Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Am NOT a Yarn Addict

I am NOT a Yarn Addict, I am NOT a Yarn Addict.... Huh? Wha? Oh, sorry, I must have dozed off...

Dear Blog-

Well I know, Blog, that you were just as terribly excited about the Kauni yarn yesterday as I was (am), so I thought I would take a few minutes to bring you up to date, Kauni-wise. I got the last skein wound up this morning, and I thought you might like to see them in the wound state. They always look so different, don't they?

Rainbow (EQ) nestled in its basket. See? It does a true ROYGBIV. I guess that's probably why they named it Rainbow.

Greens and Yellows (EK)

Blues and violets (EL)

Yesterday evening after talking to you here, I sat down with chart and yarn in hand and swatched the Rainbow. Not literally, of course. Like a couple of others, I have decided that I'm not going to use the original chart that comes with the pattern by Ruth Sorensen, but rather work another stitch pattern in it's place. I searched all of my books Friday morning, Friday afternoon, Saturday morning... and then found someone on the net (Jeanie, mentioned here yesterday) who was working one of her KC's in a stitch pattern that I really loved, and that she was gracious enough to share with me. As I told you in the previous post, most people seem to be knitting their Kauni cardi on US 4s, so I was going to swatch mine on 5's, 4's, and 3's. But I could see right away that I really liked the fabric with the 5's and left it at that. One repeat of the pattern and a blocking later and this is what I ended up with...

Kauni cardi swatch, US 5's

When I measured my gauge over 4 inches this morning, I was dead on at 7 sts/in for every single one of those four inches. The pattern calls for 6 sts/in, but I don't think I would want the fabric even that little bit looser. So I have figured out my stitch count for a repeat of 14 plus 1, plus steek sts, and I am more than ready to take off. I just have, um, a few things to bring closer to completion before I can do that without overwhelming guilt. Yes, all knitters have UFO's and multiple projects OTN, if they dare to call themselves true knitters, but we all have an idea of what critical mass means to each of us, and I am frighteningly close to mine. So if I can hold off for another week, I can dive in without suffering unduly from a bad case of Knitters Guilt.

The green/yellow and the blue/violet will be used for the Autumn Cardi when Ruth has the pattern up for us. I know I mention this every time, but I figure if I put it out there every day the pattern will come to us that much sooner. Ruth worked her second AC with the green/yellow as background and blue/violet for the leaves. Again I will take artistic liberty and reverse those, with blue/violet as my main color, and the green/yellow for leaves. This yarn comes in several other colorways that I would love to possess. Someday...

Jeanie had warned me that the yarn can be kinda messy, but look at what my winding table looked like after I got all four skeins wound-

Luckily it was all so lightweight that the vacuum hose just slurped it all up, but Wow, I've never had a yarn shed that much before. Do I care? No! This is my beloved Kauni. Say nothing against it!

Well, I feel the need for an afternoon nap coming on-

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blame It On Harry Potter

Delicious Yarny Goodness!

Dear Blog-

Yes, I'll say it again, blame it on Harry Potter. DH did a marathon and finished said tome on Sunday afternoon, whereupon it was turned over to me. When I was not eating, teaching or sleeping, I was reading Harry. Because don't we ALL have to know how this one ends? Graham tells me he went into work on Monday and put up a sign at his desk, 'I've read Harry Potter and I know who dies!' Yes, he does have a cruel sense of humor. He said that by the end of the day, such signs were all over the office, dividing the Knows from the Know-Nots. My other great love in life since the tender age of five (so a couple of years before learning to knit) has always been reading, so yes, I actually did resent the time for once that knitting class swatches took away from the book. But now I, too, have read Harry Potter, and I know who dies. And I also know who lives! Heh heh.

But LOOK! LOOK!!! This morning, when I came back home from taking Mom on our weekly grocery store trip, I found DH unwrapping THIS! My Kauni has arrived! MY KAUNI HAS ARRIVED!!! And it is gorgeous. It is even lovelier in person than I thought it was in virtuality. The colors of the EQ (rainbow) are not so slap-you-in-the-face as one fears they might be. This morning before going to pick up Mom, I was really having a Kauni jones. I was

Gordon Bennett! I was just typing the foregoing, while outside fell a nice, steady Tucson summer rain, all at peace with my world, when suddenly there was a bright flash and a loud BOOM! - all at the same time! I spontaneously levitated about 4 feet above my chair seat, let out a frightened squeak, and prayed to God that this wasn't going to be The Big One, Elizabeth! Did I, in all my excitement, forget to thank God for my new yarn? If so, I am thanking Him now! No need to set my house on fire and blow out the computer! No, no! Tho I always did wish I had naturally curly hair.

At any rate, I am quite pleased with the Kauni yarn, and am swatching even as we speak, with a chart thanks to Jeanie and our e-mail chat this morning (as I was jonesing for my yarn. Ah, yes, that is where I left off...).

So I check Ruth Sorensen's blog just about daily now, waiting for the pattern for her Autumn Cardi to be posted. Not there yet, but dang it, I have my yarn, all ready, with metaphoric sticks in hand. And almost all wound, too! I keep popping a skein on the swift, and every now and then as I walk by wind it a few goes at a time. With seemingly eight pounds of fingering weight yarn per skein, it takes a while. But Look! Isn't it delicious? Isn't it worth having your arm fall off from over-winding all in one day?

The results of one Kauni skein

In other knitting news this week, I am sure you remember me mentioning about a month ago that I was starting to make/design a Noro Kureyon sweater that was basically a giant circle with sleeves. I myself don't remember if I told you that I took it with me to Knit Dr one day and was mocked
mightily by the LYSO and one of my knitting peeps. It seems I had NOT reinvented the wheel as I had thought in my knitterly fantasies, but rather everyone and their mother has already designed one of these. Well, this daunting news pretty much took the wind out of my sails, I don't mind telling you. So it sat in its basket under the coffee table (refer to previous photos), waiting for me to decide its fate. This week I finally decided, to heck with them! I'm going to love it anyway, and they will all be jealous as cats when it is finished. Not that this is the point, mind you. Or not the whole point, at any rate. So I have taken it up again, released it from it's yarny limbo, and here is how it is progressing. I might just name it after Scarlett O'Hara.

Fie on the sceptics!

But see that tiny ring of light grey, just to the outer edge of the black stripe? A couple of nights ago I was looking at the the whole thing and admiring myself and my boundless talents, when I discovered that I had moved my increases by one stitch, the entire blessed way around. Do you know how to ladder down 8 sts for 14 rows, and hook them back up properly, including your lifted increases in the proper places? Eight times? Well, I sure do now!

Other than that, blog, I have photos of my Before swatches from two of my upcoming felting classes to show you, but since I quite forgot to photograph them
after felting, and promptly took them into the shop like the good little Girl Scout that I never was (having been kicked out of Brownies, but that is another story), I have no afters to show you. So I will take photos of those swatches when I am next in the shop on Tuesday, and show the whole beast to you then.

In the meantime, I will go back to my Kauni swatch, which I have decided to do in 5's, 4's and 3's, knitted flat in two-handed FI, which means backward 2-h FI on alternate rows. I did a whole side-to-side vest that way, once. They released me from the asylum after only 30 days. The worst part was not being alowed knitting needles.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm Just Wild About Harry

A rare sight, yet becoming ever more common, herds of migrating knitting baskets rove the Desert Southwest landscapes. Although they move so slowly that their movement cannot be detected by the human eye, some theorize that humans are their main means of volition, and even maintain that knitting baskets have a parasitic relationship with humans - more typically with human females, though in some documented cases they have been known to attach themselves to human males as well. This theoretical parasitic relationship, it is thought, requires frequent and ever larger purchases of yarn which are then placed into their gaping maws, only to emerge as knitted and/or crocheted pieces. In a bizarre example of bonding, knitting basket herds will seem to develop a collective food preference - some preferring to consume only acrylic yarns, for example, some, like these pictured here, prefer wool, particularly Merino, and in recent times are even developing a great fondness for wool/silk blends. Attempts to feed this herd either acrylic or cotton have failed miserably. Indeed, primitive writtings, known as ball bands, seem to indicate a religious practice that centers around a Goddess figure named Merino. It is further theorized that devices known as yarn swifts and ball winders are used in their religious practice, and induce a hypnotic, trance-like state in their operators when spun quickly. When last seen, this particular herd was grazing near the couch, but they are shown here on the dining room table, where they were spotted as recently as yesterday morning. A second herd has also been observed in this area, but those particular baskets seem to be in a dormant state, not having been fed in some time due to the half-digested meals they still contain, known in the vernacular as UFOs.

Dear Blog-

This is Harry Potter Day in the Sorenson household. I think I hear DH stirring at the other end of the house, and he plans to dash out to the library first thing this morning and fetch our reserved copy of the new HP. I put the thing on reserve way back in April, I think, and was just plain lucky that we are low enough in the queue to get a copy in the first round. Once we have secured the greatly-desired tome, we are off to the movies to see the new HP flick. My birthday was this past Tuesday, Graham's is tomorrow, and so this is all part of our b-day celebrations.

A busy week this has been, with me either working each day, or waxing others on my day off, and just generally dashing about in a frantic manner. This means getting up at the proverbial butt-crack of dawn so that I can ride in with G to get the car for the day. By the time I get home an hour later, I still have a whopping 3 hours before I need to leave for work, so I spend the time doing all those household chores that one wonders why one has to do them every single blessed day of one's entire danged life. Then it is time to eat breakfast, get ready for work and go. When I get home, I have enough time to wolf down lunch and take a quick half-hour nap in a vain attempt to make up for the two hours sleep I lost in the morning. Time to go fetch DH from whatever spot he has been able to get a ride to, and home again to read on the couch for about an hour before doing something about dinner. Mind you, we have no children or pets, I only work part-time, and still I can't find time in the day to do everything I need/want to do. Nor the funds to do them with. But life goes on, and we are luckier than 9/10ths of the rest of the world.

So I have not yet prepped my chart for Clue 4 of the MS3. I am quite smugly pleased with myself that I am keeping up with the weekly clues, as I look forward both to having the finished shawl in hand, and to starting a sweater project of some sort once September rolls around. Mind you, it is still ungodly hot in September here in the desert. But the light changes and the days shorten just that little bit that allows you to have a feel of fall, something to look forward to. Here at the end of July one figures that we have made it half-way through Hell -or summer as it is known in more temperate parts of the world - and if we can just gut it out through the next two months, our reprieve will come.

Don't ask me how I got side-tracked onto the weather and my busy day (like I'm Eleanor Roosevelt), when what I really want to talk about is my MS3, all the while keeping one eye on the clock so that I can be ready to dash out the door (in theory) when DH comes back from the library. Here is my finished Clue 3...

and a detail that is trying to find the danged beads that I KNOW I put in there...

And if every knitting disaster is in truth a design opportunity waiting to happen, then my felted bag is a HUGE design opportunity. Or a very small one, depending how you look at it. I won't show it to you yet, but let's just say that at least now I know what I have to do to make the design come out the size and shape I want it to. My houndstooth design worked really well, and I have a plan to rescue it and ride out in triumph.

So I will go gussy myself up (also known as bathing) to be all set to go to the movies. Have a great day-


Thursday, July 19, 2007

So Much To Say, So Little Time

Cereus Flowers, 5:30 a.m.
Dear Blog-

You know, I have been wanting to sit down here and write to you for several days now. So while DH is off keeping the Starbucks local franchise from going bankrupt, I have time for the two of us to catch up.

I know that I have mentioned to you that I am now writing a weekly blog for the LYS where I teach, Kiwi Knitting. Much as the notion that someone would actually pay me to teach knitting still seems like a huge confidence scam to me at times (after all, to get paid to do something that I would be doing anyway? Great concept!), so the idea that someone might pay me to write - my other great love - and to write about knitting no less, seems just too good to be true. Instead of feeling guilty for time spent here writing I am coming to see it as my job, whether I am paid to do it for Kiwi, or if I do it for my own pleasure here with you or on my other blog. It used to torment me that sometimes it took several hours to write up my blog - starting with making certain I had the photos I wanted, then doing the actual writing, followed by editing, updating the sidebar, etc. All I could think of were the dishes left unwash, clothes left unlaundered, bed not yet made. I have convinced myself now that I should look upon it as my very enjoyable other job, and set aside time each day to work on it.

Mondays are reserved for the Kiwi blog, and weekends I become a knitting potato, but on other days I shall spend here as I am able.

All this to say that I have been craving this time these last few days since you have heard from me. Being here has been very much on my mind, with titles flashing through my brain as I drive to work, such as, 'Happy Birthday to Meeeeeee!', 'OMG! I Have Ordered My Kauni Yarn!', to 'My Brain is Melting!". In that order.

Perhaps, though, I ought first to explain the flowers to you, then we can spend time talking about knitting. Previously, I have shown you photos of flowers on one or two of our other varieties of cereus. This particular one, that I refer to by the technical name of 'the lumpy cereus', has been in a pot at the edge of our miniscule front patio for some time now. They love the combination of heat and rain and after a good summer rain they will set up buds. The buds grow quite quickly, although if there is a group of more mature buds already near blooming, the smaller buds will stay on hold until the larger ones have flowered, then they, too will suddenly grow very rapidly - sometimes an inch a day or more. So they are something I look forward to, monitor every day as I pass by, always anticipating the big night. Because cereus cacti bloom at night, the flowers of most varieties will only last the single night and die as soon as the day gets too bright for them.

The unfortunate thing is, other creatures out there are watching my cereus buds, too, and the past several times, just on the much-anticipated night that they are to bloom, something comes along in the dark and eats the buds off. You cannot imagine how disappointing this has been for me. But this time around, capable of reasoning as I am, I grabbed that pot the other morning and put it up on a small table outside, so that anything that wanted those buds would have to have danged long legs to get at them. And my plan worked. As soon as it got dark, the buds started to open. In my obsessive younger days I have sat outside in the dark to watch them bloom, and the flowers do open so rapidly that you can actually see them move. I'm older now and hopefully wiser as well - not to mention more tired at the end of a day - so I figured they would still be there in the morning.

We also had a hard rain that evening with lots of wind, and during the night one of the buds fell off of the plant and was lying on the ground next to the table. Bud this is what greeted up in the morning as we left to take DH to work.

The smell of the flowers is quite strong and very heady and sweet.

Well, so... my birthday. As a Cancer, I hold my birthday to be one of the most important days of the year. I joke with everyone else that my birthday month starts, after all, with parades, flag-waving and fireworks in honor of my imminent big day. Rather than dreading the day as many others do, I look forward to it, seeing each birthday as another goal reached, something to be grateful for, a day to give thanks for all I have. And no matter which milestone birthday I reach, I hope I always continue to see it as I have so far - as something that beats the HECK out of dying young. Because I was born in the summer I have never had to go to school on my birthday. When I began working, birthdays were an automatic day off each and every year at my first several jobs. So the day is sacrosanct, in my mind, reserved in my salad days for things such as pedicures and massages. Not so this year. My two main waxing clients were both due, and Tuesday was the only free day in my week that I could squeeze them in for waxing. A free, self-indulgent day on one hand, money on the other. Hard choice.

The good news of this is, I had a little extra money that allowed me to order some Kauni yarn, as, like the rest of the knitting world I have been craving a Kauni cardigan, AND Ruth Sorensen says on her blog that she has finished the second Autumn Leaves cardi prototype and will be writing up the pattern in the next several days. I will be prepared! By ordering from Germany I was able to buy enough yarn for two sweaters and pay almost $40 less than I would spend ordering it here from the States, even with airmail shipping.

Hmmm... It seems as if a large thunderstorm is headed our way, so this might be shorter than I had planned. If I don't get the chance now to put in links to the places and things I have been talking about, I will put them in tomorrow afternoon instead.

Our class schedule at the shop for the next three months is now carved in stone. I spent a few hours after work yesterday afternoon typing up the info for my class sign-up sheets and the class descriptions for our newsletter. By the time I had finished my brain was on overload and further lucid thought, let alone coherent typing, was beyond feasibility.

Well, the storm has arrived in almost full force, looking to the south I can see how fierce it is to be, so let me post this now so that Blogger doesn't eat it. I'll show you my MS3 at the end of Clue 3, and how my first etsy bag is coming along. Stay dry out there!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ok, So I Knit Too Much...

Pink cereus, ready to bloom tonite.
Dear Blog-

My, that was a good whine I had yesterday evening! And yes, it did make me feel better. No, thanks for asking, I didn't have cheese with that. Though I do believe that like chocolate, cheese is one of the basic stress-food groups. Put cheese on pretty much anything and I'm happy. Make it melted cheese, and I'm yours for the asking. One of my favorite repasts will always be a good loaf of San Francisco sourdough, a wedge of brie, some nice, cool butter, Ghiradelli chocolate, and ripe strawberries. Mmm... Oh! And rose petal jam! Wha? Oh! Sorry, I went into a little food fugue state there. Anyway, most of the time I can deal with our current reality - after all, there are millions of people who have life far, far worse than we do. And I know it isn't going to last forever. It is just every now and then it gets to me. So let's just paste our great big Brownie smiles back on and move on...

Like a pair of raving lunatics, we were up at 6 this morning so that DH could rip the old radiator out of the car (rip being a relative word, it took the poor man nearly 2 hours), while I ran around doing house work, washing dishes and laundry. Then we went down to the radiator place on the other side of town and fetched the new radiator. We stopped and got one more little thingy from a parts store, and I dropped DH off at home while I went up and picked up my Mom and took her to a medical test she needed to have. Took her back home, and as I was leaving found out that DH was done with the car. So he came up to get me, and home I went. To sleep on the couch for about an hour. Take a shower. And knit. And read. A lovely afternoon after a really cruddy day yesterday.

But the one good thing yesterday is that I started one of the felted bags that I want to put on etsy. This will be a lovely herringbone pattern. At least, that is my dearest hope. Yes, I am winging it. I knit dangerously. Hmmm... maybe I should put that on a t-shirt. Anyway, this was a good project for yesterday, as I was just too discombobulated to be able to work on lace. It seemed the greater part of wisdom to let the MS3 wait til this afternoon for me to get started on Clue 3.

So I started looking around the house just now, and realized that I have far too much knitting all over the place. Ok, I know what you are thinking: Too much knitting? Impossible, Lynda! What blasphemy! I do, from time to time, jokingly yell to my husband, Honey! Your knitting stuff is starting to take over the house again! Easy-going person that he is, he really doesn't care. He just rolls his eyes at me. If Mama's happy, his life is vastly more peaceful. But look at this: sock bag next to my purse for dashing out the door...

Over by the couch, four - count them, 1, 2, 3 & 4 - knitting baskets.

In the dining room? A chair with a knitting basket sitting next to it. Wait! Isn't that ANOTHER basket just around the corner of the file drawer? Why, yes, now that you mention it, it is. Wait, no! Look closer, there are two baskets there. Hmmm... Two guesses what the drawers are full of. Still thinking?

At one end of the dining room is a table with: yarn swift and ball winder, Master Knitter binder, swatches, 2 patterns books, MS3 pattern bits, box with felted booties that I never have taken over to my Dr., a basket with (you guessed it) yarn, a knitted bunny and a knitted zebra, pattern book and yarn and needles for a class, with another pattern on top for yet another class. Below are: a bag of roving, another basket with knitting stuff and holding 4 frames that I mean to fill with lace swatches and hang on the walls, a sari silk shawl that needs repair (who knew you can't wash the stuff? And it is MANKY! They expect you to wear it like that?), a bag for 2-d needle felting, a bag for 3-d needle felting, a bin of buttons, and over in the corner? Blocking wires. Beads to add to my knitting, hanging from various drawer pulls. Ok, so perhaps a case could be made for me being just a tad bit obsessive with this whole knitting thing.

On the other hand, I don't smoke crack.

Keep on Knittin'-
Lynda, returned to a tenuous grip on sanity today. Nothing like a good nite's sleep to restore the tissues.

P.S.- Ok, you may get a laugh out of this. After all that happened yesterday, after I blogged, I went and made my tea. And was sitting on the couch, knitting, drinking tea and watching tv. Picked up my tea to take a swig, and there was a dead moth floating in it. And there must have been something in the air yesterday, because last nite the gekkos on the windowsill kept trying to kill each other. Really, they were.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

Scheherazade, finished!
Dear Blog-

Did you ever have one of those days? This morning I got up at the butt-crack of dawn to ride into work with DH so that I could get the car to go to work myself later in the morning. Now let me just tell you, this has not been a good year for us financially. On New Year's weekend my husband went home sick from the Farmer's Market with his blood sugar out of whack (he is a diabetic). We were dropped from the Farmer's Market because of that. The man (term used VERY generously, not entirely certain he possesses a human heart) who runs the market told my husband that he didn't believe he was sick, that someone told him Graham was complaining of a back ache. Well, he may have done, after all, we find out, he has bilateral kidney stones. About a month later he was in the hospital having MORE cardiac stents put in, to go with the ones he had done last Memorial Day weekend. So yes, my husband wasn't feeling well that day. As a result, our income was cut by a third, instantly, on someone's whim.

That's a pretty big bite out of the family wallet, let me tell you, and life has been really skinny for the last six months. We have tried our best to muddle through, and had a long talk on July 4th, concluding that we would turn off the home phone, cancel the cable tv, and find a smaller house to live in. I mean, we can pay our housing, pay our bills, pay down our debt from having to close our shop due to my ill health, buy our medicines for the month (he has cardiac issues, hypertension, is a diabetic and has sleep apnea, I have asthma and hypertension, plus electrolyte issues), and then we have about $200 for the rest of the month to buy food & gas. A couple of months ago his car decided to break it's water pump, and has been sitting in the carport since, waiting for us to have extra money. Life is tight here at Casa Sorenson.

So, picture us: here we are on our way into DH's work this morning, and suddenly the car starts overheating. We manage to pull into an AutoZone parking lot about a half mile from his work, and open the hood to a great puff of steam. Yes, our radiator is shot, beyond repair. We bought radiator sealant and borrowed a bucket full of water, and got DH to work. Then I slowly drove home, praying all the while and with one eye on the temperature gauge, and just managed to baby the car into the driveway. AAA towed it to the repair station, and I got a call about an hour later with the estimate - $537.20. We don't have a spare $537.20. It sounds pathetic, I know. Believe me, I know. But that is the reality of it.

I eat breakfast, and go to put the margarine from my toast back in the fridge, and the fridge shelf collapsed. Go down the hall to take a shower, and in my shower stall is a giant sewer roach. We borrowed my Dad's truck so that we could get parts for DH to repair the car, and I won't even go into that story. But, as I get into the car so that we can go to one of those loan shark shops to borrow money to buy car parts, my skirt rips as I slide across the seat. I only have two skirts that fit me right now that can be worn in public. This was one of them.

Oh, did I tell you that when we got to the library to return our books and pick up the reserve books they were holding for me, we found out that the library closes two hours earlier on Fridays?

All I can say is that I have had far better days than this, and look forward to far better days coming round again.

But... I finished Schehrazade last night and blocked it. Isn't it gorgeous? It is now wrapped up for Xmas and tucked away.

I'm going to go make myself some tea, knit, and eat chocolate. Early to bed tonite, so that this day is done that much sooner.



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Will Write For Chocolate

Scheherazade, thiiiiiis close

Dear Blog-

Look! Look! I'm almost finished with the Scheherazade Stole! Last night I finished the final chart and began the edging. With a little knitting break before breakfast I now have two of the seven repeats completed for the final edge. Now how cool is that, I ask you? Ok, let's go back up to the top of the page and admire it for a bit... Isn't blocking amazing? The second half looks like something you'd yell at the cat for leaving behind the sofa. But impale it with sharp wires, pin it to a towel while stretching it mercilessly, spritz it with a little water and look what happens. Voila! You have lace!

Of course you know that I think that Melanie Gibbons is the dog's bullocks. And I mean that in the nicest way. (Yes, you, too, Yarn Harlot, I was just crowing over for once not being the last dork to find something or to figure something out. I love you, really. Please call off your goons. They are scaring the neighbors.) Not only does she design gorgeous stoles, but she is just a darned nice person, to boot. When I was working on getting my patterns into downloadable form so that I could sell them online, Melanie was incredibly helpful and patient with my several emails, pointing me in the right direction to payloadz. The LYSO where I work tells me that Melanie has been into the shop and that she is just as sweet in person as you would expect her to be. So it is wonderful to see the MS3 becoming a world-wide phenom, and to find that she has even been interviewed by USA Today! You rock, Melanie! Wave those needles over your head!

And I had promised myself that I wouldn't start any new projects while knitting the MS3, I was going to finish any UFOs first that happened to be languishing about in various baskets next to assorted seating, all over the house. And only then - when those were all finished - would I think about new projects. (Husband, reading this from the next room, shouts a loud, HA!) I mean, what better opportunity? Knit the next clue of MS3 on the weekend, then work during the week on clearing up my UFOs. Maybe, since I already have the jump on Christmas knitting, I should start my next Xmas project! Have one going all the time! Wrap them as I go! Heck, I'd be done before you know it. And then I could sit back and be smug. Or smugger, really. Yes, well, we all know what that particular road to hell is paved with.

The problem, really is my sister. Alright, maybe it started elsewhere. On a day that I was hunting through various craft and bookstores for the much desired Craft magazine. (We'll talk about books later.) Two people in two different shops went wild for my Summer Ivy bag, and I decided, on thinking about it later, that I really needed to start my own etsy store. But I was having a hard time deciding what to put there, thinking first that I would make a whole bunch of creative versions of my sock project bag, and then sell those. And I may do that yet. Yet what I really wanted was to come up with a basic bag pattern that I could do in a million different ways, each one unique and magically delicious. But I didn't yet know what that shape might be. Then it hit me yesterday, exactly what I need: the shape, the design, everything. Now I can't wait to make the first one. I can already see it. But, the problem is my sister. If she hadn't emailed me and asked if I had anything in my etsy store yet, I would still be living a tranquil life where I thought blissful thoughts of Xmas knitting that I would have finished in September, all wrapped and tagged and stored away neatly on a closet shelf, just like Martha Stewart. Note to self: Call lawyers in the morning, cut sister out of will. Leave all yarn to a home for wayward cats.

So now I must rave about new books - Craft magazine, which I love, love, love! I want the two back editions. I want a subscription. I told the above-mentioned sister that say the word 'craft' around me and I picture plant-holders made out of pop-sickle sticks, or those Xmas decorations that were made of hundreds of clear plastic medicine cups with their edges dipped in white glue and then glitter, and pinned all over a big styrofoam ball with a ribbon hanger at the top. Those kind of thoughts can give one hives. This magazine is not about that. At all. Think about artists - both formal and folk - and the craft of making their art. Lots of amazing ideas and how-to's. Then you get the idea.

The new Interweave Felting magazine. Great articles. The Lock Nest hat is pretty scary, but there you go.

And Nicky Epstien, who is one of my Knitting Goddesses, has a new book out - Knitting Never Felt Better. You need this book. Trust me. She is very inspirational, again.

Well, I can't write about knitting and do it at the same time. So off I go...

OH! Take a moment, if you would, and go check out the blog I am doing for the LYS where I teach, Kiwi Knits. Thanks!


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Friday, July 06, 2007

Yarn Harlot, Eat My Dust!

Me, Mad Trend-setter, first thing in the morning before I am fully awake, and therefore before reason stays my hand. Note camera position cleverly hides 'thing' happening between my chin and neck.

Dear Blog-

There! I've said it!

To the untrained eye, you might think that no one would look at me and say, Now there goes a mad Trend-setter! Now, in my younger days, I like to think that I did start more than a few mad stampedes to the Next Big Thing - Annie Lennox's crew cut? I had it first! - and yet I have hung up my fashion-forward hat in later years and settled down to a quiet life (the demands of trend-setting are just huge, really, and constant, as well. Quite exhausting.) rather cleverly disguised as a middle-aged woman. (See above.)

But that old Trend-o-Meter still emits a sharp wail now and then, and I hit on the next best thing with a fervor that recalls my old days as the person to watch. It's like observing a well-trained bird dog hit the scent: their whole body goes all stiff and quivery, and their nose points unwaveringly directly at the item in question, with their tail straight out behind them - probably to keep them from tipping forward in their eagerness. And while these days it might be in regards to yarn and all things knitting rather than the latest clothing trends and hairstyles, let me tell you, I still have it!

After all, I knew felting was the next big thing (may I just interject here: Nicky Epstein Eat My Dust!), and got the LYSO at the Evil Yarn Shop to order in tons of Cascade 220, and it was our (their) best seller until they later closed out their yarn dept. (Actually, it was an evil LYSO, not an evil shop. I mean, it wasn't built on an ancient Indian burial ground or anything.) I knew socks were the next big thing. I knew lace was the next big thing, and that lace shawls were hot on its heels. Right now I can tell you that this winter, or next summer at the latest, Kauni Effektgarn and patterns for it will be the next big thing.

But last summer sometime I was trawling the internet and found several mentions of the Mystery Stole KAL, and found Melanie Gibbon's wonderful site, Pink Lemon Twist, where she blogs and sells her incredible lace stole designs. Unfortunately, I found out about the KAL too late to join in (ok, so I missed that one, shoot me!), but signed up for the special notice when the next one came out, and bought the patterns from MS2 and MS1 (and yet another, I think). I am within a few measly days of finishing her Scheherazade design, the MS2, and it is gorgeous.

So roll forward to this year, earlier last month, when I made my way blearily to the computer one morning. Morning routine: Wake at 7 without benefit of alarm, don apparel, check peak flow, stagger over to other end of the room, go into loo and pee if required, if not, unplug air filter and drag it down to the main end of the house. Plug it in and switch it on, stagger past computer and switch it on, go to cabinet in kitchen and take asthma meds. Stagger back to computer chair and collapse, read news and emails. This one lovely morning when I found the notice from Melanie that the MS3 KAL was starting and that one could sign up as of that day, you can bet that I tossed off my weariness like an old Madonna hair-rag and raced right over there and was number 12 to sign up. Or at least, there were 11 members already when I went to the site to join. Who knows, there may have been a Miss Speedy Fingers already there, signing up at #12 and leaving 13 for me. It's possible. My point is, I was there pretty darned fast. I may not have made the Top 10, but I was like this close, really. And have watched in amazement as the group has grown by leaps and bounds every day.

I'll admit, I did go on Special Notices only about a week or two into the group as there was just an overwhelming amount of email, and it seemed that everyone was too excited to trim their posts, to ask themselves the essential email question, Does the whole world really care deeply about what I'm about to say? and other things that you hopefully learn when you join in groups with thousands of other list members. So instead I read my normal-people emails each morning, and then check into the messages on the group website and skim for things I might want to read there. This wise move on my part has preserved my sanity, my reputation as a fairly nice person in the knitting world, and my computer from crashing under the weight of 361 'me, too!' emails each day.

So this morning, as I was skimming the posts since yesterday at about 7:30 Pacific time, I see that Yarn Harlot has joined the KAL, along with many other of her Harloteers. I say welcome to them! Welcome to you all, the more the merrier! But hey, a pack of Johnny-Come-Lately's, or what? Now I know, as goes Yarn Harlot, so goes the nation, but hey, I beat you on this one! :-P

In the meantime I have printed up Clue 2, and since our LYS is closed this week for the holidays, I have no place I have to be and a clean house. I'm gonna be knittin today.

In other news, last nite DH and I were invited to go along with our market friends to the local comedy club, where a fine time was had by all. Ok, the MC was so not funny that it was painful to watch, but the rest made up for it. When we came out it was still hot and dry - we had been so hopeful, the skies were dark and ominous as we drove across town to the club, with a nice wind kicking up - usually good signs of an imminent monsoon storm on the horizon. Then we noticed that the dust on the windshield had that uniquely spotty appearance. And the very occasional puddle at the side of the dry streets. Cops with a whole block closed off. Cops directing traffic at darkened stoplights. A whole tree at the corner of River and First tumbled over into the sidewalk and road. More puddles, more tree debris. The phone book that some fool left at the foot of our mailbox now resting in the driveway of the house two doors down the street. And the final bit of evidence that we had MISSED the first monsoon of the season? Yes, Mr. Nightmare clinging to our front screen door when we got home. Too big, too hairy, and with far too many legs, he looks as though he must have dragged a whole cow down into his little lair before he went to sleep last winter. Oh, dammit, he's back. Did I mention that he's big?

But the monsoons have started. And I got the jump on the Yarn Harlot. Could life be better?

Off to wash dishes, self, and commence knitting-

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Sherman Heel

Dear Blog

Sing it with me!
I hate Tucson in the summer!
I hate Tucson in the fall,
I like Tucson in the winter, when it drizzles,
I hate Tucson in the summer, when it sizzles.

I hate Tucson, oh why, oh why, am I in Tucson?

Yes, Blog, summer has arrived with a vengeance these past few weeks. Yesterday was the 4th, and it was predicted to be so hot (113 degrees) that no one wanted to go anywhere or do anything. At 9 p.m., as we were standing in the backyard looking out over the city to watch the fireworks, a hot wind was blowing and it was nasty out there! I finally came back inside to our lovely air-conditioning and watched them through the window. I must have done something awful in my last life to have to live in hell like this. The bright spot on our horizon is that we should have the monsoon rains starting in the next few days, and that makes a big difference in our climate. The afternoon storms can be pretty violent, with tornados, micro-bursts, hail, lightening-caused wildfires, tarantulas, etc., but at the same time, they can drop the temps by about 25 degrees in half an hour. If I don't post here for a while it will be because I was arrested for dancing naked out in the backyard during the first rain that we have seen in months. Please donate to any efforts to raise bail for me. Although I cannot in all truth and honesty promise that I would never do it again. Much more of this hellish heat and I will not be held accountable or responsible for my actions. Just so you know.

So let's talk about knitting, because that will soothe us, won't it? Yes it will!


We all like to talk about our favorite spot for knitting in the house. It may be your comfy couch, it may be a chair that is specially purchased and dubbed 'The Knitting Chair' and meant to be sat in by no other, surrounded on all sides by half-full baskets containing half-finished projects. You may even be lucky enough to have a Knitting Room, for God's sake! But let's face it, sooner or later, we all find ourselves having to knit in front of the computer. And that is what I found myself doing last week.

There has been a lot of chat on some of the knitting lists lately about the Sherman Heel. So I had to go investigate. I always keep my Sock-Project Bag on a peg by the door, ready and waiting for me whenever I know I have to go endure a period of pointless waiting in a setting over which I have no control. Like the Dr.'s office, for example. If I can be there on time, if I could run a career of appointments for twenty years pretty much ALWAYS on time, how is it that someone who has so much more education than I do that they feel they are entitled to condescend to me, cannot be competent enough to keep to a schedule? Can someone explain this to me? (Ok, Lynda, breathe deep, think thoughts of winter and yarn.) Phew! Ok, so I keep that little bag by the door to grab and take with me, and I always have a sock going that only gets worked on on those occasions. And I find that I can get quite a bit done without giving it much thought.

So once I get my pattern figured out and have cast on, I take that little puppy along and work on it til the leg is finished. Then I'll make a point of working the heel at home where I can lay out the heel pattern before me, and after the heel is turned it goes back into the bag for working the foot when I next need it. I was at the heel-working point with my current sock, and so I thought I would give the Sherman Heel a go. Now, you can google for Sherman Heel, as I did, and find lots of references to complicated explanations of how to do a Sherman Heel. Or you can stay here with me, and I'll lay it out for you in a few easy-peasy steps. Your choice. Still here? Ok.

You might be asking yourself, who is the Sherman Heel when he is at home? And that is a good question, really. The vague but fairly accurate answer is that the Sherman Heel is a method of working a short-row heel that is named for the inventor's father, Sherman, because he apparently was a clever and practical guy. I think.

The beauty of the Sherman Heel is that it is a short-row heel worked with only two wrapped stitches, one on either side, and no holes! So grab your sock and let's dive in. What? You don't know how to do short rows? Oh, yes you do! You've been doing them for years. You know all those times you have put your knitting down in the middle of the row, and when you picked it up again, you discovered 6 inches later that you started off in the wrong direction mid-row? You did a short row, albeit unintentional. My sister used to be the Queen of Inadvertent Short Rows. Oh, hi, Sis!


1- At the bottom of your sock leg, work stockinette stitch rows that are equal in number to 1/10th of your cast-on sts. I have 64 sts on my needle, so I knit 6 Stockinette stitch rows.

2- Divide your total number of sts in half, must be an even number - for me this is 32. These are your heel sts. Plus a wrapped stitch on either side, that remain instep stitches, really. At the end of your last Ss row, knit 1/4 of your total sts (half your heel sts) past your beginning-of-round marker, then wrap your next st and turn. For me, I knit 16 sts past my marker, wrapped the next st, and turned.

3- Slip the first st on your needle, purl to 1/4 of your total cast-on sts past your marker again, wrap your next st, and turn. On my sock, it was Sl 1, P 15, slip my marker, p 16 (total of p 31), w&t.

4- Now, ignore those wrapped stitches as you work the heel, you won't need them again until the very end. Don't count them in the following directions, they magically go back to being instep sts now. Poof!

Heel, Part One:

1- Sl 1, Knit to one stitch before the slipped st that began the previous row, turn. For me this was- Sl 1, K 30, turn.

2- Sl 1, Purl to one stitch before the slipped st that began the previous row, turn. On my socks this was Sl 1, P 29, turn.

3- Repeat the two previous rows, working one less st on each row, until you arrive at your magic turning number, which is 1/5th of your original cast-on number, and again, it must be an even number. For me this is 12 - 6 sts on either side of my marker. End ready to begin a purl row. Your last (knit) row is sometimes called the pivot row.

Now you can do this whole process the way I did the first time - by moving those ignored sts at the end of each row over to a spare dpn. This helps for beginners to understand which sts you can still play with, and which are out of bounds for the moment. After you have worked the heel once, you can probably leave those sts on your working needles, understanding which are the ones to ignore til the next stage. So here I have 10 slipped sts held on the needle to the left, 6 sts remaining on my center needle, and 10 slipped sts held on the needle on the right.

Knitting at the computer

My Sherman Heel at the End of Part One

Heel, Part Two:

Now you are ready to turn the corner and work back in the other direction, picking up the slipped sts that you have saved, one at a time. This process uses a technique I have not seen before for short-rows (ok, maybe for Japanese short rows) called the encroachment. Don't be frightened by the word, this is easy to do. To work a knit encroachment (ke): With the tip of your right needle, pick up the purl bump below the next st on your left needle. Lift this purl bump up onto the needle next to its stitch. Knit the two together through the back of the loop (tbl). To work a purl encroachment (pe): With the tip of your right needle, pick up the purl bump below the next st on your left needle. Lift this purl bump onto your left needle, right next to its stitch. Purl the two together.

1- Sl 1, purl to last stitch before the slipped stitch that began the previous row. Slip this last st, and work a pe on the next stitch. Turn. For me this was: Sl 1, p10, sl 1, pe.

2- Sl 1, knit to last stitch before the slipped stitch that was worked at the beginning of the previous row. Slip this last st, and work a ke on the next stitch. Turn. On my sock this was: Sl 1, k 11, sl 1, ke.

Continue in this manner - slipping the first stitch of every row, working across to just before the first st slipped in the previous row, slipping that stitch, and working an encroachment in the next stitch - until you have worked in all of your previously slipped sts from Part One ending after a knit row. Turn.

3- Sl 1, purl across to wrapped st from set up, lift the wrap up onto your needle, and purl it together with its stitch, much like working a pe, but with the wrap rather than with the purl bump. Turn.

4- Knit across to your second wrapped stitch, and lift the wrap up onto your left needle, knit it and the stitch tbl.

You are done! Continue by working across your instep sts and go on your merry way, working the foot of your sock. You can look for extra info at the two sites that I parsed out to condense into the above - here, and here.

My Completed Sherman Heel

Mystery Stole 3

I'm sure by now that you can't help remembering that we got the first clue in the MS3 a week ago tomorrow, so in 24 hours, and along with about 4500 other people from all over the world I'll be working on Clue 2. Of course you remember, this has been haunting your dreams, and has been the first thing you think of when you awakened for the last month or so.

Obviously the entire point of this, aside from the whole 'making a gorgeous lace stole' thing, is that it is a MYSTERY! We have absolutely no idea what it will look like when finished, although considering Melanie's previous patterns, we know it will be gorgeous. We don't know what the theme is. And it is driving everyone on the list crazy. They are guessing right and left. It is like watching one of those scenes in a Three Stooges movie, where they are all running in circles like maniacs, babbling, bumping into each other and just generally not knowing where they are going. Only multiplied by 1500. Don't get me wrong, they all seem like perfectly nice people, but I don't think half of them have read what few and tiny crumbs of hints that Melanie has so far tossed out regarding the theme.

Alright, I have made two guesses myself, Odile and Odette from Swan Lake, and Persephone. But I'm preserving my dignity and stopping there, I swear it!

Below are photos of my finished Clue 1 blocking, after blocking, and a detail with beads.

Finished Clue 1 blocking

Finished Clue 1 after blocking

Finished Clue 1 detail with beads

No, I have no earthly idea what the darned thing will be. Mystery.

And finally, the other project I worked on last week, a pair of felted baby booties. Ok, they were supposed to be a pair of felted baby booties. The pattern is from the Interweave Knits website, and I admit I am too lazy to look for the link right now. It is written to be worked with Paton's Classic Merino on size US 2 needles. Yes, folks, that is correct. Knitting for felting on a size 2 needle. But unlike you, I had to actually knit the danged things just to prove that knitting done on size 2 needles at a gauge of something like 5.5 sts/in just doesn't felt. Take a look...


post felt

Not a lot of difference, except for maybe a bit more fuzziness. Ah, well.

I had better close this now. One doesn't wake up in the morning saying, You know, today I think I will spend my entire day, off and on, posting about the Sherman Heel. Cause if you did say that, you would immediately recognize the pure insanity of planning such a day, and roll over and go back to sleep.

Which means it must be time for a nap.


P.S. I have set up my own etsy shop. Now I need to put something in it!

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