Tuesday, October 31, 2006


In our neighborhood, Halloween is a Big Deal. Decorations abound, and when the sun goes down and the moon comes up...well, all the kids from near and far gather here with parents in tow. From 5.30 to 8.30 pm it's a frenzy of costumes and candy, and an absolute hoot. Until we moved here eight years ago we had always lived in dodgy urban areas - the Mission/Bernal Heights in San Francisco and the non-gentrified side of Silverlake in Los Angeles - and not once did we see a trick-or-treater. But here, here Halloween is magical like I remember it being in my childhood. For our neighborhood is a present-day Mayberry replete with safe streets full of kids dressed as princesses and comic book heroes, witches and ghosts, pumpkins and puppies...all clamoring for their Snickers and Baby Ruths.

The candy giving does take stamina, because there are hundreds of kids. Really. Lots. Tom and I usually tag team; I take the first shift until he comes home from work, and then he spends the last hour or so answering the door. Last year was horrific...we ran out of candy at 8.10 pm - even the cheapo Tootsie Rolls that I buy as backup went before then - and had to shut the door and turn off the lights. We had to turn away kids, which really bummed us out. But this year I'm ready for 'em.

I've also received a Halloween goodie of my own. My skein of Yarn Pirate's Spooky arrived yesterday, and I heart it, especially the way the grey is mixed in with the orange and black. Very nice. Georgia also included a little skeleton toy with the yarn - awww - which my cat Maggie immediately pounced on and carried off to parts unknown. Some day, when I have conquered the sock, I shall make a kick ass Spooky pair to wear on this most wonderful of holidays.

And wait, what's that about socks? Could it be?! Yes, I think it is. Don't they look funny? Mary is teaching me how to make toe up socks on two circs. So far I like using two circs waaaay better than when I tried using DPNs two months ago. Hopefully M will show me the wonders of heel turning tomorrow at knitting group and a sock making epiphany shall occur. Stay tuned to the same bat channel to hear all about it.

Happy haunting.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


To celebrate the season, here's a Halloween contest to get you dancing with your broomstick. Or your knitting needles. Or your sweetiemonster. Whatever floats your ghost.

Rules: Send me an email with your answers by midnight PST on Oct. 31st. I'll tally up the correct answers and draw a winning name on Nov. 1st. The winner will receive a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Vampira-licious reds and black.

1. The Munsters live at what address?
2. Name the punk rock lead singer who worked as a gravedigger and slept in a coffin.
3. What year was Frankenstein written?
4. Before pumpkins, from what were jack-o-lanterns made?
5. Name the actor who worked as a coffin maker before striking it rich in Hollywood.
6. What is the 13th card in a tarot deck?
7. Name Buffalo Bill's dog.
8. What fate befell Neville in the Gashlycrumb Tinies?
9. Name the last film Bela Lugosi ever made.
10. What is the year/make/model of Sam and Dean Winchester's car? Bonus point if you know its nickname.
11. What is the difference between All Saints and All Souls?
12. Vampire, werewolf or zombie?
13. Name your favorite scary movie.

Have fun, ghouls!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Diamond Fantasy Shawl

Mehitabel mentioned my DFS in her post today, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's my humble first attempt at knitting a lace shawl, and hopefully an auspicious sign that some day I'll be able to create something as beautiful and awe inspiring as Stephanie's wedding shawl.

Pattern: Diamond Fantasy Shawl by Sivia Harding
Yarn: Claudia's Hand Painted Fingering in Chocolate Cherry
Needles: US5 Takumi bamboo circs (I started with a 24" circ and ended with a 36")
Mods: None
Rating: 5 sparkly stars - The pattern is simple and well written, making it perfect for a person new to lace and an easy peasy knit for someone more experienced

This May I joined designer Sivia Harding's Yahoo group, Sivia Harding Knits. (I don't even know how I found the group - it must have been mentioned on a blog somewhere - but I sure am glad I did.) They'd recently begun a DFS KAL (which is ongoing), and after reading some of the posts I decided to sign up for it, too. I ordered my pattern from Sivia and feverishly cast on.

The next two months were spent learning the lace knitting ropes. Sivia and the women in the KAL were extremely helpful; their combined wisdom and experience aided immeasurably in figuring out what the heck I was doing.

What this project has added to my knitting bag o'tricks:
+ How to do a Russian join - key when using superwash fingering weight yarn (sweet! no ends to weave in)
+ How to use two different colored stitch markers to delineate edge stitches from the body repeats
+ How to see where I was in the pattern and really read a lace chart
+ How I hate having a wadded up blob of knitting on too-short circs, and was much happier using longer ones as the number of stitches on my needles grew
+ How to do an i-cord bind off (sweet! what a great finishing touch to the top edge)
+ How a lifeline is not only important, but it should be placed every 10 rows for maximum comfort (otherwise I get really really angry...I spent several weeks sulking when I dropped some stitches on the last repeat and had to rip back 25 rows)
+ How to block a lace shawl (so many pins!)

The downside? Only one thing marred the project, and that was my yarn choice. The dye hadn't set properly, and came off on my hands and needles while I was knitting. Then, when I was giving the shawl its Eucalan bath right before blocking it, the dye bled horribly in the water. Again, the group gave me great advice - a little vinegar is a marvelous thing! - and the color finally set, but by that time it was much faded from what it was in the hank. But, there's so much beautiful fingering weight wool out there that I'll just pick something else for my next project...can anyone say Koigu? Heh.

All in all, a great project. And one that's opened the door to many others - in the queue are Birch, Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket, Leaf and Swallowtail, Miriam Felton's Adamas and Seraphim, and Anne Hanson's Wing of the Moth.

P.S. The Hanging Garden Shawl I'm working on right now is also Sivia's pattern. Last night I finally ripped back and set up my stitches again. I'm going to limit myself to doing 2-4 rows at a sitting for a while, and see how it goes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

All Systems Go

Late Friday afternoon the UPS guy delivered a box from Webs, one of my current top go-to online sources for yarn. In it was Classic Elite's Beatrice, a yarn I've been eyeing for over a year; when I saw a few weeks ago that they had it discounted for under $5 a ball I knew I had to have me some.

I pulled the yarn out of the box and swatched immediately for the casual hoodie (Kirstin) in Melissa Leapman's Hot Knits. And wonder of wonders, gauge (3.75 st per inch - what kinda wacky gauge is that?) was met on my second attempt. After the angst of trying - and failing - to get gauge for the last two sweaters I've wanted to make, this prompted some lightheadedness and disbelief, followed by a contented glow of satisfaction. Yes, Virginia, some garment knitting will be happening this fall after all.

Beatrice is made up of three strands of merino loosely plied together. I was a little concerned about keeping an even tension with all three strands while I knit my swatch; indeed, a couple of my stitches had one strand looser than the other two, which made it look like the yarn had been snagged. Not good. But, after washing the yarn relaxed, the strands melded together, and the resulting fabric is happy making. I'll need to watch my tension carefully, and make sure I don't snag the strands (maybe my pointy Knit Picks Options needles aren't the best choice with this yarn...but hello! I got gauge! I got gauge! Full steam ahead!) to insure that this is a successful knit. Surely I can do that. Let the casting on begin!

In other news, Midwest Moonlight is a fun knit. Might have to buy another skein to insure it's long enough, though. Usually I like my scarves shorter rather than longer, but this dramatic color needs to be seen. Goodness, it's the knit version of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I should have turned the car around. When the black cat with the large mouse in its mouth crossed my path on Monday, I should have stopped, executed a nice 3-point turn and taken a different route home. Instead, the following thoughts popped into my head:

Aww, look, a black kitty. With a mouse. Doing what cats do. Aww, Buster... [a stray black cat we rescued, Buster was a righteous hunter until he went to live the good life with Katrina, a friend in Boston]...and Brix [another black cat who lived with us for 16 years until passing away a couple of years ago] ....

And I blithely drove on, thinking kitty thoughts, disregarding the Dante's Limbo that waited for me today. Yes, indeedy. After three days of grace, I finally was summoned to appear for jury duty. I'd hoped that maybe the mouse was the recipient of the black cat vibes - kinda like gold fish absorbing bad energy in feng shui - and I'd be off the hook this week. Nope. The mouse just deflected the vibes for a few days, that's all. So off I went to downtown Los Angeles to wait around with all the other poor bewildered souls until I was allowed to begin the medical exemption process that will hopefully take me off The Man's jury duty list for a while. (yeah, I have some medical testing going on right now which is all very boring and we don't need to go into)

But the two hours I was there were well spent reading Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter. (We don't have Showtime, so I'm not watching the series.) Might have been the stultifying civil servant hallways and waiting rooms that added a certain relish to my reading, but I am enjoying Lindsay's sly humor nonetheless.

And I am thankful to the mouse that I got yesterday off. Wednesdays are knitting group days, and yesterday we bid adieu to one of our members, Marie. She's moving to Seattle, and we're going to miss her dreadfully much.

Happy trails, Marie!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happiness is...

...a ball of chartreuse yarn.

Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, that is. From its crunchy, tweedy hand to its fiber content (65 wool/35 silk, which allows it to be worn directly against the skin without being itchy) this yarn is lovely. I first used it this spring to make knitty's Branching Out Scarf as my Knitting Olympics - and first lace - project. I used the moss green colorway, and wore the scarf continually until the weather warmed up. This summer, I wasted some of it - black, this time - on a fugly Knit Picks scarf pattern. Now it's autumn, and I'm using it to make Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style. I bought two skeins in this acid green colorway from Knit Cafe during their summer sale, and am delighted at how it's knitting up all sassy. Just the thing to get me out of my knitting doldroms.

In other news, the ardor has cooled:

There I was last night, on row 54 of 55 of the first repeat of my Hanging Garden shawl, when an itty bitty stitch jumped off my needle. All the way down, down, down. Can you see the carnage? Frak. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those knitters who can take 57 dpns, 122 pins and a bottle of wine and MacGyver things back into shape. Nosireebob. Instead, I'm one of those knitters who rips back to their lifeline and starts again. So be it, but later.

Hey, the winter IK preview is up. Eunny Jang's fair isle sweater looks incredible.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lucky 13

Must be the day's mojo, because for the first time in weeks I actually feel like hitting the stash and casting on a new project. Probably something quick and easy like a scarf. Maybe Yarn Harlot's pattern from yesterday. Maybe this one. Dunno, but I'm off to take advantage of the moment.

Happy ghoulish weekend everyone.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Pretties

Okay, so we've established that I have a little Addams family in me. Case in point: This spring Tom asks what I'd like to do for our wedding anniversary. Normally we're really lowkey - we exchange cards and go to dinner at a favorite restaurant - but this year I was in a yarn induced euphoria when he asked, and thus blurted out, "Go to Black Sheep Knittery." Being a really nice guy, he said okay and off we went.

This small store has an arty vibe and a lovely yarn selection. Their corner o' Koigu is especially mouthwatering, and I quickly sidled up to it. There, my eye fell upon these goodies:

I gasped out some inane comment like "I didn't even know Koigu came in Halloween colors," Tom paid the bill and off we went. I carried the skeins around with us all day. Thrilled to death, over dinner I informed him I'd begun a Halloween yarn collection. (He was like "That's nice, dear. Please pass the green curry.")

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Mary brought these to my attention:

Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet in Candy Corn and...

...Monster Mash. Available here. We placed an order, and our skeins arrived a few days ago. The Candy Corn is indeed sweet, and the Monster Mash...well, what's not to love about a hank of bright green, black and purple yarn?! After this, there was no stopping me in my quest for Halloween colorways. I jumped online, scouring etsy and a few handdyer's blogs. Summarily struck out with Scout for her Socktoberfest, but the gracious Georgia aka Yarn Pirate has a skein of her Spooky reserved for me in her next dyebatch.

And pssst, if you know of any other creepy Halloween yarns, lemme know, okay? Cackle, cackle.

Dem Bones

This is my favorite time of year. Autumn is my favorite season, October my favorite month, Halloween my favorite holiday. Yep, I'm spooky. And what better way to share the spookiness of the season than by making a girly-girl skull totebag for one's niece?

Pattern: Hello Yarn's Big Skull Tote
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Coal and Tulip
Needles: US 13 24" Addis
Modifications: I decreased the number of cast on stitches from 80 to 60, then increased ten stitches on rows 5 and 10 to make the top of the bag tighter. I also made the skull on just one side, not two, using some funky faux intarsia and loose knots to make sure it all felted together properly.
Rating: 3 out of 5 snack-sized Snickers bars. Another great advanced beginner felting project. I love the magenta and black combo!

As I mentioned before, I collect skull patterns, but this is the first project I've made using one. Someday I'll get around to making these, too:

- the AntiCraft's Snowball's Chance in Hell
- Knitty's Yorick
- Hello Yarn's We Call Them Pirates

Kinda amazing, really, the number of skull patterns out there. I mean, google and you'll pull up all sorts of fun skeletal stuff. Makes my spooky heart glad.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I'm still getting over the sinus infection/virus from h-e-double toothpicks, and have to admit that not a lot of knittin' has been happenin' due to my inability to focus on anything but Stargate SG-1 reruns courtesy of Netflix. Not only that, but today I'm missing the Pasadena Daytimers yarn crawl set up by Annette. Drat.

The Hanging Garden shawl is creeping along - I'm on row 44 (out of 55) of the first repeat (out of 14). Pretty impressive, eh? I've begun a stealth project. I'm tossing some holiday ideas around. And I'm still searching for a sweater project. My latest thought is to find a pattern for this lovely Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the not so lovely named "potting soil mix" colorway. (hey! let's call one of our colors dirt! okay!) Mary brought Ariann to my attention - what do you think?

I also recently acquired these two skeins of Socks That Rock yarn, and just had to include the photos because the colors are so darn yummy. The first is Fred Flintstone, an autumnal blend of orange, rusts and gold. I'd love to use it for a simple lace scarf.

The second is the amazing Sherbet. And yes, the colors are that vivid in person. Yowza! No idea what I want to make with it...I just had to have it, y'know?

Okay, it's back to the couch for me. Knitsisters, I hope the yarn crawl was great fun! Can't wait to hear about it and see your loot.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Waiting for The Man

At the beginning of each month, a plain white envelope shows up on my doorstep. In it are four little plastic baggies and a piece of paper or two. I usually rip the envelope open immediately and pounce on the little ziplocs, inspecting each with delight. Then I run and grab some needles and dig into the offerings that the Yarn of the Month Club has sent me...oh, wait, did you think I was talking about something else?

Well, I must admit that the YotM Club is addictive. Every month you receive four different yarn samples, with enough of each yarn to make a 4" swatch. Often there's a theme - my favorite being the angora bunny yarns they sent for spring this year - and they always include a pattern using at least one of the yarns. Often the yarns are ones I've been curious about but haven't tried, or ones that I've never seen at my LYS or online. Some are yarns that I'd never ever buy, but the democratic nature of the club allows me to give them a try anyway. Most are enjoyable to knit up, and a couple have actually made it into my stash: Artfibers' Tsuki (a lovely lace mohair I'm using for Birch) and Steinbach Wolle's Strapaz Cotton Effekt (for the day I actually make socks).

Once I've knit up my swatches each month, I wash and dry them, label them, and tuck them away in a drawer for future reference. And then I start waiting for the mailman again.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Sorry for being awol. A sinus infection and a new computer - after ten years of being a PC family we've switched to Mac - have discombobulated me this past week. I hope to have an honest-to-goodness post up tomorrow.