Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January Roundup

I can't believe that it is the end of January already! I don't know where the month went, although being sick for 10 days in the middle of it certainly didn't help. Anyway, since it is the end of the month, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock and see what I accomplished and how well I lived within the "Knit from your Stash 2007" guidelines.

Actually, I think I did pretty well this month. Despite several trips to craft stores and my LYS, I only added 2 skeins of yarn to my stash. (I did buy some needles, but those don't count!) In fairness to myself, these skeins will be used in the next month. I intend to knit or crochet some hats for this worthy cause, and I simply didn't have enough wool yarn in primary colors in my stash.

I also committed to finishing one UFO each month. So this month I am counting my knitted Red Scarf. Since I had started it last November, I think it counts. I also worked more this week on a baby blanket that I had started in September/October (I think - again, I don't really remember). I just have the edging to put on it in the next few days, and it will be finished too. And I only started one new project - the Lucy bag.

Other accomplishments for this month include my successful experiment in felting and sending off the "Knit Mitt Kit" swap more or less on time. My list of completed items for charity has grown, as well. I now have 8 items on the list, which keeps me on track for 100 items for the year. I do need to try to get a little ahead, though, because I know that I won't accomplish that much come summer.

So, all in all, I would count this as a very successful month!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yes, But Is It Art?

I took some time this morning to read a couple of articles someone at work handed me yesterday about a new exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design down in New York City. The exhibit is called "Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting" and features artists who are (according to the New York Times) mimicking "the look or logic of knitting and lace" and translating "it into different materials". The works range in size from miniature knitted sweaters and gloves a mere 3/8" long to works so large they are only included as video installations.

One artists asks "What if knitting was seen as something dark and dangerous?" Interesting question. His work, a full sized wool body sock with knitting needles stuck into it, reflects his reaction to the airlines' ban on knitting needles on planes in the wake of 9/11.

In a companion article, the NY Times* talks about, a website dedicated to making Home Ec hip. The founder of the website, Jean Railla, offers this observation: "In a world of thousand-dollar 'it' bags, and hyperconsumerism, one of the most political things you can do is to make something yourself." Bracing words for a Tuesday morning, no? But like the news article, I have to give the last word to Debbie Stoller: "I think it's awesome that people are using needlecraft as a medium. It has a lot of associations, from the cheesy to the feminist. But I don't think every single scarf needs to be elevated to art." Thank goodness for that! With the pressure of creating art on me too, I might never finish a project!

NY Times, 1/27/07, pps. B9 & 12

Monday, January 29, 2007

Weekend News

I'm not sure where the weekend went! I had intended to pop in on Saturday, but that didn't happen, and we spent most of yesterday with the parents up in New Britain. But I do have some news and some progress to show you all from the last 2 days.

First, the news: I decided to go back to Weight Watchers Saturday morning. Right up until Friday night, I wasn't sure that I was really ready to commit to this, but I realize that this is one of those things that I needed to do, ready or not. But on Saturday morning, after I had gotten up and out the door at 7:30 A.M., into the 17 degree tempature, to attend the meeting, I realized that yes, maybe I am feeling motivated to do this! Actually, I decided on the early morning meeting because a friend from crochet guild attends at that time, and I know going with someone I know will be even more motivating for me. So far, the first 2 days have gone well, except for having less control than I might have liked yesterday, due to the family dinner. But I did ok with that, too, so hopefully I will have a good result when I weigh in at the end of the week. I will try not to bore you all with news of my weight loss, but I know that other bloggers I read who are struggling to lose weight are inspiring to me, and maybe I can do the same for someone too.

And now, the progress. I have been knitting away on the Lucy bag, and I am more than half done with the body of the bag. It is fun, mindless knitting, but I still have quite a bit to do, especially since the straps are going to be 200+ rows! The color is washed out in the photo. I am using Galway Highland Heather in a blue/purple heather colorway. Unfortunately, I think it will be impossible to see some of the subtle shadings after this is felted, but hopefully it will still be a pretty color. I am really surprised by how single minded I have been about this project, so I guess that felting really is addictive. I can't wait to felt again!

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

This and That

I'm running out of time this morning, and I'm running out of things to talk about this week, but I won't have time to post tomorrow morning, so I thought I would pop in and relate just a couple of things from this week:

1. A few weeks ago, I mentioned sending a patron home with Doris Chan's book, Amazing Crochet Lace. Well, on Tuesday my patron came back in with her first FO from the book. She had also made the "Blue Curacao Shawl" but in a white sport yarn with a little sparkle to it. It came out a little smaller than my shawl, but it was just beautiful. I wish I had a picture to show you. It was another really nice moment at work. I really do have quite a network of knitters and crocheters going at the library!

2. I started the Lucy bag yesterday morning. Yes, I know, I have plenty of WIPs to work on. But I really want to felt something else, and I need a good traveling project for tonight and this weekend. I have to say, though, that starting this bag is one of the hardest things I have ever done! You start by crocheting 8 stitches in a circle, leaving each stitch on your hook, and then transferring the stitches to 4 dpns. Just keeping the stitches on the needles while you knit your first row is an incredible challenge. However, you increase in each stitch in the first row, so by the time you are finished and have 16 stitches on the needles, it all looks a little more familiar. It should be a fun and hopefully fast project. I'll post pictures when I have more done and it looks like something besides a dreamcatcher!

3. DH is going out tonight, so I signed up for a "sit and knit" night at my LYS. Part of me can't believe that I actually paid a nominal fee for the privilege of sitting and knitting - something I can do for free almost anywhere else - but I really want to encourage the store to do things like this. And I do have a couple of questions/problems that I am bringing with me for advice.

Finally, for those of you who aren't Scottish, today is Robert Burns's birthday! This is a big deal for those of us who are Scottish, and even if I'm not celebrating tonight I will be this weekend. For some reason, my in-laws, who are not Scottish, love haggis, so we are having a family dinner on Sunday in honor of Scotland's most famous poet!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finally, Red Scarf FOs!

I decided this past weekend that I had to get busy on my red scarves. Yes, I worked on them last week, but I was really starting to feel somewhat bogged down by them. I couldn't even remember when I had started the knitted one. I finally looked it up and it turns out I had started it in November - no wonder it felt like it was taking forever! And time is marching on - they need to be in the mail soon. So last Saturday, I made a determined effort to finish at least one of them. Things went so well that I actually finished two!

The scarf on the left is the knitted one. I used a stitch pattern called "Little Pyramids" that I found on It is a 6-row repeat that is easy to memorize but challenging enough to keep me interested. I used the new Simply Soft tweed yarn. The scarf on the right is crocheted using the herringbone hdc stitch and Plymouth Encore yarn. Each scarf used about a skein and a half to complete.

I had started to crochet a 3rd scarf, but I don't have enough yarn to finish it, so I will frog the scarf and make mittens perhaps. So this is it for red scarves this year. I doubled my production from last year, so perhaps if they do this again next year, I will make 3 or 4. For now, I am ready to move on to other projects.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Felted Bag

It took me until Friday last week, but I did finally get my "Knit Mitt Kit" in the mail to my swap partner, Trish. I overnighted it because I was so late, and Trish received it on Saturday. Since you all might not remember, this swap required us to make a bag and fill it with everything one might need to make a pair of mittens. So, with Trish's permission, I want to show you pictures of the bag I made and talk a little bit about my first attempt at felting.

I used the pattern for the "Americana Tote" from Pursenalities by Eva Weichmann. I liked the shape and size of this particular bag. I used Cascade 220 Quattro in the colorway Amethyst. I miscalculated how much yarn I would need at first, and by the time I had figured that out, it was too late to get more in the same dye lot. So I ordered a couple of skeins in a solid color, Plum, and finished the bag with that. I think it worked out better than if I had made the whole bag in the variegated. I wasn't entirely happy with the bottom of the bag when I was finished, but I hoped that the felting process would take care of that.

And it did! Felting is an amazing process. I have never had a strong desire to try this before, but now I can see why it is addictive! I followed the instructions in Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas, and I had no problems whatsoever. Now I want to make a bag for myself. I have enough yarn to make a Lucy bag, so that's on my to do list. I would also like to make a hat with the leftover yarn from this project. And my dh would really like a felted vest. He wants to design it himself, though, so that might be beyond my skills at this point in time! But I can definitely see more felting in my future.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Criminal Behavior Swap

Well, I'm happy to report that I am finally feeling like myself again. It was a long week, with a lot of ups and downs. I would feel better, and then feel worse again. I made it to work on Friday, but it was a long day. Anyway, I am well now, and I have lots of fiber-related news to share this week.

First up, I got a package in the mail on Saturday. In December, I joined a swap over at Whoduknit called the "Criminal Behavior Swap". My upstream partner, Lyndsey-Jane, was a little belated in sending this to me, but it was well worth the wait. She sent 2 books, Just One Look by Harlen Coben and Thirteen Steps Down by Ruth Rendell. I haven't read anything by either author, so I can't wait to get started on these books. She also included a bar of handmade lavendar soap that smells heavenly, and a "sock blocker" key chain. I have to find some yarn to make a sock for the sock blocker. I have to admit, as far as I am concerned, the key chain is the best part of the package. It is adorable, and I will enjoy it immensely, but it is exactly the kind of thing I would never buy for myself.

Tomorrow, one FO or another!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Still Alive, Barely

So this week isn't going as expected, but at least I finally feel able to sit up and type for a bit. I hate to tell the members of my guild who read this, but after the meeting on Sunday (at which I felt pretty good and healthy) I came home and took a real turn for the worse. I have had a full blown stomach virus since Sunday night. Boy, did I feel lousy. Usually, no matter how sick I am, even when I had mono a couple of years ago (which is probably the sickest I have ever been), I always take a shower. This comes from my mother, the nurse, who drilled into me as a child that when I am sick, "if I get up and get washed and dressed, I will feel better". Well, Monday is the first time ever that I didn't have the energy to get into the shower. I saw the PA yesterday, and despite drawing some blood to rule out anything else, she is pretty sure that this is a viral infection which should run its course in 48-72 hours.

And I have to say that by last night, I did start to feel better. I am still home today on the PA's advice (and in case I am still contagious). I haven't finished any projects for a while now, but last night I was able to do a little work on several WIPs. I just couldn't seem to truly settle to anything.

I started with Liesel. Despite not having worked on her in months, as soon as I picked her up my fingers just seemed to remember and know what to do. I still say that it is the best first lace project I could have found. She is half done, and I am anxious to finish her up so I can wear her this winter. Then the UConn game started, and it was very exciting because we were playing Pitt, the #1 team in the Big East. (We lost, but not badly, so I'm not too disappointed.) So I put Liesel down and worked a little bit on my two crocheted red scarves. Then I put those down and made most of a chemo cap.

I chalk this indecisiveness up to the germs that are eating my brains. Maybe I can be a little more focused today. We'll see!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Seeing Red

No, not because I am angry, because I am immersed in red scarves! I have been home sick since Thursday at lunchtime. It seems to be some sort of viral infection, and mostly I am very tired. But as long as I sit still, I seem to be ok. So I have taken this time to work on some red scarves. The knitted one that I have been working on forever is more than half done, and I have started 2 crocheted ones that should grow quicker. Actually, they better grow quicker, since they all need to be in the mail fairly soon! The other driving factor is that crochet guild is tomorrow. I am determined to go, at least for a little while, and I needed something to work on while I am there. Hence the two crocheted scarves. I will try to finish something and have some pictures up next week.

Also, wish me luck, because dh and I are going to attempt felting for the first time tomorrow morning! After all the work I put into this bag, I am very nervous something might go wrong. But one way or another, this swap has to be in the mail Tuesday morning, so it's felt tomorrow morning or else!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I did find one new KAL to join this week. It is called Year of the Alpaca. The best thing about this KAL (besides the obvious virtue of encouraging us to work with alpaca) is that it will actually help me use up stash instead of forcing me to buy new yarn. I said last week that I love my alpaca, and it's true. I have alpaca or alpaca blends in every weight from lace to worsted. (I'm just not a bulky yarn kind of girl.) As soon as I finish my current swap and my red scarf (yes, I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but the swap at least is almost there), I will be immersing myself in alpaca. I really want to start my second Blue Curacao shawl, but I think I will wait until February and make it my first Project Spectrum project as well. So first up will be a Bejeweled scarf in Nashua Yarns' Ivy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Knit from your Stash 2007

I have to say that I have been enjoying reading the Stash and UFO Bust-along blog this week. One of the requirements for joining is that you "flash your stash", and while I have no intentions of joining this KAL, I thought it might be cathartic to show you the mess that is my yarn room. I took these pictures in September, but I can assure you that it has only gotten worse!

One real problem is that too much yarn is being stored in plastic bags! Also, this isn't all of the yarn. There is more in and behind the cabinet that isn't shown in these pictures! I should also point out that all other types of bags, besides the plastic ones, are holding UFOs. Yes, I really need to do something about this!

So I have decided to commit to "Knit from Your Stash 2007". Here are my revisions to the guidelines:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through July 12, 2007 -- a period of just over 6 months -- since I am going to the Knit & Crochet Show and I know I won't be able to resist the Yarn Market!

2. I will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone? (Since I have a lot of sock yarn already, and since I don't knit that many socks, I don't really need this exception, but I can't think of anything to replace it with.)

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift or a gift of yarn (for swaps) that I really and truly do not have the yarn for, I may buy yarn to knit or complete that gift.

2.c. If I am knitting something and run out of yarn, I may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. I get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- I am allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

2.e. If I need yarn for a project on Whoduknit, and I truly do not have the yarn in the stash, then I may buy the yarn for that project only.

3. I am allowed to receive gifts of yarn. (This includes spending the gift certificate to my LYS that I got for Christmas. After all, it would be rude not to spend it!)

4. Trading stash is allowed.

5. At least one UFO should be finished each month.

We will see how well I do with this! I have already realized that I have to take temptation out of my path. It is amazing how much time I spend looking at websites and catalogs that sell yarn. I have got to curtail this if I want to be successful over the next 6 months!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The plumber is coming this morning, and I will get my kitchen sink back! Yeah!

Actually, I know you all aren't really that fascinated by my plumbing problems, but I hate to leave a story hanging!

I'll be back tomorrow with more fiber-related thoughts!

Monday, January 08, 2007

"Scary Good!"

We had a relatively successful, if not exactly relaxing, weekend around here. I still have to get a plumber to come in, but the cable is fixed and the new DVD player is working. Christmas is all put away, both here and at my mother's apartment. There's going to be a lot of "stuff" to do (errands and such) this week, I can just tell, but I think it will all come together just fine.

I haven't been working on any big projects, except for the bag for the Knit Mitt Kit Swap which I can't show you all yet, but I have been making some chemo hats for the guild donation next month. Friday night, I looked through the yarn I had to hand and found a partial skein that I wanted to use. I thought it looked like enough for a hat. When I was done with the hat, here's what I had:

That strand waiting to be tied in is all I had left of the skein! I told my dh that I think I am getting to be "scary good" at this hat making stuff! I used Simply Soft Shadows for the hat. The picture doesn't really show the striping, but it is soft and pretty in real life. I will probably finish it with a white crocheted flower, though, since it is a little dark as is.

Speaking of my current swap, we are down to the last week before the kit gets mailed. I will probably need every minute of that time, but "the good lord willing and the creeks don't rise" (although they may, given the rain we have gotten overnight!) I will have the kit together, the bag felted and everything in the mail next Tuesday morning. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Project Spectrum 2.0

Lolly announced this week that Project Spectrum 2.0 will begin on February 1st. Having missed this last year, I got myself signed up this morning. I do believe that Lolly hosts the best knitalongs! No stress, but very creative. So I am looking forward to exploring the color spectrum while I continue to knit and crochet for charity.

As it turns out, my guild is collecting chemo hats between now and our February meeting. Coincidentally, there was a post up this week over at the Think Pink Challenge regarding various types of cancers and the colors that are associated with them. I wanted to share the links here as well, because they tie in so well with both the chemo hat donation and Project Spectrum. I had to replace one of the links, however, since the original site changed recently. The links are to Awareness Ribbon Colors, Color Definitions, and Cancer Awareness Colors. I am going to keep these colors in mind as I create chemo hats over the next month.

Finally, Heather over at the Red Scarf Knitalong shared this link with us this week. It is a blog devoted to charity knitting. It is definitely a site I will check often.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Converting the World to the Fiber Arts, One Patron at a Time

I had such a lovely afternoon yesterday. I decided to throw my shawl on again while I was on desk, despite the mild temperatures, and it led to several great conversations with patrons. I sent one older lady home with both Amazing Crochet Lace and Victorian Lace Today. Then the next patron admitted to me that she had been working hard to finish the Christmas presents she had been crocheting, and the conversation ended with my inviting her to my next crochet guild meeting. Those are the moments when I truly love my job!

Then I went home to this:
Yes, that would be my kitchen faucet. Granted it has been dying by inches for probably years now. I guess we procrastinated just about as long as we possibly could on this one! We went out last night and bought a new faucet. So now I am not only home waiting for the cable technician to come fix my high def cable, so that I can finally install the new DVD player I got for Christmas, I am also waiting for the plumber to call so I can see how long I am going to have struggle to wash dishes (or use paper plates, which seems preferable at the moment). Of course, what I am supposed to be doing today is putting Christmas away, but I find it hard to accomplish anything while I am waiting.
Well, the cable guy just called and will be here in 15 minutes, so maybe today won't be as bad as I think! I will be back tomorrow (since I am working again - boy, these Saturdays come up fast!) with the rest of the post I intended to write today. Have a great day!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Coffee, Chat & Crochet

Yesterday morning was my crochet guild's monthly get together at Borders. Three of us made it, and Dee has written a good description of our morning over on her blog. The only thing I can really add is that it was an incredibly relaxing morning, knitting and talking about all sorts of things. And I am very happy to hear that Dee's knitting is finally coming along! Way to go, Dee!

One of the things we talked about was the national guilds' big conference coming up in July. It is going to be held in Manchester, NH this year, and I will be making my hotel reservations tomorrow on my day off. Of course, one big reason to go is the Yarn Market, so I know that if I commit to the stash busting, I won't make it until September. However, hopefully the need to save money for the conference will help slow down my yarn purchases during the first half of the year at least!

Finally, I brought my shawl to show off and wear. I ended up wearing the shawl most of the day at work, and I am happy to report that it is extremely comfortable to wear. Even when I am moving around a lot, returning books, it stays put on my shoulders. Unfortunately, the weather is still so warm here in Connecticut that I hardly need a scarf most of the time, let alone a shawl. The temps might cool down next week, which would help, because I really like wearing my shawl!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Webs Trip

As promised, I want to tell you all about my trip to Webs last week. We got there about 10:15 in the morning, and the shop was already crowded because of the sale. I had about 2 hours to wander and make purchases while my dh went on to a couple of used bookstores up the road. I decided to look at everything first and then decide what I wanted to buy. As I started to wander around, I thought that everyone who works with fiber should visit this store at least once, even if you have to travel to get there. The main floor is beautifully arranged, with lots of wonderful yarns. I have never seen so much Malabrigo in one place before! But the real draw is the warehouse in the back. It is stacked floor to ceiling with both skeins and cones of yarn. The first time my dh saw it, he said "It's like Home Depot for women!" And he is exactly right! It is an overwhelming amount of yarn, and then there was the sale, so it took quite a bit of looking before I settled on what to buy.
I went knowing that I wanted to buy yarn to make more of the projects in Amazing Crochet Lace, but I was still surprised at how much yarn I bought to crochet with. The blue in the front, on the left, is Berroco Ultra Alpaca, a wool/alpaca blend, which will become my second "Blue Curacao Shawl". Next to that are two skeins of a dark rose wool/alpaca blend from Nashua Handknits that I think will become a "Bejeweled" scarf. Next to that are 3 skeins of Ritratto that are already becoming a "Moebius Shawl". Behind that are 3 skeins of a yarn called Gioiello. It looks to be almost identical to Ritratto, and it will also become a moebius shawl. Next to that are 3 skeins of white TLC Cotton Plus for the "Shoop Shoop Capelet". Behind that is a bag of 10 skeins of Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK for the "Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl", and 10 skeins of Classic Elite Wings, an alpaca/silk/wool blend for I'm not sure what. And I couldn't resist the teddy bear book when I found it on sale. Obviously, I do love alpaca!

I also bought a 10-pack of sock yarn from Elann last week that I forgot to add into the photo. So I have had quite a year-end binge of yarn buying! I have to say, though, that I am seriously considering signing on to Knit from your Stash 2007. I could easily keep myself amused until September, and meet my charity goal for the year, with the yarn I own right now!

Monday, January 01, 2007

An FO to Start the Year...

... or what I did on my Christmas vacation! I had some spare time last Tuesday afternoon, and I decided that I just had to start the Blue Curacao Shawl from Doris Chan's Amazing Crochet Lace. I can tell you two things about her patterns - they crochet up very quickly, and they are highly addictive! Once I started the shawl, I had trouble putting it down because it was so much fun watching the pattern emerge with each row. I finished the crocheting on Thursday afternoon, and then I had time yesterday to weave in my ends and block the shawl.

Unfortunately, the yarn was not that great to work with. It is a wool/camel blend, but I have no idea how old it is. There were a lot of knots that I had to cut out and one spot that was frayed down to nothing. I don't know how well it will wear, so I think it is going to be my workhorse shawl. I will definitely make this shawl again, though, with a nicer and softer yarn. Actually, Dee wondered if I ever got to Webs last week. Oh yes! We made it up there on Friday, and I got some wonderful yarn on sale. I will post later this week about all of the yarn I bought, but one of my purchases was some Berroco Ultra Alpaca in a dark blue heather that I intend to use for my second version of this shawl. I want to take my time with the second shawl, because I think it might end up being my Craft Adventure entry this year.

So, not a bad way to end one year and start another! Happy 2007 to everyone!