Thursday, June 29, 2006

Just Checking In

. . . to say that I don't have much to say. Knitting's not going well this month, and I'm not feeling inspired either to finish one of my current projects or to start a new one. Any advice on what to do when facing knitter's block?

The good news is that the Ribby Cardi is actually in the home stretch at this point--it's off getting zippered right now, and I should have pictures by early next week.

I'm headed out of town for part of the long holiday weekend, but I'll be back in time to post a poem for the next challenge in The Amazing Lace.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Hey, little sister--since you turned twenty-one yesterday, you're probably busy nursing a hangover and wondering why your big sister hasn't produced any lovely hand-knitted socks for you. I mean, come on--she measured your feet when you visited in March, she made a big point of buying non-wool sock yarn--it really couldn't have been more obvious.

So, you ask: where's the goods? I reply--with much embarrassment and regret--they're here. Or rather it (as in socko numero uno)'s here, on my foot, waiting to be Kitchenered together.

I won't offer excuses, won't blame anyone except myself for my tardiness. Here's hoping you can forgive your big sister, who promises to knit night and day until you have a full pair of socks, hopefully at least a fraction as fabulous as you are. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Back in the Swing of Things

Ever noticed that after you're on vacation, it takes you a while to get back into the routine of your ordinary life? This week, I've been forgetting to start the dishwasher, empty the dishwasher, check my e-mail, take out the trash . . . you get the picture. It's like I'm still in vacation mode, even if my life isn't. Likewise with blogging--suddenly it's Wednesday, and I haven't blogged since Sunday's bizarre muskie picture. This is really inexcusable, since even if I don't have much knitting progress to report (more on that later), I do owe someone my gratitude for these:

These lovely handbeaded stitch markers were waiting for me upon my return from vacation. Thank you, Secret Pal! You were right, these stitch markers will be much more inspiring than the plastic doohickies I've been using on my lace shawl--and trust me, on that project, I need all the inspiration I can get. Anyway, thanks so much for the thoughtful gift!

Even though a slower-paced summer schedule makes for more knitting time, I'm currently in the knitting doldrums. I'm stuck between two projects, both gifts, both under deadlines (of course). The sock I'm knitting needs to be ripped back to the beginning of the toe decreases (note to self: don't do a short-row toe during knitting group--the results will not be to your satisfaction), and the placemats I'm knitting are losing something in the execution, namely about 2" from the size the pattern calls for. If I get my nerve up, I may post pics later this week, but they're looking pretty sorry right now!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Extreme Kitsch

Help! My fichu (or should I say fishu) and I have been consumed by a giant muskie!*

*Yes, that's really me up there (look closely). This monument to kitsch is the centerpiece of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Back to Civilization

While I was in Michigan's Upper Peninsula this week, I was entirely without Internet access. Tomorrow we'll return to our regularly scheduled knitting content. In the meantime, though, here are a few of my favorite things from our trip.

1. The many butterflies that visited the flowering bushes outside our cabin:

2. The rocky shores of Lake Superior:

3. The many hours of sunlight. Believe it or not, this picture of my sister was taken just before 10 p.m.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This Is Knitting?

I'm getting ready for the next challenge of The Amazing Lace by doing a little extreme knitting warmup. Any idea what they are? Let's see if a little less impressionistic photograph helps:

They're napkin rings for a friend of mine who's getting married this summer. I'm also making a coordinating set of placemats to go with them, so pattern details will be forthcoming once those are finished. But, in case any of you are wondering, like my dad, what those balls are, they're glass beads knitted onto fine gauge wire. How's that for extreme?

Finally, an FO

I know it seems like I haven't finished anything lately, not to mention I've been giving few progress reports (which begs the question: what exactly have I been blogging about lately?) Just before leaving on vacation, though, I was able to pause for a photo of my finished Picovoli:

Pattern: Picovoli by Grumperina

Yarn: Cascade Pima Tencel, color 1693

Started: 4/23/06

Finished: 6/1/06

Comments: I loved knitting this sweater! After my problems finishing the Ribby Cardi, I needed a project that involved little finishing, and this was the perfect antidote, since it's knit totally in the round. I made only a couple changes to the pattern, namely adding 1-2" in length to both the middle part of the torso and to the bottom. I also did one fewer increase for the hips than what the pattern called for, since I didn't want it to flare out any more than it does. Being able to try the sweater on as I went made a huge difference to the overall fit. And, as far as finishing, I actually really enjoyed the picot edging, believe it or not.

I substituted yarn, which, at less than $5/ball, made this the most economical sweater I've knitted. After wearing the sweater for a full day (including a 3-hour plane flight and a 2-hour car ride), I'm a little concerned that it will grow. I did wash my swatch and block it prior to knitting, and the sweater didn't grow noticeably when I blocked the sweater as a whole, but it definitely wasn't as form-fitting in the evening as it was in the morning. And let's just say I don't think I lost weight during the day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Come On, Ring Those Bells

I'm headed to Minnesota soon to visit family. We're also driving up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (where I lived from kindergarten until second grade) to stay at a cabin for a week. But I'll be back (just) in time for this:

For those of you in the Boston area, this is the spring concert of the Back Bay Ringers handbell ensemble (of which I'm a member). Our concert is Friday, June 16th at 8 pm at Old South Church. Tickets are $15 or $5 for students. If you're in the area and looking for something fun to do on Friday night, you should check it out. We're young and hip and just happen to play really great music. For more details, check out our website:

I'll be posting while I'm in Minnesota--stay tuned!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sun, Sea, and Socks!

Last week, summer arrived in Boston with a vengeance. The warm Sunday of the Mass Sheep & Wool Festival kicked off a string of hot, sunny days that kicked people's gardens into high gear, finally dried up the last of the mud puddles from the Great Flood of 2006, and sent yours truly outdoors. A lot. Fortunately, now that I am a bona fide sock knitter, I always had a sock in my pocketbook, ready to go at the drop of a hat (or sock, as it were). Also fortunately, the sock I'm currently knitting is made of, quite possibly, the most forgiving, resilient sock yarn I've seen. Good thing, too, considering all the mishaps that were to befall it this week.

On Tuesday afternoon, P. and I headed to a local playground, where they had, unbeknownst to me, turned on the sprinkler system over the holiday weekend. P. charged into the sprinkler without any of his usual hesitation, and proceeded to get soaked to the skin. As I was adjudicating a dispute involving a plastic rake, a tricycle, and two stubborn three-year-olds (note to self: add conflict resolution to resume), I left said sock sitting on a park bench near the sprinkler. By the time peace was achieved, the sock had been claimed by a curious toddler, who had decided to give it a nice dunk in a puddle followed by a rinse in the sprinkler spray. Amazingly enough, not only had the tike not dropped any stitches (a born knitter, that one), the sock itself had also exhibited an amazing ability to repel the mud, dirt, weedy glop, and earthworms that inhabited the puddle of its immersion. This stuff is amazing!

Fast forward to Wednesday morning, as P. and I board the Voyager III, about to set sail on a whale watch sponsored by the New England Aquarium.

P. loves sharks, whales, fish--basically anything that lives underwater--so he thought this was the greatest thing ever (Quotes of the day: 1. "I had no idea real live whales lived in the ocean!" [this despite the fact that he peruses a book with photos of whales on a daily basis]; 2. "Can you just imagine how big whale's poop must be?" [said in a tone of combined awe and admiration]).

I thought it was pretty cool, too--however, I had no idea just how fast that boat would go. There I was, calmly sitting on deck as the boat churned through Boston Harbor, knitting away on the sock, discussing the scale of whale excrement, when the captain saw fit to put the pedal to the metal (or whatever the nautical equivalent would be), and we were all doused in an onslaught of sea spray. Again, the sock appears no worse for the wear (although it probably tastes slightly salty--I haven't sampled it).

Why no pictures of this amazing wonder sock, you ask? Well, it's a gift for someone who reads my blog, so I'd like it to remain a mystery for a little while longer. I promise not to keep y'all in suspense for too long, though. Tomorrow P., the sock, and I will be winging our way to Minnesota to visit family. What new mishaps will await it en route? An accident involving my favorite on-board beverage (a mixture of cranberry juice and ginger ale)? A tangle in the wheels of the beverage cart? An unfortunate encounter with an airsick seatmate? Stay tuned.

A final note: last night I added on to my list of bizarre places I've knit by knitting during the opening act of Radiohead's U.S. tour. I'll spare you my review of the show--all I'll say is that if they're headed to your town, go.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Road Trip!

Last Sunday, Colleen, Anna, Suzanne, and I headed out West (to western Massachusetts, that is) to the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in Cummington.

Look, sheep!:

In addition to the sheep barns, sheepshearing demonstrations (which, incidentally, were held under the blazing sun of an atypically hot May afternoon, resulting in conditions that looked distinctly uncomfortable for both shearer and shearee), and various fibery contests (4-H sewing contests, spinning and knitting competitions, etc.), there were two barns of vendors (most based in New England and upstate New York), plus an outdoor marketplace.

Many of the vendors, of course, were selling spinning wheels and related merchandise. Since I have almost no desire to try spinning (lack of space + lack of patience ≠ spinning success), I was able to bypass these booths successfully. That's not to say I went home empty-handed, however:

From left to right we have two skeins of fingering weight alpaca (sinfully soft and warm socks, anyone?) from A Touch of Twist from Pattersonville, NY. In the middle is an almost compulsively touchable skein of alpaca courtesy of The Spinners Hill Shop in Bainbridge, NY. This one caused many swoons and sighs from Knitsmiths when we showed up back in Brookline to show off our purchases. It's really that soft, and the colors match my winter coat perfectly. Perhaps I'll finally succumb to the Clapotis craze? Last but not least, on the right, two skeins of French Twist sock yarn from French Hill Farm in Solon, Maine.

This was my first time at a fiber festival, and I had such a good time! It was great to see yarn from some of these small producers, many of whom don't have an Internet presence. Mass Sheep and Wool is a fairly small fair, but I think it was the perfect introduction--not too overwhelming but still comprehensive. I will be out of town for both the Maine Fiber Frolic and for Rhinebeck, unfortunately, but I may try to make it up to Vermont Sheep and Wool in September.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Thanks to everybody who voted on the yarn I should send to my dye-o-rama pal, and for the nice encouragement and comments from everybody--voting is now closed, and with a total of 58 percent to 42 percent, the greenish-bluish striped yarn won! I'll be sending it off to my dye pal tomorrow . . .