Saturday, March 31, 2007

All Hail Evelyn A. Clark!

I don't usually go all out for a particular designer but I recently took the "Are you obsessed with Evelyn A. Clark designs?" test - and failed.

It all began so innocently - I've been setting aside some knitting magazines with her designs for use with particular yarns. My Handmaiden Sea Silk is destined for her Flower Basket Shawl. Some of my sock yarn - her Retro Rib socks and the Butterflies and Blossoms pattern. Now, I'm breaking into the Knitting Fund big time and buying patterns like "Versatile Scarves," "Edged with Lace," and "Leaf Lace Shawl."

I've even picked up the shawl yarn I set aside months ago and started up a "practice" Flower Basket Shawl.

It's Davidson Corporation's Domy Heather in Slate - with 490 yards in a 100-gram skein (and I've got two), I should have plenty for a shawl. This is a hard yarn to track down - they must sell through just a few outlets and I got mine at the Shepherd's Harvest fiber festival - but it looks and feels like a slightly fuzzy lace weight wool. I like the color, though, and originally bought it to make the "Kerry Blue" shawl from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman.

The Flower Basket Shawl, however, is knitting up like crazy. I picked it up last night and got up to the second lace pattern in about two hours. It is giving me a chance to use my "Lime and Violet" glass needles, as well! I've been nursing these all winter, sure that I would break them, but they are great needles. My only regret is that I didn't buy them with a shorter cord. The 20" cord is a little long for my tastes. Who knows - maybe it will be the perfect size when I finish this shawl.

As for the Saturday Seven, I am having to admit to yet another little secret in my closet - I am a card carrying member of the SCA. That's right, the Society for Creative Anachronisms. The medieval folks. Although I attended events years ago as a teenager (I was really into calligraphy and history), I joined as an adult because of the great group of knitters and spinners in my local Barony of Nordskogen.

This weeks lot includes four costumes and three sewing patterns. Two of the patterns were used in conjunction with "Pioneer Days" at my children's elementary school and I am going to give them to the teacher in charge of that program. The third pattern is for sewing fleece socks. Who am I kidding, I have a hard time knitting socks let alone sewing them! That pattern and the costumes are going to be posted on Freecycle today. I think a lot of crafty, history types hang out there!

As for the SCA, I haven't been able to attend meetings for a while because of my schedule but . . . that doesn't mean I am going to give away the good stuff just yet. Sad but true. I still have the Mongol Horde costumes, the renaissance dresses, the 14th century English lady costumes or the fencing outfits. I might just need those someday!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

So, who's going to see the Harlot?

I don't want this to seem like an advertisement but . . . who's going to see the Harlot?

I've been hearing about Toronto as a model city for knitters (even Cast On's Brenda Dayne dreams about it!) for years but it didn't seem likely that I'd be going there any time soon. Now Citizen Knitter Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is taking her show on the road, however, and I am going to see her!

I think the Yarn Harlot was possibly the first fiber blog that I ever read. She has always seemed so real and dedicated to knitting that she was one of my inspirations when I started my own blog. I am absolutely determined to get my own "Sock with Stephanie" photo for the blog.

According to a recent email from The Yarnery (my LYS), the Yarn Harlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, is coming to the Yarnery Wednesday, April 4. She will talk at 7 pm at the William Mitchell College of Law auditorium, 875 Summit Ave., just a few blocks away from the Yarnery. The talk will be followed by a book signing at the store. Needless to say, there are a ton of good coffee shops and neat stores to hang out in before and after the talk. Lots of bars, too, but I find alcohol interferes with good knitting!

I know that I have my space and one for a friend but Twin Cities Knitters, be aware! Space is limited, so to reserve your spot by stopping by or calingl the shop during store hours at 651-222-5793. The Yarnery is open 10 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday; 10 am to 6 pm Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 on Sunday.

Also, according to the organizers, the event is free, but please consider bringing a donation of yarn, knitted stuff, or fiber arts supplies. They collect these items as part of their community knitting and crochet efforts.

GFM picked up a copy of Stephanie's new book for me already so I am ready to get signed. I've been putting off actually reading it because I want to prolong the fun - maybe tonight I'll crack the covers.

I'd love to finally meet some of the Twin Cities's knitbloggers - let me know if you're going to be there and we can compare Socks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Socks and flattery will get you everywhere!

I have decided that there are very few ways to take a flattering picture of your own socks on your own feet. No two ways about it. I think the best sock picture I've seen recently was the sock on the mannequin foot on the sock designer's back. Some pattern in My feet aren't terribly big nor my legs terribly fat but out of ten photos, only two even remotely looked like real feet.

I spent a lovely hour and a half on Monday winding yarn while waiting for my daughter at her track practice. It was a lovely day, warm and sunny and I waited in the car. I managed to hook my ball winder onto the steering wheel and wound up a skein of Socks Your Way Merino from Fleece Artist in a gorgeous springy Green Pastures. I probably shouldn't be using this yarn - I got it after the Sock Marathon started so it wasn't in my start-up photo - but it is very nice. This pair of socks - also something from the Sensational Knitted Socks - should knit up into a less fluffy, thinner, more spring-like form.

This skein is 480m/524.9 yards of sock weight merino yarn, plenty of yardage for a comfy pair of socks. Now I have something to post on the L&V Sock Marathon page!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Nothing but air -

As I am the boring member of my family, I have done nothing more interesting today than clean house. Two daughters are at Anime Detour in Bloomington (the "Mecca" of nerds as the other daughter called it but, really, it is quite entertaining! I don't think you have really lived until you watch a carload of boys dressed as elves arrive in the middle of the day) and Middle Daughter is at a Father/Daughter dance with her dad. Youngest Child and I have hot plans for watching "Flash Gordon" and some macaroni and cheese. Ah, the high life!

This Saturday Seven will warm the cockles of your heart - it was all coats. One warm winter coat from my Youngest Daughter, one from my husband, a very fine red leather coat from my Late Mother-in-law, a fuzzy brown fleece jacket from me, a lovely blue snap cardigan that I loved but, alas, it shrunk, and two hoodies from various daughters. These are all great coats and I've felt, oh, I don't know, greedy, for keeping them when they weren't being worn. I am all for keeping things out of the dumpster when I die.

Anna, my late Mother-in-law, once told me a story about her elderly neighbors. The husband had died and the wife just couldn't handle the maintenance of her house on her own. After her children helped her move into assisted housing, they came back to the house, hired a dumpster and put everything left from the house in the trash. Furniture, tools, appliances, everything. When Anna mentioned that their Amish neighbors would probably have appreciated some of the tools, the neighhbor's daughter said, "Who would want any of this? It's all trash." and off it all went to the dump. That's when Anna said she would haunt anyone who sent her to a retirement home. Sadly, she never even made it to "elderly", let alone retirement. And, most of her things went on to be used by many other people. No trashing there.

And no trashing at my house, either! Give it all to the Salvation Army or at least donate my yarn stash to my knitting guild. Wasted yarn would make me come back and haunt someone!

Youngest Child and his Grandma Anna in 2004

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One sock, two sock, three socks more

Here's the first sock of the pair I'm working on right now. Once again, not too thrilled with how "fluffy" the yarn is but when I block it, I am expecting great things.

Tonight was the monthly Minnesota Knitting Guild meeting where we heard a great speaker about designing and dyeing your own self patterning sock yarn. I think I'll have to get farther into my stash before I start that but I am so looking forward to giving it a try! There have been some articles in and Spin Off magazine about dyeing that I will definitely use. The only dyeing project that I've ever had go bad was when I tried using avocado pits and peels. I first heard about it on Cast On with Brenda Dayne. She got some great color but then we know that Saint Brenda has the magic touch!

I'm still working on Sock #2 and eyeing some of my other WIP - the Interlocking Balloons Scarf from Scarf Style and the Violet's Pink Ribbon socks. Maybe even Andy's Big Brown Sweater? Nah, that's asking for too much!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Socks, socks and socks . . . and cookies!

I finally got my laptop back from repair (yea!) but I don't have all my data reloaded and this is definitely putting a crimp in my blogging. I've been hoarding my photos on my digital camera until I finally got I Photo up and running and now they're not quite where I want things.

In the meantime, however, I have been moving ahead on the sock marathon front. I really did not like the twin rib sock in Twisted Sisters "Avarice" sock yarn when I started. It just seemed so "bumpy" and not like the picture in the book. I had picked it because I thought it was easy. I was on the point of ripping it out. Now, at the decrease for the toe, I have to say it really is an easy pattern.

The sock yarn is just a little fuzzier than what I've knitted with in the past and I think it that when I block it, the pattern will be more distinct.

So, now that I have photos, I think that today will be heavy on "What's on my Camera?"

GFM making a date with the Lion Brand's Lion at Knit Out 2007 at the Mall of America. She told me she whispered, "Don't worry, you only have five more minutes until you can stop wearing that suit!" but I think she said, "Meet me the California Cafe in five minutes and break out the red wine!"

One of the most famous sweaters of my childhood, Mr. Rodgers' sweater. I heard his mother knitted them for him! Truly, a really nice guy.

And, finally, another really nice person - Annie Modesitt. She had a little meet and greet at my local yarn store, The Yarnery, on Friday night. She showed off some great designs, her new flip books and how to make dreadlocks out of yarn.

And about those cookies? My Saturday Seven. Our family bought two cases of Girl Scout cookies and we are sending them to some soldiers serving in Iraq. Unfortunately, we couldn't send the really great Samoas and Thin Mints (chocolate melts in the mail!) but we are sending some almost as good Little Brownie Bites and Cafe Cookies. Yum!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My Secret Shame . . . or, The Closet of Secrets

Once upon a time, my husband had a home office in the spare bedroom. He moved his business out and into a real office building years ago but, somehow, never took out the file cabinets and miscellaneous office stuff. When I changed that room into my sewing/knitting/spinning area, I just put my plastic boxes and equipment on top. So, when I was rooting around in my stash last week for yarn to donate, I was unprepared for what I found. I really hadn't been in some of those boxes for most of a year.

Apparently, I have a little problem with Brown Sheep Yarn's Nature Spun. Yep, one whole box of it. In a wide variety of colors, too. It's not like I bought enought for a sweater and just forgot about it. Hmm. It's not an expensive yarn - just basic 100% wool, worsted weight, 5 stitches to the inch with size 7 needles.

Why, why, why? I can only imagine that I bought it two or three skeins at a time for baby sweaters or mittens. Something. But the colors are great! My favorite (must be - because I have the most of it) is "Nervous Green." And "Limestone." And "Grecian Olive." Amethyst, Sapphire, . . . the list goes on and on. I've got to use this up! Maybe something felted?

Oh, and by the way. Those other boxes and bags are full of yarn and spinning accessories, too. I just kept better track of them! And the box of sock yarn under the bed. And the basket behind my chair. And the bag in my room. So far, no one has asked any pesky questions . . .

Friday, March 09, 2007

Where's my sweater? Is this my sweater? No, this is not my sweater . . .

"Where's my cow" is a actually a very funny book by Terry Pratchett. In it, a father is reading a book about cows to his very urban son. He wonders why he is reading about farm animals and their noises when his son won't ever see one except on his plate. So, he takes his son about town and creates a more "realistic" version for him.

How does this tie in with Youngest Child wearing this cute little sweater? Picture this. Youngest Child of Good Friend Melissa wandering about town asking, "Is this my sweater?" To which, the answer is always, "No, that is not your sweater, YCOGFM. Your sweater is being worn by YC of Humbledaisy. Bad Youngest Child. Give YCOGFM back his sweater!"

His answer? NO!

But give it away we did. Since YCOGFM is only one year old, he will enjoy it in about three years.

In this view, I was trying to show the problem I had with the "jog" on the yoke patterning. Hey, you probably wouldn't notice it anyway!

Not my sweater!!

And for the Saturday Seven? I decided to follow Ms. Brenda Dayne's lead and give away yarn to Interim House, a 6 month drug and alcohol residential and outpatient program for women located in Philadelphia. I do not know why I had these skeins of Alice Starmore wool, a full bag of Smart wool and one lone ball of cotton yarn but, out they go.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Baby sweater on the way!

I know that I am a boring, traditional-style knitter but when there is such a cute, addictive sweater like this, who wouldn't be? I've been fighting a cold and the dreaded, post-vacation laundry but when I get to knit, this has been the project. I did have a set back when I took it to a Spring Formal meeting last night (my daughters' school doesn't have a Prom but a Spring Formal - a sedate, dinner-dance kind of thing) and accidentally raised the FRONT of the neck instead of the carefully-marked BACK of the neck.

So, when I finally got home, I ripped the whole neck out while watching TIVO-ed episodes of "House." Now, it looks much more comfy. I have some errands to run and then I'll finish it off later today. There is a lot of weaving in but that is a relaxing kind of task, I think. Like driving home after a really good party!

I have had a small problem with my Knit Picks Interchangable Needles. I think the longer actual "needle" part of the needles makes for a longer circular needle. Even with the 16-inch cable cord on the needles, they are quite a bit longer than my ADDI Turbos. Usually, I would have no problem using a 16-inch circular needle for a neck. This one seems to stretch things out a bit. I think I might actually switch to DPs to finish the neck. However, this is probably just a wild hare . . . I might not take the time to dig out my double points and put everything on new needles.

I also wound up the roving I dyed last week. I think I am going to use the barn red roving to knit some felted mittens - but with a few changes so they will fit Youngest Child. Sort of a Love Child Mitten resulting when Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas has a fling with Symeon North's Mad River Mittens.

Too bad the snow is on its way out now - I am just getting back into knitting mittens!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Yet another day late . . .

I think our family just needs to stay home for a while. Two weekends ago, we were in Washington, D.C., and this past weekend, in the Brainard Lakes region of Minnesota. Needless to say, cross country skiing was on our menu.

We were at Clearwater Forest, a retreat center/camp near Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota. Lots of snow. So much snow, in fact, that we drove up a day later than usual. We went with a group of families from our church so that older kids had pals to buddy around with, toddlers had plenty of playmates and knitters had lots of company! Great snow, good food and blazing fires in the fireplace made for a nearly perfect (too short, really) Minnesota vacation. Going up to the lake has an entirely different connotation when you are skiing on it!

I did collect some great giveaways, courtesy of Oldest Daughter. She stayed home to work, take a class and dogsit. When we returned on Sunday, I cornered her and "helped" her clean out her closet. Then, we moved on to the bedroom floor. Soon, we will take Berlin . . .

Not only did I fill a trash bag with actual trash to throw out, I filled a trash bag with the following items to give away:

3 pairs of shoes: Big ones. The kind of shoes where you say, "Oh, you went shoe shopping, dear?" and hope she didn't spend too much money.

3 skirts. Wild, fluffy shirts with a lot of orange. Not that I mind orange . . .

3 bags - one purse, one tote bag from Carnegie Mellon University, a prospective college and one book bag.

8 shirts. I hate ironing so I was glad to see these go!

2 vests. Ditto.

1 bush hat, one red belt and one "Study for the PSAT" book. So, should she be marooned in the Australian outback, she could stay cool, keep her pants up and study while waiting to be rescued.

Now, on their own, none of these are objectionable. It was only en masse that they really stuck out. This is one of the best things about the Saturday Seven. Sometimes, it gives you a chance to really look at the big picture. We didn't argue over a single item to be given away and she still has plenty of shoes, clothing, books, etc. We are truely a blessed family to have so many possessions.

My own personal excitement over the weekend was getting into the multicolored yoke on a Norwegian-style baby sweater I am knitting for the baby of a friend of mine. I haven't been posting about it because I wanted to keep it secret but Melissa was on the weekend trip with me and I was caught out. I don't care, I love this sweater so! Pictures to follow as soon as I get my ballwinder & swift back. You know a sweater is fun when you are willing to wind yarn from skeins into balls by hand!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Day!

This is how the day started out . . .

. . . and here's how it looks now in lovely Saint Paul.

Yep, right on schedule, the Minnesota Tournament Time March Blizzard. According to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, this is a myth, but not, apparently, in my backyard.

Since the snow started pounding down yesterday, I prepared to hunker down in the best way possible. Oatmeal Scotchies. Knitting. Dyeing roving. Actually, when I was doing a little websearching yesterday about microwave dyeing, I saw fiber dyeing on a lot of blogs. Obviously, when you push a knitter, a spinner emerges.

The hero of the day approaches! In the land of snow, the snowblower operator is King. All hail King Andy!