needles and made into a finished object, and into someone's hands.

Recently I finished the latest (well, second) iteration of Cthulhu's Unspeakable Hat (free Ravelry pattern by Finlay Logan), using Berroco Ultra Alpaca, in black and emerald green.

The recipient has a large head, and I struggled to make sure the floats were long and the knitted Fair Isle part stretchy enough. I guess I'll know after Christmas when my friend's husband opens his gift.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yarn Acquisition.

For someone who is intent on not acquiring new yarn, I seem to be inundated with it recently. Some of it was gifted to me, and some of it was purchased by me. Regardless, I am now the proud owner of fourteen new skeins. And, miraculously, two of them are being knit up even as I type. Well, not exactly as I type, but a project using them is on the needles, and may well be finished soon. I'll post that yarn when the hat is done. . . .

In my entry of 31 October, I mentioned my friend Kim went to Rhinebeck  and wrote me, asking if there was anything I needed. After culling my list to one thing, she sent me the most beautiful skeins of yarn from The Periwinkle Sheep. One in elderberry and one in vintage blue.

In November, My friend Sheeri went to the Eastern States Exposition Fiber Festival, and I asked her to get me two skeins of Periwinkle Sheep, so I could make a couple of Death of the Moon shawls (Josh Rykes) with them. She sent me these skeins, in The Witch's Cauldron and Clearing.

My plan is to pair them thus:

Vintage blue with The Witch's Cauldron.

Elderberry and Clearing.

I'm very excited get to knitting these, and am thinking of making a knitting calendar so I can get all my projects done next year in time for whatever delivery date I need for them.

Right before Thanksgiving, my friends Erick and Josh came to New Orleans for a visit. Erick is also a knitter, and a few months after I moved here, one of our favourite stores in Boston had a sale (they were going to strip and re-finish the floors), so all the yarn was half price. Erick got there the second day and said the place was almost completely cleaned out. But he was able to find a couple of things for me, which I'm counting as my Christmas present. I plan on wrapping these and opening them on Christmas day.

Here we see two lovely skeins of Baah La Jolla, in Powder blue. I have no idea what these are going to become, so I'll be perusing Ravelry's patterns when the time comes.

Then there is this single skein of Singin' the Blues. I think this should probably be paired with a very light colour to bring out the variegated shades in the yarn.

I don't have a lot of reds in my stash, and this addition of Garnet pleases me immensely. I'm trying to imagine a pattern for this, and what will pair best with it.

Erick also brought a skein of Sage. Another thing to ponder, what to pair it with and what to make with it. I love Baah yarns. The knit so beautifully and feel so good when they're on the needles.

What would life be like without Madeline Tosh? I can't find it locally, so Erick brought me Dandelion, which is 90% superwash Merino wool and 10% linen. It's a fingering weight, and I can imagine a light shawl made from this.

Erick found a bag of DPNs of all sizes, made in China. I am constantly misplacing my DPNs, so maybe these will help me when one of a set disappears.

I admit to a little retail therapy, Zen Yarn Garden's Serenity Silk. It is 75% superwash Merino, 15% cashmere, and 10% silk. The colourway is Blackberry-viola. Bournside Yarns got some in recently, and I was going to be good and not buy any yarn at all, but my cat, Serious Black, had to be put to sleep the week after Thanksgiving. He had developed a tumour and was not eating, so our vet thought it best to end any discomfort he might be feeling, and we agreed.

Serious Black, the Feline Overlord who is most sincerely missed by his human servants. We only had him for two months, but he really won our hearts. Ave vale atque, Serious Black.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Some Hats

I made some hats! My first ear-flap cap and a beautiful bear Fair Isle hat. One worked out well, the other, well, not so well. The first, the ear-flap cap, was knit in undyed alpaca which I had bought at Rhinebeck in 2011. It's worsted weight, though not tightly spun, so the effect is that it feels softer than alpaca normally does. I got the pattern for free on Ravelry, one by Deby Lake, though I added my own design elements. In the middle section, rather than using a Fair Isle motif, or self striping yarn, I used a solid milk-chocolate colour. I like the way it looks, and I think it will be very warm for its recipient, who lives in upstate New York.
 The only negative thing I can think of about this pattern is the I-cord. They are so boring to knit.

The second hat came out beautifully. The colour work looks good, I like the yarn, since it's my favourite, Madeline Tosh Vintage. The colourways are Celadon and Whiskey Barrel, and it looks so good! Unfortunately, even though I went up a needle size when doing the colourwork, the hat is too tight. I can barely get it on, and when I do one can see the floats under the knitting. And I know the person I made it for has a larger head than I do. So I have to scrap this one and figure out how I can knit it so that the floats give more stretch. I might also add a few stitches to the hat, and rework the decreases.

These hats are done, and I am already on a second forray of Cthulhu's Unspeakable Hat, a Christmas gift my friend Phyllis wants to give to her husband. The ribbing is done, and I've just started the stockinette portion. I hope to have it done by the middle so this week, and if I do, I'll post a picture!

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Naked Eye

I am 55 years old.
I have been wearing glasses since I was 12.
I have been wearing contact lenses since I was 18.
I have been wearing bi-focals since I was 35.
I have been wearing bi-focal contact lenses since I was 49.
This morning I realised that I can see my knitting best when I am not wearing any glasses or contact lenses at all. That's a hell of a thing to realise after going through as many eye exams as I have.

My very dear and beloved friend Lisa is visiting me in New Orleans, and since we've been friends since we met in 1975, having her with me is like a homecoming. We've gone to the yarn stores, we've walked along the Mississippi, we're going to have beignets this morning. And this morning I woke up earlier than she, and sat in the kitchen knitting a hat, wearing my glasses, looking through the reading lens and realised that when I needed to tink a stitch, or count the stitches on the needle that I was peering under the glasses, using my naked eye. I took off my glasses as I continued to knit, and was amazed that I could actually see my stitches better than I could when I was wearing my glasses.
Lisa at one of the many Little Free Libraries in my neighbourhood
 I have known for a long time that I have better vision with glasses than contacts (this has to do with how my very slight astigmatism is actually not corrected in my right eye, because it isn't bad enough to warrent correction). But since I detest wearing glasses I have put up with slightly less than perfect vision in my right eye for the last 37 years. I've learned to adjust and compensate. And I am now wondering if the reason I've stopped knitting as much as I did when I lived in Boston is because, since I usually don't take my lenses out until bed-time, the discomfort of knitting has become greater than the pleasure. Not that I took the damn lenses out earlier, but there seemed to be more light in my room than there is in my current living room. Or maybe my eyes are growing dim with age.

Since I do not want knitting to be uncomfortable, I shall endeavour to remove my lenses earlier in the evening so I can get some after-work knitting in.
Knitting without glasses

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Commissioned Hat!

Since I cannot do anything else, I shall write about my current knitting.

I have been commissioned to make a hat for someone with ear flaps. While I know the theory of making such flaps (garter border, stockinette inside), I never knew how many stitches should be between the flaps in the front or in the back. Sure, I usually cast on 96 stitches, but how should those be apportioned between the ear flaps? Luckily, we have Ravelry, and I found this pattern, by OC Knitiot Designs, Deby Lake, which I will modify (in other words, I'm using stripes, not Fair Isle).

I cast on the two I-cord ties, and determined immediately that there is nothing in the world more boring to knit than a couple of I-cords. But I persevered, and am now on the far more interesting ear flaps. Another 11 rows of these, and I'll be able to cast on the body of the hat. I have wanted to make one of these for a while, and this is offering me a fun opportunity to do so. No pictures yet, since there isn't anything to see.

Of course one needs to have yarn if one is going to make a hat. I searched my stash for undyed alpaca. I had several skeins to choose from, but wanted something in a worsted weight. Way back in 2011, at the only visit I've ever made to Rhinebeck, I bought a bunch of yarn, including these three skeins of undyed alpaca.
I got them a the Red Maple Sportswear booth, where they sold lots of already-made hats and gloves and other goods. But they had some yarn, and if I remember a-right, they were one of the first booths we encountered, and I was at that point in love with undyed yarns. So I got these three skeins. There isn't enough of any one of them to make a single hat, but I am thinking about stripes after I finish the ear flaps. I have started the I-cords and flaps with the middle darker chocolate yarn. It knits up really nicely, and is very soft and pretty. When I have more than a couple I-cords with tiny triangles depending from them, I'll show some photos. In the meantime, I remember that I knit so I do not kill people.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Loot from the North, or, Gifts of the Magistra

Like every year since 2011, I did not get to Rhinebeck this year. Mostly because of the distance I'd have to travel. Not living in New England means that New York is no longer just next door. It would involve flights and trying to stuff too much yarn into too little suitcase. But my friend Kim was able to go, and she sent me a lovely letter telling me all about it. She was there for the entire weekend, she camped, even though the evenings were chilly, and she had a wicked good time.

She also sent me two skeins of yarn! How cool is that? She had e-mailed me and asked if I wanted anything, and I told her a particular yarn I could only find at fibre festivals, and even then, not at all of them, and then completely forgot about it. Until the package arrived in the mail the other day. Two gorgeous skeins of fingering weight yarn, a sweet letter, and the booklet for the festival. 

The yarn is The Periwinkle Sheep, which only sells to retailers and at fibre festivals (there is an Etsy store, but when I've checked, I never see what I've wanted there). The yarn is 100% superwash Merino, 400 yards each. The colours are Vintage Blue and Elderberry. I've already decided that they are going to become Death of the Moon shawls, and I am trying to decide with what colour I shall pair them. I'm thinking a black for the blue, and maybe a cream or off-white for the purple. Either way, it's going to be wonderful to knit with these skeins. Kim, thank you so very much!
 Beautiful Yarn for Beautiful Projects.

Our cat, Serious Black, checking out the yarn. So far he has not attacked any of my projects or skeins of yarn. After this was taken, he seemed decidedly uninterested in the goods,

Serious Black, who is a cuddle monster.

I would like to note that on the side of the box in which she sent the yarn, Kim taped an orange-red maple leaf to one side, and wrote a postscript to her note on the other. "P,S, Indigo Dragonfly had a colorway called 'Doubting Thomas the Search Engine.' I just cracked up." I did go to Indigo Dragonfly's website, but alas! I could not find that colourway, and surmise that it was made for the festival and is not something they ordinarily have. Still, her postscript made me chuckle.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Wherein One Ponders Blogdom

Oh, dear, I seemed to have missed the sixth anniversary of my blog, 6 October. I don't think I've ever managed to celebrate it, but for some reason I needed to see a post from the first year, and while I was there, I checked the date of the first post and there it was, and I missed it. Damn.

When I first began writing this here blog-thingy, there were several blogs which I followed, and for which I created links in a section on the right-hand side called "fibre folk" since they were blogs by people who did things with fibre (there's another list of "non-fibre folk" for blogs that have nothing to do with knitting and fibre). In the six years that I've been writing this blog, I've noticed that fewer and fewer blogs are being updated at regular intervals, and several seem to have been abandoned completely. I regret the passing of Franklin Habit's blog, The Panopticon. It was witty, interesting, and fun to read. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is still writing Yarn Harlot, but not every day like she used to. And I'm certainly not counting myself in their august company. 

I blog because I enjoy it. I like writing about my knitting, I like writing about the yarns I love to use. I am pretty sure that very few people read this blog, since I can count the comments on it in any given year on one hand (this does not include my comments back). I read other people's knitting blogs because I am interested in what other folk are doing with fibre. Sometimes I'm impressed, sometimes I wonder what they hell they're doing, and sometimes I am inspired. 

I honestly think knitting has shot its wad. It was wildly popular for a few years in the previous decade, a popularity that lasted from about 2002 to about 2010, and then some new fad came along. The diehards kept at it, and those who were never really committed to it have moved on to something else. I think this is reflected in the closing of many yarn shops. In Boston, from about 2011 til when I left about five shops closed down, and no new ones opened up. 

I am one of the diehards. I have kept up with knitting, and have such a big stash that I probably don't need to buy yarn for the rest of my life. Just the other day I finished one project and looked through my yarn catalogue to find yarn for the next. I like to knit with others in a group, I like to knit alone, I like to go to cafes and knit in public (*gasp!*). To paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, "A person who knits in public may have other nasty habits." 

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Recap from 29 August

Back on 29 August I wrote about how PETA tells lies in its advertisements, that shearing sheep seriously damages, hurts, or kills them. They have a photo of someone holding a fake sheep that has been painted to look like it is bleeding copiously from its wounds. I mentioned in that same post that a shearer from Australia stripped naked (except for his Wellies) and sheared a sheep. I said that I had seen a video of it, but couldn't find it. Well, here is a link to the article about the naked shearer:
Anti Wool Campaign
And this is a picture of him doing it
Neither shearer nor sheep were harmed during this action.

I continue to knit with fibre from sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats, and bunnies, rather than from yarn made from the remains of dinosaurs which died millions of years ago.a

Friday, October 14, 2016

Perceptions in Knitting

Yesterday at work I had to help staff an informational fair that my office organised. My job was to sit at the front door and have everyone who walked in sign the sign-in sheet (more for a head count than for any other reason, though we should have door prizes next year). This is fairly mindless work, "Good morning, would you please sign the sign-in sheet?" It doesn't use a whole lot of brain cells. I had planned to knit during this time, since I'm making a fairly simple hat, stockinette in the round, with about three inches to go before I begin the decreases. I had hoped to reach the decrease stage yesterday, and then finish the hat off this weekend.

However, I was dissuaded by my colleagues in the office. You are being paid to work, not to knit, I was told. It wouldn't be seemly to be doing that when you are supposed to be working. And in that moment, I had an insight, maybe even an epiphany.

There is a fundamental difference in the way in which knitters see what they are doing when they have their needles in their hands, and what non-knitters see when knitters have needles in their hands. For many knitters, knitting is a way to pass the time usefully. If I don't have a complicated project that has me reading pattern lines and checking charts, a simple stockinette cap can make the time go by faster, and I'm accomplishing something at the same time. To a non-knitter, who cannot fathom that knitting can be mindless*, knitting is an activity that one is doing instead of what one is being paid to do, rather than something one is doing in addition to what one is being paid to do. While it is expected that one can multitask at one's desk (really, one can't, one can only do one thing at a time, even if one is doing small pieces of several things, they are still done sequentially), using the time to knit while sitting at the door is seen as doing something other than working. Believe me, asking you to put your name on the sign-in sheet is not an onerous chore, and I'm pretty sure I could have accomplished both at the same time.

It's a moot point. I didn't knit, my hat still has only about an inch of stockinette, and I still have three inches to go before I begin the decrease rounds. But by damn, I'm going to finish that hat this weekend.

Madeline Tosh Vintage, really in Betty Draper's Blues, so a bit darker than this photo shows.

*Really, what do you think about when you're washing the dishes, or ironing all your shirts for the week? I know that Buddhist monk Tich Nhat Hanh advises us to "wash the dishes to wash the dishes," meaning we should imbue even the most mundane tasks with intentionality, but I must confess that I am unable to so do. I subscribe to the concept, when doing tasks like washing dishes and ironing shirts, that the hands are busy, but the mind is free, Which is why I don't mind doing them. This also applies to working a stockinette hat in the round, and I'm willing to bet that books on CD would be a good background for such a project.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Drinking During the Debates isn't an Option

In The Lion In Winter, Eleanor of Aquitaine picks up a mirror, then puts it down, saying, "I can't look. I'd turn to salt." I felt much the same way about the debates last night. I watched for about eight minutes, and after screaming myself hoarse, I decided to do something productive instead. I organised patterns!


After I moved to New Orleans, I never really finished unpacking. There are still a few boxes of oddments and endments that I just don't know what to do with, where to put, how to organise, but at the same time, things I don't want to get rid of. It's hell living in a location that can't have basements because the water table is so high. Our house actually stands on pylons, and there is space between the building and the ground. I don't want to even imagine what lives under the house. I've seen the cockroaches in this burg.

But one of my boxes contained about 20 or so patterns, and I sat and fitted them into plastic sleeves to keep them all together. Some were duplicated, because I'd forgotten I'd printed them, but I just stuffed them in together. There were all sorts of goodies. A peacock shawl, a Canadian maple leaf toque, a red dragon toque, various shawls and cabled scarves, and even an Icelandic sweater pattern, named OĆ°inn which I'd like to make sometime.

In all, it was a very satisfying experience to get all those patterns into sleeves. I know there are more packed away in various boxes that I haven't gotten to yet, but I will, eventually. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Off Topic

The little description at the top of this blog thingy says that this is mostly a knitting blog, so sometimes we go a little off topic. Today is one of those days. Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

For the last five years I have used a flip phone. I'd flip it open and have a keyboard to type texts, and it was, more or less, a machine for phoning and texting. Occasionally I'd take pictures with it, but that was never its primary function. It served as a means of communication by texting and phoning.

In August I got caught in one of New Orleans' torrential downpours and my little flip phone got wet. Very wet. Drenched, in fact. When I got it home all I could get it to do was go, "Buzzzzzzzzz." Not useful. I packed it into a zip-lock baggie with those little silica gel packets that you get with electronics, and hoped for the best. Eventually it dried out, though it took the better part of a week, and it was fine, til the front screen went blank. It would buzz when I got a text, but I would have to open it to see who it was from, and if I wanted to make a phone call, I had to open it, jot down the number, and dial it manually. Not an ideal situation, and I knew it was time to bid it farewell and move into the 21st century and get a Smart Phone (well, at least the second decade of the 21st century).

Two weeks ago I went to the store and got my first Smart Phone. It's an android, and does all sorts of wonderful things. It can connect to the internet. I can get on Facebook with it. I can get to Ravelry with it. It plays games. It has a kindle. It even phones and texts.

And I hate it. I hate it with the passion of 10,000 burning suns.

It chirps, cheeps, bings, burps, tweets, and twats all the time. Some of those times are when I have an actual text. Tonight I turned off the Facebook notifications on the phone. I only have two gigs of data and don't want to use it up, and will probably delete Facebook from my phone entirely. Because I don't want to use it get on the internet, or as a GPS, or as a camera, or to be any more intrusive into my life than I need it to be. I need it to make phone calls and to send texts. No more, no less.

I am somewhat of a neo-Luddite. I don't like too much technology, and only want what I need to make life easier. Therefor I like using a washing machine, but not a dryer. If it weren't so damn damp in this state, I'd have a clothesline for all my freshly laundered goods. But it would probably take a week to dry. As it is, most of my clothes get hung up to dry, either on a drying rack or on hangers. I don't really like microwave ovens. I understand that they can be useful, but I prefer a toaster oven, and if I could only have one, I'd prefer the latter. I prefer real books to e-books, and while e-mail has its uses, a hand written letter is so much nicer. In short, I am not what anyone could call an early adopter of most technologies.

But I need to have a phone, and my old phone really was on its last legs (it tended to shut itself off from time to time, sometimes when I was actually on the phone talking to someone). It looks like I'm stuck with this monstrosity, and I will probably have to learn how to use it more effectively. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. It merely means that I have to bow to expedience.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Weekend Catch Up

Over the weekend I finished my gauge swatch for my Icelandic sweater. Honestly, I have always hated knitting swatches, but I understand the need for them. I knit it flat, even though the garment will be knit in the round, and even though I understand that stockinette knit flat has a slightly different gauge from that which is knit in the round, I doggedly knit it flat. No one can ever say that I never engage in exercises in futility.

Because I am absolutely the worst at actually reading the gauge, I walked my swatch over to Miss Bette, and asked her to take a look at it. I had gotten about four stitches to the inch, and she confirmed my findings (OK, maybe I'm not as bad at ascertaining my gauge as I thought). However, the gauge needs to be three and a half stitches to the inch, so I need to change my needle size. I am a tight knitter, I admit, but it used to be I knit to gauge.

Regardless, I shall try to knit a swatch in the round! Something I've never done before. So I need to find the right size double pointed needles and cast on a few stitches and see what I can come up with. Miss Bette showed me a way to get the stitches on the DPNs without twisting, and if I can remember how to do it, I'll try to put them on the needles tonight. If I can find the right size. Which is a wicked big "if".

There are times when I wish I'd brought my knitting with me. I almost always have it, but this weekend I spent time with the Big Easy Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, of which I am a member, and I usually don't need to have my knitting with me when I'm with the Sisters. Novice Sister Shir Madness organised a Safer Sex Symposium as her novice project, which centered around kink. Because I am a Novice Guard in the organisation, I got to sit at the door and collect any donations people wished to make. This is something I did not mind, but I was a little bored and if I'd had my knitting with me, I could have made some progress on some project or another. I shall let this be a lesson: I shall always take my knitting, a small project, even when I might be with the Sisters, and then I won't be bored.

This weekend coming, I plan to go shopping for a light that will brighten up my knitting area. One of the problems I have with knitting in my current house is that there isn't enough light for me to see. My old apartment in Boston had a HUGE window that took up most of one wall in my bedroom, so I had plenty of light in the daytime. And for some reason, enough light with all the electric lights on in the evening to knit. But my house in New Orleans seems to swallow the light and I think if I can find a high intensity floor lamp, I shall acquire it for knitting. I want to knit more than I am currently doing, but feel hampered by the lack of light.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Lopi, Icelandic Sweaters, and Steeking

One of the things I've always wanted to knit, even before I could knit or even knew I wanted to knit, was an Icelandic sweater. For the last couple of years or three I've been perusing and favouriting sweater patterns on Ravelry. Some of them are even in English! Today I visited Bornside Yarns and looked through patterns. I found one I mostly liked, except that it has a zipper, and I want to have buttons. Miss Bette and I spent over an hour talking about the pattern and picking out the colours of Lopi that I'm going to use (Lopi does not have a company website, so this link is to Wikipedia). I wanted to use a very dark-almost-black for the main colour, but she didn't have enough of that so I'm going with a dark grey with the almost black as one of the secondary colours. It's a Fair Isle pattern and it's done on fat needles because it is a bulky yarn. Sweaters like that tend to knit up pretty quickly.

As I mentioned it is Fair Isle pattern and Fair Isle is best knit in the round. So this pattern is also knit in the round and that means steeking. Yes, I am going to knit a garment that I am going to cut so I can wear it as a cardigan. I think I'm going to plotz. I know, intellectually, that if one follows the directions, steeking is not a terrible thing. And I have friends who have steeked and have lived to tell the tale.

I had a mini conversation with Franklin Habit on Facebook about steeking. He said it wasn't all that bad or hard to do. So I might do some practice steeking before the big day. But first, I have to cast on and knit the damn thing. I'm pretty excited, since I will be able to use this as a jacket here in New Orleans. Sweaters take a long time to knit, but I'm hoping I can churn this out. A wee break from my other projects.

These are the yarns I got from Miss Bette:
The yarn on the left is the main body, a dark pewter grey.
The yarns in the centre and on the right are the Fair Isle designs.
I find it interesting how the ball bands on Lopi have changed over the years. Reynolds is no longer carrying it (the two balls on the left), and for a while it was carried by the Icelandic government (the ball on the right). Apparently Berroco is going to carry it from now on, since Reynolds has been bought and dispersed. Even so, I got the yarn I wanted, and I'm very much looking forward to knitting this up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An Update from the Crescent City

I taught a colleague how to knit over the weekend. It took a while, but eventually she caught on and started to put the needle into the stitch the correct way (it wasn't until I said she had to go "underneath" that my instruction made any sense). Her stitches are not even, and when she showed me what she'd done at home as practice, it was downright ugly. But it was knitting. There were mistakes, and some dropped and/or slipped stitches. She'd increased her practice row from 20 to 23 stitches. But, as Yarn as my witness, it was knitting! We're going to knit together at lunch today.

It is hard for me sometimes to explain what I do so naturally when I'm holding knitting needles. I think that I am probably not a good teacher, or at least not a natural one, whenever I try to teach someone to knit. I barely remember my own struggles to master two sticks and a piece of string, and those early practice pieces have been consigned to the rubbish heap of history. I know I had a hard time figuring out what to do. I still have the first garter stitch scarf I ever made. I pulled those stitches so tight that I could barely get the needle into them as I knit along the row. Eventually I discovered that I didn't need to pull the stitches to a deathgrip on the needles, I developed a sense of even stitches, and I've learned not to knit whilst drinking alcohol, watching suspenseful movies, or while I am in a snit. That snit thing happens more often than I am willing to admit.

In my own knitting, I've been hard at work at both the bear hat and the Paul Shawl. The bear hat is finished and too small. I adjusted the needle size when I worked the Fair Isle portion of the hat, but it only fits on my head with a tug, and the stitches are spread wide and one can see the colour of the floats behind them. Not sure if I should try again using Intarsia to make the bears, or if I should knit a hat and make bear pom-poms (for which the pattern gives instructions, leaving a plain hat and fancy poms). The Paul Shawl is about 3/4 done and I want to get it off the needles sooner rather than later. I reckon one more skein of the Spruced Goose and one full one of the Steel Grey and it will be done. Just in time for the cool weather up in Yankee Heaven!

I bought two new patterns the other day, when I got paid. Drachenfels, by Mairelynd on Ravelry, for only €4.90. I'd seen it advertised on Facebook, and finally broke down and bought it. It uses a DK weight, and I've got so much of that in my stash. I'm hoping to use up some of it so I can empty out some of those damn bins. I also got Faster Than Light from SweetP Designs, for only $5.00. It's a triangular shawl and since the sample was done in blue and white yarn, I couldn't resist. Also, it's kind o' pretty, and I think will make a fun project to knit. It is also a stash busting project.

Stash busting is much on my mind these days, so I'm looking for projects that will use up what I have. While I love Josh Ryke's patterns (Death of the Moon, among others), he designs for fingering weight, and I have very little of that in my stash. DK and worsted are what I have, especially Mad Tosh and Malabrigo. So I hope I can use these yarns with the new patterns. Now I just have to apply myself to my knitting! I have a meeting tonight, so I think I'll bring it along.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies, and PETA

Today, my friend Hugh posted this on his Facebook page, from someone named John Acuff.
Let's be perfectly clear: Sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats, bunnies, and other fur bearing critters do not die when they are sheared for their wool. And in fact, shearing the animal is helpful to it, since many breeds of sheep and goats do not lose their hair in a spring molt (yes, there are some which do, but most domesticated breeds don't), and the fleece keeps growing, which must be very uncomfortable in the summer. A couple of years ago a sheep was recovered in New Zealand which had escaped its paddock. It hadn't been sheared in a couple of years, its wool content was HUGE and it could barely walk. It looked something like this:

The vegan group which put out this advert should include the tagline, "Go Vegan, Wear More Polyester," since vegans don't wear the wool or fleece of what they consider enslaved animals. I'm sure we all want to have more dead dinosaur artificial fibres wrapped around our bodies. Honesty alert: I am a vegetarian and I have not eaten meat in almost 25 years. I also don't give a damn what you eat and will never castigate you for eating meat. That said, I wear wool. And alpaca. And llama. I eat cheese and ice cream made from milk, too. I have only knit in acrylic once, at the request of a friend to make a hat with yarn that reflected light. Good for an early morning or late night jogger, I guess, though my friend didn't jog. I can also say I hated knitting it because it didn't feel right. I always knit with natural fibres, and often turn down yarn with nylon in it (yeah, I know it's great for making socks, but I don't make socks, and so I don't want nylon in my shawls). I guess a vegan could knit with cotton, and a cotton sweater would be fine for life down here in Louisiana, but I come from New England, and I would not want to brave some of our sub-zero days with a cotton sweater. Give me wool.

I remember seeing a video (which I cannot find on Youtube) of a shearer in New Zealand who, fed up with the lying propaganda from PETA, stripped down to his Wellies and sheared a sheep while naked. The owner of the farm filmed him doing so. His action was in response to this advert from PETA:
Aside from the fact that they're using a fake sheep in the photo, most shearers are careful (and fast) and do not nick or cut the sheep, Certainly not to the extent that this toy lamb has been modified. I have seen sheep shearing demonstrations, and while the sheep might suffer a bit of a bruised dignity, it is no worse for the wear after shearing. Besides, electric trimmers don't inflict this kind of damage. Farmers who are raising sheep for fibre know that if they damage their sheep like this, they won't have sheep very long. These beasts are an investment that has to provide a return on that investment. A quick Google search shows that a breeding female alpaca sells for anything between $1000 and $5000 and more. I can't imagine someone wantonly damaging an animal this expensive to get a fleece. Having spoken with various farmers of various animals at fibre festivals, the people who raise and breed these beasts really take good care of them, want the best for them, and don't want to damage them. I think the best summation I can come up with is PETA lies.

Acquiring the wool with which we knit doesn't kill the animal. No one has to die to make a sweater. These adverts are as untruthful as they are ridiculous.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Very Much Belated Update

I never thought I'd say this, but it is too hot to knit. No, seriously. Yesterday it was 104 degrees F, and I have no idea what the heat index was, but the entire summer has been on simmer. And if it's too hot, I don't knit. And if I don't knit, I don't have anything to write about in this here blog thingy.

I have been working on a couple of projects, in a desultory sort of way. On Wednesdays, when I go to Miss Betty's for knit afternoon, I bring the shawl I'm working on. I'm on stripe number 20, and I reckon it will take a total of six skeins of yarn, three of each colour. It's probably two and a half feet long now, and it feels like it's taking forever. Which it is, because it's too damn hot to knit.
Good Karma Farm, Spruced Goose and Steel Grey

I picked up the bear hats in Mad Tosh I was working on. The pattern is Polar Bear Hats & Mittens, by Susan Flanders. Obviously, I'm making Grizzlies, rather than Polar Bears. Hadn't touched them in a while, and when I opened the bag, the scent of mordant was intoxicating. I love the smell of mordant, especially in the morning. I've worked quite diligently on this hat, but discovered my stitch count was off, then discovered I had dropped a stitch. I'm not sure what to do. Since it's stranded knitting, should I tink back all these rows to fix the mistake, or should I ladder down with a crochet hook and try to fix it that way? I've only just learned the laddering down thing (I know, shameful, especially since I've been knitting for over a decade), and I'm not sure how the stranding will affect the fix. On the other hand, the idea of tinking back this many rows has made me put the project aside, even though I'm quite keen on finishing it. I am on the horns of a dilemma, between a rock and a hard place, betwixt Scylla and Charybdis.
Madeline Tosh, Celadon and Whiskey Barrel.

I haven't touched the Death of the Moon in several weeks, mostly because I can't get enough light to work on the black yarn. Next time I think I want to make something with black yarn, would someone please slap me upside the head? Especially if it's on wee, tiny needles!
Baah! La Jolla, Black Pearl and Framboise

But enough angst. A friend posted a link on Facebook to pictures of Irish farmers with cute animals. One of the pictures shows a guy sitting in a field with sheep, knitting!
Because who doesn't want to sit in a field of sheep whilst knitting what looks like an Arran sweater. (Oh, did I mention that all the men are, um, shirtless? If you really want it, you can buy it here.)

So I have my work set, because I'm coming up with all sorts of projects I want to do, but because I want to finish these three, at least! then I'm not allowing myself to cast on another project. In the past, I'd just sweat it out, but even with air conditioning in the house, this heat is wearing me down. Perhaps I just need to tune into my local NPR station, get some bright lights, and knit, heat be damned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Still Knitting!

Hello Blo-og my old friend
I've come to write in you again!

I have been knitting most doggedly, but have not much to show for it. A friend had asked me to make a hat for a charity auction, which I did. I made it out of Cascade 220, a wedgewood blue and a light foggy grey, striped. I never took a picture of it, but I know the person who got it was really happy to have won it at the auction. He came up and told me so, and I told him it was a hand wash only.

I've been working on the Paul Shawl, and even though I just finished the first ball of the spruce yarn, it doesn't look like it's gotten any bigger. But when I'm done posting, I shall go to the swift and winder and prepare the next two skeins, one in spruce and one in grey, since I'll probably run out of the second colour before too very long. Even though it is so beastly hot out (in the 90s, and the heat index makes it feel like anything between 101 and 106), I'm working on the heaviest project.

I haven't really touched the pink and black Death of the Moon, but it is there, and I am aware of it. I have lots of other projects going on that are quietly being ignored in the background. I have only one more row of purls to go, I think, and then it will be all garter for til I bind off. Need to get my arse in gear and get that done.

One of the things I'm trying to learn how to do is read while I'm knitting. So I work on the Paul Shawl and look at various blogs while I knit away. The shawl is mostly mindless knitting, and I have very little thinking to do except when I'm on the seed stitch sections, so I'm pretty much on auto pilot.

I haven't bought any new yarn since the fibre festival back in June. Alas. On the other hand, I have a metric shite tonne of yarn I need to use before I die, so there's that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WIP Wednesday

It isn't that I've been neglecting my blog, but you know, I've been dealing with the aftermath of the shootings at Pulse in Orlando, the sadness, the rage, organising, and raising money for the survivors. I've been busy.

But I've also been knitting, and these are the things that have been keeping me busy. The first, a shawl for my friend Paul. Knit from Good Karma Farm yarn, I got the Spruced Goose (the bluish yarn) at the NHS&WF (May, 2015) and the Steel Grey at the Fiber Festival of New England (November, 2015). It's knitting up really nicely and after a few false starts, is coming along.

The other project on the needles is Death of the Moon (Josh Rykes) for Adrienne. In Baah La Jolla, Black Pearl and Pretty in Pink. It has a kind of 50's feel, and it reminds me of the pink and black Bridge Mix candies.
I know it's not for everyone, but I love black licorice!

This is what the shawl looks like so far. I've completed up to section 6 and have just started section 7. It's slow going because it's gotten too hot to knit outside, but I try to get a few rows in every day.

I love this pattern, and plan on making five or six more iterations of it before all is said and done. I have a couple hats on the needles that want attention, but I'm ignoring them (hands over ears, eyes shut, singing, "La, la, la, la, la!") I also promised a friend I'd make a hat for an auction he's holding for charity, so I need to root through my stash and find something that will work for that. I'm busy knitting, just not as prolifically as I'd like. And I'm sorry for neglecting my blog. I'll try to be a more faithful writer.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Magnolia State Fiber Festival

Who knew that there were fibre festivals in the south? Unfortunately, none of them is in Louisiana. But that's OK, because we drove three hours to Mississippi to attend one. The Magnolia State Fiber Festival was held in Vicksburg, and two knitting buddies (Jeanne and Claire) and I left at god-awful:45 AM this morning to attend. They each attended a different class, so we had to get there early before the first one started. No matter. We had a terrific time. It is, admittedly, a small festival, with no more than 40 or so vendors. And there were no live animals, but what it lacked in size, it more than made up for in enthusiasm. The vendors were really engaging, very friendly, and because it wasn't too crowded (there was always a constant flow of people, but not like other festivals I've attended), were able to sit and talk with one about their fibres, dying, preferred things to knit, and so on. I even made two Ravelry friends today! How cool is that?

Even though I was on a limited budget, I did manage to get some yarn. Like dear Queen Victoria when she was a mere slip of a princess, I was good*, Or maybe I was able to be good because there was no ATM at the festival (at least I didn't see one, or the hit to my wallet would have been greater!).

The Yarn!
From the delightful  Kimarie Hazekrigg of kimarie's knit knacks, She had some beautiful yarns, and I took home one skein of blue yarn (of course), and a packet of rainbow dyed merino.
 This is Texas Bluebonnet, and I am really going to enjoy knitting this up. It's a superwash merino.

I am thinking a hat for myself with the blue yarn, and a scarf or cowl with the rainbow. Perhaps with a wedge of black yarn between each colour. I need to get on Ravelry to find a pattern that works for me and for this amazing yarn. Kimarie is one of the people who friended me on Ravelry.

From Stacey Blanton of Brazen Stitchery, some yarns inspired by two of my favourite series.
This first, is a half skein, named Salazar Slytherin is my Homeboy. Fingering weight, merino and nylon, I'm thinking it would make a great hat. I've never made a hat with anything finer than DK, so this will be interesting. Stacey also friended me on Ravelry
There were yarns for Gryffindor and for Hufflepuff, but alas, the Ravenclaw did not come out quite the way she wanted. But I like green (once it was my favourite colour), and so I'm going to try with this to make a hat.
This is the Fires of Mordor. She had several LOTR referenced yarns, but this one spoke to me. I would like to pair it with a smoky grey, and make a Death of the Moon shawl with it. In real life it's more russet than orange, and this is the first time I shall knit with yarn that has sparkles.

From the stand of Bex Oliger of Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe, I got this amazing safron yarn. Merino, dyed by Th' Red Head Designs, it isn't quite as orange as the picture suggests.I might try to pair this with some yarns I got at the NHS&WF over the years, to make a shawl. I wonder who will get it?

As well as yarn, there was someone selling hand made soaps. From Shalene Weddle of My Heavenly Creations, I got some wonderful smelling Rosemary Mint soap. I cannot wait to take a shower with this!
I have seen soap sold at every fibre festival I've ever attended. This is the first time I've gotten any. This smells so wonderful! And soap making is something I'd like to try to do. I have a book. I have a recipe. What can stop me? Other than the need to buy about $75 worth of tools in order to make it.

From Gulf Coast Connection, June Pegram gifted me with a bit of lagniappe. After giving me some wonderful advice about pre-drafting roving, she gave me a wee bit of roving from the Gulf Coast Native Sheep, an endangered species which she is helping to conserve. Thank you so much, June!
Someday I'll be able to spin. Not today, perhaps, but someday.

There were yarns I wanted to buy, vendors who had some great things. Unfortunately, my wallet is not as deep as my desire for new yarn. I have added to my personal database of favourite indie yarn folk the following:
Knitting Rose Yarns, by Lise Wilson. Most of her yarns contain bison fleece, are so very soft, and look so very knittable. Yarns that I wanted to take home with me, which had no bison (surprisingly) were the blue and the black yarn on the right of the picture, So beautiful, so shimmery!

From Wool of Louisiana, by Kelli Caruth Miller, these lovely undyed yarns. Thankfully, these vendors sell their wares on-line. And we all know that I love receiving packages in the mail!

In all, it was a very enjoyable festival. I really liked the small size, because the chance to interact and really talk with the vendors was so easy. Sure, I've talked with vendors at larger festivals, and those discussions have been most enjoyable and informative. But they were almost always interrupted by someone who had a question about specific yarns, or wanted to buy something. Today, with the lower attendance, it was a much more relaxed pace, and I came away having learned new things, made new friends, and acquired more fibre. It was also a good chance to spend some time with Jeanne and Claire, who were funny, informative, and who kept me on my toes.

*The story goes that when Princess Victoria learned how close she was to the throne (she was the Heir Presumptive of her uncle, King William IV), she is reported to have said, "I will be good."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Miscellaneous End of Month Catch-Up

I was having a text conversation with a friend the other day, and she had seen photos of my completed Death of the Moon shawl (pattern by Josh Rykes) and I offered to make one for her. We decided on a combination of purple and cream. I know I have purple fingering weight yarn in my stash. I might even have two skeins of it. But I am pretty sure I don't have a creamy colour (not really my palate). So I've been trying to find it on line. I've checked Webs (America's Yarn Store!), but they don't have it. And I checked Periwinkle Sheep, but I didn't see what I wanted (either in colour or fibre). I think when I get paid, I'll call Stitch House in Boston, since no one local carries either Periwinkle or Baah yarns, and see if they can mail me some. I think the colourway La Perla would do nicely. Now, I have to slog through 27 pages of my yarn catalogue to discover where the purple La Jolla is stashed.

After buying their gorgeous yarn for a few years, I finally cast on (after about 8 attempts) some yarn from Good Karma Farms. A blend of 60% wool with 40% alpaca, it's soft and knits up very nicely. I'm making a man shawl for a friend of mine who had a bout with cancer a few years ago. Since his treatments ended, he finds it difficult to get warm, so I'm making up some hats, the shawl, and if I have time, a scarf for him. Because yarn is love. I'm more than half way through the first skein.

Last year I made a cowl for my cousin Alexa in Malabrigo Mecha. She asked me to make one for her mother, my cousin Claudia (Alexa is my first cousin once removed, her dad is my first cousin, his wife, Claudia, is not a blood relation, but I consider her my cousin anyway). Using the colourways London Sky, Paysandu, and Polar Night I whipped up this cowl. Now that the summer is coming, I need to get it to her. My understanding is that it is in the 80s up in Boston.

I wound some yarn on the swift this morning, and explained to Brandon why we didn't knit from a hank, why a swift and winder were useful tools of the trade, and why I bought one (when I got serious about this hobby, I decided get the necessary tools). I'm ready to cast on a Death of the Moon in Pink Rose and Black Pearl Baah La Jolla. I can work on two projects at the same time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Yarn Carnage, or, Stuff I Got At The Fair

So of course I bought some yarn while I was at the NHS&WF. That was the entire purpose for going! Well, and to see some much beloved friends. And to eat hot & sour soup at Mary Chung's (and at Mary's, forgot to order the soup, damn it!). And go to Knit Night. And to visit my old job. But mostly to buy yarn! Because we are Yarn Corsairs! I even wore my Jolly Roger boxers to the Fair!

Of course I visited all my favourites. From Mad Color Fibers I bought three items. First, yarn to make a Police Call Box (I can get the pattern from her website or FB page).
It also came with a very cool stitch marker, and I think I'll give this to my friend William.

She has also started a series of yarns that are named Godric, Salazar, Helga, and Rowena. I bought Salazar and Rowena. I'll get Godric and Helga in the fall (she had Helga, but I didn't have the money for all three). Interestingly, she uses the movie version of Ravenclaw's colours (silver and blue) as opposed to the book's version (bronze and blue). She has a yarn in bronze and blue called Allons'y, and I may get it and substitute it.
Salazar and Rowena
I'm going to use this to make a scarf for myself, I think. I am thinking of a 1x1 rib, in Salazar, Helga, Rowena, Godric order. Dunno. Suggestions are always welcome.

From Good Karma Farms I bought some bulky yarn to use with the skeins I got last year to make a shawl for a friend of mine who has undergone treatment for cancer, but cannot get warm.
I matched the dye lots as best I could. I had bright sunshine, but I think the bottom skein might be a different lot. Not that it matters, since I'm doing stripes that will encompass each skein one at a time.

This yarn is for me. I want a hat in Good Karma yarn. Maybe it will bring me good karma?

From Jan Marek Raczkowski, I bought a single skein of Blue Faced Leicester.
I am not sure what will happen with this skein. I've got 250 yards. I might add it to something and make a cowl. It's a lovely DK weight. I do wish he would set up a website.

From Sunrise Hill Farms (the one in Vermont, not Washington), I bought some undyed Shetland wool. This is soft and felt good. I might get a hat or a small cowl out of this.
I've really been getting into undyed yarns, oh, for the last three years or so. I've got quite a bit in my stash, but I've not knitted with them. I just like looking at them and imagining. Eventually, though, something must be done with them.

This yarn, from Blue By Ewe Farm, is also an undyed wool. A blend from Lady Lorelei, a Wensleydale and Guenevere, a Romneydale , it's heavy, soft, and wants so much to be knit up into something lovely. Maybe I'll call and order one more skein and make a cowl for myself.

I had hoped that A Hundred Ravens and Periwinkle would be at the festival, but alas! they were not. So I bought these minis at Stitch House. I am planning on making the Mighty Mini from A Hundred Ravens, one in the gradient purple (Hekate) and one in the gradient blue (Mermaid Tails). I need to get some black fingering weight yarn to complete the pattern, but I'm not in any hurry, since I've got so much else to knit!

For my dear friend Adrienne, who likes the colour pink, I bought these at Stitch House as well. I think a Death of the Moon shawl for her would look just awesome in these colours, Pretty in Pink and Black Pearl, La Jolla from Baah Yarn.
Tomorrow I shall buy some Chiagoo needles from Miss Betty and get it started. I could use my Knitter's Pride, which I love! but I don't think that the black yarn will read well on the green needles, and I have already detailed what a shitshow that was when I was knitting this pattern in Emerald Isle. I think this time around I'll make things easy for myself.

There were so many other yarns I wanted to buy, but didn't have the money. Next time, I'm going to specifically save for some yarn from Dirty Water Dyeworks, which has some of the most gorgeous yarns I've ever seen. I like to think I totally enabled Lisa to buy some of her yarns this trip!