Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Road Trip to Hartford WI

Today I met up with my knitting buddies, Kathy and Sue, plus meeting two new folks, Patrice from Beaver Dam and Lois from Waukesha. We met for lunch and knitting at the Perk Place in Hartford WI. This delightful coffee shop is next door to The Main Street Yarn Shop and two doors up from a big St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop. It doesn't get much better than that, if you ask me!

Here's the yarn shop:

It's a wonderful shop with comfy places to sit, a nice selection of yarns, and a very friendly owner. If you find yourself up that way, plan to stop in.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winding Down 2009

We are about half way through the winter break from school. Having cleared Christmas, we have cleared the worst of it with our kids and their seasonal craziness. Mr. SABLE is taking this week off from work, so we have a lot of unstructured time, which can be both good and bad.

Earlier this year, I accepted a meme on Facebook: agree to make a handmade something for someone, and they agree to reciprocate, sometime before the end of 2009. I'm getting down to the wire on 2009, eh? I keep getting ideas of things that would be fun to make, but then, talking myself out of actually doing them, thinking the recipients won't like the result. Finally, I just had a moment of inspiration and made these handwarmers for my friend Leslie:

They are from Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, color Monument Green. US #3 double point needles. It's a very simple twisted stitch. The pair weighs 28 grams, so you could definitely get a pair out of one ball. I was working off a cone that Heather at The Sow's Ear bought for me on deep deep deep discount. It's nice to have friends who manage yarn stores. Although the finished mitts are extremely similar to an existing pattern, I'm probably going to write mine up and make it available free. I use a different number of stitches and have a different thumb treatment from the existing pattern.

In Weaving News
Owen wanted to make a project on my loom after he saw my first scarf. (See previous post.) I had a bad feeling that he wouldn't really have the follow-through for something so contemplative and repetitive. It's not that I want him to fail, but I've seen him start a lot of fiber-related projects over the years and never complete any.

We warped the loom with some sport weight acrylic yarn I had acquired along with a larger batch of cones of wool yarns. Sure enough, Owen lost interest after about 2". I took over so that I could free up my loom for my projects and get some practice, too. By the end, my selvedges were much more even.

Here's Mr SABLE modeling the finished scarf:

Even though it's baby-melting acrylic, I still think it turned out pretty nice.

I hope you all are enjoying the last few days of 2009. We have abundant sunshine today, but cold. It's nice to look out at the fresh snow sparkling on the ground from a warm vantage point indoors.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Now With Weaving!

It's not like I needed One More Thing To Do and it's not like I needed One More Piece of Equipment, but I finally caved in to a little urge that's been lying dormant for 30 years, but giving me occasional little nudges. I used my birthday money and bought an Ashford 32" Rigid Heddle Loom and stand. Yesterday I warped it for a simple scarf and today I took my first piece off the loom.

It's not anywhere close to perfect, but not nearly as flawed as I feared it might be while I was working on it.

The warp yarn is Knit One, Crochet Too Parfait, in a kind of dusky lavender color. The weft is Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Worsted in a rich dark purple. These pics show it before I washed it, and the flash gave the yarn a sheen it doesn't really have. It's soaking right now, and with a little luck, I'll be able to get some natural light pics soon.

In other news, last week, while Mr. SABLE was in San Diego, we had about 15" of snow. It was a record-breaking snow event for Madison. The kids had Wednesday off from school and everything ground to a halt. Mr. SABLE had parked his car in the surface lot at the airport, thereby saving his company a whopping $2 a day over the cost of the garage, so Wednesday night after we were plowed out, we went out to the airport, found his car, dug it out, and then stayed to meet his plane. Remarkably, it was only about 40 minutes late.

In knitting news, I had to make another handspun wool/alpaca hat for Mr. SABLE because Owen claimed the first one for himself. Owen tried to claim the replacement, too, but I think he got told a thing or two.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

First Snowfall

Yesterday we got our first real stick-to-the-ground snowfall of the season. Here's the little guy preparing for a run at our nearby sledding hill.

And here are some galls.

These are both iPhone pics, so not great as far as photography goes.

Mr. SABLE's gone to San Diego until Wednesday evening. Should be an interesting couple of days ahead.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Handspun Hat for Mr. SABLE

And just in time, too, as it's downright wintery feeling out there today. There's a brisk wind and an occasional snowflake or two blowing past.

So this just a simple watchcap, 108 sts, k1 p1 ribbing, on US #3 needles. The yarn is three ply wool and alpaca blend that I spun with a hat in mind, about 150 yards/50 grams. It used maybe 60 grams.

As usual when we are all home together, tempers are thin. I promise that when my kids grow up and find Significant Others and announce that they will be spending holidays with the families of those SOs, I will very gratefully say, "Go! Have a great time!" and then I will eat pizza for Thanksgiving dinner and spend the day knitting and spinning. And I will enjoy the silence.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Watchcap in Progress

This is Mr. SABLE's handspun wool/alpaca watchcap, about 6" along. I'm using #3 needles, 108 sts, just k1, p1 ribbing. He likes a nice generous fold-up brim.

This is probably a first for me in my spinning: spinning a specific yarn for a specific immediate goal, then actually starting the knitting right away. It's a very cushy yarn, mostly. If he doesn't like it, I know I will.

I also recently finished a sweater for him, but I have to keep that one under wraps for a while. But I'm really pleased with the fit and final result.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Thursday

Yesterday I decided to make some inroads on the spinning fiber backlog. In the spring I bought a Louet Julia spinning wheel (second wheel for me) and I was never as happy with it as I hoped I would be. Finally, I sent it in to Louet America and they did find a few things to fix. It does run more smoothly than it did, but honestly, I'm not sure I'm ever going to love this wheel. The bobbin vibrates a lot while I spin. The shaft is only supported at one end and there's a lot of play in the bearing that mounts it to the upright. I told this to the Louet people, but I don't think any of the stuff they fixed had to do with this area. Anyway, the technician there proclaimed it "spinning fine now" and sent it back. So, it came back earlier this week and I decided to give it a trial run.

I had some alpaca roving that was frustrating me and decided to give myself permission to not carry on with it as it was. It was kind of sticky, and clumpy, and there were sections of short cuts. I just couldn't get in a rhythm with that fiber. I decided to blend it with some wool from Brown Sheep mill ends I bought a few years ago. My mill ends are a thick rope of natural white roving with a thinner rope of black running along with it. I stripped off some of the white, to balance the ratios more toward The Dark Side and blended it with the charcoal grey alpaca. The resulting batts were a joy to spin.

This is a 50 gram-ish sample skein of my yarn. I'm guessing sport weight. I still need to wash it and let it hang. And do all the quantifying. But I like it. I think it'll be a nice soft watch cap for Mr. SABLE.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Field Trip!

Today was a glorious fall day and Jaala and I took a little field trip. I'm doing an article for the next Knitcircus about Rainbow Fleece Farm, outside of New Glarus WI, for our series on small scale yarn and fiber sources.

We then went up to Mt. Horeb where we ate a delicious lunch at The Sommer House Cafe, after which we mosied down the street to Dane County's newest yarn and fiber shop, The Cat and Crow (no website).

Co-owner Mo Brown

The Cat and Crow specializes in locally grown and/or fair trade products. Right now, most of the yarn comes from co-owner Mo Brown's own sheep. Mo dyes yarn and roving, and will be getting a nice dye studio space in the back room of the shop soon. The Cat and Crow also carries some yarn and supplies that are neither locally produced nor fair trade. When they sell these items, they give a percentage of each sale to a local cause. If you are looking for a special yarn that you might only find in Wisconsin, check it out!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I finally took a few pics of the yarn I bought at YarnCon. Better late than never, eh?

This is the Turtle Cove Farm sock yarn, colorway: Standing on the Shore. It makes my feet serene just looking at it!

This is Sophie's Toes worsted weight; colorway: He Saw Her Across a Smoky Bar. I bought three generous skeins of this, so can make something bigger than a hat and smaller than a sweater... Hmm.

Here are some Halloween pics:

Owen had a very ambitious project in mind. This is as far as we got by the Halloween deadline. He's a character from a video game, Assassin's Creed 1, named Altair. Altair normally carries a lot of weapons and such, wandering around 12th century Jerusalem. I figure a 6', deep-voiced kid showing up at houses asking for treats shouldn't look too threatening. The younger brother wore the same bat suit as last year. I didn't get a picture of him because he was already out the door when I got back from taking Owen to his friend's house.

On the whole, I think trick or treating is dying out.

This is the little guy's Jack O Lantern kitty face. He grew the pumpkin in the back yard. It turned out to be a little ooky inside, but that's ok. The inside doesn't show.

These two pumpkins were Owen's. He had planned to make what he called a Steam Punk-in, but the steam engine didn't make enough power to keep the LED lit. Alas. Scott bought the skull at Walgreens and put an LED hooked to a battery in one eye socket. The little guy put a rubber eye in the other socket. I decided to photoshop it all up a bit.

Happy November 1. Don't forget to reset your clocks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Autumn Entrelac?

This is the beginning of a scarf from some yarn I spun maybe a year and a half ago. It's softer to the touch than it looks. Blue-faced Leicester. I can't decide if I like this enough to go forward with it. But I don't dislike enough to stop and frog. Oh me, oh my.

This is an experiment: making one oversized entrelac motif down a scarf. It's Rowan Tapestry, which I recycled from a sideways-knit scarf that really never made me happy. I'm not sure this is working for me, either.

I've got to get out of my cave more. Look what's right out my back door:

And this is out front:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Making Waves Socks

These socks will be in the next Knitcircus, Issue #8, which should be arriving in Madison for mailing to all of you around the first of November.

Size: Men's L. Fits approx size 10 shoe.
Needles: US #1. Use 0's for a snugger fit through ankle.
Yarn: shown in a vintage sock yarn from my stash. Cascade Heritage Solids would be a good moderately-priced substitution.

A fun pattern with a simple twist pattern. Suitable for someone moving up from the most basic socks to a bit more of a challenge.

Monday, October 19, 2009

YarnCon, Chicago

In spite of my ongoing good intentions, I have to say, I'm not winning any Consistent Blogger Awards these days.

Knitcircus went to YarnCon 2009 and had a great time!

This is our cute little booth, or should I say, table. We were well-positioned in the line of sight from the entrance to the first room.
YarnCon is a small-ish fiber/yarn festival that meets annually in Chicago at the Pulaski Field House, just northwest of downtown. It's a cool old late 19th century (I'm guessing) building in the Bucktown neighborhood. The room we were in had this interesting mural surrounding the stage:

It should get bigger if you click the picture.

There were 35 vendors, most of them small or micro-businesses. There was a lot of hand-painted yarn and spinning fiber, a lot of knitting accessories, some folks who ran actual yarn shops, a surprisingly good food vendor, and a good time over all.

Click here to see a craptacular panorama I stuck together from three iPhone pictures.

Here are three of my fellow Rubberneckers on Ravelry. From left to right, CyberFiber, eryn, Ogirl.

This was an interesting community art project:

Yarnies were invited to sit a spell and knit or crochet on to the skirt, as they wished.
Another view of the same:

For Knitcircus, it was a good show. We connected with a lot of folks who knew of us a little and were curious. And a lot more who had never heard of us and seemed favorably impressed.

After the show, we had a little comedy of errors with our dinner rendez-vous plans. It all worked out in the end, but the take-home lessons were a. get cell phone numbers before you split up and b. do your restaurant research before you leave home.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Weekend Update

In addition to the Great Pumpkin on the front step, there are a few more nice big pumpkins out back. And then there's these strange things.

These are snake gourds. Owen planted them. I think he and Scott were expecting some small decorative gourds we could put in the middle of the table or in a bowl, or something, you know, decorative. I think they look a little menacing. Like maybe they could have been used as props in Dr Who circa 1966? One vine climbed right up the apple tree and grew its gourd there, hanging. Seriously, it's as big as a baseball bat.

I've been puttering away on knitting that I can't show you yet. So, you get phallic snake gourds, instead.

Today, Jaala hosted the Knitcircus Hat Event. It was a great success! We had a bunch of volunteers come to cut and sew and cranked out about 35 hats and 20 no-sew scarves in 2 hours. We had a hat that a knitter in California mailed to us, too.

The past couple weeks have been a bit busy, some good and some bad. We've had the little guy to Urgent Care twice. We've had sick days. Car appointments. School events. Other volunteer events. Last Saturday Knitting and Friday Late Night knitting. Between all this, I've got about 85% of the next Knitcircus pasted in and formatted. I think tomorrow I'll get to sit and breathe for a while. Oh, yeah, and catch up on laundry and go grocery shopping.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

600th Post!

It's just a funny coincidence that I even noticed that this is an even-hundreds post. Considering how ambivalent I was about the whole blogging thing before I started, I'd say that's some kind of a milestone.

That pumpkin up there was grown by my younger son in our back yard. It's a magnificent, perfect pumpkin.

Knitcircus Hat Event

Saturday, Oct 3, 2-4 p.m.
Jaala's House on the west side of Madison
(contact jaala@knitcircus.com to RSVP and get directions)

We'll be stitchin' (and not too much bitchin') to keep school kids warm. Come sew hats from fleece fabric (or knit and crochet hats if you prefer). Snacks and goodies provided, plus I think Jaala has some door prizes and other fun planned. If you want to take your hats with you to donate to your local school, that's fine. We'll be donating to various Madison public elementary schools, to be distributed to kids in need.

What to bring
Your sense of humor! Sewing machine, scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat, thread, polar fleece fabric, easy hat patterns.
We will have a bunch of supplies to share, so if you arrive with just your sense of humor, that's fine!

Meanwhile, get free pdf instruction sheets for two quick easy polar fleece hats
Half Hour Hat (shown above)
Cozy Dome Hat

See you then!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Long Time, No Post

And even in spite of the passage of weeks, I'm afraid it'll be a No Photo Post.

School started on Sept 1. Of course, the first couple weeks were a bit abbreviated and I spent way too much time alternately playing domestic catch-up and navel-gazing. I also did some knitting for the next Knitcircus, but I'm not supposed to show you that stuff just yet. Yesterday I had all good intentions of great productivity, and even planned to go out and get some nature pics in the gorgeous fall weather, but I went back to bed for a bit after the kids went to school. Then I was putzing around online, and next thing I knew, the school day was almost over.

So, now we're far enough into the school year, that I should be settling into the New Normal any day now.

What I have been doing the last couple days is getting a project together for a Knitcircus event the first weekend in October. We're planning to make a couple very quick and easy fleece hat sewing patterns available and have a charity Hat Drive at Jaala's house. Our plan is to donate the hats to area elementary schools. Even though Madison enjoys a generally high standard of living, with relatively low unemployment, many area elementary schools have significant numbers of children who receive free or reduced lunch. Whether because of poverty or parental flakiness, or both, a lot of kids show up at school without adequate warm clothing for a Wisconsin winter. At first we thought about a charity knitting event, but realized that we could sew a stack of warm hats much faster than we could knit even one. Of course, folks are welcome to come and knit to participate, but the sewing machines will be humming. And if you can't sew, you can always cut rectangles of fleece fabric for those who do sew. Details will be forthcoming soon. To sign up for Knitcircus updates, join our Yahoo group.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

About That Entrelac Hat...

This post is to answer Ruth's question, asked in the comments of the post Et Voila.

Use US #2 double points. Cast on 120 stitches. Work ribbing for about a half inch.
Set up base triangles: work the base triangles following your favorite entrelac tutorial. You will be making 15 base triangles, 8 stitches each.

When you get to the end, begin making squares, heading back over the round just completed, the opposite direction. Again, consult your favorite entrelac tutorial.

Note: it really helps to teach yourself to knit backwards, that is, with the right side always facing you. It will feel awkward for a short while, but save you a ton of time in the long run.

Make three full sets of squares.

Make a round of triangles to fill the gaps. When you finish with all this, you should still have 120 stitches.

I wanted the top of my hat to lie fairly flat. I knit 2 together, 12 times evenly around, every third or fourth round. I staggered the placement of the decreases to minimize the effect of spokes. When I got to 12 remaining stitches, k2tog around leaving 6 stitches. Break yarn, leaving a 12" tail and use tapestry needle to pass tail through last 6 sts twice. Draw tight and secure to inside.

I blocked by draping damp hat over a medium sized plate positioned over a small pitcher. The plate held the top flat and the entrelac section just hung dry.

Those with smaller heads could try making 13 eight-stitch squares instead of 15, casting on 104 sts.

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some Pictures

The vacation sock. This pair will probably be for my dad when done. It's a Regia yarn I bought on deep discount somewhere.

This is some yarn I spun this summer. I'm not entirely happy with it, but the worst flaws don't show in this picture. Coincidentally, the colorway is very similar to some roving I got in a swap earlier this summer, but I believe they are from different sources.

This is our top secret swimming place in NH. It was a gorgeous hot afternoon when I took this, yet we were the only ones there. Of course, right after I took the picture, a bunch of other people came.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Playing Catch-up

Well, the vacation is done. Some highlights include meeting Poops, swimming in our favorite top-secret pond, seeing my parents. Some low points include cleaning up kid-barf twice, getting up at ungodly hours both to go there and to come home, and trying to referee nasty behavior between my kids while we were there.

I only took a couple pictures and wasn't too thrilled with the few I took.

While there, I made many inches of progress on a sock, including the part that has the heel, and some progress on a cardigan for the Mister.

Since we've gotten home, I've done some spinning, a bit of knitting, a lot of yelling at my kids, got both kids' school registrations settled, and have mostly been ticking down the time until the morning of September 1.

Public Service Announcement
If you are within a half a day's drive of Madison and could welcome an adult cat into your home, please let me know. A friend of mine suddenly needs to re-home her cats on short notice.

And a slightly amusing non-sequitor...
I phoned our family doc's office today to schedule well-visits for both boys. I've been flaky about this and they are both overdue. The receptionist told me that they were booking quite far out. No surprise: she's a popular doctor. I mentioned that the appointments didn't need to be together and in fact, would prefer them to come separately. She offered a date in late October for Owen. I said fine. Then she offered another date a few days later for the little guy. I said fine, and wrote that down. Then she thanked me for being easy! She said usually the caller wants appointments for next week, and they have five kids, and they want them all seen on one visit. She was really genuinely tickled to deal with someone who said, "October 21? Great!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Leaving, On a Jet Plane...

Tomorrow a.m. (at an obscenely early time), my kids and I are flying to NH for a visit with my folks. I'm not sure if I'll post from there. I'll be back on the 21st.

Mr. SABLE will hold down the fort here, feeding the cats, the fish, the gerbil, and the hermit crabs... did I forget anyone?

Be good for Mr. SABLE while I'm gone: I don't want any bad reports of mischief!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Et Voila!

Well, I might become an entrelac convert, but only in a limited way. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, first attempt at a fiddly new technique and all.

I don't think I can stand to write a pattern for this because I sure don't want to talk anyone else through Entrelac 101. And in the round, at that. But if you already know how to do it or can handle looking up a tutorial on your own, I'll probably make a rough guideline to making a similar hat. But not a word-by-word pattern. Because I surely don't want to hear about it when it goes wrong, which it's likely to do!

Some Details
Yarn: Mini Mochi, 1 50 gram ball. I can't find the ball band for the colorway right now.
Needles: US #2 double points.
Size: pretty darn big: it fits my head!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Never Say Never

There's one knitting technique I have always said did not interest me. I didn't particularly like the result most of the time and the effort involved seemed way too fiddly for my taste. Well, after 20 years of saying I'm not going there, guess what?

I'm going there.

I think it's going to be pretty sloppy, but it's my first time with entrelac and in the round, too. It's all because of this darn Mini-Mochi yarn. Stay tuned.

In other news
The Gourmet Schmores Alt Knitting Camp was a rousing success! We had a few last minute cancellations and two no-shows, so our standing line was, "You're eating for 12!" And eat we did! The weather cooperated, the campers were in good spirits, the food was abundant, and the knitting progressed.

Kathy gave me this nifty little thing:

Inside view:

It's an Altoid tin she covered with polymer clay, then filled with all the knitting essentials! And she thought of everything! Little pen, little tape measure, stitch markers, darning needles, nail clippers, emergency yarn, and a little bitty knitting needle with a crochet hook on the other end that she made. I'm impressed! Thanks Kathy.

As we head through the rest of August, blog posts might continue to be sparse. I'm going to NH with my boys in a week or so, then we'll be careening into the school year! (YES!) But come September, lets hope I can get back into the spirit of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Some Teasers of Upcoming Attractions!

Here are my contributions to the upcoming Knitcircus: Issue #7! We expect to be mailing out issues to subscribers and yarn shops the first week in August! Stay tuned.

The Sivas Pullover

The Pooled Pebbles Scarf

Fountain Lace Scarf