Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Seeing Double again

As I may have mentioned earlier, the double-knit hat I was knitting was on a pretty tight deadline. Well, it turns out that Mother Nature had a deadline that coincided with mine, too. As I was weaving in ends, we were getting Boston's first significant ice/snow storm of the year, followed by several days of bitterly cold weather. Weather that calls for a nice thick hat, right?
And here it is:

Project Details:
Pattern: DoubleknitSki cap by Alison Hansel, with a different stripe sequence based on Fibonacci.
Yarn: Cascade 220, color 9498 and 7824, less than one skein apiece
Started: 1/24/2007
Finished: 2/14/2007
Comments: Other than underestimating the amount of time required to knit this (you're really knitting two hats--duh--no wonder it takes twice as long!), this was fun. I always enjoy learning new techniques, and this one was pretty painless once I understood the principle. It seemed very mysterious as I was reading the directions and casting on, but the idea behind it becomes clear pretty quickly as you knit. I'm toying with the idea of doing a double-knit cap for P. for next winter, maybe something with more colorwork depicting whales or fish like the one Johanna made a couple years back.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Sorry I've been AWOL for the last week. I'm busy getting some work wrapped up before I leave for a short vacation with my sister next week, so my blogging time has been sorely limited. But I have a new poem today, and I'll have photos of another finished object tomorrow.

Today's poem is a clerihew. It's named after Edmund Clerihew Bentley, who invented the form in the early twentieth century. The clerihew is four lines long and pokes fun at a famous person. There are no rules about meter (in fact, most clerihews use lines of irregular length), but the first line must be the name of the celebrity, and the second line must rhyme with it.

To that end, I chose a "celebrity" who's probably only well-known in the knitting world, and who is perhaps as infamous for this problem as she is celebrated for her quite lovely patterns. Enjoy!

Debbie Bliss
Is a trifle remiss
When it comes to the knots
In her yarn. (there are lots!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Thank-You Hat

As I mentioned at the end of my Christmas yarn saga, I decided to make a thank-you gift for the person who bought me all that yarn in the first place. I finished this weeks ago, but didn't want to post about it until I had shared the whole story, since it wouldn't really make sense out of context. Here it is:

Pattern: Droplet Hat from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan
Yarn: Tahki Donegal Tweed Homespun, Color 845, one skein

Started: 1/5/2007

Finished: 1/26/2007

Comments: I had a great time knitting this hat, with the exception of the one row that has like a zillion bobbles. That being said, though, Norah Gaughan's no-turn bobble method does make the bobbles a lot easier, and it's a good technique to pick up if you're planning to knit any other project with bobbles, which seem to be cropping up all over knitting patterns right now!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Today's poem is a cinquain, the last form I'll be exploring in the haiku family.

A cinquain is a five-line poem in which the syllable structure is 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. The poem should read seamlessly, without any obvious line breaks--in other words, it should sound like a sentence when read aloud. But I'll let you be the judge of that.

Yarn balls
roll off my lap
unwind across the floor
and lodge beneath the piano

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Catalyst

OK, so I (purposely) left out a big part of my little alchemical equation from yesterday's post--a receipt.

Here's the story, which I alluded to way back in January, since I mistakenly thought it would be reaching a conclusion long before mid-February!

I think probably every knitter has, at some time or another, received a gift of yarn. Now, if the yarn comes from other knitters, or at least from close friends who know your knitting taste and your personal style, this can be a very good thing. But, on the other hand, if the yarn comes from someone else, someone who says to themselves, "Hmmm . . . Norah's a knitter. Let's put together a really fabulous gift basket--at A. C. Moore," the results can be less than satisfactory.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to belittle the thoughtfulness that went into this gift (an entire wicker laundry basket full of Lion Brand) or to insult anyone's preference for Lion Brand. I know that there are times and places and projects for which Lion Brand is really the perfect choice. However, here's the deal--unlike pretty much everybody else in blogland, I don't have stash spilling out of closets and bureaus and bathtubs. My yarn supply is at an all-time low and my budget doesn't allow me to splurge right now on the yarn I really want to purchase. So when I saw those 20 skeins of Lion Brand, my heart sank a little--knowing how much it probably cost and thinking about how much really lovely yarn I could purchase for the same price. I knew I probably wouldn't use the Lion Brand, and I felt really bad about it.

Thankfully, the giftgiver was as astute as she was generous, and she subtly slipped me the purchase receipt "just in case you need to exchange for different colors." A quick glance at the receipt revealed a true Christmas miracle--the yarn had been paid for by check. Anyone who's aware of store return policies probably realizes what this means--all at once, I wasn't limited by A. C. Moore's yarn selection if I wanted to return my yarn. I could get cash, which I could spend at any old yarn shop I desired!

So off I went to A. C. Moore, gigantic trash bag full of Lion Brand in hand. It took more than 20 minutes, 3 cashiers, and a buildup of about 15 disgruntled customers in line behind me to process the return, but it was totally worth it. After they cleared out 3 different cash registers to give me the cash, I had almost $100 worth of yarn money burning a hole in my pocket.

So what did I buy? Well, I bought enough Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran to finish my Nantucket sweater (and then some--I don't want to run out again), and enough Rowan Felted Tweed to make this Vortex Street pullover from Knitting Nature. Both of these had to be special ordered, which made for a long several weeks while I waited for the parcel to arrive.

Oh, and one skein of Tahki Donegal Tweed to make a little thank-you gift for the gift-giver, which has already been finished, blocked, and sent out weeks ago. Pictures next week . . .

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Yarn Alchemy

Sorry that there's no new poem this week--I've been laid up for a few days on prescription painkillers, and although writing under the influence works well for some, I figured you all might appreciate it if I hold off on writing a cinquain until I can actually comprehend its syllable structure. So while I consider five lines of poetry, here's something for you to consider:

How did I turn this:

into this

and this?

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Knitting Army?

Sorry for the lack of new posts of late--I'm frantically finishing one project and also dealing with some other issues that have kept me off-blog for a few days. You'll have to wait a couple more days for pictures of what I've been working on, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share this little tidbit.

I've started reading P. some "chapter books" lately, and he's really latched onto L. Frank Baum's Oz series. Pretty much everybody knows the first book in the series, or at least the movie based on it. But this week, we've been reading the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, which I'm pretty sure I haven't read in 20 years. Anyway, imagine my delight when I rediscovered the scene in which General Jinjur and her "army of girls" conquer the Emerald City armed only with "glittering knitting needles." Here's the army engaged in their bloodless knitting revolt:

Clearly Baum was having some fun at the expense of the suffragist movement! The whole book contains some pretty interesting gender commentaries--General Jinjur's army puts all the men of the Emerald City to work cooking and cleaning, for one thing. And, last but not least, at the end of the book, it's revealed that the book's hero, Tip, is actually none other than Princess Ozma, who's been under enchantment--in the body of a boy--for almost her whole life. Only when she is restored to her female form can she become the rightful ruler of Oz! Gender roles, gender-bending--this is pretty heady stuff for a book that came out in 1904!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


This week's poem is another cousin of the haiku; a tanka, a five-line form that predates the haiku and generally has a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure, although it can be more flexibly interpreted to include 31 syllables spread over five lines or even a pattern of 2-3-2-3-3 accented syllables. Unlike the haiku, which is founded on concrete, literal imagery, the tanka can utilize metaphor, simile, or other figurative language.

This one's a little knitting love poem perfect for a cold winter's day:

I knit you new socks
On the year’s most frigid day
Wrapping you in wool
Is how I still embrace you
When you set foot in the cold

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sixteen Rows a Day Keeps the Doctor Bag From Driving Me Crazy

What you see here is the beginning of my Doctor's Bag. I took this photo last week, and it's actually gotten a lot bigger than that now, especially after knitting on it during yesterday's little football game. This is going to be one big bag! Finished, the sides will measure just under 12" x 18"--get out the measuring tape, kids, because I had a hard time visualizing it until I was able to look at just how long 18" is.

The pattern is extremely straightforward (hopefully you can see the herringbone stitch in the photo--it's kind of hard with the dark yarn), although for some reason, my own mental shortcomings make it such that I can't stop knitting in the middle of the 16-row pattern repeat. Which makes this a great project for, say, knitting during movies (or 3.5-hour football games), but not so great for picking up and knitting in little bits and pieces, or for taking on the subway or to rehearsal or somewhere else where I'm liable to get interrupted frequently.

That Cascade 220 is certainly getting a workout--as are my wrists, from knitting with straight needles after doing pretty much everything on circulars for the last couple of years!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Seeing Double?

Am I making two hats?

Or just one?

That's right--I've made some tentative steps into double knitting, with the first of my Cascade 220 projects. This one will be dark green with orange stripes (or orange with dark green stripes, depending on your point of view). I'm enjoying it now that I understand the basic principle, and I'm excited to get to the part with the stripes. That'll take a while, though, given that I have to knit this one on the sly, since it's a gift. On the other hand, it also has a deadline, so I'd better find more secret (double) knitting time somewhere!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Time Out

Apologies for the lack of knitting-related material this week. I promise knitting info (and photos!) will return tomorrow.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to let you all know that I was selected to be a Correspondent on For those of you who aren't familiar with Gather, it's kind of like MySpace for grownups, with lots of articles and online "communities" on different topics. Up until now, they've relied on members for all their content, but recently they relaunched their site featuring not only member content but also articles by correspondents on nine different topics.

I'm writing a twice-monthly column for their food channel. My column is called "Season's Eatings" and is going to mostly focus on background info about various in-season produce items. So, for example, if you go to a farmer's market and have no idea what, say, Swiss chard is or what in the heck you would do with it, my column is going to provide a primer on such things. I'll also be talking with farmer's market organizers, local growers, visiting area farms, etc.

Anyway, if you enjoy reading about food, I'd invite you to look at my column on Gather. I'm working to make the columns both informative and, hopefully, fun to read. I'm adding a link to my column on my sidebar here, so you can feel free to check it out that way--enjoy!