Saturday, May 31, 2008

When Size Matters

I have been knitting this scarf FOREVER. At least a year. Maybe two. The future owner keeps trying it on and claiming it to be too short. Just how long does a scarf need to be to do it's job? I should mention that the owner in question is a man. I happen to believe that shorter scarves that are tucked into the coat look more manly on a guy than something that drapes down the front and the back but I am not winning this argument. When knitting a sweater for a man you can always count on the fact that the sleeves will never be long enough. If the thing does not resemble something that was knit for an orangutan it will have to be redone. Same for socks. Don't even bother measuring their feet. If the knitted fabric even brushes the tips of their toes they are too small. There is so much out there about women's issues with body image but nothing about the fact that most men believe they are bigger than they are. If you doubt it just knit something for one. You'll see.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Big Sigh Of Relief

This is the lace shawl I began last year with my impulse buy from the 2007 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. One hank of lavender hand dyed lace weight designer yarn is what I began this huge undertaking with and halfway through I panicked because I was sure that I would not have enough to finish. I packed up the project and left if hibernating all winter hoping I would find another hank of this stuff at the festival this year. Of course I did not. I knew that I wouldn't. It was just an excuse for avoiding my own stupidity. I am the type who never swatches and rarely thinks about gauge. Shame on me. After realizing I had no other option but frogging, I picked it up again and out of curiosity wanted to see just how far I could get. Now with only 20 very short rows of edging to go, I just may have enough to finish after all. Little balls of lace weight seem to go a very long way. It may not get it's crocheted edging on the short sides but I can live with that. It did serve as a good lesson about always buying more than you need. I will be wearing it to the festival next year as a reminder to think realistically about my purchases.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I am a geek. There it is. I admit that I love all things hobbit and probably have the biggest collection of Lord of the Rings junk in the world. I have an ENTIRE room dedicated to my collection of figurines, swords, posters and the like. Last night I spent the evening at Wolf Trap National Park in Virginia sitting in a field in the chilly rain under a plastic shower curtain watching Fellowship for the millionth time on a giant screen while listening to a live orchestra and chorus perform the score. It was magnificent. Thank goodness, I was not alone in my adoration. I was relieved to see a very large crowd of my fellow geeks equally enjoying the event in spite of the cold and rain. We all laughed in unison at Sam, Merry and Pippin's comic bits and cheered at Aragorn's bloody victory over a mighty fighting Uruk hai. Silly, I know, but good old fashioned movie magic happens when you allow yourself to believe. For 3 and 1/2 lovely hours we could forget all about high gas prices and the upcoming elections to battle against the more easily identifiable evils of Middle Earth.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beaded Beginnings

If you had asked me last week if I would ever knit with beads I would have said NO. I have never been a big fan of the bead and yarn combo in any of the projects I have ever seen. All that changed however, when a coworker, a new knitter, asked me to tink back a few rows for her to correct a mistake. I was instantly hooked. She is making a beaded amulet, a tiny bag that hangs around your neck to hold a magic crystal or something. Well, I am not sure what it is supposed to actually hold but it was really fascinating to work with such tiny size 0000 needles and tiny size 8 cotton yarn. The real challenge though has been to get all my thousands of beads onto the yarn. First I tried putting one on at a time by hand in the only way that made sense to me. Then I read the directions and realized there is an actual method involved here. You first string the beads onto sewing thread with a needle and then by making a loop in the thread and pulling the tail of the yarn through that loop you can string the beads much faster onto the cotton you will eventually be knitting with. Genius!
Since my typical behavior, when discovering a new craft, is to immediately throw lots of money at it, I spent an evening scouting ebay for hanks of beads and coordinating colors of cotton for making all the oodles of bags I have planned even though I have yet to even start my first. I sure hope all this positive thinking pays off or my beading supplies will end up being packed away next to all the quilting supplies I invested in last summer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

I woke up to find all these Mother's Day treats waiting for me on the kitchen island. My family knows me so well. I love cheap chocolate and dirty men. Whitman Samplers are a tradition in my family for any female oriented holiday. The chocolate is um....somewhat tasty but it is the box that is the real treasure. These little yellow cardboard boxes are perfect for holding everything from sewing notions to baby teeth and old report cards. This year my oldest son managed to find me a metal version that mercifully only holds a few samples of candy. I can't wait to tuck away all the little souvenirs of 2008 into this little beauty. The photo of Josh Holloway is going to join my collection of scruffy hero pix. He is going right alongside my shots of Viggo as Aragorn. In my world, Prince Charming is always in need of a bath and a haircut.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Two Little Cuties

I couldn't resist adding another post about the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival so I could add this photo. These two beautiful alpacas were standing there together so patiently. The poor things had to be sick and tired of people poking and prodding them but they remained very dignified and agreeable to all the curious onlookers, most of which had no idea what they were. Baby llamas? Maybe. It reminded me of one of my first grade students, who after showing the class a movie one afternoon about sheep, commented that he was surprised to see such "really big hamsters". I would have laughed except for the fact that I was the person that, who, for the last year had been in charge of this child's education. I was happy to see that there were about a million or more kids at the festival this year getting up close and personal with lots of big fuzzy critters that will hopefully never make that same mistake.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Breakdown

The first weekend in May, I always have a fiber meltdown in the middle of the Howard County Fairgrounds. Sensory overload. The sheepdog exhibition is the one place I am free of the pressures of having to buy things that will not end up as just more meaningless stash. There are miles and miles of vendors selling everything that a knitter and spinner could possibly want. It is a wonderland, a real magical kingdom of dreams and possibilities. Of course I want it all and have pockets full of cash, but it is physically impossible for me to decide what I really need to take home with me. Each year I follow the same pattern of behavior and end up bringing home the same old stuff from the same old vendors because I have to go on some weird fiber autopilot in order for me to even get in and out of all the exhibit halls without crying. It has become a family joke that I always end up spending more on pretzels and lemonade than on anything even remotely related to wool. In order to make peace with myself, I spent $20 at AC Moore's on dishcloth cotton on the way home and another $40 buying sock yarn from ebay this morning.
Each year there is a "theme" to what is being worn and displayed. Last year was the year of the felted bag. This year it was decidedly the year of the lace shawl-dainty triangles of airy lace that drape oh so prettily over the shoulders. They were everywhere. I have spent the morning planning mine. I may not spend much there again next year, but I plan on looking like I do.