Sunday, November 18, 2007

Catching Up

Besides knitting, there's a lot of things that I've let fall by the wayside. For instance, today was the first time I'd been to mass this month. It had been so long since I'd been to mass that I didn't even know what time it started and showed up 15 minutes early.

You gotta to love St. Monica's. Rebuilt in the 1970s after a massive fire gutted the original church, it is the epitome of South Philly Catholic churches. Murals, gold trim on everything, packed to the gills with young and old from the neighborhood. Heck, around here, people still decorate their houses for first Communions and Confirmations. I'm sure going to miss going there when I move in January and switch over to Epiphany of Our Lord at 11th and Jackson, which is really only 6 blocks away, but doesn't have a 12:15 mass.

I've been catching up with some other things as well. I keep finding spare moments to work on the Flame Scarf. I savor these moments. It's so nice to have my hands and eyes and brain occupied with something that is not electronic. That is not a keyboard or a cash register. Yes, I agree that I sound like a wistful pansy. I suppose that I am a bit, but the reality is I'm just trying to keep it all together right now, and if 5 minutes and 2 rows of knitting helps, then I hope I can keep finding 5 minute pockets to knit in.

It's a lumpy, bumpy mess right now. I look forward to that fateful day when I can give it a nice wash and block. In the meantime, I totally cheated and went shopping today to buy Mom some socks for Christmas, just in case that fateful day never comes. (Yeah I know, I should knit her some).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I made this hat for Jay in August. I bequeathed it to him shortly after his birthday in September. It now has a large hole in the crown. I have to say, I'm horribly embarrased that something I knit for someone else is now coming apart. Yes, yes, I realize that this is just a matter of busting out the faithful crochet hook and tapestry needle combo, but really, I should be more careful! At least he had the courtesy to inform me of my error and bring the hat in for emergency surgery before he was just sitting around with a pile of soft but useless wool string. Right now the thing just looks like it's going to start talking to me

The other thing that is embarrasing is the complete lack of knitting that's been taking place recently. We're decorating for the holidays at work. School is over in 2 1/2 weeks. Which will give me, oh....3 maybe 4 weeks to churn out a couple scarves, some hats, and a sweater. My hands feel so idle without wool in my fingers.

Fortunately, the lovely Ms. Abinka is having a stitch and bitch at her place on Sunday. I've got 4 balls of BSA Cotton ready for another Eyelet Cardi. Maybe I'll sew the buttons on the one I made myself before then.

The truth is, life has been pretty difficult lately. Losing my uncle last month was devasting. I knew it was inevitable, but for it to happen within 3 weeks after I moved home...I was just floored. I think everyone was. He was more than just an uncle. To my brother and I, as well as the rest of our family, he was really like a father. Always there, always with big hugs, sound advice, quirky jokes, and fun gadgets to play with. I miss him, but take comfort in knowing that he is no longer sick and is still looking out for all of us. It's been a difficult fall for everyone, but I think if I can get this hat fixed, I can start to get something back on track.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I can hardly believe that September is almost over. That may, in part, be due to the fact that I spent my day sitting on the beach, watching surfers, and getting a really odd sunburn on my arms and parts of my legs. I never quite put that sunblock on properly. None the less, after being away from home for nearly 3 months, tomorrow I'm flying first class back to Philadelphia, picking up my new car, and finally sleeping in my own bed. It seems like ages. By Monday I'll be back to the usual grind of working, grad school, homework, and hopefully some hanging out.

Of course, there will always be knitting. I hae to say, I've been rather selfish lately, knitting almost entirely for myself. But I'll be honest. I spend so much time knitting for other people, I think I've earned all my little pet projects. Let's take this gorgeous Malabrigo for example. I fell in love with the stuff last autumn when I needed to make a gift for my BFF. Since, I've knit many wonderful scarves of Malabrigo for many wonderful people until it suddenly occurred to me, I've never made ANYTHING for myself.

I scored 5 skeins at Great Yarns on sale while I was in Raleigh. They sat in the bag for a while until I decided that it's finally time I treated myself to a little Malabrigo. I love the texture. So soft running through the hands, so wooly and warm, and just a pleasure to knit with. I look forward to sharing this project with you in the coming weeks.

Naturally, I am working on all those holiday gifts. Yeah, I'm not as selfish as I'd like to be sometimes. I'm trying to keep it simple this year. Nothing crazy. Nothing that will keep me up late on Christmas Eve...famous last words.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Red Sweater Day

I didn't intend for this set of photos to be so ambient. The truth is I feel incredibly bloated today AND I'm breaking out AND I was running out of natural light. Today is my last day in North Carolina. I'm off to even warmer pastures tomorrow and I've still got plenty to occupy my hooks and needles. I think I've accomplished more knitting in the past 8 weeks than I have in the past 2 years, and I'm not joking when I say "Boy, are my arms TIRED!".

That little number up there is the Blue Sky Alpacas Cropped Cardigan in Knit Picks Andean Treasure. The color is Embers and I used 8 skeins, double stranded. It has benefitted from a great deal of blocking, and could use a bit more. I probably could have made the next size up, but after a few days of being pinned and steamed and steamed pinned, I think it's fitting much better.

And hell, for being one of my first completed sweaters, I really can't complain. I love a little cardigan to throw on with a jeans and t-shirt, so much nicer than a hoodie.

I've been on a HUGE red kick lately. Three of the four sweaters I knit this summer are some shade of red. Now, you may say, "Hey! There's only 2 sweaters in this post! Where are the others!?!" First, I will tell you to stop being so demanding. Then, I will tell you that I need to find proper buttons before I can adequately share these items with you. I will say that I am quite excited about both of them, and both were fantastic learning experiences.

The tube top? Well, let's say that never in my life have I owned one. I did admire this pattern when I saw it in Fitted Knits, but I never thought I would knit it. That is, until I realized my own stupidity. I ordered 4 balls of Elegance from Knit Picks in Barn Red to make Zephyr Style's Ms. Marigold. Don't ask me why. It was not one of my more lucid moments. The point is, three days ago I realized that I didn't have nearly enough yarn for Ms. M, but I sure did have enough for the tube top. So, I went down a needle size, didn't swatch, and dove in. I have to say, the pattern was pretty fun, and very quick. I only did 5 repeats of the lace, instead of 6. I know my gauge was a bit off, and I could've gone down a size, but overall, I'm really pleased with it.

I plan on adding some straps, and wearing it under a black crew neck cardigan. One with a really fine, light gauge so that the lace panel really stands out. The color is just fantastic, and it really deserves a proper framing.

I'd love to make another one for next summer. Black in the Cascade Pima Tencel that the pattern calls for, except the lace panel will be longer, 7 or 8 repeats, so it reaches more of a tunic length. Yes, yes, how exciting.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Oh, the places we'll go...

I took this photo in late 2005. I had only just taught myself to knit a few months before. For those keeping track, that is a small part of the super easy leg warmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, one of my first pattern books and one that I refer back to time and time again. I took forever finishing those things. One is bound off a little tight. The stitches aren't quite even. The colors are a little garish, but I actually wear them all the time.

This summer I made my first sweaters. They're upstairs blocking, and while not monuments of perfection, I am thrilled with how far I've come. Always learning, exploring new things, and coming up with new ideas. It all seems so cheesy, but I really don't know where I would be without it.

This summer has been a difficult one for me. I put my life on hold to be with my family in a time of need. If I hadn't knit incessantly over the last 3 months, I think I would have lost my mind by now.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Little Things

I've been on quite a tear in the past week or so trying to rid myself of all those little odd balls that seem to keep piling up in my stash. I am one of those people who finds that one lovely ball of yarn sitting in the sale bin at the LYS and buys it. So instead of a stash that I can delve into when the next must have sweater is published in Interweave, I have a collection of oddballs without any clear idea as to what they'll become. Another thing about me is that I'm one of those people who kind of hates having a stash. I know, I know, I'm crazy, who doesn't love having a stash? Maybe it's more that I just don't have room for a stash, and frankly, being inundated with THAT much yarn would leave me with a feeling of unnaccomplishment. I would feel overwhelmed, as if I will never reach the end. I guess that's the point, isn't it?

Anyway, the photograph above gives me a great sense of accomplishment. A scarf out of one skein of Malabrigo found on sale. A pair of Kim's hats made from Plymouth Galway Highland skeins and scraps. A pair of Knucks from a sale ball of Rowan Felted Tweed. A Dream Swatch from a sale ball of Noro Cash Iroha. A pair of wristwarmers from another ball of Cash Iroha (actually in the same color as the ones from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It's a gorgeous shade of magenta that I WISH I'd been able to find more of. Alas! Such is the fate of the sale bin.) Two more hats, the Purl Beret from a ball of Claudia Hand Painted, and a pink sparkly number from a ball of handspun I picked up in Maryland a few months ago.

Granted, I still have leftovers from SOME of these balls, and more bags of leftovers at home. It's getting to be time to make an afghan.

I bought the yarn for this hat from Raven's Nest in Chesapeake City, MD. If you are ever out that way I reccomend you stop by, they have a wonderful selection and a helpful staff. I think it's a blend of wool with a bit of silk and a string of sparkly nylon thread is plied throughout the bulky yarn. I lived the layers of pink with the occasional spot of teal and dark purple. If you've been keeping up with your September fashion magazines you'll see that bulky knits and anything tactile is big big big for fall. I liked seed stitch for this because it spoke to those trends. I had no pattern, simply cast-on 60 stitches onto size 8 circs, knit an inch in 1x1 ribbing, made one increase and switched over to size 9 dpns for the body. When I thought it was long enough I decreased, and voila! I'm kind of in love with it.

The Purl Beret from the Purl Bee, started off on size 2 Plymouth Speedway circs. These needles are awful. Do not use them. Fortunately, my gauge was off, and the colors were pooling, so I swtiched over to larger bamboo circs and voila! I LOVE this colorway. It's called Bootcamp, and I picked it up from kpixie. It's just so...fall. The burnt oranges against the navy and olive, beautiful. Now, I would've finished this in one day, but I misread the pattern and knit the body far too long, began to run out of yarn, and frogged the whole thing and started from scratch. Sure, I could've unknit, but I liked working with the yarn so much that I didn't mind ripping it out and starting fresh.

Now, the colors do pool a bit near the crown at the second round of decreases, but I'm ok with this. A little bit of pooling is ok, but had it happened throughout the overall look would have been splotchy and very very un chic.

Finally, I got around to finishing Danica. This came out of 4 balls of Noro Silk Garden I got on sale (there was more than one ball! hurrah!) I can't say that I'm entirely in love with the colorway. You may recall I started a very colorful and narrower version of this scarf, but have yet to finish it. (The scarf is in Philadelphia; I'm not.) Anyway, I wanted a wider version so I bought 4 balls and started off casting on 40 stitches. This was too wide, so I went with 30. I love the entrelac because it knits up so quickly and people are so impressed by it, especially with self-striping yarn. I think the whole thing took 5 days fmro start to finish, but I was taking breaks to knit all those little bits and pieces. I'm still not sure that I'll keep this for myself. It's kind of dreary. For some reason I thought it was more purple, but there's a lot of grey bits that aren't winning me over. It also needs to be blocked.

I've got some bigger things on the needles right now. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Imagine my excitement yesterday when I walked into Harris Teeter and found sixers of Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale sitting in the beer aisle? I realize that's it's only August 15th. I can feel the sweat dripping off me as soon as I walk out the door in the morning (it's been in the 100s lately), but this was really the sign I needed (besides pre-season football, of course) to get me through the end of the summer.

It also made me feel better about spending the last few days on Natty. I started the scarf in March, on that one hectic week between terms at school, but never got a chance to finish it until this week. It took exactly 3 balls of Rowan RYC Soft Tweed, which can be got at WEBS on the cheap (Only a few colors left though, stock up now). Anyways, the hat took less than one ball, and the scarf took 2 and whatever was left from the hat. Not a scrap left.

Let's see, I used size 8 and 10 1/2 DPNS for the hat, and size 8 straights for the scarf. Perhaps, you're wondering where the action shots are, but let's be honest here...if you think I'm doning a wool hat and scarf in 100+ Carolina summer heat, you are crazy! Give me my big sunglasses and my pumpkin ale, and I'll see you in September.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's Been a While

It's not that I haven't been knitting, I just went on a hiatus for a little while. Between school, moving out, and about a million other things that demanded my time, it's just taken me a while to get back to the needles. But rest assured. I am making up for it, and with all the yarn sales this time of year I am amidst a frenzy of new projects.
My arms are about to fall off, but really, who would have it any other way?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Oui Oui!

You know, I was very unsure about the slouchy hat. I don't wear hats very often, though many tell me I've got just the right head for them. However, when Wendy Bernard of Knit and Tonic came up with this little gem, well I had to do it. Wendy's patterns are the kinds of things that you would buy off the shelf, but they're so much more exciting because you can make it yourself, custom fit so that all your friends, and hopefully all the boys will stammer "ooh la la!" as you walk by in your kitten heels and giant sunglasses.

Anyway, I found this yarn on closeout at WEBS, and I couldn't pass it up. It's Classic Elite City Lights in a maroon color that has some sort of exotic name I cannot recall. I used size 7 and 8 DPNs and made it over my birthday weekend.

I was so excited with the finished product that no sooner did I tuck in the ends, I put it on my head and cast on for a second in stockinette.
This time I used some spare Cascade 220 in a color called Galaxy that was once met to be a pair of legwarmers, but for now is a hat and perhaps mittens in due time. This one needed a little modification. I increased by an additional 6 stitches and used size 8 and 9 DPNs. Again, so pleased. I wear them everywhere. I get tons of compliments, and when the wind blows I can pull them down over my ears. Who could ask for anything more? Go make your own. Trust me. You will be belle of the crowded wintry streets.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The good, the bad, and the suprising.

The other day I was reading through the knitting discussion board on Craftster, and came across a girl who is new to this whole knitting addiction, and who had had an unfortunate experience at the first LYS she went to. Apart from having to overcome the sticker shock of the yarn she wanted, she was faced with a snooty sales clerk and bad customer service. This is unfortunate, but it seems to be a trend that is happening all around us. Today I read an article about reference librarians scoffing or even laughing at patrons who were calling to request information. Furthermore, the information requested was simple and wouldn't have taken up the librarian's time to find a proper and concise answer. So I'm wondering, what gives?

Anytime I visit Loop or Sophie's I'm immediately greeted and offered help. The girls even offer to wind the yarn I've selected while I look around, or to put my things at the counter while I continue to search. This doesn't require anymore effort than being an ignorant jerk would, and as an added bonus I keep going back and giving them more and more of money.

Believe me, I get some bizarre people coming into my work, but I really try and treat all their requests no matter how small or large with the dignity and respect that I would want for myself. I hope that I can acheive the same thing as a librarian. But most of all, I really hope that all those snooty LYS owners and scoffing librarians will wise up and realize that without customers or patrons, there would be no yarn store, no library. And frankly, I don't know what'd I'd do without those things.

Isn't that colorway to die for? I stumbled across a bag of the stuff at Loop in the sale bin. 3 balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite for like $20 total. The pattern is Danica from Knitty. This is my first foray into entrelac, and it's really addictive. Today alone I got through one ball. Already I'm planning another one in some yummy Malabrigo. I love learning new techniques and continuing to push my knitting forward.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Oh Baby

So after several months of taking an extended holiday, winter has decided to grace the east coast with it's frigid but welcome presence. Lemme tell you, it's a little chilly out there. Not like "Oh Gosh, how did we get transported to the artic?" chilly, but enough to finally wear all those hats and scarfs that I seem to make year round just to occupy the time and all those odds and ends leftover from other FOs. Anyways, I bought this yarn at Loop months ago with the intention of making a cowl out of it. So I cast on and made a really small one that was a pain to get over my head and a pain to knit because I thought it was a good idea to use size 11 dpns. This was not a good idea. got warm, and I abandoned the poor thing until Friday when I picked up a size 11 circ. Now I have my cold weather, my cowl, and heck even a nice brown coat to wear with it. Now if only we'd get a little snow...

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca's Brushed Suri. I used two strands in brown and orange (I'm sure they have more exotic names) together with the aforementioned circ. I cast on about 64 and worked in 1x1 rib until I felt that it was long and cozy enough. I've still got some yarn leftover, who knows what kind of concoction that will end up on.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The agony of defeat.

Sometimes, many times, ok almost all the time when I visit the LYS I pick up a few skeins for a project that I plan on starting immediately, and then almost as an afterthought I pick up an extra skein of something for some small project I spotted somewhere and plans on getting to...eventually. Such was the case back in, oh I don't know, August or early September when I picked up this skein of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Teal. Fetching was all the rage on and I thought, "Well I've got to learn cables some how or other." So of course, I bought one skein, that would be enough right?!!?

Of course not. Yesterday, I finally started the damn things and well. I finished one, got mostly through the other when I realized, there just wasn't quite enough. No point in going back to the LYS now and looking for another skein. I frogged the first. Apologizing all the way that I was unable to make it a suitable mate.

So now I've got these two little balls of the stuff and I wonder, what shall their fate be? Perhaps stripes on one of those scarves I make when bored and give away as holiday gifts to those friends whom I really like, who I think are scarfworthy, just not expensive fancy-pants scarf worthy.

Also, as an afterthought to the project, I'm not a fan of that picot bind off. I think a regular bind off would work just fine and if I ever get the gumption to work up a real pair of these suckers, that's exactly what I'll do.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Yarn Love

I'll admit it. I'm a yarn snob. I love wools and alpaca, I can't stand acrylic, even in blended form. I've got a box full of acrylic, if anyone wants it I'll sell it to you for $10 (A STEAL). But man, when I discovered this Naturwolle 100% Black Forest Virgin Wool, I really fell head over heels. It is of course, like all things that I desire in life, expensive ($24 for 110 yards), but perfect for something small and indulgent like our friend the calorimetry. Naturally, I unwittingly cast-on all 120 stitches, and after two nights of vigorous, selfish, unabashed Christmas eve/day knitting, the damn things was just way too big for my head. I mean really, I can easily fit a hat made for a 5 year old, what was I thinking? I think I was just relieved to be finished knitting things for the holidays. Apart from that Manos hat that I made back in November, I really hadn't treated myself to anything, and I was just really anxious to dive in. (man, that cookie gut really shows, but who cares? It's Christmas, it's cookies, that's life) I promptly frogged the entire thing.

About a week later I picked it up again, and following the advise of the sage and wondrous Craftsters, I only cast on 80, didn't do as many row repeats and was able to complete the project, minus the button, in about 2 hours. I really didn't mind though. Working the yarn a second time around just meant that I could enjoy the feel of it through my fingers once again. It brought me back to that horribly rainy afternoon when Dad and I drove through the Black Forest and saw nothing but steam coming off the trees and some cuckoo clock shops that weren't worth the effort to stop at. In fact, we may hae ate Italian that night, but it was probably the last time in either one of our lives that we'll spend that much time together without having to schedule it or deal with other people. The sad thing is, we're not even that old.

Those colors are really just gorgeous, the way the pumpkin and chocolate accents just rest on the pistachio, so beautiful. If ever I am gainfully employed again, I'm going to make a matching extralong scarf.

For the record, I used size 7 crystal palace straight bamboo needles, and used about half a ball of the Naturwolle which I purchased at Loop. The piece of embroidery floss hanging down was used to attatch a small brown vintage button plucked from my grandmother's stash. This fits around my head and covers my ears very comfortably. I look forward to wearing it whilst biking arond the city, if and when it ever gets cold.

Oh and the buttons underneath? The first order for (All) Buttoned Up. (I'm not sure about the "All" part hence the parentheses, let me know what you think)

They're for the highly talented and rather quirky Adam Acuragi and company. Pete designed them. I just printed them out and did the assembly work. Overall, I'm really pleased and I hope they are as well. And if you like them, remember you too can have custom made buttons. Just send a little email request to

See you soon. Cheers.