Saturday, February 28, 2009

CPH Progress

This mini post is for my sister who helped me pick out the yarn for this sweater ages ago. I am working on it. I really am. But it's one of those projects that you take for granted. All the exciting stuff just keeps jumping ahead of it in line. Now that I see it all together like this I really like it so it may just get finished before the weather gets too hot to wear it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Got a Notion

There have been a lot of posts lately about what containers people use to hold their notions. Little mint tins seem to be the all time favorites but I have these dandy little boxes that are far superior. A parent of one of my students works in computers and these small transparent boxes hold a tiny whatchmacallit that are required in vast numbers. Once the whatchamacallits are removed from the little boxes they are tossed into the trash or gathered up and sent to their daughter's teacher (me) for recycling. The kids love them because they have a magnetic closure. They snap shut like an expensive purse. And stay shut no matter how many times you drop them. They put all sorts of weird things in them-the kinds of weird things only kids collect. I use them to house my billions of stitch markers. I buy them by the pound and seem to lose them by the ton. I was walking my dogs last week and on the wooded path behind my house, there in the tall winter grass, I found one. A tiny blue one that I recall popping off during a sock knitting walk last summer. True story.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Note to Self

Dear Self,
What makes you think you can spin lace weight yarn? How much character do you think is actually a design element and how much is just terrible spinning? I know you won't abandon this project just because it is awful. You have plenty of awful projects-your Palette Cardigan for example. It is truly hideous but you love every ugly stitch of the techno colored nightmare. Will you ever wear it? Doubtful, but you will take great pride in finishing it just the same. Now that you have been able to admit that this is another dead end project give yourself permission just to have fun with all that lumpy, twisted yarn you spun and make a note to stay away from the skinny stuff until you actually learn how to do it right. Got that?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cast On

Casting on lace is always crazy. Designers seem to always want to test your level of commitment right from the start. There is always some kind of trick that you have to perform to get things going and if you stop and think why you are doing what you are doing you are doomed. Circular and triangular shawls are the worst. I am sure there is a good reason for all the weird stuff but my poor old brain just needs to accept it and move on. I made it through my 2 stitch trial of fire with Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket shawl and made it all the way through chart 1 this weekend. I plan to spend all of March and half of April on chart 2 in order to complete that huge amount of edging by the first weekend in May. I plan to wear (take) this to the MD Sheep and Wool Fest. Each year I work on something to show off and each year I chicken out and leave it in the car. If you plan on being at the festival this year, locate the red mini with the white stripes in the parking lot and look on the back seat. I guarantee there is going to be a lovely shawl on it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A New Toy

Saturday mornings are for lace but before I could start my Flower Basket shawl I needed to wind up all those unruly skeins of my handspun. At 6 am I huddled under my beloved electric blanket and played with my new toy. Usually I wind all my handspun on toilet paper tubes but lately I have had trouble sliding the thinner stuff off. I found this wonderful handmade nostepinne on ebay for a ridiculous price and I love it. I discovered however, that I am not very good at that center pull trick. My first attempt is not very pretty but it does work. I managed to get all the way through the first chart without having to climb under the bed and free my runaway ball from a swarm of dust bunnies. This may or may not be a good thing as the only exercise I have been getting lately in this bitter weather has been chasing balls or popped stitch markers. My wear-everyday-black capri yoga pants that are waiting for spring may just have a big surprise in store.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It Doesn't Take Much

At school, this week's story is about a sheep that gets tangled up in someone's yarn. For the kids it's funny but I always react in horror which creates a great deal of interest in that particular tale. To show them why that upsets me so, each year I bring in my carders and spindles and gather my first grade kiddies on the rug to show them just how hard it is to make yarn. After pulling out a handful of tangled raw wool and loading up the carders all eyes became fixed on the process that turns it into a fluffy cloud. When I began to spin it into a raggedy yarn a little voice from the back said in awe "she's a genius". All heads nodded in agreement. Maybe now I'll be able to get a word in now and again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Bag Full

I did it again. I bought another giant bag of smelly stuff. The crocus peeking up from under the dead leaves in the front garden has awakened the need for making giant wet, drippy messes on the deck. My new, still in the box, drum carder has waited patiently all winter for some filthy fiber to shred into colorful little clouds for spinning. I know I am being overly ambitious since that green roving I began many months ago is still on the bobbin while the socks are at a standstill mid heel. The promise of warm days and time off is too tempting to ignore.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Good Sign

I am not sure what the groundhog predicted this year about what the next 6 weeks will bring but this is what is happening in my yard. I am perfectly aware that by the time these things bloom I will be complaining about the heat, but for the moment I am enjoying the idea that this miserable winter is coming to an early end.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Better Than Chocolate

After finishing my Raggedy Old Shale Shawl last summer I spun some more raggedy singles to make another small shawl in hopes of having one that was decent enough to wear to this year's Sheep and Wool Festival. A week of 60 degree weather has managed to nudge me out of my winter blues enough to start thinking about how close May actually is. Stuck home with a nasty tummy bug and feeling very sorry for myself on chocolate's big day, I am going to spend this sunny Valentine's Day afternoon digging up a pattern and trying not to make matters worse by opening anything in the shape of a heart.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spending Away the Winter Blues

Sprawled across my messy desk are this week's accumulation of goodies. Nancy Bush's last book on Estonian lace has been quite a challenge for me to get my hands on. Amazon asked me if I wanted it way back in November and then after ordering it and waiting for several weeks, they told me it would take at least 3 months for it to be delivered. What's up with that? They asked me if I wanted it so I assumed they just might have a copy or two laying around.

These are my most recent fiber goodies. Some new Berroco sock yarn and some kinda-like Noro stuff that I hope will turn into one of those scarves. My color choices were not the best for that striped thingy everybody has to have but mine's probably just going in the ugly scarf pile anyway.
Lest you think I am wasteful, let me just say that I may have the only feral cat house in North America lined with handknit goodies. They never complain about the colors or the itch.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Finishing School

The finishing basket was full this week. Somehow I managed to put the final stitches in not only my replacement raglan but on two more Flared Smoke Rings. I had the final sleeve of the sweater done last night, I thought, until I actually measured the two sleeves together and noticed that one was visibly longer than the other. I ripped back, reknit and then discovered I had used K2P2 ribbing on the neck and bottom edges and K1P1 on the sleeve edges. I have decided to just ignore this bit of "character" because my Central Park Hoodie has been on hold too long.

The idea of making two more smoke rings was rather daunting at first but it is crazy how fast they knit up. The pattern is so easily "read" that it turns into the best kind of mindless knitting-the kind that impresses the heck out of people but is easy to crank out. Having said that, I don't want to see one for a while but since I have never made one for myself I am certain that there are more of these things in my future. I have some saffron colored lace weight on my drop spindle that may work. I certainly got my money's worth from this pattern.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Not Even Close

I was looking at some weaving posts on Ravelry the other night and I saw this beautiful red and white project that was made using a log cabin pattern. Wanting something that was different than just plain old stripes, I did some research and came up with the actual pattern which seemed do-able even for a complete beginner like me. I decided on making something bigger than a scarf, something, that for the first time, used the entire width of the 20" Knitters Loom. My first mistake was miscalculating the amount of yarn. I only had enough dark brown to make something a scarf size again. Disappointed but determined, I continued on only to discover I CANNOT in any way read a weaving pattern. My log cabin pattern which is supposed to look like blocks going in opposite directions looked like......stripes. I ripped it out and tried again and guessed it: more stripes. I gave up and resigned myself to making yet another brown striped scarf.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Good Use

The one thing I don't like about weaving is having to depend on someone else to help you warp the loom. After you thread all the yarn through the heddle, someone else has to help out and hold the loose ends to keep the tension as you wind it all up on the rollers. I just had to come up with a better way. I am too impatient to have to wait for someone to come home and rescue me. Here are my ankle and wrist weights that have long been gathering dust since the holidays. They are just the dead weight needed to drag the yarn across the table as I roll it up. I could insert some joke here about the other dead weight that usually helps me roll this stuff up but that would just be mean.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Silent Poetry

Here in Blogland, on February 2nd, it is customary to post a poem in honor of the patron saint somebody of poetry. In my entire life, I have only ever committed one poem to memory. Here goes:

There's too many kids in this tub
There's too many elbows to scrub
I just washed a behind that I'm sure wasn't mine
There's too many kids in this tub.

Thank you Shel Silverstein. These words have been rolling around in my head for many years and I actually find it strange how many times I call upon them to entertain me when I should be thinking of something important. And please excuse my lack of a photo in this post. Anything appropriate may cause the FBI to show up at my door.