Thursday, December 24, 2009

Knitting Resolutions

It's been two years since I made any knitting resolutions - or at least since I publicly professed them. I'll come right out and say that I like making resolutions. I like the idea of starting the year off on the right foot with small, accomplish-able goals. Also, it involves making a list and I, like so many others, love writing lists.

2010 Knitting Resolutions
  1. Knit less. I know! Sacrilegious! But I dearly love sewing and find that I only sew when a deadline looms. It's time to get in touch with the recreational sewer and finish a few quilts and make some clothes and toys for the girls.
  2. Knit in color. Intarsia, Fair Isle, I'm gonna learn to love you this year, even if it means knitting slower than a snail in mud.
  3. Finish Na Craga.
  4. Finish the tea lights.
  5. Finish the plain gray sweater.
  6.  Knit more Christmas gifts. Socks and scarves all around!
 How about you? Any knitting resolutions or are such things verboten?

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate. Next week, the blog is on vacation but I promise to photograph Norah as knitting progresses.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Well, Tuesday certainly got away from me, didn't it? Nary a peep from this knitter.

Norah arrived safely last Wednesday and I cast on as soon as time permitted - i.e., Saturday. The first bit is cotton, which gets folded up and hemmed to the inside. Makes wearing the hat less itchy. And indeed, that's all I had time to complete. So imagine a ring of stockinette, 2 1/2 inches, in navy blue. Thrilling, no?

About that color - navy. Yeah, the blue is a bit more navy that I generally like, but it will still contrast nicely with the eggshell white. The end hat - if knit properly - will still be stunning. Plus, if all goes well, this will be just the first of many color-work projects.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And now for something completely different

A sea star! My folks visited over the summer and while browsing our local Barnes and Noble, my Mom stumbled across Amigurumi Knits by Hansi Singh. She thought it looked cute and brought it home. There are so many awesome things in this book - from an earthworm to a praying mantis, with a cucumber and carrot thrown in for health. I'm starting simple with the sea star.


This was a fast knit - about 4 days from cast on of the first arm to weaving in the last tail. There is an errata for the pattern - though it should be obvious to anyone who's comfortable with subtraction. I slightly modified the slipped stitch edges just to make 'em neater - and in the process made all the stitch picking up a whole lot easier. The last 2 rounds were terrible to knit - these are knit after stuffing the arms. Need to reconsider this for the next little star. I used leftover Cascade 220 in red and pink. This little sea star is headed to Florida and I think I'll call him Reginald. Reginald P. Star, III.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In mourning...

for the hole that has emerged in my dear, beloved Kittiwake.


Of all the hats in the world, this hat - my first Starmore project - was perfect. It was warm, not too scratchy and fit over any number of hair styles. I will miss this hat. True, I could darn the hole - though it emerged right on the edge of a cable. Instead, I decided to follow Teresa's example and knit a  hat as one of my first colorwork knitting projects. Late Saturday night (after a most satisfying round of Mario Galaxy), I ordered Norah from Bea Ellis:

Colors 0010 (white) and 5473 (deep teal). I am *so* excited. I do hope the kit arrives before I leave for MN - I really want to get started right away!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

I have 2 rows left on the Helleborus scarf (I know - 2 rows. Couldn't have sucked it up and finished it last night or even this morning? And sadly, no, no I couldn't). Which means... I'm overdue in the ponder department. What to work on next? Under consideration:
  1. Toddler Monkeys. I daresay I have enough yarn from the original Monkeys to make a wee pair.
  2. Arm/wrist mitts. But which pattern? Currently considering Cabled Wristers, Toast, and Endpaper Mitts. Leaning towards the Cabled Wristers as I think they'd be a quick knit - and portable for upcoming holiday travels.
  3. Get back to work on the Simple Cardigan of excessive grayness. I have the cuff of one sleeve done - that's 1.9 sleeves left to knit!!
  4. Various other UFO - including tea lights and Na Craga.
  5. Avoid this decision altogether and sew new pajamas for myself as my last pair just hit the trash (4 years old and going strong until a large hole emerged in the shorts). I do have some fantastic sock monkey flannel fabric.
Decisions, decisions. And, with the end of Glee until, what April? I've got to reconfigure my tv watching - what will fill the void in the intervening months? Finally, in the immortal words of Pinky:
"Well, I think so, Brain, but if Jimmy cracks corn, and no one cares, why does he keep doing it?"

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Not yet done

I'd hoped to complete the Helleborus scarf over the weekend. Alas, a few things came between me and the end.

Thing 1: Acadia, the cat. She is very fond of sitting on things that are or will become clothing.


Thing 2: a nasty stomach virus.

The outlook for this week is much better - complete with a predicted snowstorm that will keep us home bound for a few hours, at any rate. More and better content to come!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Two little monkeys jumped on the bed

And lucky for this story, none fell off or bumped their heads. Presenting a pair of monkeys, first cousins (once removed).




Certainly a fun knit. I can even see myself making a second pair. But not until after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Christmas Stockings

These stockings represent 3 independent knitters. In 2006 and 2009, I knit the plain felted stockings - one for each girl.

In 1980, my paternal grandmother made my stocking which has an uncanny resemblance to Eric's stocking, knit around 1976 by his maternal grandmother and later embellished by Eric.

Quite a motley crew, eh? Now some would say aw, tradition or neat-o that your stockings match. But I'm starting to wonder if perhaps it's time to create a new tradition - new stockings for the entire family. Stockings that match, that are modern, that are distinctly ours. What do you think? And should the stockings be sewn/quilted or knit?!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanks to autopost, I am not immune to posting on a national holiday. If all went well, I spent 12 hours yesterday driving and knitting my way from Michigan to upstate New York. In an ideal world, the girls slept most of the way (we were supposed to hit the road at 4 am - wonder if that really happened?) and we arrived in time for a delicious family dinner.

A wee bit o' knitting content: On the drive, I took 2 projects - can you guess? Yes, the slothful knitter took the Helleborus scarf and the Monkeys. I doubt I finished either of the on the drive!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm dreaming of... recycled plastic yarn?

Apparently my subconscious is a bit worried that I will run out of projects on the Thanksgiving drive. Last night, I had a long and involved dream about... yarn. Not any yarn, but a recycled yarn made from plastic soda bottles. And yes, I do own a ball of such a beast, procured at Rhinebeck a few years back. I've always intended to make dish clothes, but never gotten around to it. In the dream, I was done with the Helleborus scarf, done with the Monkeys and done with Thanksgiving dinner. I'd wisely packed an extra ball of yarn, my set of KnitPicks Options and whoosh! found myself ready to cast-on for that perfect dish cloth or scrubbie or soap sock. Except, no pattern. And apparently, no brain. I was unable to knit even the simplest seed or garter stitch cloth. I frantically cast about for something - anything - to knit and in disgust, I jammed the yarn and needles into a tote and groused the whole way home.

And then I woke up and decided I should think about taking along an additional ball of yarn. And a pattern. Just in case.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crazy Monkey Business

It's about time to cast-on for the 2nd Monkey sock. If I'm honest, it's long past time. Ahem. This post isn't really about the Monkey, but about the Yarn - that Crazy Zauberball.

Item the first:
These socks have absolutely no hope of turning out identical. Fraternal it will be. Heck, judging by the striping, I'll be happy if they're mistaken for first cousins.

Item the second:
I daresay about a third of the price of a ball of Zauberball goes directly to the winding procedure. It's very intricate - and for good reason. Brenda Dayne of Cast-On made reference to this in a not too distant podcast. Take a look at the Jenni-wound center-pull ball:


Would you purchase that? Not likely, right? So fancy winding to get:

And you have a Crazy Yarn with mass appeal.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ten things

If you want knitting content, visit Tuesday's post and add a few inches to the scarf. What can I say? The days leading into Thanksgiving are always busy for me - mostly because work picks up in anticipation of year-end deadlines. (Also, I pulled or tore a muscle in my abdomen, so I'm not quite working at full capacity.) So today I offer up the following diversion, inspired by Claudia via Carole.

Ten things I wish I knew how to do – and the likelihood of actually learning/doing
  1. Sew a complete garment for one of my girls that looks professional in every way. Pretty high probability- I love to sew and smaller people mean faster projects (in general).
  2. Code an awesome website. Probable. I'll need a good website professionally at some point - don't want to look like a fool to the funding agencies, eh?
  3. Knit a pair of Anemoi mittens (aside: in my head, I call these anemone mittens). This requires learning stranded colorwork. Probably. As soon as I finish the rest of my queue, that is!
  4. Raise confident, intelligent, compassionate daughters. This is not a cop-out! Every day, I try to better myself as a parent – how can I modify my behaviors to improve the environment in which they grow. Unknown, but I do hope this is highly likely. Only time will tell.
  5. Write a novel (or novella) that I am not embarrassed to show friends (requires having an idea worthy of a novel). Rather unlikely, but you never know when inspiration will strike.
  6. Have a house (or at least the downstairs) that does not look like the decorator was three-years old. Very unlikely.
  7. Visit Alaska. Definitely - headed there this summer.
  8. Walk part (all?) of the Kerry Way. Possible.
  9. Draw. Incredibly unlikely. It is why I never finished my art minor - couldn't handle the drawing requirement!
  10. Write an advice column. Incredibly unlikely. But I do read a bunch - from Auntie BubboPants on Ravelry to the traditional Dear Abby to the new traditional Dear Prudence to Savage Love. Working in a world where egos are larger than the suburbans the people drive, it's my little indulgence.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Wow, the rate of progress around these parts is astounding.

1. Up first, the Helleborus scarf. Powered through the first ball of Malabrigo (mmm) and into the second. Boring picture, true, but it's so fun to knit. Got about 18 inches out of the first ball, so I expect a scarf well over 60 inches. Woot!
Photo 10

2. Second (and final for today) a finished monkey sock. Haven't cast-on for the second sock. Soon!
Photo 12

Most importantly, Happy Birthday, Eric!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Project update

1. Monkey socks. Status: cruising along. These are just barely too small for me which means, I think, they'll fit my sister-in-law perfectly. In a perfect world, these would be done in time to mail to her before she heads in for surgery. In reality, they'll probably get done on the drive to NY for Thanksgiving, which means they'll arrive for the latter half of her recovery.

2. Helleborus (aka Green Scarf). Status: currently stalled but ammunition has been acquired. Last week, I ordered 2 additional skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino from Webs. It arrived today. See?

How I go about merging the 2 dye lots remains up in the air. In most lights, the 4 balls match pretty well. In the picture above, it appears that the skein on the right is a touch darker. Hmm. I think I'll wait until I'm home with sunlight, take them outside and check. But if I had to guess, I'd say I'm just going to knit normally, and ignore the dye lots.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The other other fiber craft

Over the weekend, my oldest daughter celebrated her third birthday. It was her first party and we were determined to do it right - plan and execute a party that made her feel special. To that end, I crafted 3 projects - two with fiber and one with food coloring.

1. A special girl deserves a special hat - a crown in this case. I used a tutorial from Juicy Bits and felt from Purl Soho.


2. A rainbow themed birthday party requires colorful garland - or, in this case bunting, made from a tutorial by Sweet Jessie at Sew, Mama, Sew!


3. And a rainbow cake, inspired by mckmama.

The day was a success, judging by the smile on the birthday girl's face.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I'm trying to find a posting schedule that works with my life. The Tuesday/Thursday posting scheme seems, in theory, suitable. This week is a bit of an anomaly - Eric is out of town on business (the first time in over 2 years) and so I'm playing the single parent for a few days (tip of the hat to all single parents out there. It's tough!). Which is long-winded way to say sorry for the insubstantial post and lack of pictures. I can offer 2 project updates:
1. The Monkey Socks continue to grow. I am ready to turn the heal and charge into the toe on the first sock.
2. I caved and ordered 2 additional skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino. I'm toying with Teresa's idea of working in the 2nd dye-lot for the center of the scarf. It will depend on how poorly the 2 dye-lots match.

Fingers crossed for some knitting relief this weekend - although with a toddler birthday party to throw on Sunday, I suspect not!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monkey and me

I’ve long resisted the charms of the ubiquitous monkey socks. As of this writing, there are 10,442 monkey projects. Every day, it is added to at least 3 people’s queue. It is, in short the most popular sock pattern on Raverly. I never saw the appeal of Monkeys, although I admired many monkeys around the web.

Enter Crazy Zauberball, colorway, well, crazy.

I toyed with Wendy Johnson’s toe-up mock cable socks. The cable was lost with the striping. So I retreated to a simple 2 x 2 rib. Ugh – too simple and deadly boring.

And then in a fit of random clicking around Ravelry, I chanced upon a Monkey. I tilted my head. I squinted. And with a quick nod, I knew that I was going to down the kool aid and attempt to knit a little monkey business.

Knitting at work is a no-no, and I am not knitting at work. But, PhotoBooth clearly shows the crazy rainbow that is my first pair of monkeys.

You can also see my current favorite scarf, the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronique Avery.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cheating will always do you wrong

Late last week I finished the second front on my simple, plain, gray cardigan. With the Michigan winter beginning to choke the daylight from the sky (and the color, too), I found myself without the will to continue into the sleeves. Too much gray (ditto for getting into gear on the Na Craga). I have a simple but colorful sock on the needles, but I’m currently apathetic about that project (I think the simple rib pattern just isn’t fitting the playfulness that is Zauberball Crazy). What’s a Michigander to do but cast on a new project using bright! cheerful! colorful! yarn? Enter Malabrigo Silky Merino, a most luscious fiber. The colorway dill is electrifying. Combine with one simple scarf pattern – Helleborus by Terhi Montonen – and you have a recipe for a quick, satisfying, uplifting knit. Just the right diversion to get you back on track with the simple, gray cardigan.


Unless. Unless, of course, you won this yarn on a blog contest (thanks, Kristy!), have only 2 hanks and have severely underestimated how far that yarn will go. Well, if you do that, then you end up knitting 5 inches, taking a few measurements and realizing that your scarf will top out at 30 inches. Sure, blocking could push that length to 35 inches, but still. 35 is not 60 (not in this universe at any rate) and a scarf of 30 inches just won’t do.

After careful analysis of the situation (read: wondering if I could magically make 2 additional hanks of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Dill appear), I found 2 options:
  • Option 1: Rip the 5 inches and cast on for a scarf of half the current width. It is 12 inches, after all, and a 6-inch wide scarf is very wearable. Pro: A completed scarf from yarn all of the same dye lot. Con: I have to rip my current knitting and settle for a scarf half as wide as I’d hoped.
  • Option 2: Purchase more yarn, albeit of a different dye lot. Pro: I can continue to knit with my current yarn as the remaining yarn is shipped and I get a wide, squishy scarf. Con: the dye lots are different. How gruesome could that look?
So what’s a knitter to do? I know what I should do. Yeah, I realize that cheating on my cardigan has brought me bad knitting karma. And while I know I should probably cast-on for that first sleeve, I suspect I will stray even further and do a little sewing.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Na Craga angst

Given my spotty posting track record, you are undoubtedly unconcerned about the fate of Eric’s Na Craga. In fact, you’d be quite forgiven for even forgetting the existence of Eric’s Na Craga. Let me bring you up to speed.

First, an inventory:
1. Sleeves. Completed summer of 2006. At the time I had two fears: (1) all those cables and (2) sleeve island. Figuring the sleeves had fewer cables than the front and back, I tackled them first. Baby steps, right?
2. Front. Completed fall 2006. Buoyed by the success of the sleeves, I jumped head first into the body and quickly clicked my way to the boxy neck.
3. Back. .

What happened? You may recall that in November 2006, I thought it prudent to invert my entire life by having a baby. It took about 6 months for me to reach a new equilibrium (what can I say? I’m resistant to change) at which time I thought it prudent to line up a postdoc and defend my dissertation. Six more months to gain my sea legs and bam, I decide to have another baby. Invert life once again (which oddly enough does not return it to the 2006 pre-baby state at all) and pretty much all knitting takes a backseat to treading water in the land known as parenthood.

At that point, Na Craga was buried on a shelf, dead to me, Eric and the world. And then one day, one of my many LYS (Threadbear Fiber Arts) held a Customer’s Garage Sale. So I sorted through my books, fiber and yarn, culling the heard to make some dough when what did I stumble upon, but poor, neglected Na Craga. I gave it a sad smile, plumped the fronts, smoothed the arms and vowed to work on it… soon.

These days, Na Craga stares at me from a basket on the shelf, batting puppy-dog eyes and whimpering ever so softly. Maybe this winter, Na Craga. Maybe this winter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ode to scarf weather

I love this time of year. The dropping temperatures and crisp mornings nip at my neck. I happily reach for a scarf – maybe a lacy number, a cashmere cutie or a color-shifting wrap. Each scarf is a heaping helping of comfort food, warming my thoughts as I trudge through driving rain (and snow) to the bus stop, office and beyond.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Imaginary Rhinebeck

My previous post made no mention of my angst at missing yet another fun, fiber-filled weekend known colloquially as Rhinebeck and technically as the NY State Sheep and Wool Festival. My denial was so deep that I’d buried my resentment to the furthest, dustiest corners of my brain.

But trolling the blogs on Monday reminded me of what I’d missed. The yarn, the food, the cute animals. I must admit to a mild twinge of homesickness – I graduated from Arlington High School, just down the road. I’ve been to many state fairs, craft fairs and yes, Sheep & Wool festivals on those very fair grounds. And let’s not forget that it’s apple season and NY has, by far, the best apples in the nation (and I know for a fact that a lovely farmer and his family sets up a stand just down the road from the festival. They have some good Honeycrisps.).

I missed going to Rhinebeck this year by a hair. Well, by a work-related hair. The upset and anger I felt at missing Rhinebeck was perplexing. I have enough yarn. My knitting time is limited. I spin very little (though I yearn to spin more). Few projects entice me and fewer still captivate me long enough to complete. And yet here I was, pouting in the middle of Michigan because I couldn’t go to the party.

It’s classic, isn’t it? Like the toddler who wants the candy she can’t have or the teenager who wants their own car. We often want what we can’t have. I admire the folks who went for the people – friends and bloggers alike. But in all of their reports and photos there lingers the ubiquitous purchase. The skein of sock yarn, a bar of soap, a lone button or clasp.

And I wanted to be a part of that – I wanted to stroll an entire fairground devoted to fiber and pick up one or two things I didn’t need. I wanted to ogle yarns, ponder projects and make one or two hasty and rash purchases. I wanted a little retail therapy.

I know I live in a town with not 1 or 2 but 4 local yarn stores. I have ready access to fiber-related retail therapy. But it is not the same as trekking to Rhinebeck and joining the throngs of people – fiber novices to experts to revered masters. There is a camaraderie in that sort of retail therapy, as if a thousand other individuals collectively smile and say yeah, that skein of variegated cashmere sock yarn your currently ogling? It will make the perfect socks for your toddler girls.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Well, it's been a quiet few months around here

Not that I've gone anywhere or done anything more impressive then, well, embiggen the family with a 2nd daughter (who's no longer a baby, but a toddler). Work is busy - and in times like these busy equates with job security (even for me, a mere postdoc on soft money). So let's ease back into the knit blog, with an update on the WIP from the previous post, a few FO from the past year, and some ideas for future posts.

The socks for Toddler Jeneric were knit and worn.

The Baby Yours sweater was completed, worn and retired. Somewhere in there a baby happened.

I completed the hedegrow socks in time for Christmas.
Hedgerow Socks 1

And the scarf was also completed, though worn just last week for the first time.
Spectrum Scarf 1

I'm still on Ravelry (look for Jeneric) and still knitting. Current projects include:
A simple cardigan (rav link), using Knit Picks shadow (two strands held together) in a terrific gray. Yeah, gray - like the sky in Michigan. Gray is subdued, goes with everything and it's more likely I'll actually wear the finished product.
(This picture exemplifies a lovely mistake that I caught! in the nick of time and have since corrected. I haven't taken a new picture because really, what's so exciting about a little gray cardigan?)

Recently complete projects:
Serpentine socks (rav link) in a bamboo yarn.
Photo 5
I love and covet bamboo - bamboo sheets are amazing. Our bamboo cutting board is fantastic. My favorite scarf? You guessed right if you said bamboo (also, knit in the past year).

Whew. That's a lot of linking and pictures. Enough for now! We'll see if I can put together a post on current sewing, if I can redo the template for the website, since road rage in Michigan is rather nonexistant, or if I can put together my musings on life, kids, and hobbies. Perhaps I might even put pen to paper to capture the angst I feel over Eric's Na Craga. Poor, neglected Na Craga.