Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A bunch of pictures

It's time once again for Whats In My Knitting Bag? Click pics to make them bigger.
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On the right is the purple tweedy top-down textured raglan. The body is nearly long enough and then I hope the sleeves and neck will go quickly.

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This is the successful mitten, worked in ancient sport weight yarn. It's really more child size than adult. To upsize to adult, use DK or worsted weight. This will be a Garter Belt pattern eventually.

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This is a mitten I was not happy with. I could pontificate on why this pattern failed, but I'm sure you have your own opinions. The simple explanation is that there isn't enough repetition. The brain likes repetition to establish a pattern and this doesn't do that. The brain also likes the repetition to be interrupted before it gets boring. But that's another story.

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This photo shows the progress on Scott's tweedy sweater. About 11 inches. Although the yarn is thin, the knitting goes quickly. This is a good project for waiting rooms, watching tv, or other multi-task knitting. The other thing in the picture is a first attempt at creating a felted boot liner for Colin. It's surprisingly hard to find replacement liners for kids' boots. One store clerk told me it's cheaper to buy new boots. I'm not optimistic about this beginning, but have a Plan B in mind.

The last picture shows the temp this morning while I was taking all those pictures...
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That's in Fahrenheit, kids! Welcome to a typical Wisconsin late November morning.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Yarn shopping to solve a problem

My friend Marji and I both posted about our yarn hoarding compulsion a couple weeks ago. We each said (independently and unbeknownst to one another) that the syndrome is fed, in part, by recognizing potential in all kinds of yarn and fabric that others might not appreciate. My case in point was some tan tweedy shetland-style yarn which I acquired in my first big yarn-amassing binge in 1990. This yarn came in a large lot of assorted colors. I've used a lot of these in several projects: four Fair Isle sweaters and some hats come to mind. But this tan tweed has resolutely refused to be place in any project.

Until it met the Blackberry Ridge sport weight navy.
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(Click the photo to make it bigger.) I took this picture a few days ago. The piece is now about 9 inches long. It goes quickly for a small-gauge project. I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out and Scott, who will get the sweater eventually, likes it too. The third part of this little yarn menage-a-trois is the loden green fingering weight I got from a frogged Brooks Bros sweater. It was doubled and I separated it to make a lighter weight yarn. (That yarn also appeared in the original, unseparated two-strand version in my Professor Vest.) I'm happy with the look of this sweater and the feel of the fabric. But I'm really just thrilled to finally put that yarn to use in a pleasing way.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I told Owen all about the family Thanksgiving, 1985, when the Morrison clan reenacted The Lost Weekend. Of course, I didn't elaborate on the drunken debauchery. But it was a voyage spanning at least 10 states, culminating in the Great Cranberry Spill in which my mom wiped out in my grandmother's butler's pantry while carrying the Waterford bowl of cranberry sauce to the dining room. Those of us in the kitchen heard the crash, and then Mom reappeared, hands red, white cotton blouse ruined, but crystal unbroken! My grandmother's dining room wallpaper still has a small stain where a few drops flew in to land. There's a lot more to tell about that trip, but now it's late and I must get some sleep.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Owen's first yarn and my new bag...

Here, as promised, is a peek at Owen's first attempt at spinning. We washed the hank and let it hang dry with weight on it. The knitting and the ball are right off the spindle: he got impatient to see how it would knit. I used #15 needles, which are probably a little small for some of it.
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Next up, is my new-to-me Coach bag. The eBay gods have smiled on me. This one doesn't have the hang tag, which I don't give two hoots about.
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This bag cost less than $40, including shipping. It's generously sized, plain unadorned outside, will last forever, and I love it.
My birthday present to myself.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Is it time to post again?

Yesterday Owen and I went to the Blackberry Ridge open house. I had one particular yarn in mind, and brought Owen along to help keep peace at home for Scott. We got my yarn and also a 13 oz bag of natural roving, which Owen was planning to use for needlefelting. I wanted to spend a little more time trying to get the hang of the drop-spindle. When Owen saw me drop-spindling, he wanted to do it too. He spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening and this morning spinning about half the bag of roving into his first yarn. It's a little uneven and a little on the thick side, both to be expected from a beginner. But he made a lot of improvement during the time he was working at it and really seemed to enjoy the process. He wants me to knit a bed for Hailey (the cat) out of it. I'll try to oblige, but am a little unsure what needle size to use: it looks like it fluxuates between U.S. size 4 and 35. Tomorrow I'll get a picture of his yarn and post it.

The yarn I went looking for was the Blackberry Ridge sport weight in navy blue. This is to solve the problem of how to use up the ancient shetland-style tweedy tan yarn I bought so very long ago. I had been hoping for a slightly muddier blue, but it really works well in the swatch. I like this yarn a lot and will probably be buying more of it. The price is quite reasonable at $8 for a 350 yard/4 oz skein. It has a nice hand and feels really pleasant. It's very even and has the right amount of twist. And I get to support a small scale really local business. Without paying a premium price. I also found a sale basket with some nice DK weight 85% wool/15% silk in a purple with tweedy flecks. I couldn't leave that sitting there.

My book group met today. We discussed The Kite Runner, which most of us agreed was an amazing book. One woman didn't feel that strongly about it, which is ok. I'm tempted to do a little write up for my Never On Oprah Book Club blog (see sidebar for link) but I'm not sure I can assert that Oprah would never choose this book. She does sometimes choose books I happen to like. In fact, there are some qualities of this book that might cast it squarely into Oprah-land: troubled family, troubled part of the world, guilt and expiation. Even so, I feel like this book rises above the emotional manipulation that puts me off some of her choices. I would put this in my Highly Recommended category.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Winter's Here

I mailed my submission package to IK today! Now it's time for crossed fingers and waiting.

Sheryl/Yarnit and I had coffee at Lakeside Fibers this morning. It was very slow in there, which was nice. It's a great place to enjoy the view of Monona Bay and watch winter move into town. I managed to get out without buying anything. That must be a first for me. I worked on the Donegal Lambswool top-down raglan and some new mittens. I'm not sure the mittens are exactly working, but they aren't quite failing, either. I modified a chart from Anatolian Knitting Designs, to make it small enough to fit on a mitten. Also, reversed the figure/ground color values. Pictures in the next day or two after I get at least one whole mitten done.

And now I'm having a case of complete Mental Drain. I had at least two other paragraphs of stuff to write, but my head is suddenly completely empty. That must mean I'm done!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Various updates

I finished the plain ol boring grey socks last night. So, I need to come up with another mindless and portable project to fill that niche. I'm thinking about the Cable and Rib socks from IK last issue. Or was it the issue before? Using my totally autumnal Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. Sounds like a plan.

I got impatient waiting to hear back from Amy S. about my Knitty submission and dropped her a message asking what's up. She said that she hated to say no to such a great design, but, well you know the line, "It just isn't right for Knitty." However, she encouraged me to send it to Interweave Knits, so I got the ball rolling on that process. Made a swatch (hmm, swatching for the sweater that's already made? something a little bass-ackward there!) and wrote up the description. I had some photos printed from my digital pics and picked the best two to send along instead of sketches. I knit better than I sketch, so I may as well show 'em the garment instead of my pencil version of what it kinda looks like. IK asks new submitters to send a brief statement of one's knitting philosophy and history. What my mom always told me, "If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit." I've been having fun creating a designer letterhead on which to submit all these pieces of paper. As soon as the swatch dries, I can pack it all up and send it off! And keep my fingers crossed. I wasn't planning to try to jump into the big leagues until next year, when Colin goes to kindergarten. But opportunity came knocking, so nothing to lose by trying.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm turning 44. My folks are coming for a couple nights and we should have a nice time. I always wish I could have more time with them.

Off to play with yarn. And then off to sleep.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

WIP updates

Not a lot of flashy stuff to show today. I've just been plugging away at these works in progress:
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I'm trying to decide if it's worth the extra steps to make thumbnails for photos. I know there are a few people left on the planet who still use dial-up internet service. Does it take too long to wait for a picture 300 pixels wide to load?

So, anyway, about the works in progress: the first picture is of the never-ending grey socks and 39 inches of Branching Out. The grey socks are down to the last bit of shaping on the toe of the second one. I think I'll dig into my Cherry Tree Hill yarn for my next pair, and maybe do something besides the basic sock. It's not that I can't, it's just that I really love basic socks. The scarf is coming along slowly, in part because I haven't given it enough attention to make rapid progress. Also, I'm using thinner yarn and thinner needles than recommended. I'm going to make it 5 feet long, pre-blocking. Going on the assumption that my sister in-law does not know about this blog, I'm planning to give it to her for Christmas.

The second photo shows the progress on a top-down raglan in this yarn. I got it from Lakeside Fibers a couple months ago, on the dainty-size 1 kilo cone. Later, I saw the tag inside that said Valley Yarns, which is the other name of WEBS. This yarn is lanolin-rich and a little tough to knit with. But, my washed swatch came out deliciously soft, so it's worth the effort. The finished sweater will have long sleeves and a turtleneck. I have about 7 more inches on the body. It looks like I'll have a generous amount left on that kilo cone!

Yesterday, I finally checked out the ongoing clearance at Coyote Yarns in Middleton. I was hoping to find a few specific types of yarns, to solve some stash-deficiencies. What! you say. How can the woman who blogs as SABLE have any stash deficiencies? Well, It comes from seeing the potential in every yarn. When my yarn hoarding first manifested itself, around 1990, my old favorite yarn shop in Ithaca NY, Knitting Machines, Etc, had bought a close-out lot of a Shetland-style fingering weight yarn. I bought the whole big box of it and Alice Starmore's then-newly-released Fair Isle Knitting. I have made many projects with yarn from that batch, but there have been a few colors that resisted use. I keep trying new ways to pair up these yarns with other yarns, so that they might finally leave my stash. I had an Aha! moment recently and started playing with a three-color slip stitch from Barbara Walker's First Treasury. I used the difficult beigy-tan-tweedy yarn with a loden green and a navy-blue with tan and loden tweedy flecks. And it really sings! And my husband likes it and would wear it in a sweater. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Because I don't have enough of the dark tweedy blue. So, an example of yarn-shopping to solve a problem would be to buy the type of fingering weight blue yarn I would need for this project. An example of the type of shopping that creates problems was buying 6 skeins of Noro Transitions from the sale bin. And I solved that problem at Coyote Yarns. With 4 skeins of a nice soft bulky black yarn which will tame that Noro into a very warm cardigan.

Now, if only I could solve the problem of my time deficiency!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nothing but pictures...

OK, maybe a little descriptive text, too.
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Newly acquired stash from my mini-yarn-crawl with Terby yesterday.

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The fully completed porch: front view.

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Side view

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Back and side view.

I realized I never posted the pics of the whole completed project, though it has appeared as background in several photos.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Internet is acting up!

Finally, not just my computer. I think. I've been having trouble posting comments on knittyboard and on a few of my friends' blogs. Blogger was down earlier today. Hmm. The world wide web seems to be having a spastic evening.

Terby and I went to the other knitting group this morning. This one meets on the first Sat of each month, in addition to several regular weekday evening times. Parents of young children know that regularly planning to skip out of the house for social knitting time any time between 5:30 and 7 is a good way to curry disfavor with the spouse or equivalent. The organizers of First Sat knitting really want to find a place on the east side of town, on a bus route, where space for 8-10 people can be reserved. Hmm. It hasn't been easy to find a permanent home that satisfies all these requirements. Today we met in a brand new yarn shop that just opened in Monona. It was fun looking at all the goodies. I was pretty restrained and bought only one skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. But what a skein! I'll try to get some pics tomorrow. I hope this shop can make a go of it. Madison is pretty saturated with yarn sources. Lots of chains: two Walmarts, two Michael's, Hobby Lobby, two Wisconsin Craft Marts, 2 super Joann's, Hancock Fabrics. Then the following actual yarn shops in town or within half an hour: Lakeside Fibers, The Knitting Tree, The Sows Ear, Off the Beaten Track (new place in Monona), Coyote Yarns, Susan's Fiber Shop, Stitcher's Crossing. Plus some other businesses, like LMNOPies, the pastry shop with yarn, that have jumped on the bandwagon. All of this going up against internet sources.

After Terby and I left Monona, we popped in at Lakeside Fibers, where I cleaned out the sale bin of various 50% off balls of Jameison's DK. And saw the mom of one of Colin's classmates, who works there. (The mom, not the classmate.)

In the afternoon I visited the storage unit and realized that there's still more yarn over there than I had remembered. I brought home a couple boxes to have on hand.

Tantrum-boy, aka Colin, started pitching fits around dinner. (That's why parents aren't allowed to trot off to knitting group at 6 pm) and is, even now, at almost 11 pm, pitching fits IN HIS SLEEP! He's got a big-time case of Crabola Virus. I only hope it passes soon. I can't take it much longer.

In any case, Tantrum-boy should be well enough for a nice full week of preschool this week. And I will blissfully roll in yarn and swatch and play.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The week I'd rather not relive...

Scott's been in Chicago since Monday night, taking a class related to his work. He gets back late tomorrow night. Colin's been running a low fever and coughing chest-rattling phlegmy coughs. I'm fighting a mild cold and so is Owen. In a casual scan of blogs, I've read that people all over seem to be sick. I guess it's the season.

I haven't got much knitting done. But did manage to order some yarn online: just what I needed!

Colin seems to be on the mend, so maybe he can go to his morning preschool tomorrow. His appetite has returned and his energy level is a little more normal.

I hope to start on some fun new patterns soon. That is, if I can ever get a minute to myself.

Last night I made a pair of really wild pajama pants to replace a pair that was self-destructing. The great thing about pajamas is being able to wear colors and prints I might not choose to wear in public.
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This was a real quick'n'dirty project. I had bought the fabric from a sale heap at Hancock Fabrics. It's a t-shirt knit with the big floral print. Sometimes they get flatfold bargains that I think are remaindered from the garment biz. The pajamas I took apart to use for a pattern had biased with several years of washing. Of course I didn't take the time to properly draft a new straight pattern, so these pajamas have built-in twist: the seams wrap around the legs. Oh well. Maybe this fabric will bias in the other direction and they'll straighten out with time. In any case, they are very comfortable and do not have big holes forming all over.

I'll leave you with a Halloween treat.
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