Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Slay Me

There hasn't been any stash enhancement around here for a while, so it was lots of fun to receive an order from Connie at Pick Up Sticks today. A couple of weeks ago I was trawling for Sweet Georgia sock yarn, and felt like I'd hit the motherlode when I found Connie's site. Especially since there were colorways listed as Angel...and Firefly...and Willow. Hmm, I thought, I wonder if Sweet Georgia's a Joss Whedon fan. Then I clicked on another page, and there was the Slayer colorway. Yep, she most definitely is.

And so am I. In fact, back when the shows were on, a couple friends and I used to get together on Tuesday nights to knit, crochet and watch the Scooby Gang battle the forces of evil. We called it our Post-Feminist Craft Night aka Buffy Night, and it was good times. With that personal history, I just had to buy these Buffy the Vampire Slayer-themed colorways. So I did.

Slayer (in Speed Demon Sock/superwash merino) is a kick ass blood red with black overtones.

Angel (in Handpainted Sock/100% merino) is a variegated black/grey/red/white. After I placed my order I found Sweet Georgia's blog, and love how she describes this colorway: "Angel: a little bit of bleeding heart, a lot of brooding."

Willow (in Speed Demon Sock/superwash merino) is a pretty light green (almost chartreuse) with brown and white splotches.

And not only did I get my super fun yarn, but Connie also included a great project bag and a "Sell Your Sole" (!) sock pattern which uses the Speed Demon Sock yarn. So if you've a hankering for some sock yarn, I'd recommend Pick Up Sticks. They are based in Ontario, Canada, so delivery time is a little longer than Priority Mail (Connie processed my order immediately, and it took 11 days to arrive), but I expected that with the international mail. I've already got my eye on that Firefly colorway - and check out the Kill Bill - and will definitely be ordering from her again.

Speaking of superheroines, Mary gets a great big thanks for teaching me to turn the heels on my Monster Mash 'practice' socks. (Remember them?) I'm still trying to get my head around sock theory. It's hard. But Mary's been very patient, and has gone over - and over - with me how to do a short row heel. I think it's beginning to stick. Maybe. A little. As proof, here's a shot of the good side of the one heel I've done so far.

The other side (the side where I do the p3tog stitches) is a different story. I dropped a stitch, and was too lazy to rip back and redo things, so that side has two honking huge holes. There are also weird stitches with a bar across them; I don't think I'm doing my purl yarnovers correctly and have to check that. This week's homework is to finish the other heel, so I can finish this practice pair and start a 'real' pair with some of this cool yarn. It might not be as big as saving the world, but conquering the sock shall be sweet indeed.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tickled Pink

Thanksgiving weekend is winding down, and I hope everyone has had a great holiday. Tom and I went into it rather haphazardly, and almost ate out on Thursday. But we rallied at the last moment, and managed to cook and enjoy our turkey feast. Since then we've been eating leftovers and puttering around at home. Last night we took a drive, and saw a bunch of houses on our street have their holiday lights up; as I write this, Tom is putting ours up, too. I've started to drag out the Yule decorations, and will attend to those this evening. Break out the egg nog - the holidays are upon us.

In between the turkey sandwiches and the subsequent napping I've knit the pieces of my niece's pink sweater. It's a cardigan found in The Yarn Girls Guide to Knits for Older Kids (p. 74). I love how it's turning out. The pink is righteously pink, and the red cuffs are a perfect contrast. (I'm making it in the recommended colors, which is something I hardly ever do.) The yarn is Tahki's Baby, a funky chunky knit. I'm weaving in ends now, and tomorrow will hit my LYS for some wool tapestry thread to sew up the seams. I hope to finish this week, although finding the perfect buttons for it might take a bit longer. (I'm one of those crazy people who just has to have the right buttons.) Through no planning of mine, it's looking like a holiday knit. I love it when a project comes together like this!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Row 38

Wow, Mary is right: After yesterday's black sweater purge, I do feel a lot better. (Isn't it funny how a misguided project can just suck the fun right out of your knitting?) So much so that I knit with a vengeance last night on Hanging Garden...and actually have something to show for it. Yes, I'm up to row 38 of the second repeat. See it there? Right by row 37? Cool, eh?

Lacevember continues to inspire. A good number of people are posting FOs now, and it's fun to see what everyone has been working on during the month. There's a broad range of skill levels, and some of the people are downright amazing; they've knit an intricate lace shawl in a week or two. What a great superpower to have.

Also inspiring is Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today. Oh my goodness. What a gorgeous book. My little lace knitting newbie heart just goes pitter pat whenever I open it up.

And from the sublime to the confusing...the spring Knitscene preview is up. And while I'd like to be impartial and discuss the entire issue, all I can say is...WTF is with that giant baby bottle?! Am I the only person whose mind just flips to envisioning it used in some kinky fetishistic way? (didn't they see that episode of CSI?) Ahem. Oh, yeah, Kat Coyle's Cabaret Capelet is cute. And Kate Gilbert's Strawberry Clutch is kitsch used for good instead of evil. But that baby bottle just has me scratching my head.

Monday, November 20, 2006


A year ago, I told my sister I'd knit her a sweater. After shooting emails back and forth asking her what she'd like, I learned that black was her color of choice and that she was "doing matron" these days. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but settled on a vintage-inspired cardigan pattern I found in the Fall 2005 issue of Knitter's Magazine. Called Lucy, I figured it was as safe as sweaters come. I bought some Jaeger Matchmaker Merino Aran from elann and swatched. I went through some gauge issues. I sorted those out and began knitting. Almost immediately, I realized I hated the yarn, but I kept on, thinking maybe I was just being persnickety. Immediately after that, the miles of black stockinette began to bore me to tears. But, doggedly I kept on. I was going to make this sweater, darn it. So, I knit and I knit, and finished the body and sleeves.

I hated it. I stuffed it in the back of my yarn closet and forgot about it. Every once in a while, someone from my knitting group would ask about it, but as the months passed people forgot about it and the questions stopped. Then, last night, I figured maybe it's aged enough and is ripe for blocking. I pulled it out, and began sewing in the loose ends. I went to bed, got up this morning and really looked at it.

I hate it. Fuzzy, blurry, stitches. Yucky yarn. There's no way I'm working on it one second longer, let alone giving this to my sister.

Jaeger Matchmaker Merino Aran - 1, Knitdevil - 0.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Yoo Hoo Mr. DeMille

Pattern: Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style (aka my Gloria Swanson scarf)
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in color 29, 2+ skeins
Needles: Takumi US 6
Mods: None
Rating: 5 stars

What a satisfying project. The yarn, the color, the pattern - all meshed like I wanted them to, creating an eye-popping chartreuse scarf. The lace pattern was easy, but held my attention, and zipped along. Things could've moved along even faster if I'd used slicker needles with the nubby yarn, but since I could finish a repeat in an hour, I figured what the heck and kept with the Takumis. (As a good friend says, I'm built for comfort, not for speed.) Still have to block the gal; I recently ordered a set of blocking wires from HandWorks Northwest, and am waiting for them to arrive.

And for the Sunset Boulevard fans out there, here's a closeup:

Immediately upon binding off the scarf last night, I cast on the hoodie (Kirstin from Melissa Leapman's Hot Knits) I'm making with all that Classic Elite Beatrice I bought from Webs a few weeks ago. I was feeling reckless, and subbed needles - Addis instead of KP Options, which split the yarn as I knit my swatch - and am much happier with the blunt-nosed Addis. I'll check gauge in a couple more inches, just to make sure, but right now I'm tempting the knitting gods by thinking things look pretty good.

This afternoon I'm letting the sweater be, though, and wrestling with Hanging Garden instead. In the time it took me last night to knit 3" on the sweater, I'm hoping to finish two rows of HG. Rather mind-boggling when you think about it, isn't it? And daunting, but I'm persevering. In fact, the other day Mehitabel and I were discussing how even though we like this pattern, it spurns our attention like a recalcitrant child and just doesn't get knit. Silly HG, don't you know, I can be stubborn, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I was waiting and waiting...and then I missed it. Oops. Well, what's a little residual spookiness between friends....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Pattern: Purple People Eater Poncho, based loosely on this one
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky in color 9100, 3 plus a smidge balls; Lion Brand Fun Fur in color 112
Needles: Knit Picks Options US 10
Rating: 3 out of 5 skeins

This was, like, the easiest project ever. The hardest part was finding the pattern (thanks, Pasadena Daytimers, for sharing your patterns with me) and overcoming my *ahem* repugnance to ponchos (I'm with JenLa here) and novelty yarn; once these things were dealt with, the actual knitting occurred quickly. I'm disappointed in my sewing of the pieces together, but hope that my less than fantastic finishing will just be seen as funky and homemade instead of crappy. Ah, self-delusion - it's my friend. Plus, this poncho is for a kid, and thus its shelf life is way shorter than a Twinkie.

So, how'd I make it? Well, I knit two 11" x 22" rectangles lengthwise, and then sewed them together in a poncho-ish shape. My gauge was roughly 3.25 st/in. It might be a little loose, but I was afraid the garment would be too heavy if I went with a tighter gauge. Hopefully the thing won't sag, like, er, um, never mind. I reinforced the neck with a row of single crochet, and finally crocheted a FF row around the bottom edge to impart a little pizzazz. See, easy peasy.

This is the first project I've made using my Knit Picks Options needles, and I'm definitely in the love 'em camp. It's also the first time I've used Misti Alpaca, and boy, is it soft and squooshy. And how about the Fun Fur? Well, it's hot pink, and I have a lot left over, so if you need any, let me know.

Next up for the kid? A sweater made out of yarn that costs more than I've ever spent on yarn for an adult-sized sweater, let alone a child's. Holiday insanity must be striking early this year.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Purple People Eater

This week most of my knittin' time has been spent on, er, a couple of rectangles. They will soon be turned into a splendiferous poncho for my niece...and will be much more exciting when they're sewn together and then livened up with some pink and purple variegated Fun Fur around the bottom hem, doncha think?

I'm using Misti Alpaca Chunky in colorway 9100, as I was told by my sister that the poncho must be lavender and it must be soft. I've tweaked this pattern, knitting two 11"x22" rectangles lengthwise for the poncho proper. I'll sew them together this week, add a single-crochet border around the neck using the last of the Misti, crochet the Fun Fur around the bottom, and voila! zee Purple People Eater Poncho!

The rest of my knitting news is pretty ho hum. Ho - I'm on the 16th repeat of Midwest Moonlight - and hum - I'm still on the second repeat of Hanging Garden and the Monster Mash socks have been shelved this week for the poncho. At least they're all still keeping my interest...even if I am contemplating casting on another lace project. Darn Lacevember, getting me all excited about lace. Heh.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Day Trippin'

This past Sunday Sknitty, CatBookMom and I attended the Southern California Handweaver's Guild annual fall show and sale. The vibe was laid back and the attendees enthusiastic and friendly. And while most of the vendors obviously were geared toward spinners and weavers, a few booths were selling yarn and knitting supplies, too.

There were several highlights to the day. First and foremost was spinner/dyer extraordinaire Lori Lawson and her Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio booth o' yarny goodness. Sknitty and I had first seen and fallen in love with her yarn and roving at La Petite Knitterie this past summer. We were thrilled that Lori was at the show, and all of us oohed and aahed over her wares. I came away with two skeins of luscious merino/silk in Irish Moss, with which I will probably make fingerless gloves. (I bought two other skeins of the same yarn in a lovely burgundy/pink/sage colorway, but they've gone to live with Dim Sum Knitting.) I also bought some beige and green roving (baby camel/tussah silk) from Lori, and a couple of skeins of Claudia Hand Painted fingering in Navy Olive from Anacapa Fine Yarns. Also from Anacapa comes the cute black sheep tape measure.

We bought yarn, we ate lunch, we visited with some other bloggers, we watched some folks spinning, we sat and knit for a bit ourselves.

CBM and I watched the fashion show, and Sknitty and a pal (who joined us mid-day) modeled a couple of handwoven pieces. We went back and stalked Lori and bought more of her yarn.

Late in the day we participated in the raffle, and CBM won a skein of Schaefer's Laurel in tropical hues. You can see it there in the front, the vivid yellow and turqoise skein. And go visit her blog to read the funny story behind the dumpster diving involved. Then, after visiting Lori a third and final time (and yes, we bought more yarn), we headed home. Great friends, great fiber, great day.

Yarntini store update

Yarntini is restocking her etsy shop today at 7pm est. There will be some limited seasonal colorways, a couple of semi-solids and some original colors, too.

Bottoms up!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lacevember Questionnaire

The knitting questions, or the usual suspects

+ How long have you been knitting? Off and on since I was six. Seriously for the past two years.
+ How did you learn to knit? My grandmother taught me.
+ Favorite thing about knitting? It offers me the opportunity to create something that is both beautiful and practical.
+ How long have you been knitting lace? My first lace project was knitty's Branching Out Scarf for the Knitting Olympics this February.
+ Favorite thing about knitting lace. Blocking. It's magical.

The yarn questions, or flash your stash

+ Favorite lace yarn? I've only finished two lace projects, so I don't have a favorite yet.
+ Variegated or solids for shawls? Solids.
+ Favorite lace color? Olive, chocolate brown, pumpkin, black. (I have no idea how I have all that pink Koigu!)

Technique, or show us your skillz

+ Circs or straights? Circs.
+ Favorite lace knitting trick? Spit splice/Russian join.
+ Lifelines? If so with what? Definitely. Unwaxed dental floss.
+ Fancy blocking wires, or just sewing pins stuck in your carpet? Pins stuck to the spare bed.

Pattern, or can you follow directions

+ Shawls or lacey items? Both.
+ Triangle, rectangle, or circular shawls? Rectangular.
+ Charts or printed instructions? Charts.
+ Favorite lace you've knit? Sivia Harding's Diamond Fantasy Shawl.
+ Favorite lace you want to knit? Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl...and at least ten others.

Just Fun, yup that's right, just for fun

+ Favorite jelly belly flavor? Licorice.
+ Tell me everything you know about Eric the Red..... Wasn't he the guy who played tuba in the high school marching band?
+ Coke, classic or with lime? Classic.
+ Holiday carols, sing along, or wish they would be banned from all public airwaves? Prefer to hum along in the privacy of my own home.
+ What is the definition of irony? You play the black and the red comes up.
+ How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? *crunch*
+ Why is my cat always puking in front of my son's bedroom door? Dunno.
+ What is your superhero power? My unerring ability to find a yarn store or a thrift shop, no matter where I am.
+ If the laundry is 9 foot by 11 foot (just dreaming, that's a big laundry room), and the walls are 8 feet tall, and you are going to tile the entire room in tiles that are 3 inches by 5 inches, what color should those tiles be? Turquoise and black.
+ What's for dinner tonight? Chicken curry with rice.
+ What is clogging my children's bathtub drain? Maybe your cat's puke? Eww.

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Down

Last night I finished the first repeat (out of 14) on my Hanging Garden Shawl. After the lifeline was run, happy dancing occurred. It's great to be able to see the pattern finally emerge, and I'm well chuffed with how my stitches look so far.

Lacevember has me all inspired, and I'm over my mental block about this project. Hopefully if I just pay attention to what I'm doing and not try to knit it when I'm tired the enthusiasm will continue...and since I'm an incredibly slow lace knitter, I expect it'll have to continue for another 2-3 months!

In knitsisterly news: Whimsical Knitting is having a fun photo contest. Check it out and send her your photos. How about that one of Howie sporting the, um, unmentionable? Heh.

Thanks to Mehitabel and Fay Lynn for the feedback on the Socks That Rock Club. Consensus seems to be that it's pricey for what it is, and it's geared really only towards sock knitters (hey, there are a lot of us who buy sock yarn for lace and other accessories). I think it would be fun to get a package in the mail every few months, and I like that 1) there would be an element of surprise to what's coming and 2) that there is an accompanying KAL. But since I'm not an obsessed sock maker (yet), it might be unsatisfying in the long run. There's a good chance I'll just haunt Yarn Pirate and Yarntini instead. Hmm, have to think about it a little more - good thing we've got a couple of months to decide.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Playing Well with Others

Those who've known me for a long time (hi Mom!) know I'm not a joiner. I've always been very independent, and until recently groups and I...well, we haven't really cliqued. I won't bore you with the details, but in the last 10 years some of the more *ahem* colorful people within the gardening, women's spirituality and knitting groups I've been in have been matrons who are nasty mean drunks, crazy people who believe garden gnomes are real, man-hating conspiracists who have convoluted theories about extraterrestrials, ancient cultures and the Knights Templar, and a couple of very snobby women who knit ponchos out of pink acrylic.

So, me? Previously unsuccessful in the joining thing. But that all changed a year ago, when I hooked up with my current knitting group, the Pasadena Daytimers.

These women rock. Hard. And they laugh at my jokes, which is cool, too...'coz you know, I'm kinda wacky myself. We all share a major love of the fiber arts, and most are as obsessed as I am about it all...which leads to all kinds of enthusiastic egging on and group zaniness.

What kinda zaniness you ask? Well, mostly it's led me into the internet knitting community, and I've joined not one, not two, but three KALs this fall.

Lacevember - I'm very excited about this one. It began yesterday, and already I'm awed and humbled by the work of my knittin' peers. It's the perfect venue for working on my Hanging Garden...and while I don't expect to finish my shawl, if I have 4-5 repeats done by the end of November I'll be happy.

- I've actually been a member of this six-month sock KAL since August. I know, I know, I don't even know how to make socks, so yeah, I was a little optimistic when I joined. But, hey, I'm learning now, and my goal is to have my first pair - the Monster Mashers - done by the end of the month. Even if they do have a crap Russian join and some laddering up the sides.

Scarf Style - Since I'm making Midwest Moonlight from the Scarf Style book I figured what the heck. MM is a quick knit, but since I'm concentrating on my lace and my socks, it's taking a back seat at the moment. Hope to have it finished in December.

But wait! There's more: I've also joined two yarn clubs in the past week. I've pre-registered for the 2007 Socks That Rock Club, and today I joined Goddess Yarns' Shawl Club. Is anyone a member of either? I'd love to hear feedback, especially about STR. It's a little pricey, and before I commit in January I'd like to be sure that the club colorways are as nice as their other ones. (Marvels of Knitting just posted about the latest colorway she received; I'm in the process of distracting her so I can filch it.)

Whew, all this camaraderie is tiring for an old curmudgeon like me. I better go yell at some of the neighborhood kids so I don't lose my edge.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And the Winner Is...

Joan! You're the winner of the knitdevil Halloween contest. Congrats, and I'll bring your prize to group next week.

A great big thank you to everyone who played.

And if anyone is curious, here are the answers:

1. The Munsters live at what address? 1313 Mockingbird Lane
2. Name the punk rock lead singer who worked as a gravedigger and slept in a coffin. Dave Vanian of the Damned
3. What year was Frankenstein written? 1816 - Several people wrote 1818, which was the year when it was published
4. Before pumpkins, from what were jack-o-lanterns made? Turnips
5. Name the actor who worked as a coffin maker before striking it rich in Hollywood. Sean Connery - this was the question that stumped everyone
6. What is the 13th card in a tarot deck? Death
7. Name Buffalo Bill's dog. Precious
8. What fate befell Neville in the Gashlycrumb Tinies? He died of ennui
9. Name the last film Bela Lugosi ever made. Plan 9 from Outer Space by Ed Wood
10. What is the year/make/model of Sam and Dean Winchester's car? Bonus point if you know its nickname. 1967 Chevy Impala - nicknamed Metallicar
11. What is the difference between All Saints and All Souls? All Saints is celebrated on Nov. 1, and is the holy day when Catholics pray for the intercession of canonized saints and celebrate the communion of all saints and martyrs. All Souls is celebrated on Nov. 2, and is the holy day when Catholics pray for all the souls in purgatory, that they may be hurried along the path to heaven.
12. Vampire, werewolf or zombie? (myself, I'm vampire all the way)
13. Name your favorite scary movie. (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)