Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another Blast from the Past

Perhaps you may remember this photo of the boys, probably Christmas 1968, wearing their fisherman's sweaters which I had made them. I had seen the patterns in one of those women's magazines at the checkout counter of the grocers and thought they would be nice. I hadn't knit in at least five years, and certainly had never knit anything this complex. But, blessed with ignorance, I had no idea they were supposed to be difficult. And what luck that the patterns actually worked without reams of errata. So I just cabled and popcorned away. Of course I saved them, some of those things you want to keep for future generations. When I moved to Europe, I stored them in a cedar chest at my mother's house. My mother, being my mother, found them and gave them away to Goodwill or the Paralyzed Veterans or somesuch. How I wish I still had them. But at least there is this photo!

Going through some of the boxes of inherited photo chaos, I found these two old school photos. Ta-da! Documentation of another set of sweaters, the 70s this time.
Steven in his vest...
...and David in his. No idea where I found the pattern, but I'll lay a bet this yarn came from Woolworth's. We had moved to New Orleans and I don't believe there was even a yarn store there. Or if there was I never found it. We lived on Bourbon Street and rarely left the French Quarter. It was wool, and I remember thinking the variegation was interesting. Now I wasn't a serious knitter then, I just knit from time to time as the urge struck. Wish I had thought to document everything.

There was at least one more set I knit for them, very nice mixed greens with stripes. One was a turtleneck, and by the time I made them the boys had decided they would absolutely not wear T-necks. I don't believe a photo exists of those. Too bad.

Finally got through the Christmas knitting and gift making. These were a big (did I say huge?) project:
Beaded row counters, each one different. Doreen and I got together to make fifteen or so for our knitting group. As we did our shopping for all the elements (at least three stores, twice or three times), went through my bead stash (at least as extravagent as my yarn stash) and worked through the night until 6AM to find we had only finished five or six, we decided if we were selling them on Etsy, we would have to charge at least $200 each to break even. Suppose I'm not cut out for beading row markers for the general market. Several more sessions, plus making some for myself and for other giftees, I finally stashed the beads and baubles again yesterday. Now some of you still haven't received your packages, so please act surprised.

And what have we here?
Believe it or not, a white Christmas in Texas, the first one on record for this area. This photo was taken early in the day on Christmas Eve. We got quite a bit more, about 4 inches where I live. It was no trouble getting out to our Christmas Eve party. But by the time we left to go home, the temperatures had dropped dramatically and everything was frozen solid. Getting home was a definite drama. Being Christmas Eve, no one had gotten out to sand the bridges (inexcusable) and the driving was definitely hazardous. David was on call at the hospital that night and his car doesn't do well at all on ice. I worried all night about that. By Christmas day afternoon, the roads had cleared up a bit and the driving was less treacherous.

Wonder of wonders, it is snowing again today. And it's cold. Thank goodness there is not a photo of me at the moment. Already in PJs, I'm typing away wearing orange fingerless gloves and my full length hooded red parka. Cute, really, really cute!!! As soon as I finish, I'm going to attack some major closet re-organization and there are a lot of closets in need. Must take photos and show you next time. I'm drowning in "stuff" and a lot of it just has to go. And as a result of the snow which must have been blowing in the right direction to block the dish, no television tonight. We're just not getting a signal. Darn, I'll miss the 5 millionth discussion of how to get on an airplane with an underwear bomb!!!
I mentioned in the last post that I had scored some Buffalo Gold in Boerne for a shawl but didn't show a photo. This is it, with a lovely pattern. I can't wait to start on it, but MUST finish a couple of WIPs before I allow myself. Perhaps that 3/4 done Clapotis? Definitely the orchid colored socks. One of the four sweaters that are half to 90% done? Decisions, decisions.
Just to make you laugh, this is the still un-named Bad Boy cat in his usual lounging position. Notice the divan is white? Well actually natural cotton damask. Not for long I'm sure. Bad boy has single-handedly spotted all the carpets with his barfing, if not worse. Broken several items. We switched his dry food which has solved the barfing and worse problem, but the new food is staining his white ruff. I'm sure we'll eventually solve all these issues. In the meanwhile, he is just so funny he keeps us in giggles. And extremely affectionate.
Here is one of the Christmas presents, for the BF, the very tall BF so it is a very long scarf. The pattern is the scarf version of Hypoteneuse. I donated my Plain & Fancy charcoal yarn (bought for a shawl) to the project because it was just so perfect (must call to see if I can't get some more). And the BF, the most impossible man in the world to buy a present for, seemed to really love it. Scored with this one.
And here is Absorba the Ultimate Bathmat, made for Dr. Persnickety, another impossible man for presents. Think it took 30 skeins of cotton knitted 6 at a time. He LOVED it. Score number 2. And he would like another smaller one. Yay, birthday in 4 months. And...OMG...he indicated he might actually like a sweater. I'm immediately thinking some lovely fair-isle sort of project, with colors to go with his red hair. I do so love to actually have ideas for the future, if only I remember when the time comes.

Truthfully, I completely enjoyed knitting the log cabin pattern, just not in six strands of cotton. I must look into adaptations and variations of log cabin. It is very Zen. I'm not doing hand-knitted afghans because of cats and those pests called moths. So it has to be a sweater or a shawl. Must apply the Thinking Cap...or spend some extra hours on Ravelry.
And this is what I'm knitting on now. Perhaps you can't tell, but this is an eyelash scarf knitted with just the eyelash. A horror to knit on large needles. It was even hard to find the yarn. But this was a specific request to replace a scarf I made fifteen years ago (hated knitting it then, too) for my friend Liz in Ireland. One day it blew off her neck and away over the bogs, never to be seen again and she really, really wanted another one. Only love would get you through knitting like this. At least I'm two skeins into a three skein project.

Hope your holidays were merry and that a wonderful New Year awaits us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Off and On the Needles - Fall Report II

Well now, I've survived another trip to the Kid n Ewe Festival in Boerne. The Hill Country was incredibly green this year, most unusual. The downside of that was an abundance of flies and mosquitoes that we don't usually notice so much. I didn't even take a single photo since I've taken so many over the years. But of course, there was modest replenishment of stash, notably some Buffalo Gold for a beautiful lace shawl. Then some single skeins from Brooks Farm for mixed skein projects. My goal had been to buy only grey yarns, but that proved difficult. I wanted enough for a sweater from Brooks Farm, but they didn't have any grey this time. I did score some grey from Plain and Fancy for another lace shawl, a skein of Smooshy in grey for socks and a skein of thick and thin in grey from the Tinsmith's Wife for another little ruffled neck thingy like I made last year and wore constantly.

Susan and I took a Fair Isle class from Leif Bloomenstahl the last day. It was fun and we accomplished a lot. I'm totally fired up now to start a vest, dare I say Starmore? Unbelievably, I have no appropriate yarn in stash.

There were six of us on the trip this time. We stuffed ourselves at all our favorite eateries. I've had enough chicken fried steak to last me for months. We added two new restaurants this trip, or perhaps three (new to some). All successful. The draft hard cider at the Dodging Duck is almost worth the trip all by itself.

On our departure from the bed and breakfast in Comfort, I kept my eyes peeled for another surprise visit from Celtic Memory Jo (remember last year?). Sadly, she didn't pop up this year.

And now for the second part of the current projects update.

An amusing knit was this pair of CookieA's Wanida pattern. Done in Socks That Rock lightweight, the colorway was Dixie Chicks, scored at Sock Camp a couple of years ago. These were for my dear friend K to help her survive the Vermont winters after a very, very many decades in the tropical swamp temperatures of New Orleans. They were well received and evidently fit well, always a concern when knitting for a pair of feet at a distance.

Another finished project is this Rivolo scarf from Ann Hanson's lovely pattern. Also done in a Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn, Seduction this time, colorway Rooster Rock.
The Rooster Rock colorway is even more beautiful than the photographs show and has a wonderful texture and luster. It has some tencel content, a nice hand, was pleasant to work with and it blocked very well. I started this one when Steven was in the hospital and worked on it during many hours spent there. It took me almost a year to finally bind off the last stitch and it was really emotional, as though I was letting go of some of that. This is a scarf I shall keep, although I might use the pattern again in a different yarn.
And then we have what is left of a very large shawl which had been done in Prism Wild Stuff. It was sticking out of a drawer the other day, and for some reason I pulled it out and frogged it. Punishment for its keeping the drawer from closing? Not sure quite what I will do with these two skeins of very pricey yarn. I wouldn't buy it again today for sure, but perhaps a purpose can be found.
And last but not least is my current Fascinate scarf in another color of Kureyon sock yarn. As I said after the last one, I think I will probably keep one of these in my purse at all times. At least until I've run out of friends to gift them. Easy knit and very effective.
A class with Cat Bordhi on her new sock technique looms next week-end. Cat is always fun and inspiring. Who knows what ideas she will put in my head? But I am really over-socked at the moment. As soon as I finish at least some of my WIPs, I'm seriously thinking some bigger projects are in order.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Off and On the Needles - Fall Report I

It's been so long since I've posted. The blogging fairy has gone AWOL. But yes, I've cranked out a bit of knitting over the past few months.

First, I apologize for the wonky order of the photos. Blogger and I are having a huge discussion and Blogger won't let me rearrange them, so please forgive me if the lack of logical order is perplexing!

First on the agenda (Blogger's agenda, not mine), a pair of Par 5 Socks by Ingrid Hiddessen in wonderful Eidos yarn from the Sanguine Gryphon. Fun pattern and the Eidos is a pleasure to knit. These are most definitely still WIP as I keep getting distracted by other tempting ideas.

Then a huge hurrah for the finished Morning Surf Scarf knit in Micki's incredibly beautiful handspun. I'm very, very happy with this one. The roving came from Crown Mountain Farms and bled like a stuck pig when I blocked it. Must add vinegar next time, although Micki did a vinegar soak after spinning it. Oh well, third time's charm. This is evidently typical for CMF.
And here is the beginning of a test knit of Everything's Connected Socks by Jeannie Fanihi. The test pattern was beautifully written. Love the socks. I'm using Wollmeise 100% in Fliederbusch that sweet Doris sent me from Germany. Adore the color.
Another WIP is a pair of broken rib socks, again in Eidos, again set aside for something else that caught my eye.
And here is another progress shot of Everything's Connected. Told you the photo order was WONKY! The pattern is very logical and hypnotic, so much so that I seem to fall asleep on them every time I start to knit. But thank goodness I'm approaching the toe of sock one. Jeannie assured me I needed to use the 84 stitch version of the pattern, and I'm so glad I did. With all the cabling, they are still snug. But that's a whopping lot of stitches on small needles.
And here we have another "Off the Needles". Fascinate by Berroco in Kureyon Sock Yarn. One skein, one very long scarf. This one was shipped of to Lizzie in Ireland for her birthday. I love this drop stitch pattern and may well keep one on the needles at all times for the rest of my natural life. And yes, I already have another one on the needles and yes, I bought a couple of skeins more for the stash.
Nothing knitted here, just the belly dancer who was also behind the cookstove when Doreen and I took a Middle Eastern cooking class at Central Market. BTW, the dancer donned a chef's jacket while she prepared the food, then danced between the courses. She was also teaching the belly dance moves and we were all semi-costumed. Hilarious. Excellent vegetable cous-cous.

Another "Off the Needles" is this pair of Angees by CookieA, done in Jitterbug. Nice socks.
And here is a close-up of the pattern. These were fun and went quickly. I finished them in time to wear to a class with CookieA at the Woollie Ewe. It was on sock design and Cookie was quite inspiring. I still remember her from Sock Camp years ago, sprawled on her stomach knitting incredibly complex German socks. What a girl!
And now we have a gigantic WIP, an Absorba done with 6 strands of cotton on size 15 needles. Reading others' comments on Ravelry about tangling and aching hands, I almost didn't attempt it. In the end, it is a fast, addictive knit which could easily be finished in a few days. I've had no tangling whatsoever (knock on wood) and not much hand trauma. Except when I tried to switch from the bathmat to a pair of socks and the sock needles kept falling out of my fingers. Lesson, start on the smaller needles first.
Absorba is a Christmas project for Dr. Persnickety. He is so perfectionist, I never know what to get him, let alone make for him. I thought a lovely thick bathmat couldn't go far wrong. Taya said the only problem is this mat takes a very, very long time to dry.
There will be at least another segment to this report. Hope the picture placing works next time. This was frustrating. Next time I will try to plan first. Fancy that.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fell into a Black Hole

Oh my, it's been forever since I did a blog posting. I was organizing some papers after my father's death and realized I knew little to nothing about his family so did a bit of research. Luckily, I found some distant cousins through the internet and was able to fill in a lot of the blanks back to the old country, or countries as it were. Deciding to write all that down somewhere, I started a family tree with an online service. One thing led to another and I pulled out the incredibly extensive genealogical notes of my maternal grandfather and thought I would just add some of that in, too. Then there were the stories that had to be told and the photos of great-great-great-great grandparents to be scanned and before you know it, you are spending 24 hour stretches entering data. It's addictive! It's a serious black hole. It took real fortitude to finally shove all those papers aside for a while.

And yes, of course I was doing a bit of knitting, but it seemed I made mistakes on everything I did. I've been very distracted for some reason. These Kiila Socks, a mystery pattern for Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry designed by the fabulous Yarnissima, truly kicked my butt. You couldn't find a more detailed pattern, and it was really quite simple. The gusset/heel section was ingenious. But I knitted and frogged and knitted and frogged until I could have knitted six socks in the time it took me to knit a pair. The yarn is Wollmeise Twin in Single Malt, which held up beautifully to all my abuse. After several attempts, I am still not very fond of toe up socks.
Then I knit these fabulous Shurt'ugals as a KAL in the Socks That Rock group on Ravelry. Knit on a deadline, these turned out beautifully, a pattern I will certainly do again, and again. The STR Lightweight in Pond Scum was a dream to knit with and produced a very dragon scale look in a well fitting sock.And then of course I started this amusing scarf in Kureyon sock. Fascinate is a one skein project and a totally addictive knit, perfect for on the go knitting.
There was more knitting and finished projects, but I will save those for later.

Today, I need to find a home for this sweetheart of a Persian cat. This is Grand Champion, Regional Winner Black Jack of Jude. My friend Judy is moving across the country in a couple of weeks. She breeds champion Persians and Himalayans. Her new home will be much smaller than her current one, and she needs to find new pet homes for several of her prize show cats. I've known this boy since he was a kitten. He is about 3 years old now, neutered and out of the breeding program, and he really wants to be a lap cat. He's gorgeous, has a gentle loving nature, and needs someone who will adore him. Is that you by any chance? You can see Judy's beautiful cats at http://www.judepersians.net/.

Look at BJ's blue eyes and those curly white whiskers. He's famous for those whiskers.
There are about six others who need homes, too. Two lilac point Himalayan girls about a year old. A 3-4 year old Calico girl, beautiful and regal, quite the ornament. A precious one year old black and white boy. Judy lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area now, but not for much longer. If you love Persians and have room for one of these beauties, do let us know.
I couldn't resist. I took a one year old rare Lilac Tabby girl, Talullah. She's very small, as wide as she is long, with huge copper eyes. Pictures later when she has settled in. Her little legs are so short, she can't get off the floor as much as she tries. Pretty funny.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oklahoma is to Dye For

A couple of weeks ago, there was a master spinners course being taught in Sulphur, Oklahoma by instructors from Oldes College in Alberta, Canada. They added on a 100 Colors Dye Workshop which our favorite spinner Judi mentioned and Susan, Doreen and I jumped on it like pigs into mud.

Susan slept over while we waited for Doreen to finish her night shift at the hospital, then took off in the dark of night so to arrive in Sulphur for the beginning of class, a bit the worse for wear, albeit with a yummy healthy breakfast at a McDonalds somewhere near the Texas/Oklahoma border. And the class was not playing around at all. We dove into some serious work, masked and gloved, mixing colors, toting canning pots full of jelly jars around to available burners, boiling, draining, spinning dry, etc. etc.

The principal of the course was that we took three primary colors, then mixed 100 colors from them, as you can see above.
Ellen Munro was our taskmaster/teacher. She was reeling off information at lightning speed. Being rather quiet, we had to follow her with ears cocked and notebooks in hand to catch every pearl of wisdom she offered.
Here's Doreen slaving over a hot stove. She was quite the ace at this since we did our measuring with medical syringes. She has obviously had a lot of practice.
We paired off to do our work. Each pair was responsible for 14 colors. I got the lovely Rina as my partner and enjoyed every minute of working with her. In fact, a nicer group of women you couldn't have found anywhere. They came from all over the country.

After mixing all the colors and dyeing our sample skeins, we were allowed to exhaust the remaining dyes on our own fibers. Here were some interesting rovings and skeins dyed with various techniques.

Here is the skein I painted. I'm quite happy with the colors and learned about a product which really helps keep the color in place. It's so funny, when I buy clothes, I always choose subtle colors. But when I buy or dye yarn, it is usually outrageously colorful.

Our thoroughly exhausted threesome limped out at the end of the day to our shared room at the nearby Indian owned motel, where we immediately crashed and burned. Waking an hour or so later to the smells of curry wafting through the halls (an odd smell for Sulphur, Oklahoma) we left to have dinner way out in the boonies with friends. Following them through beautiful landscapes on narrow wildly winding roads, we eventually tumbled onto this treasure.....Steve's Steak Barn.
Here are Carol, Roiana, Susan and Doreen standing in front of the above mentioned establishment in the middle of bloody nowhere. Starving one and all!

We had elaborate decor.
Exotic water features (note the hound puppy drinking from the outdoor shower/bathtub).

Even more exotic locals arrived on strange machines.
Susan seriously risked taking home an adorable kitty with extremely sharp needle like claws.

Gotta tell you, though we swatted lots of flies off our corn on the cob, Steve's steaks were pretty fabulous, as was Steve. Evidently, he had a huge crowd that night, a couple of staff didn't make it, and Steve solved the problem by inviting his biking buddies for kitchen duty in exchange for beer. Not sure how clever that was, but it was rather hilarious. We found our way back home with a different scenic route, not quite so curvy, and by 9PM, we were all snoring.
The next day's class consisted of cutting all of those color samples into tidy little strips, tying them neatly onto pages, then using everyone's work, assembling books of samples with the formulae that we could refer to in the future.
Wouldn't have missed this for the world.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On Becoming an Orphan

Some things just have to be said. I was trying to avoid posting sad news on the blog, but it seems I can't get back to talking about knitting until I honor "my old guy".

My father passed away last week, just after the stroke of midnight on his 90th birthday. During the last year, when he said he might not be around much longer, I always replied that he had to make his 90th because I was throwing a party. Then after the cake, we would discuss 91. Well, he made it. It was quite a shock to me to lose him now, although I suppose at 90, one shouldn't be surprised at anything. But what seemed to be a mild pneumonia turned out to be something much more serious. He was surrounded by those he loved, a good end to a good life.
My father LOVED his family, they were very close. Eight boys and one girl. The two youngest are missing from this photo taken when my father was 4, second from the right.
His mother saw him off to war with the Air Force in 1942.
Here he is in the fifties with his brother Dana and Greer Garson.

The last few years, there were only two of the tribe left, my father and his youngest brother Steve. Now there is only Steve. Although Steve couldn't travel from California to be with his brother that last week, he called every day and the two reminisced with laughter and tears.
There was an honor guard to send off this veteran of two wars.
My father certainly wasn't perfect, but he never told a lie and he never intentionally hurt anyone (although that bit about not telling even a white lie sometimes had that effect). He was an idealist. He remembered every date of everything ever. We shared a love of words and language and history and art and classical music. We had crossword puzzle challenges; even the last few months when he had lost much of that incredible memory, we would do the puzzles together. When I quit piano for ballet, he was so furious that he sat down with my books and taught himself to play, only Chopin for the first 25 years until he retired and finally began lessons. Perhaps three days before he died, my neice and I were sitting with him near midnight. Suddenly he began joking and teasing us and the nurse and it was my father of the old days, sharp and lucid and funny. After half an hour of this amazing gift, he fell asleep and the next day it was gone, but what a lovely memory he gave us.
My friend José Feghali played a Chopin nocturne at his service, so beautiful it brought everyone to tears. I miss him.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Here Comes the Rain

Sheer joy, the rain came and it stayed...for several days. The whole landscape is coming alive here. Now if that rain would just come back once a week, we might escape terrible drought and not turn into desert. When said rain first came well past midnight Wednesday morning, I went out to dance in it, well actually I was hauling the recycling bin out to the street for early morning pick-up, but I surely enjoyed every drop nonetheless.

I'm still slogging away on my Soho scarf, finishing skein 3 (1200 yds) and about to crack open skein 4 (1600yds). The pattern only called for 1,000 yards but I fear that would have been a bit short. Skeins 1, 2 and 3 are each very different colors as you might be able to see in the above photo. I will divide skein 4 to finish the two ends and I'm hoping it will look artfully intentional. In any case, I'm having to flog myself into finishing this project before even thinking about another. My fingers are itching for socks.
Stocking up for Sock Madness III, which starts next Thursday, I garnered some Sanguine Gryphon Eidos. Isn't it luscious? I haven't knit with this yet, but am excited to try. I think three of the designs will call for at least two colors, so as any good boy scout, I'm prepared.
Another gorgeous skein from the Sanguine Gryphon is this Sappho Laceweight in Come to Me From Crete. Be still my beating heart. And Gryphon is a delight to deal with.

Things are really heating up on the Sock Madness Forever board on Ravelry. The teasers we have seen of the mystery designs look devilishly challenging. I'm suspecting my cousin Mountain Mom is responsible for one of them. The cheerleading squad led by Celtic Memory Jo is in full force, getting quite whacky with excitement. The Droll Eclectic, who is at a sort of boot camp/school upgrading her training to protect her country, has figured out a way to have three young guys coach her on her tests while she speed knits socks. Now if those guys were wearing kilts, it would be a pretty picture indeed and probably quite inspiring.

These balls and bits used to be the shawl below. Two skeins of Prism Wild Stuff, which might be too wild for me these days. In any case, a cat somehow caught on the shawl, panicked and ran, hooking the shawl on a piece of antique wicker. Cat escaped harm, shawl did not. Very large hole was pulled in shawl. Shawl is now balls, waiting for an idea.

KnitTx, Doreen and yours truly are plotting and planning for our dye workshop in Oklahoma next week-end with a gaggle of psyched spinners. A drive through the Arbuckles to finish our journey in Sulphur. 100 colors in one day plus another day's work on a detailed notebook. We're doing some creative time management to suit everyone's schedules, but think we can arrange to arrive at dawn in reasonable condition for a day's work. Three camera nuts so we should be able to document the whole experience. Promising you a full report!