Sunday, January 29, 2006

C is for...

Cinderella, my best four-legged friend. Although she sort of looks like a demon dog there with the glowing green eyes, she is really the cuddliest thing going. She is a red and white Shih Tzu from Windsong Shih Tzu in New Hampshire, is all of 9 pounds soaking wet and is four and a half years old. That is her "stop torturing me with the Santa hat and give me my new treats already" look from Christmas morning.

Last week there was an article in the New York Times magazine section that pondered whether animals have personalities. All I could think of was Duh - any owner of a wonderful pet could tell you that and save millions of taxpayer dollars. Cinderella isn't particularly dog-like, but I haven't figured out what exactly she IS like. My neighbor says she is a friendly alien in a dog suit and is just waiting for the mother ship to come get her. I hope the mother ship waits for a long, long time - I would be lost without my little friend.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Show and tell at the mall

No pics today - sorry, but if I wait until I have great photos I will only be able to post twice a month!

The kid and I had a very nice afternoon of what we call recreational shopping yesterday - there were a few things we sort of needed, no emergencies, but enough to get some cash out of the bank and hit the mall without guilt.

Her store of choice is Build-A-Bear, where there was some discussion about whether she should get the '06 valentine bear or the newly released cow (bear won - it will be off the shelves after 2/14 and the cow will be around for a while - one has to think long term with one's collection!). MY store of choice was J. Jill because there was a fabulous sale. The kid likes it fine there, there is a sofa for her to sit on and when I can't decide which piece I want to buy, she chooses for me (get the blue one Mom, not the purple). I also stop in there often enough that I have a passing acquaintance with many of the women who work there, which is very nice.

Last night no one I knew was working, so I was being assisted by a stranger. And I know she meant well, but she kept trying to show me things I had already passed over, kept hauling things to the dressing room, like she had taken a class in increasing customer's purchases and was working way too hard at it. And again, not too obnoxious, but enough that my teeth were a little on edge. So I got a pair of jeans, a sweater (the blue one, Mom!), and a black jacket, then ordered a sale pair of pants (I need talls) from the web site in the store so I could get the mark down price

After all of this madness, the woman still insists of trying to sell me socks because they are on sale. To head this off at the pass I said, "That's okay, if I want more colorful socks I will just knit my own." To which the rest of the sales staff reacted with, shall I say, disbelief. So I pulled up the hem of my jeans and showed off my pretty Sockotta socks in gren, blue and purple. There was a moment of stunned silence, then everyone in the store had to come pet my socks - it was pretty funny!

The kid rolled her eyes, she has been through this knitting frenzy before, but then came over and showed off the sparkly hat she had in her coat pocket, which was oohed and aahed over by all concerned. And while I love being a roving knitting ambassador, all I wanted at this point was my charge receipt to we could move on - there was a salad bar waiting and spelling homework yet to be done!

The stuttering poncho is almost finished thank God, and I told the kid if anyone else in her class wants one for her birthday they have to pick a different color - how boring is it to make not only the same pattern twice in a month, but also use the same colorways?

Just hit an online sock yarn sale pretty hard - I think socks will be next after I finish the throw, which is so close to finished I can almost taste it. And the red scarf, after a nice bath, smells MUCH better and is going in the mail today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Finished Red Scarf - yay!

I don't know why it is that I can't get a good picture of this scarf but trust me, it is lovely if I do say so myself.
Ah, apparently it just needed the right model! Here is the lovely and talented Barf Bear showing off our donation to the Red Scarf Project - the multi-directional rib scarf pattern from MagKnits, in Karabella Soft Tweed yarn.

It is nice and long at 65" by about6" wide. I loved the pattern and will definitely be making more of these. My only issue is the Soft Tweed - now that it is finished I am finding the scarf to be somewhat... fragrant, and I don't mean that in a good way. It smells sort of oily and not nice. I am hoping that this is just an excess of spinning oil from the manufacturing process, as soon as I can get BB to part with it I will give it a quick wash and block to see if that helps. I wouldn't want something that smells ever so faintly like a mechanic's garage near my face if it were me.

Color on Color (is it me or does that sound vaguely pornographic - "Triple XXX Color on Color action!!!!") got a little attention the other night after the red scarf had its ends woven in. I thought I had lost my mind - I was up to the fair isle section (section 11 for those of you playing along at home) and couldn't find color 662, which was next. I had to put it away for the night because it was aggravating me. Next morning, replete with coffee and sleep enhanced brain cells I went through the kajillion skeins of yarn and realized I had three skeins of 663 instead of three skeins of 662. No big, I subbed the color and no one will ever notice.

In other knitting news I cast on a Berocco Chinchilla poncho in the exact same colorway as the one I made for the kid. No, I was not stuttering, but the kid wants her very best friend to have a piece of matching clothing, and VBF apparently drools unattractively with poncho lust whenever the kid wears hers to school. VBF has a birthday coming up, thus another blue poncho. Sigh... but it will be good brainless knitting for sitting around at dance class this week.

Speaking of which, it is time to go to dance class!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

More spinning follies

Not that I particularly wanted to talk about spinning today -but I have pictures! Resting in its handy IKEA carrying case, my happy-making drop spindle and some roving I bought at Rhinebeck. Again, wish I knew where I got it, but quite frankly bought so much stuff that I have no idea where anything came from. I promise to be a better Rhinebeck blogger next year!

75% merino, 25% silk - very pretty colors. I had no idea how much I needed to do anything knitterly with, so I bought a 6 ounce bag. This is my first attempt with a drop spindle so be kind.

And some single ply. Well, some very thick single ply. Well, some very thick and ocasionally very thin single ply. Well, you get the idea.
All things being equal, I probably should have picked 100% wool for my first project, I have a heck of a time drafting this as the silk is much harder to pre-draft than the wool is, so getting it consistent has been problematic. The 100% silk from the hankies comes out much more even for me. However wonky it is though, I like it. I love the colors, and I love that I made it.

There was an article in the New York Times this past Thursday talking about how hip spinning is. My first thought was uh-oh - there goes the spinning neighborhood, although a spinning trend has to be a lot less obnoxious than a poncho trend. The funny thing (to me) about the article is how many of the spinners said they spun to enjoy the process and didn't want to knit anything out of the yarn they made. DIDN'T WANT TO KNIT ANYTHING OUT OF THE YARN THEY MADE! I don't get it, it just doesn't compute. To me, that's like spending hours making gourmet cookies and then throwing them in the trash. Which I suppose makes me a results oriented knitter rather than a process oriented knitter. I do enjoy the process, I am just also Type A enough to want something the neighbors can admire when I am finished.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

B is for....

B is for Barf Bear of course! She loves to appear on the blog, and now she has snagged my Color on Color scarf WIP to work on - it is currently just her size, although I hope that changes soon.

For those of you who have not heard the saga of how BB got her name - here is the abbreviated version. When the kid was 7 we flew to AZ on a vacation. Due to worries about getting stuffed animals through security with their dignity (and stuffing) intact this close to NYC, I asked the kid to leave her copious stuffed animal collection at home. After getting an ear infection on the plane and suffering projectile vomiting in the hotel from the prescribed meds (boy were we a hit with housekeeping...), her AZ auntie brought her this soft cushy bear to cuddle with. We keep saying she needs a better name but Barf Bear she was christened and Barf Bear she remains. She flew home unscathed, although my underwire bra got me pulled aside at the security lines!

And here is a somewhat better picture of the Color on Color (from Scarf Style) scarf. I was hallucinating when I thought this was a good idea to start right now, but am enjoying all of the different colors. In between the Red Scarf that is almost finished (I am sure BB will be coerced into modeling it before it goes in the mail), the Chamonix throw that is almost finished (knitted a lot on that while it was so cold earlier in the week - it is big enough to keep most of me warm while I knit feverishly on the top), and the Guinevere wrap that is pretty close to finished but I am bored with, C on C doesn't get much attention. But this too shall pass. Many more projects in the to-do pile as well - shame I have to work enough to support my yarn habit as that really interferes with my knitting time!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A non-knitting rant

Can anyone explain to me why the school shuts down when there is an inch and a half of snow on the ground, yet we were all expected to get our rugrats to school on time today during 50 MPH winds and a maze of downed trees and power lines?

I understand that 50 MPH and rain isn't a big deal in some parts of the country but it is here. Every third street I tried to go down had something major involving crime scene tape in the middle of it.

Vent over, thanks for playing. Going to go finish up an article that is due before my power goes out, then I am going to knit knit knit knit as a reward for a job done if not well done...

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Red Scarf Grows




Granted, neither of these pictures qualify as wonderful, but you can get the general gist. Photo on the left is good for color, photo on the right shows the pattern much better. Pattern is the Multi-Directional Ribbed Scarf from Magknits, yarn is Soft Tweed by Karabella - a superwash wool with a crimped texture, stops just short of boucle. Love the pattern - it looks complicated on the page because it has line by line directions, but it is working up very quickly, and after a few main section repeats you barely have to read the pattern at all. I will definitely be making this one up again, I think the thick texture might make it a good choice for Dulaan, and I want to experiment with changing colors every triangle or two. If that looks good, this would be a great stash-busting pattern, good for using all of those oddballs and bits I have put away for charity knitting.

Last night it was so cold on the first floor of my drafty old house that all I wanted to work on was the Chamonix throw! It is just over halfway finished, so by working on that I could keep my lap warm at the same time. Sunday night is my tv night - Desperate Housewives at 9 (unless there is something good on HBO, when Deadwood comes back it will be bye bye DH), and Gray's Anantomy at 10. I love GA, came late to the program but I am really enjoying it.

Today the houseguest goes home but the kid is off from school, so I think laundry is the order of the day. God knows there is enough of it to keep me busy in between bouts of fighting with a story I have due this week. I actually got a fair amount of work done in bits and pieces over the weekend. The good news about freelancing is that I can work from home, the bad news is I don't ever feel like I have a day off - there is always something I should be doing and since I do it here, I can't ever really walk away from it.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Our Favorite Model Returns

Here we have the lovely and glamorous Barf Bear, who had such a great time modeling the kid's Christmas pressies that I decided to bring her back before her head gets too big and she refuses to appear on this low-rent blog anymore. BB is stylin' in a knitted shoulder poncho in three shades of Beroco Chinchilla, pattern courtesy of Yarn Over Ewe in scenic Lebanon, PA.
Can I just tell you I love this yarn? Very easy to work with, the resulting fabric is soft and cushy, and even after four appearances in 4th Grade it still looks great. All of the kids' schoolmates of the female persuasion want one of these - I suspect I will be knitting a lot of these for birthday gifts this year, thankfully they don't take very long. Hard to be a fiber snob when this rayon stuff is affordable and brings joy to the hearts of 9 year olds everywhere.

I also finished the Oak Rib Socks from the Vintage Socks book. They look oddly shaped in this photo, but they fit like a dream because of all of the ribbing. I have yet to master the art of taking photos of socks on my own feet, so you are just going to have to trust that these look and feel wonderful. Yarn was Calzeterria, bought for next to nothing at the Smiley's Manhattan yarn sale. Next socks for me - Cherry Tree Hill or die trying. But the kid has her eye on some Kroy in the stash so she may have to get the next pair.

I also have some nice photos of the scarf I cast on for the Red Scarf Project, but Blogger keeps eating them, so maybe tomorrow! Thanks again to all of you who are supporting this cause, the sponsors are so amazed by the instant outpouring of commitment from the internet yarn community. I think they underestimated us....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Comments please?

Thank you to those who wrote to tell me my comment box was wonky. I was wondering why there weren't any even though I had a zillion readers come through yesterday to learn about Red Scarf.

Please, if a few of you could leave a word or two, even as a test if you have nothing to say, I would greatly appreciate it so I can see if the problem has been remedied.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Red Scarf Project

Who knew one little email from Interweave Knits would start off this wonderful chain reaction on the internet?

Since I review IK books for my knitting web site, I am on their PR mailing list. Yesterday I got a quick note asking if I could help spread the word about The Red Scarf Project, in which IK, TNNA, and The Orphans Foundation of America have teamed up to try and get 2,500 red handknit or handcrocheted scarves donated by 1/31/06 so they can be included in Valentine's Day care packages for students who have moved from foster care into college.

Did you know that only 18% of children raised in foster care even start college? And once they do they are pretty much on their own, they have "aged out" of the system.

Anyway, please, go knit or crochet a red scarf this weekend. It doesn't have to be a major work of lace-weight art, it just has to be warm and cozy. For those of us who were less than thrilled with the reception some of our handknit holiday gifts received - well can you imagine a more appreciative recipient for your knitted love than someone who isn't expecting it?

To asnwer the questions that everyone seems to have - it doesn't have to be red, but if it isn't, try to stick with strong, non-gender specific colors. You can drop off your finished scarf at any of the 400 plus Einstein Brothers Bagels shop locations - to find out where those are click on the link below. If you want to mail them, they go to

Orphan Foundation of America/Red Scarf Project
21351 Gentry Drive Suite 130
Sterling, VA 20166-8511

The deadline for mailing scarves is 1/28/06, the deadline for dropping off the scarves at Einstein is 1/31/06. The Orphans.org website says 1/20 - don't panic, that is incorrect.

On my own, I would also suggest sticking with superwash or other easy care fibers, in case it goes in the washing machine.

I am a crap blogger and not good at putting links, but here goes nothing.

For information about the Orphans Foundation http://www.orphans.org
For Einstein Brothers locations http://www.einsteinbros.com , then click on the store locator button.
For quick info on my site - http://www.knitting.allinfoabout.com/features/orphans.html
For the full press release from Interweave http://www.knitting.allinfoabout.com/features/redscarforphan.pdf

If you have any specific questions, email me and I will get an answer as soon as I can. And if you have a blog and have the interest, please mention this project to your readers.

So far the response to this has been amazing and very gratifying. Bloggers and blog readers alike are already knitting away for this project and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Spinning Silk

Well as soon as I finished the last post the UPS truck came, which is, I suppose, one of the reasons it has taken me a while to update the blog. That and photos, I never have photos when I want them, and I just the the posts are way too boring without photos. The Cherry Tree Hill grab bag box was amazing. I don't love the sparkly stuff but the kid does, so she scarfed those right up. I got some beautifully dyed wools in worsted and bulky weight, some mohair, and two solid sock yarns amen! I love sock yarn, just can't stay away from it.

Anyway, for those of you who asked about the silk experiment - here is photographic evidence. For those of you who didn't ask, Amy's article on Knitty.com about spinning silk hankies is what started all of this madness. They aren't really handkerchiefs, just hankie shaped bits of bombyx silk fiber. After you peel off one hankie's worth you make a big hole in the middle and pull. Very satisfying!
A pile of pre-drafted silk roving. When I started this, I pulled 5 hankies into roving and then spun all 5, but now I just do one at a time to cut down on transient fuzzies. Note to those who want to try this - do NOT wear a fuzzy pullover during the attempt...



Below, one of the better sections so far as evenness goes. I am having a much easier time getting this to be even - even the kid mentioned that this didn't look as thick and thin as my previous spinning attempts! Mostly it is fingering weight, with the odd veer towards lace weight or DK. I really want to make this a two ply so I am trying to keep it thinnish. I keep reading online about people who complain they get too fine thread on the drop spindle, my problem is more the other direction, I wind up with super bulky when I wanted DK! But I am still pretty new at this, and know that practice will help. I LOVE my beautiful hand-crafted drop spindle with the ebony shaft. I bought it at Rhinebeck, but sadly don't remember who I bought it from. That was my first Rhinebeck visit, and the kid and I were having such a great time it is amazing I remembered to drive home.

Look - half-way decent silk single! Yay for me! I can't tell you how gratifying I find this project. I am getting about 5 feet of single ply per hankie. I keep spinning and spinning and the pile of hankies doesn't look any lower so I have no idea what I will wind up with so far as yardage goes. I want to dye it after it is plyed, more adventures. Cost effective so far as amusement value per dollar goes - I only spent about $12.00 including shipping on the hankies, and by the time I have spun them, plied them, dyed them, and knit them into something, they will have provided days and days of happy hours.

On the knitting front - three current projects on the needles and a million more lined up. I am almost to the toe decrease of the second sock in the Oak Rib socks in red Calzetteria. I am nearly done with the first section of the Guinevere wrap. Oh, and because I am insane I decided last week I wanted to make a cushy throw RIGHT NOW! I had gotten a big pile of Jaeger Chamonix on half price sale when my LYS put it on close out, and it was crying out to be a warm throw while the weather is cold. I modified the lap afghan pattern from Weekend Knitting, and since it is bulky weight on size 13 needles I am whipping right along. Will take it to SnB tomorrow night and get another chunk of it done there.

Barf Bear will be making another appearance in a day or two - turns out he loves to model the kid's clothing for the blog.

Back to work -

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Watched-for UPS Truck Never Comes

So there I was, New Year's Eve, everyone on tv is doing the ten second countdown to the New Year, and I am mentally doing the ten second countdown to the online sale at Cherry Tree Hill which started one minute into 2006. Well, rumor has it it started a little before that, but I digress. So my very first action of 2006 was to buy yarn. But it was CTH, and it was on sale, and it was grab bags which I love! So there! I have often heard that you continue a new year in the way in which you began it, so I guess now we all know I will be buying a lot of yarn this year. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Anyway, I was feeling pretty strongly that my package would come today, and yet I am empty-handed and cranky about it. Harrumph.

So to wrap up the hanging end from '05 - what ever happened to that felted New Zealand sweater? In short, it was pretty dissapointing. I new I would lose the stitch definition, but I lost a lot of color definition too - the diagonal stripes have pretty much gone away. Ah well, I will still make a bag out of it one of these days, after all, you can't really un-felt it.

Going to try and make it to the local SnB tonight, I rarely get to go as the kid is home and her father works Thursday nights. But he doesn't go back to work until tomorrow so if her homework load isn't deep I will sneak out and go. Trying to decide which throw pattern to use on my gazillion yards of Chamonix, which I got at this very LYS when it was on half price sale. Half Alpaca, Half Merino, All Yum! I am down to two patterns, and maybe I will do gauge swatches tonight, which are much more fun to do with people to chat with.

I have also been spinning silk hankies - way cool. I know I promised pictures, but...ummm....didn't get to dowload them yet. I know, bad blogger, bad!

Off to get the kid from her playdate and try and rush her through her homework so I can go out! Silk pix tomorrow. Pinkie Swear...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A is for...

Alpaca of course!

A bunch of bloggers are doing an "ABC along" in which a photo is posted to the blog every two weeks to correspond to a letter of the alphabet. I am always looking for more blog photos, so what the heck, I think I will play too! Alpaca was a no-brainer for the first photo considering the name of this blog. Can't wait until we all get to x and z to see how we can make photos of xylophones and zebras fit into our blog topic of choice.

Happy New Year to one and all while I am thinking about it. I had no plans for New Year's Eve, a holiday I rank right up there with Valentine's Day as a holiday most likely to depress me. I had gotten some more IKEA bins to do some more stash organizing, I swear it breeds when I am not looking. The kid got invited to a party - how sad is it that a 9 year old has a better social life than I do? Anyway...

A good third of the way through my Guinevere wrap, although the farther along you get the more stitches you have in the row so I can see this getting real boring real soon. The yarn is a dream to work with though so I will persevere. The Oak Rib socks from Vintage Socks are coming right along, will get at least the first one done during this week's round of sitting in doctor's offices.

Kid home from yet another party - off for now...