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, October 5, 2017

Oft gang awry

I decided to make a Honey Cowl for my friend Bobbi this year. I'd promised her something a few years back, but never found the right yarn for her. I found out she loves the colour Celadon, and I immediately thought about Mad Tosh's colourway, Celadon, in a lovely Vintage. Not having any in my stash, a friend brought me some whilst visiting New Orleans. I've made the Honey Cowl several times, and one year it was my holiday go-to, and I made about eight of them. Not a problem. I checked the pattern, cast on the required 220 stitches, did the four rounds of stockinette, began the purl/slip purl/slip pattern, and upon the second row, discovered I'd purl/purl/slipped and had to pull the whole damn thing out and start anew.

The second time I cast on the 220 stitches, began knitting it, and upon starting the fifth row, discovered that it was twisted. I frogged the entire thing. And I did check for twisting, no, really, I did! The cable between the needles was very twisty though, and it fooled me. So I bought new needles with a non-twisty cable, and thought I'd lick that problem from the start!

The third time I cast on the 220 stitches, got past the four rows of stockinette, started the pattern, and dropped a stitch. No problem! I've learned how to pick up stitches with a crochet hook (after knitting for almost 15 years). Except I was in the airport waiting for my flight to Boston and didn't have a crochet hook with me. so I ripped the damn thing out and let it sit for over a week (that'll teach it!).

The fourth time I cast on the 220 stitches, I got through the four rows of stockinette. I started the purl/slip pattern, I decided to check if we were OK and hadn't twisted, and as I was doing so, more than 15 stitches slipped off. I was able to save about 14 of them, but the last one slipped down to the very end. My efforts to pick it up were less than spectacular and so I ripped the whole thing out.

Tonight I am going to cast on for the Spiral Staircase Shawl.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Boston and Seattle Yarn Carnage!

After a brief (!) hiatus, I'm back. I've been in something of a knitting slump this summer, and really haven't done any knitting since June. I'm trying to pick it up again, and finish the two Death of the Moon cowls I have on the needles and maybe start a project for myself. I've been trying to cast on a Honey Cowl in Mad Tosh  Celadon, but I've managed to twist it both times I've done so. Might need to try different needles, since the cables in the circulars I'm currently using are rather twisted. Or maybe I can soak them in very hot water to relax them, at least long enough to cast on and start the process.

Last week I helped some friends move from Boston to Seattle for their retirement. We drove 3200 miles in four days (I'm still exhausted, a week after we arrived), and I had one day in Seattle to go yarn whoring. I also had some time in Boston to do the same, since I was there a few days before we left, and I managed to visit one of my all time favourite shops, Mind's Eye. I did not leave empty handed.
One of the two bison cows, with a calf each, we saw in North Dakota, at the Painted Canyon,
part of the Teddy Roosevelt State park. These beasties are HUGE!

At Mind's Eye, I got caught up with the owner and one of the employees, which was quite lovely. And I bought some Shibui Silk Cloud and some Shibui Rain to make a scarf, where you hold the two together and make something stunning, which is always the case with Shibui yarns.
Shibui Rain, 100% cotton

Shibui Silk Cloud, 60% Kid Mohair, 40% Silk
While I cannot remember the name of the pattern, it is a striped scarf, which knits the two yarns together for a length, then just the Silk Cloud, in stripes that get more and more narrow.

I had a $10 credit, and since I have no idea when I'll be back up in the Boston area, I got these two skeins of Blue Face Leicester, undyed. I love BFL, it's soft and warm and knits up nicely.
These two hanks from the UK, West Yorkshire Spinners, and going to make a lovely couple or three hats. There is no website, but there is a Facebook page one can visit. I've just liked and followed!

The knitting  group I used to attend no longer meets at the yarn store which hosted us for so many years, for reasons I won't go into here, but I did manage to meet up with them, at a local restaurant. They have a signature yarn, The Teal Gang, which is produced exclusively for them by an indie dyer.
See Janye Knit produces this 75% superwash merino 25% nylon yarn. I can't wait to knit with it. It was very kind of my Boston knitting group to give this yarn to me, and I so very much appreciate it.

The trip to Seattle was grueling, for several reasons. Three adults, two dogs, two cats, and three birds. Just unloading at each hotel took abut 30 minutes. And we had to sneak the cats and birds in, since most places that are labeled "pet friendly" are only dog friendly.But we managed. We got to Seattle on Friday night, and I had one day to hit the yarn stores. I didn't have much money, and our time constraints let us hit only two, The Artful Ewe in Port Gamble, and Rainy Day Yarns in Gig Harbor.

At the Artful Ewe, there were so many yarns I wanted to take home with me! I settled on four hanks, all hand dyed, all a blend of Merino, silk, and yak down (60%, 20%, 20%). I really wanted to take the whole store home with me, but settled on these:
 These will become a Death of the Moon shawl for someone, the purple and silver playing off against each other quite nicely.

These will also become a Death of the Moon shawl for a friend here in New Orleans. The colours are not quite as close as they look in this photo, the brown is a bit deeper and the green a bit more olive. I'm really looking forward to knitting these yarns. And the silk just makes them shimmer.

At Rainy Day Yarns, I told the nice lady that I wanted local dyers, local yarns, things that I couldn't get in New Orleans. She pointed out several sections, and I wanted to take them all home with me. I settled on three skeins. The first, Hula Hut Yarns, offered a wonderful selection. This one, Zelda, really appealed to me.
I have absolutely no idea what I'll make with it, but it's bright and funky. Maybe something for Brandon. I think he'd look good in this colour.

The owner of the shop also dyes yarn, and I got these two, Midnight in the Harbor and Tangerine. The Tangerine is more of a rich gold, and I'm thinking a shawl using the two skeins together.
The colours are very Hufflepuff, but when I got them, my friends and I had been talking about apiaries, and all I could think of was bumble bees and honey bees.

This was the extent of my yarn carnage. Not as bad as it could have been, and not as much as I had wished to bring home with me. But I'm really happy with all my selections.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In Which Our Author Frogs Over 900 Stitches, Reknits Them, and *gasp!* Buys Yarn

I've been diligently working on the Death of the Moon shawl. I've got 52 rows and the bind off yet to do, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. I had a little hiccup when I discovered that I'd made some mistakes in knitting (I should never knit late at night when I'm tired, when there is insufficient light) and I ended up tinking over 900 stitches. Tinking. Nine Hundred. Stitches. That was a FML moment, to be sure, but once it was done, I got it re-knit in record time, and now I'm coasting to the finish. I did the last purl row last night (338 stitches, I feel like I deserve a prize), and now twenty rows of garter in only one colour. One thing I've been doing differently this time around is that I'm carrying my yarn, rather than cutting it at the end of each colour row. I will mean so many fewer ends to weave in (and I must admit, I still haven't woven in the ends from the first iteration of this shawl, the one in Fog and Emerald that I completed last year). I'm not sure how this will play out in blocking, but if it means I don't have dozens (literally, dozens!) of ends to weave in, I'll be happy. I shan't post a picture because it just looks like a big lump of grey and red yarn. But soon, very soon!

My friend Franklin posted on his FB page the note that Neighborhood Fiber were making Pride Flag yarns! I have bought some of Neighborhood's yarns when on visits to Pennsylvania at Forever Yarn, the only shop I've discovered that carries them, but I've never knit with them. I think next year that will be my goal, to knit up what is in my stash. All that aside, since June is Pride month, I got these wonderful yarns on order!
I have absolutely no idea what I will knit with this collection, but I'm sure it will be fabulous!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Oooh! Look! A Knitting Post

I finished the Irish Hiking Scarf I made for my boss. Finally. I have to admit, while it is a beautiful scarf, and let's face it, cables impress the natives, after knitting about ten of them, it's rather boring. I actually found myself avoiding my knitting because I was so bored, and I knew if I cast anything else onto the needles, boss's scarf would become another UFO. 

So, what have I cast on? Just another Death of the Moon shawl by Josh Ryks. It's the fourth one I've cast on, only one of which has been completed. The other two are probably going to be frogged and started again. I have to say, it's not all that hard a pattern, but I had to cast it on several times to get it to work out. And at one point I think I missed a purled yarn-over, because I was off one stitch (I just kibf to make up for it, I was not going to tink back two rows of over 80 stitches each). 

This one is for Kristen. The yarn is Periwinkle Sheep, the colourways are Thunderstorm (the grey) and Audrey Hepburn (the red). I'm almost done with the second section, and will start to add the Audrey Hepburn in the third section. I love the way this shawl looks, but I always have a hard time keeping the stitch count right. But when it's done? Wow! it's a stunner.

Death of the Moon: The Beginning

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I got involved in a conversation on Facebook today, and ended up chatting with someone who is an Indie Dyer. The Fiberists have some really pretty yarns, and I may have to break my promise not to buy (too much) yarn this year. Made by Geeks, the yarns are named after various scientists (Curie, Newton, Franklin, Hopper, among others). I've been perusing their wares, and I have to admit, I've already got a wish list. 
Some of the yarns, taken from the website:
Audobon Sport, Hippopotamus Amphibius

Curie Heavy Worsted, Lapis Lazuli

Audobon Worsted, Fire Opal

I definitely have to get this into my stash! I already know what I want! 
Is that bad?

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Which leads me to another woe. Fibre fests. I wasn't able to go to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival this year (alas, it happened last week), and the fibre festival we went to last year in Mississippi has been cancelled. I have a four day weekend in October, and I went on line to see if there were any fibre fests anywhere in the country, and you know, there are festivals the weekends before the one I have off, and there are festivals in the weekends after I have off, but there are not fibre festivals the actual weekend I have off. And it's not like I have a choice of weekends to take off, because the university where I work is closed for fall break (what the hell is fall break? when I was at university (four of 'em) we had spring break and a four day weekend over Thanksgiving, but never a fall break!). So it looks like I'm SOL for getting to a fibre festival this year. I feel like twirling my mustaches and saying, "Curses, foiled again!"

Monday, May 8, 2017

Nothing in this Post is About Knitting

It's been a couple of months since I've posted. Naughty me. Sorry. I've been busy with other projects, and sadly, most of them have not included knitting. But now I'm back, and I'm ready to start the Holiday knitting! Tonight is the only night this week that I don't have plans for the evening. My only night at home, as it were.

The following has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with knitting.

The project that has been eating most of my time has been my novice project for the Big Easy Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I joined this group in February, 2016, shortly after I moved to New Orleans. I have moved through the stages, Aspirant, Postulant, Novice. I'm at the Novice stage now, and since my novice project is successfully completed, I am ready to elevate to Fully Professed. I will be a Guard with the SPI, and I'm really excited, and a bit nervous, even though I've been assured there is nothing for which I need to be nervous.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are an international group of 21st Century Queer Nuns, who expiate stigmatic guilt and promulgate universal joy. Or, in layman's terms, we are a 501(c)3 organisation that does fundraising for underfunded organisations, HIV/AIDS education, While mostly comprised of gay men, the organisation welcomes men and women, cis- and transgender, gay, straight, bisexual, and every other orientation. All that is asked is that members be in sympathy with the goals of the organisation.

Novice projects are expected of each person, Sister or Guard, in order to move up to the final rung of the ladder, Fully Professed. In the Big Easy Sisters, both Sisters and Guards are co-equal, have a vote, and do all the work. Novice projects are to benefit the larger community or the House (our own organisation), and I opted to do something to benefit the House. Our website hadn't been updated in over two years, and there were people listed as members who were no longer attached to the House, people who had elevated to Fully Professed who were listed as Novices, and some who weren't listed at all, but were very much a part of the organisation. So I undertook the task of making a working website that reflected the House as it is now, not as it was two years ago.

I am almost done. There are two more pages to do, and I'll be finished. I've published it, made it public, and those final pages will be added by the end of May. May I present to you, The Big Easy Sisters, Parish of the Muddy Waters. I've included a couple of pictures.

Almost the entire House, for the Memorial Service for Sister Cathi Terr, 3/17


Sister Shir Madness and Guard Buddha Bear carrying the banner at the Southern Decadence Parade, 9/16

Sister Mary Pat McCooter, Sister Magically Delicious, Sister Gloree Bea, Guard Buddha Bear, Sister Shir Madness
New Orleans Pride, 6/16

Sister Yoko Ohnoshe Dinnit, Sister Moana Moansalott, Sister Eileen Eulick. James, Sister Magically Delicious
Guard Buddha Bear, Guard Ten Buck U, Aspiriant Brandon, Gerald, Mardi Gras, 2/17



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Forever Yarn, Doylestown, PA

It's the annual trip to Pennsylvania for the reunion with my old housemates and some other friends from our divinity school days. The reunion I missed last year because I'd just moved to New Orleans. But I'm here this year, and another couple had to miss because of a horrible virus one of them picked up from the kindergarten where she teaches. But their (young adult) daughters are here, and they are such delightful young persons!

Every time I come to this reunion, we make our way to Doylestown, about 25 minutes from where my friends live, and hit up a couple of shops, the same ones every year: the yarn store, the used book store, and the chocolate shop. I missed the book store this year because I spent so much time in the yarn store, but I did manage to make it to the chocolate shop!

I walked into Forever Yarn, and immediately was greeted by Yan, the owner, with a delighted smile and a hug. We caught up on the news, I apologised for missing the shop last year, and she took me around showing me new yarns, the Madeline Tosh (she knows my weakness!), and was particularly proud of the Swift Yarn, and the colourway the dyer made personal colourway, Uptown Graffiti. Just lovely. It was a terrific time with her, and the other ladies who were sitting around the table knitting. Brandon was with me, and actually picked out a skein of yarn for me to make him a hat. Seriously, I need to teach him how to knit.

My haul was modest, a mere six skeins (plus one that Brandon bought). I'm on a limited budget, you know. I think I'm going to start saving for next year's haul with my next paycheque. This year's haul includes the following:
Of course I had to get some Madeline Tosh! I can't get it at any store in New Orleans, and I need to feed my addiction. I'm thinking a hat or a striped scarf with this, the red is Tart, and the off-white is Birch Grey, in DK weight. I always love the names that the Tosh folk come up with for colours.

More Tosh! Silki Merino this time. The colourway is Beach Bonfire, and it's a 50-50 blend of silk and merino wool. Brandon likes pink, and picked this out, and has requested a hat. It's a DK weight and really feels good.

A new yarn being carried is Swift Yarns, which are hand dyed in New York City! These two skeins are 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. And no, I'm not making socks with them.
The dark blue colourway is named Lady Macbeth, the white-speckled-with-blue is Blueberry Hill. I'm thinking another Death of the Moon shawl for these. The picture does not do them justice.

This is also Swift Yarns, in Yan's signature colourway, Uptown Graffiti. She gave this skein to me, a bit of lagniappe. Such a New Orleans feel, and her generosity is so very much appreciated. It is a four ply sport weight yarn, made of superwash merino.

Brandon bought some yarn for me to make a hat for him. Not a colourway I would have chosen, but he likes the bright, the bodacious, the neon. The colourway is Venus
Qing Fiber (pronounced "Ching," like the last Chinese dynasty), are hand dyed in the UK. The fibre content is 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, and 10% nylon. It is surprisingly soft, and will make a nice warm hat for the not very cold winters we have in New Orleans. I'm looking forward to knitting this up, since the shop samples Yan had were very lovely and had a nice drape. Please note the link is to the dyer's Etsy page.

Finally, a photo of Yan and me, holding my new yarns. Yan insisted we take the picture in front of the Madeline Tosh display, since I have such a love for that yarn.

Yan, the owner of the shop, and your author, holding my newest acquisitions to my stash.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From UFO to WIP

I know I haven't been writing much. I've actually been knitting. A lot. No, really, but I'm writing this at work and don't have any pictures of my current project with me, so you'll just have to take my word. I picked up an old UFO, a sweater I promised to my friend Brad. I was unable to attend our reunion last year, and being clever, I knew I had so much time to work on it that I put it off to work on other projects. Now we're leaving for the reunion tomorrow night, and I'm nowhere near where I want to be. I didn't actually want to finish it, but I did want it to be at the place where I could join the front panel to the back. Since I only see Brad once a year I wanted to measure the panels against him, to make sure they fit, because he's 6'4" and I've never knit anything for anyone so tall. The pattern doesn't quite take into consideration someone of Brad's dimensions.

The back panel is done. I think, but I won't really know until I measure it against him. The front panel, well, I've been working like a busy beaver on it for the last week, getting up at 4:30 in the morning so I can get 10 or 12 or more rows done each morning, which equals about two inches of fabric. I'm in the middle of the seventh repeat of the pattern, and just did the cable plus two rows before I left for work this morning, and we're at about 14 inches now. I had planned to knit the day away on Sunday, maybe doing thirty or forty rows (between six and eight inches of fabric) while listening to the Egyptian History podcast of which I've become so fond (what do you want to know about Hatshepsut and Thutmose III? I'm all about the 18th Dynasty!). But alas! I was convinced to appear in a commercial filming for the NOLA Tourism Board, and spent the entire day, from 7:00 AM til 5:00 PM working on the damn thing. I won't say I had a terrible time,but it was rather tiring to be on my feet all day. I'd never done anything like it, and while I'm glad I've done it, I feel absolutely no reason to ever do it again. I feel much the same way about the Grateful Dead. I'm so happy that I went to one of their concerts once, but never felt the need to go a second time. And now, well, I can't. So it all works out in the end.

Tonight I have to pack for our trip, since we are driving from New Orleans to just north of Philadelphia. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to knit in the car on Friday, when I'm not doing my share of the driving, But I had wanted to work on smaller projects, like a hat for Kyle and a scarf for Karen. Projects that are more easily managed in the tight confines of a compact car.

As may be, I know I won't be anywhere near ready to join the two panels when we leave tomorrow, but I have made a valiant attempt at it, and am  not displeased with the progress I've made. But still, I do wish I could have pulled it off.
I have made this sweater before, and this gives an idea of what the finished project will look like. Though the current iteration is in a different shade of blue, denim, as opposed to Persian. I had made this for myself, but had gained so much weight by the time I finished it (a couple years after starting it, since I was interrupted by grad school), that I ended up giving it to my friend Brian. Then I lost all that weight, but by then, it was too late to ask for it back. The pattern is a Yankee Knitter Design, pattern #30. The yarn I am using is Lamb's Pride bulky, in denim blue.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lagniappe and What I Worked For

Well hello, 2017! I can honestly and desperately ask, "What fresh hell is this?"

But enough about politics. I need a respite from the fray, from marches and on-line arguments with trolls and people so stupid I cannot believe they can walk and breathe at the same time.

This past weekend Bornside Yarns had their annual sale. The way it works is that Miss Bette puts up an on-line list of her sale yarns, mostly things that have either been discontinued by the manufacturer, or things she has decided no longer sell well enough to keep in stock. It's a first come, first serve sale, and as things are sold, they are marked, Out of Stock. I was asked to be one of the people who came in on Saturday morning to help fill the orders. We took the lists in the order in which they were received and put each item into a large brown grocery bag. These were tallied up, the customers, some local, some distant, were notified, and we, who had been asked to help in this endeavour, were paid in yarn. Ooooh, yarn! I had decided not to buy any sale yarn when I heard about it, because I really am trying to knit my stash (and so far have knit two projects this year with stash yarn!). But Miss Bette promised, so I took her up on it. And this is what I got.

Two red, one green, one black and one brown skein each of Nature's Shepherd, by Brown Sheep.
The red is labeled as Fire and the black as Obsidian
 The plan is to make a red pussy hat for a friend, and then with the remainder to make a red and black wool hat for someone. Red and black were my high school colours, so it is with mixed feelings hat I approach that project, seeing as I considered my years in Junior and Senior High School to be exercises in state sponsored terrorism.
The green is labeled Clover and the brown as Rich Earth
I fell in love with the green yarn while I was helping to pack the bags, and no one claimed it after all the orders were filled so I decided it needed to come home with me. I am thinking either a striped scarf or a hat. I'm leaning toward the hat idea, because scarves can be boring to make.

There was also some Rowan to be had. Rowan yarns are in a bit of a tizzy because from what I understand their British maker has discontinued them, or the distributor has stopped distributing them (which explains the cessation of the British Sheep Breeds yarns that I loved so much, and which I bought in abundance when they were discontinued).

These four skeins would make wonderful hats or scarves. Pure wool, they are soft and so knittable. And such a lovely dark navy blue.

The other Rowan yarn I scored was two skeins of a blue and purple heathered yarn.
 You can't really see it in this picture, but there is a very subtle heathering to this lovely wool.

The last thing I came away with was three skeins of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca (70% baby alpaca, 30% silk). There were two skeins on sale, and I decided to get them, but there was a third skein on display, a bit shop worn, which Miss Bette added to my haul as lagniappe.
The colour is listed as Cabernet, and in real life, the yarn really does look like a glass of that wine.

I'm just giddy thinking about what I can make with all this yarn!