A blog about my life, knitting, and other stuff.

January 31, 2007

Is Squid the New Black? Part Two

Squid continues to be a cool "it" theme. How soon will squids and skull and crossbones veer into passe? What will be the new cool thing? Guesses, anyone?

Fifth Time's the Charm

I hope next year I will remember: Never start a new sweater at Madrona. It just doesn't work. Last year's was a disaster. I attributed this mostly to a terrible pattern filled with errors. This year I wasn't going to make the same mistake. I brought yarn and needles to start a new variation on Retro Prep. I've knit the body of this sweater twice before. It's plain stockinette in the round. Easy as pie, right? You, I'm sure, sense where this is going.

Attempt #1: Cast on and realize at the end of the first round of ribbing that I got my pattern (k3, p2) off about 12 stitches in. I decide it will be easier to rip and cast on again than tink back.

Attempt#2: Cast on and realize at the end of the first round of ribbing that I got my pattern (k3, p2) off about 25 stitches in.

Attempt #3: Cast on and complete the ribbing happily. Look down at my knitting during Fiona Ellis's talk and try really hard not to curse out loud. My cast on was twisted. Rip.

Attempt #4: I can't remember what happened here. I think I blocked it out.

Attempt #5: Success! I knit the ribbing. I realize that somewhere between my first and fifth attempt to cast on I changed the number of stitches I was casting on by 20. So instead of a very close fitting sweater with virtually no ease, I'll have a looser sweater. I added more of the body stitches to the steek so it won't be that bad.

I knit several inches of the sweater on Saturday night. Sunday morning, lying in bed, I realize I screwed up the side decreases. (I actually increased when I was supposed to decrease. In my defense, I was in a bar. However I wasn't drinking so I don't know if that counts.) Sunday morning at breakfast I ripped back. I now have about five inches of the body done.

Did I mention I'm teaching a class on this? I hope my students don't have as much trouble as I did.

January 30, 2007

Ribbons Baby Blanket

Pattern: Ribbons Baby Blanket by Evelyn Clark from Fibertrends
Yarn: Henry's Attic Inca Cotton
Needle: US10 Denise Interchangeables
Changes: I used a larger needle than called for because my yarn was slightly big and because I couldn't find the right size needles when I cast on. I knit fewer repeats and made the edging narrower. The finished blanket is a 25" square without blocking.

Spey Valley

Pattern: Spey Valley from Knitting on the Road
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in unknown colorway (possibly Mineshaft?)
Needle: US1 Addi Turbo
Changes: Made the leg a little shorter than originally called for.
Notes: One skein made a pretty strong barber pole while the other made lovely speckled variegation. Same yarn, same needle, very different final product.

January 29, 2007

Madrona in Pictures

From the wool combing class, fibers waiting to be combed.

We got to try a variety of combs--4 and 5 pitch English, single and double Viking, mini combs, Russian paddle combs--with many different fibers--Targhee, Merino, Wensleydale, Romney, Alpaca, Romeldale and more.

From the fiber blending class, one of my favorite batts, an analogous color blend.

We used Ashland Bay Merino Top (yum) and worked in the morning on color blending. We created a monochromatic blend, an analogous blend, a complimentary blend, a split complimentary and a blend which used one color from each of the twelve spokes of the color wheel. In the afternoon we experimenting with blending different fibers. I was having too much fun to stop for pictures.

From Dyeing for Socks, my primary color skein.

Magenta on one end, cyan on the other and polar yellow in the center. When I brought this home my son immediately asked him to knit the spider monkey from World of Knitted Toys from it for him. He had me wind the skein into a ball within minutes of walking in the door. It's going to be one searing bright monkey.

Here is Judith demonstrating random painting.

My only yarn purchase were mill ends of Mountain Colors Bearfoot being sold by the ounce. I picked up four ounces in dark purples just to play with. But that's it. I now have tons of fiber to spin and combs to process my Targhee I bought at Oregon Flock and Fiber. It should keep me pretty busy until the next festival or conference.

January 28, 2007

So Much Freaking Fun

I had an amazing time at Madrona. I took some incredibly wonderful classes, saw dozens and dozens of inspiring, funny, warm, charming people. I am completely pooped. I have a few photos that I'll try to post tomorrow.

Quick rundown.

Thursday: All day wool combing class. End result: No blood loss and I now own a set of these. That's right, folks, envy me.

Friday: All day fiber blending class. So much fun. Really motivating and inspirational. Jill Laski is a lovely person, a wonderful teacher and has a killer sense of color. I left class with two shopping bags full of carded batts.

Saturday: All day dyeing for socks (but really it could have been dyeing for anything) class with the goddess, Judith Mackenzie McCuin. It has been said many times but I would gladly pay to sit in a room and hear Judith talk on any subject any time. I have left with several unsuccessful dyeing attempts and a few that don't suck. There was also a "bloggers lunch" which included about 2% of the bloggers in attendance. We thought about a banquet room for next year. I suggested it would be smaller and simpler to have a luncheon for the people who don't have blogs.

Sunday: Morning class on Color Progression in Plying with the glorious Judith. Yet another chance to hone my color sense. Lots of fun. Photos later.
Afternoon class on Three Wild Downs with Judith again. We spun buffalo, yak and cashmere. Then Judith threw in baby camel, buffalo/silk and lots more. Photos later.

I made one teensy yarn purchase. After all I had no money left at all after buying the wool combs. I also received a Cotswold lamb fleece from Denise who is attempting to prune her fiber stash.

It's hard to say what I enjoyed most this weekend but making new friends, spending time with old friends and getting to know people much better was a great highlight. And I got to knit while I was doing it. Whee!

January 25, 2007

This Close

I'm one-third of the way through the slip stitch crochet edge on my Ribbons Baby Blanket but it will have to wait until Sunday night to get finished. I'm waiting for my fellow carpooler to show up to head out the door and don't want to drag a heavy cotton blanket with me.
See you Sunday!

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

A truly versatile look.

Slutty for day...

and evening.

January 24, 2007

Crunch Time

Babysitter should arrive in a few minutes. I'm off for the Seattle Knitters Guild (I'm the President, have I mentioned that?). Keep your fingers crossed that I get Helen Hamann's projector set up correctly. The Northwest Asian American Film Festival kicks off tonight so Wes (he's the Director) is all tied up with that. When I get home I have to pack for Madrona. I'll try to get a Thursday post up but I may have to bypass it in favor of sleep. I'm very sorry. I'll be back on Sunday so have a great weekend.

January 23, 2007

I Wish They Had This Last Summer

Webs is doing grab bags of Cotton Classic. Great for the Psychedelic Squares Afghan.

Spring Interweave Preview

A breath of spring.

What a Difference a Gauge Makes

The Ribbons Baby Blanket is a nearly identical pattern to the Square-Along square. After knitting on it for a little over a day it is about a 28" square compared to the Square-Along 7" square. Really appreciating the worsted weight yarn on US10 needles.

Not only is this a fast baby gift but it makes a kicky beret for a lion.

Lion shot for Sarah.

January 22, 2007


Pattern: Square- Along
Yarn: Nature's Palette Fingering in Spring Green and Koigu leftovers from my New England socks
Needle: US2 Crystal Palace Circulars

January 21, 2007

Heaven and Knitting

Last night I watched Tom Tykwer's Heaven. The film, about a very sympathetic woman who plants a bomb in an office building, had the colossally bad timing of being set for release right after the September 11th attacks. The studio held the film for a while and then gave it a very quiet release. The film has an unusual provenance. The screenplay is by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski, writer/director of the Blue, White, Red series and The Double Life of Veronique. The film was executive produced by Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, which likely means that one or both of them at one time were hired to direct the film. It's a little fascinating to imagine the three very different iterations of the script that would have produced. The lovely, fascinating, Cate Blanchett stars opposite the usually quirky, off-beat and very talented Giovanni Ribisi. Both are excellent. In all, I didn't love the film. I find Kieslowski difficult to connect to emotionally though I admire his work. Tykwer is very restrained in contrast to his usual uninhibited style.

So all in all fairly good, interesting film that completely ruined my knitting time. I was trying to work on a new lace project but couldn't take my eyes off the screen for a moment because of the captivating visuals and heavy use of subtitles (the film is set in Italy). So I worked mostly on my little afghan square which is this close to being done.

January 20, 2007

I Am the Beach Ball

Ever held a beach ball under water? It squirms and struggles and eventually breaks free from you and goes flying up out of the water and into the air. That's me. I've been trying for a while now to keep the WIP list down to a really manageable size. One lace project, one sock and one sweater. Then just to be extra super good, when I finished my Fair Isle Cardi way back in November, I didn't cast on another sweater. Just so I could focus on my shawl and socks. I was so good. I would occasionally start pulling out patterns, rummaging for needles, pawing through yarn. But no. I would stop myself. I would put them away (or, more likely, leave them on my desk or the kitchen counter) and continue on in my newly focused fashion.

Last night the beach ball flew out of the water.

I started a square for Larissa's Square-Along. I had to. I had exactly the right amount--to the gram--of right yarn in the right color. This is Nature's Palette in Spring Green leftover from my first ever Sockapalooza sock (can't wait until Sockapalooza 4!). I'm nearly half-way done already. Just a quick little distraction. Barely counts.

But then...

I decided to finally cast on for the baby blanket for my brother-in-law and his wife. This is the Ribbons Baby Blanket by one of my favorite designers, Evelyn Clark. I'm knitting it in Henry's Attic Inca Cotton. I've wanted to try this yarn for a long time. It's terribly soft and I find the color very appealing.

But then...

Like Ted on How I Met Your Mother, I found that Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M.. I cast on for a Baby Russian Prime. I got a copy of this pattern my first year at Knitting Camp. At the time I scared the crap out of me. Now less so. And there's a knitalong. I looked at the yarn requirements and thought I could do it in Cascade 220. And I just happened to have the bag with all the leftovers from my Fair Isle Cardi sitting right next to me. I picked out the darkest blue and the natural because I had the most of those two colors and they would have the best contrast. I found a needle. I cast on. I knit the "beautiful and intriguing braided edge." It's kind of a fussy, slow-going thing to knit. One round is knit alternating colors with both yarns in front bringing the new yarn over the old one. The following row you bring the new yarn under the old one. Then it goes into corrugated ribbing. Once I started ribbing I realized it was about 2:30 and I needed to go to bed (like hours earlier). When I came downstairs (I want to say "this morning" but I've got to be honest and tell you that I slept through all hours that could legitimately be called "morning" today. Thanks Wes.) and picked it up today and saw that I had a twist in my knitting. Bah! It also looked much too small to fit on a healthy newborn human child. I need to start again on a bigger needle.

Lastly, today I started my Custom Raglan Sweater class at the shop. I'm teaching basic EPS (Elizabeth's Percentage System) for a bottom-up raglan. So I had to start casting on for one of those too.

I better stop writing now. I have a lot of projects to work on.

January 19, 2007

Fabulous Bead for a Knitter

This wonderful bead was handcrafted by Caitlin Hyde, a fellow camper at Knitting Camp a few years ago. It's available on eBay.

Reasons Why Today Sucks So Far

1. Younger son clogged toilet for 8,000,000th time this week.
2. Older son saw that toilet was clogged and flushed it anyway, overflowing toilet full of you don't want to know what.
3. Attended painfully dull school assembly.
4. Came home to find Hugo has strewn the trash from my office all over the floor for the 8,000,000th time this week.
5. While cleaning up toilet and bathroom floor Hugo peed in the hallway.
I can't wait to see what happens next.

January 18, 2007


Pattern: Adapted from the elephant in Kath Dalmeny's World of Knitted Toys
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted in Winter Blue, Onyx, Creme and Blue Blood Red
Needles: US6 Addi Turbos
Changes: I did not knit the foot pads separately as in the pattern. I just picked up stitches at the bottom of the leg and decreased in the round. For the tail I picked up stitches and knit a two-sided triangle in the round. For the ears I picked up stitches and knit in the round, increasing by eye based on the picture of Phanpy. Then I used duplicate stitch to add all the details on the feet, ears, nose and mouth.

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

You've seen The Princess Bride, haven't you? (If you haven't, you need to go do that right now. And read the book too while you're at it.) Looking at Gedifra's designs recently I was reminded of Vizzini crying out, "It's...the Cliffs of Insanity!" Only in this case it was me yelling. And it was "It's...the Embellishments of Insanity!!" Observe how embellishments can transform ordinary knits.

Take one fairly ugly poncho.

Add a cowl, a very large belt with chains (so punk) and random tassels, et voila!

It is now completely ugly.

Take a dull, lumpy, sweater dress and slap some doilies on it (and a belt).

Now it's "Blondie meets Granny."

Why make boring classic sweaters when you can liven them up with big, pointless braids?

Better yet, add epaulets.

And a belt. Mustn't forget the belt. You don't even have to knit it!

Take a nice textured knit jacket. Now throw in some gigantic fun fur cuffs (are they even attached to the sweater?) and a button-crusted belt.

It's office chic with a little cavegirl Victoriana thrown in.

It's amazing what some out of scale buttons and winning the Super Middleweight championship can do for a plain mohair sweater.

Remember folks, when in doubt embellish it. Then add a belt!

January 17, 2007

Next She Needs to Apologize For Her Hair

Pop star Pink apologizes for Australian wool slur

Be Still My Heart (Again)

Last February my older son learned to knit inspired by the designs in Kath Dalmeny's World of Knitted Toys. Today while trying to finish knitting Phanpy, which is based on the elephant in the same book, my younger son fell in love with the monkeys. After finishing his homework this afternoon, I asked him if he wanted some time to play on the computer. "No," he said, "it's time to learn to knit!" So I got some bulky wool and big needles and cast on ten stitches. I showed him how to knit a stitch twice and he was off.

He completely gets how a stitch works but he has his own crazy way of getting there. He knit about 15 stitches before he declared that he had practiced enough and was now ready to knit a monkey. I told him the monkey had to get in the queue behind Phanpy and a baby blanket. He then explained to me that he could knit the monkey himself if his brother would help him read the instructions. Good luck, sweetie.

Blogger to WordPress?

I need a little advice.
A) Is it worth switching from Blogger to WordPress?
B) Any advice on importing my archives? I keep getting errors.

Never Ending Pokemon

I am knitting Phanpy as someone *cough*Tami*cough* already let slip in the comments of my other post. Phanpy's head and body are done and stitched together. It took forever. I stitched and stitched and stitched last night and still didn't get it all finished until this morning. Then I knit on his tail and I'm currently crafting his ears. I need to run over to the shop and get some red, white and black yarn for all his little details.

In snow news, what a difference a day makes.

All the lovely, fluffy white is gone leaving behind black and gray sludge. Yuck.

January 16, 2007

Snowbound Seattle Style

9:00 am.
Fourth post.
Still knitting Pokemon.
Bored out of my mind.

Terribly Cute Photo

Found here.

Golden Globes

I didn't watch the Golden Globes last night. I was at Purlygirls. But I did scroll through the photos this morning. I thought I'd feature some of the lowlights. I'm sure the Fug Girls will do a much better job at this later today but here are some of my thoughts.

Reese Witherspoon always looks so nice but this color and those bangs! Mamma mia!

How long had Jeremy Irons been dead before they dug him back up and put him in this tux?

Time for a little undereye cream for Rose McGowan. Or some sleep.

Has there been a photo of Sharon Stone in the last five years where she doesn't look drunk and the person standing next to her doesn't look terrified?

I think in the next frame Mary Kate walks right out of that dress. [Insert obvious comment about eye makeup.]

Here's Cameron Diaz waiting for her prom date to pick her up.

This is the moment Rosario Dawson realized she had left home without her wig.

Oh Come On!

January 14, 2007

All Other Knitting Has Been Suspended

While I knit a Pokemon.

January 13, 2007

Grey's Anatomy Question

Is Addison going to boink every man in that hospital? Just curious.

January 12, 2007

Someone Explain This to Me

How is it possible that David Beckham about to paid $1 million a week to play for a team I never knew existed?

It's moments like this that I think, "What the fuck is wrong with the world?"

Updated to add: The more I think about this the more angry and upset I become. Wes calculated last night that if we assume Mr. Beckham works 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year he will earn $27 a second. To me, this is simply immoral. I would be willing to pay someone that kind of money if they could create permanent peace in the Middle East or cure AIDS. But a soccer player? Downright immoral.

Too Kitschy?

I know I said I was looking for a simple bag. Since I couldn't find one I went in the opposite direction. It's the exact size, shape and handle length I'm looking for. Is it too over the top?

Spey Valley in Fading Sunlight

Why Won't These Children Leave?

Due to the (very) icy conditions combined with lots of hills the Seattle Schools are opening two hours late today. I was already feeling like the kids haven't had seven full days of school since October but this is getting ridiculous.

The roads were pretty icy yesterday. On my way to work the car in front of me stopped short and I pushed my brakes. Nothing happened. I was sliding ever so slowly still forward. I pushed harder and the anti-lock brakes engaged. I slowly came to a stop. Fortunately I had left a lot of space between me and the other car. The way home from work at 8 pm was much icier. Everything that melted during the day froze up solid. And for Seattle we had some seriously cold temperatures. It's still only 21°.

Thanks for all the delurking comments, broken needle sympathy and snow stories. I love to hear from you all.

I got an Addi to replace my broken Denise. I've been working on a secret project. It makes keeping the knitting content up a little rough. My Spey Valleys are nearly at the heel flap. Maybe when I get dressed I'll take them out into the *gasp* sunshine and snap some pictures.

January 11, 2007

Want to See Something Funny?

This is how much snow it takes to close school in Seattle (for the third time this year).

Honestly, it's about an inch and a half of snow.

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

I love art. I am a great admirer of art. I love knitting. I am a great admirer of knitting. But when it comes to knitting I am leery of anyone who labels herself an "artist." Because they make stuff like this.

Yeah, nothing say "art" like a caribou galloping out of your chest.

You can't be an artist without a big floppy beret.

Is this leather with fun fur?

Goofy poses, random bits of string and medallions also cement the "artsy" concept.

This last one, frankly, is so beyond the pale I can not quite put it into words. It is not worksafe and falls under the heading of erotic crochet. Eep.

January 10, 2007

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!

It's delurking week. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Son of a *bleep*!

I had to censor myself when this happened while standing in the hallway of the boys' elementary school. This is was a size 5 Denise needle. I was feeling pretty unhappy using the Denise set with this (secret) project anyway. The joins are terrible and I spent as much time massaging my stitches around the cord as I did knitting them. So now I'm knitting back on to an Addi that is absolutely too short for the project. I'll pick up a longer length one at work tomorrow. The worst part was that we were headed to the orthodontist and I had to sit in the waiting room with no knitting. I have been keeping this project in the car in case of emergencies but now it seems like two emergency knitting projects are required.

January 9, 2007

Knitting Club

Tuesday is knitting club day. I have volunteered to teach a knitting class/club at my son's school. I have six girls from 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades in my group. I supplied them all with a skein of Lamb's Pride Bulky and a pair of 16" US11 Clover circular needles. The first week I cast on 10 stitches for each of them and showed them the knit stitch. I sent them home with their knitting to practice. They came back with the funniest, trapezoidal, hole-riddled swatches. I gave them the option of binding off and keeping their first bits of knitting or ripping out. Then I got them all cast on for a hat. It's straight stockinette, nothing but knit to the top. Today was our third meeting. They are all doing really well. They seem to enjoy goofing around and having snack more than the actual knitting but I'm really impressed with how quickly they've caught on.

Boys Will Be Boys

I hate that expression. As the mother of boys I hear lots of common phrases that essentially say, "Boys will do/say bad things and we shouldn't expect any better from them." I don't buy it. I do however think that boys and girls are completely, totally different creatures. Before I had kids I was all, "Gender neutral, blah, blah, blah." Then I met real children. Boys are boys and girls are girls and they are sooooo different.

I was reminded of this while dropping my guys off at school today. A boy walked by me and I overheard him bragging to a friend, "I actually know someone who ate dog poop!"

Weather Whiplash

I was all set to take photos of my Spey Valley progress this morning when it was 55° and sunny. But now just a few hours later the temperature is plummeting, the sky has turned gray and the trees are swaying from side to side. It's supposed to snow tonight. I'm so confused.

I've signed up for Runagogo. I wasn't able to start last week with the sickness and all. Today I headed to the gym and spent an hour on the treadmill. I feel great but am now ready for a nap.

January 7, 2007

Darkness at High Noon

I cast on for Spey Valley for the Knitting on the Road-along. I'm using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in an unknown colorway. I bought it at the Seattle Knitters Guild Fiber Frenzy last year. It's a lightly variegated neutral. I don't usually use variegated for texture patterns but I think this one is working nicely. I'm really enjoying knitting these. The little lateral braid, the Vikkel braid, is very simple to work and looks so smart. I can't get a decent photo of the details right now. I took the socks outside to photograph them but it's still so dark and gray out at noon that I had to use the flash which has washed out all the details. Last night I found a Nancy Bush Flikr group. I spent far too much time uploading all my pictures. It seems I've knit 12 pairs of Nancy Bush socks and a shawl. Wow. Maybe I should start one for Evelyn Clark?

I watched a wonderful movie last night. William Wyler's Dodsworth from 1936 is a very subtle, intelligent drama (not melodrama) about the dissolution of a 20-year marriage. The cinematography is beautiful and very inventive.

And did anyone watch the pilot of The Knights of Prosperity on Wednesday? I thought it was really goofy and funny. I have a sweet spot for Donal Logue. And Mick Jagger, one of the shows producers, did a great send up of himself.

Hugo is still hanging in there. He's not showing any outward signs of illness other than the irritation in his mouth that originally sent us to the vet. He's still cute.