Sunday, December 17, 2006

Easy Is Not Only Good, It's Necessary

I began the North Sea Shawl two days ago. It's a good project for this hectic time of year because this part of the shawl is easily memorized. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Look outside the window - no snow! It's December 17 and we in Wisconsin have no snow. It's a balmy 40 degrees.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Yeah ... No

Last night the beagle was snoozing in a low chair. I crouched down by it to pet her when all of a sudden Daughter #2 is tickling my ribs from behind. Back in the day, I would have whirled around and tickled back.

I couldn't move from the crouch.

Then I fell over sideways.

Translation: life is short; knitting socks is not my thing; knitting lace is my thing. I will, therefore, no longer waste my time in idle daydreams about Cookie A.'s socks at It's not meant to be. I did actually knit one entire sock a couple of days ago just to see if I could turn the heel. Yep, did it. I don't get the allure.

I'm a lace knitter but not a lace sock knitter.

I knew just the project for right now: the North Sea Shawl from Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle. Intricate, kinda, but mindless, too. So after a day of editing the manuscript of a book my husband and I have written together (anthropology written for a wide audience), I looked at my husband/co-author and said, "I want new wool".

"Okay," Tom said. "I'll come with."

He has an impeccable sense of color. I explained to Tom that the North Sea Shawl mimics the movement of waves.

We went to the dreaded Herrschner's because it's that, WalMart, or Michael's here. A good yarn store deserves a nice, long visit. Not Herrschner's. How those people are still in business, I have no idea. Your Source for Day-Glo and Pastel Acrylic. A few good yarns like Noro, 90% time warp from the Bad Old Days before the yarn renaissance.

Because the selection of nice yarns is limited, Tom found a terrific one for my North Sea Shawl in three minutes flat. It's Reynolds Whisky 100% wool, Color 053. It's an oceany blue with a little purple and a little brown in it - not variegated but a DK-weight tweed to knit up on #5s.

I cast on this evening.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Call Them Spa Slippers, 'K?

File this under Never Say Never: knitting socks. I swore I never would. The reason? I never wear socks. And if I did, a wide choice of inexpensive, pretty socks is out there.

I've said to my kids and husband, "If I ever knit socks, shoot me dead, put me in nothing but a gold thong and leave me tailfeathers-up in the garden for the paparazzi to find".

A chilling mental picture, no? All erased by Cookie A.'s lacy socks at They make me wanna
a lot.

But like I'm going to start with those? Nope, I have an old Coats & Clark booklet called Learn How or something very similar to that. How old? Well, the socks pattern is called "Teen Socks" and the b/w photo shows the feet of a 1950's bobbysoxer in penny loafers. They're simple, basic socks with simple, basic instructions, including a reinforced heel.

So what if I didn't have #2 dpns? I have #3s! And so what if I'm using more of that hot pink tie-dye German sport-weight superwash yarn from my stash? Cookie A., honey, it's all your fault.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Felted Project #2 - Complete!

This is unhip me in my new Emma from Hip Knit Hats Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting It's a bucket hat with three rows of purling at the crown to define the shape a bit. The yarn is Nashua Creative Focus Kid Mohair (75% kid mohair, 20% wool, 5% polyamide) knit up on size 10.5 needles.

It's got a nice brim to it. See?Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And the color! Teal + Cinnamon + hot water = something close to Pheasant. The hat needed a little something more. Rather than make a felted flower, I pinned on this carved wooden leaf brooch from the Philippines. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Excuse me while I state the obvious but this felted-hat thing is empowering!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Adventures in Felting

Having recently bought a chocolate brown suede coat, I've been casting about for the right hat in the right color. Then I thought about my daughter's dress: Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting It's a very red pink underlayer with an overlay of chocolate brown lace.

So, if you knit together Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Cherry Red + Espresso kid mohair from Nashua Knits, felted them, you'd come up with Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting this! Beautiful, perfect color and don't you adore the flower?

This is Lydia from Hip Knit Hats by Cathy Carron. The directions for the felted flower are also given. Even though any book title with the word hip pretty much guarantees the opposite, this is a terrific and yes, hip, book. There are 40 patterns, some for women, some for men, some unisex, some felted but mostly not. Well worth the $24.95.

What I learned from my first felting project: 1) I hate plastic needles (Susan Bates plastic size 10.5 dpns were the only option at the store), 2) I adore addi turbos (they did have those in 24" circs), 3) felting hats is going to be like eating jelly bellies - addictive!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pushing Myself A Little

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So I'm knitting Coronet from in a brown New Zealand Aran-weight merino. And I'm finding the construction very fun: first, a band of cable, then you join the two ends with kitchener stitch, then pick up about 90 stitches around and it's stockinette from there on in. My first cable project and my first kitchener stitches!

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Looks pretty nice, n'est-ce pas?

You know how it is when you're knitting round and round and round. You start to think. And I started to think about next summer. I thought about how we could go on a week-long bike trip, 60-70 miles/day. How we could take the ferry to the Apostle Islands. How I could spend the winter getting in shape for this.

I'm turning 50 this coming July. A bike trip might be just the ticket.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

While Lucie Blocks

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Lucie's off the needles! While the pieces blocked today, I knit the left mitt to this pair. They're for my oldest daughter. She's modeling them.

Here's a closer view. The wool is some funky German worsted I got at the Herrschnerr's warehouse sale, $1.99 a skein. It takes just over one skein for a pair of mitts.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, November 24, 2006

Knitting And Knitting And ...

We picked up our new Jeep Liberty on Tuesday - Atlantic blue. Our totaled Liberty was the first year of the model. Since then, Jeep has made some nice improvements, including a much less jouncy ride. And yes, we really do need a Jeep. Anthropologists go off road. A lot.

The Jeep dealer was a peach. But oh boy, the guy loves to tell a story. S-l-o-w-ly.
Like this: "I'll be over at my (pause 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15) brother's for (pause 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15) Thanksgiving. My other (pause 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15) brother is his twin."

Thanksgiving dinner was perfection in a simple, quiet way. We had turkey with sage stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, scalloped corn (Joy of Cooking), from-scratch green bean casserole (Cook's Illustrated and actually more mushrooms than green beans, candied yams (Cook's Illustrated, again), scratch gravy, Tom's pumpkin pie and pecan pie. We used our French Quimper china, bought in 1985 when the franc was 12 to the dollar. For a brief and shining moment Paris was affordable and eight place settings of Quimper with shipping to California came to $400.

We got the tree up today. It's a Frasier fir. Our daughters decorated it from the enormous stash of ornaments we've acquired here and there over the years. Somehow this year there's a clear color scheme of red and pinks. It's really pretty.

And on the knitting front:

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I'm in the homestretch with the Lucie sweater! Two more inches of sleeve, then the sleeve cap and I block this sucker.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Joy of Knitting

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I lost the joy this past month. A doofus ran a red light and smacked into our Jeep. My husband was driving; our eldest daughter was in the front passenger seat. Both are okay more or less, thank God.

The Jeep is totaled. We are not car fanatics but we loved that Jeep. It had taken good care of us on Wyoming rez roads and in the Wisconsin snow. It felt like the car had given its life for us in this accident.

I was kind of totaled myself. Besides being a really close call, this accident dredged up my mom's death in a car crash 15 years ago. Add to that an insurance adjustor who enjoyed her job waaay too much and the illogic of liability and not much knitting got done. Not much cooking or housecleaning or anything much at all got done these past three weeks.

The dust has settled. My husband's shoulder is doing better. The daily routine of the household has been re-established.

And then a couple of days ago I took up the knitting needles again in earnest. This photo is a sleeve of my Lucie sweater. The colors are joy.

Knitting is joy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How The Dress Came Together

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That hem? It's the temporary version. Ignore it.

My younger daughter has her first formal in early December. Every sewing pattern she liked was very Cinderella-y, full skirt, crinoline underneath. Sewing level: professional. Here's the prob: my actual sewing level is more like advanced minus.

What an adventure we had at the fabric store.

We took Tom with us. At first, things were fine. He pointed out to colors of fabrics he liked. Then he got antsy so I told him to just go sit by the pattern books. Somehow, it made him really, really antsy to sit by the pattern books. He kept saying to this woman and that woman "I don't know anything about women's clothing".

Cleo went back and forth about the dress and fabric she wanted. It turned out that the dress would not only be Cinderella-y but midnight satin with a contrasting ivory satin sash.

Hmmm, I thought. Maybe for prom but that's a 12 hp dress when a kid only needs a 6 hp dress, if you follow.

She finally ended up with McCall's 5001. It still has a full skirt but it's much less formal than her Cinderella-y dress. It's a simple dress so the brocade and the little tulle cloud of a stole around the shoulders make it special. The tulle is bronze. It glitters in the light.

Cleo cut out the dress and lining. We began sewing at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Three hours later and we were about to attach the bones to the lining and the lining to the dress. Then the hem and the stole.

We broke for lunch. After, Cleo goes into the next room to once again admire the dress on the fitting mannequin.

"Mom!" she screams. "Something ... the dress!"

The other three of us rush in. A gash about 2" long in the side front of the dress.

We look at each other and say "Nala!" That's out semi-feral orange cat. She's a house cat but just not as domesticated as all the other cats I've ever known.

Thankfully, we had a scrap of leftover fabric that would do to replace the side front panel. We ripped out the old, put in the new and we were good to go again.

The dress came together easily and well. By 4 p.m. we were done, with the exception of the hem.

In knitting, I am still slogging away on the Lucie sweater. Front done, back done, 1 sleeve 3/4 done.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Still Love Lucie, I Guess

Koigu KPPPM is the same weight as the de Sauveterre merino/silk of Lucie fame and - it hardly seems possible - even softer. On a visit to the Bay Area last June, I picked up two skeins, took up my #3 wooden needles, and started a scarf in vine lace on the plane trip home. Right off the bat, my scarf looked very Missoni. Months later, it still looks very Missoni. And that I love a whole bunch.

I'm still loving Lucie and still chugging along at the thing. Back of Lucie - done! Front of Lucie - done! That leaves two sleeves and two weeks until I want to wear it to a Kathy Mattea concert. The dark in the photo looks like charcoal but is forest green.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Use for Cheap Acrylic Yarn

Welcome to our Poison Spider Farm! You have to brush past the spiders on your way to the front door, bwahahahaha!
Yep, the spiders are just pompoms intentionally kept raggedy and given long tails. We attach them above with masking tape.
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Now All I Need Is The Coat

I had an extra skein of an angora/silk blend, a pair of #3 dpns, and an afternoon. This is the end result. It's Lacecap from Knitty with the modification of yarn instead of perle cotton.

Knitting lace is my favorite. The rhythm of it, the intricacy without too much effort - it just never gets old. This one is fairly simple lace. If I knit another Lacecap, I'll add a couple of inches of brim to make it less skimpy for winter in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.

Which leads to the search for the Serious Winter Coat, something for January and February when it's 10 degrees to 20 below. I'm one to amortize my coat, meaning I spend big for something wonderful but boy howdy, it had better last 7 to 10 years.

For now I'm wearing the Not-So-Serious Winter Coat, good for temps down to 15 or so with a sweater underneath.

Day 3: I Want Juicy Pear

A surprise package arrived at the house. It came from some online friends at a Disney message board and was full to the gills of Jelly Bellies. For my husband, there was a box of sugar-free Jelly Bellies. For me, my very own glass canister full of the real deal. For our girls, a huge bag of Flops which are Jelly Belly irregulars.

A Jelly Belly feast. A fiesta. An orgy of Jelly Bellies! Can you tell I happen to love Jelly Bellies?

Too much. I can limit myself to a couple of potato chips (yes, really). I cannot limit myself to a couple of Jelly Bellies. Yes, I am a Jelly Bean harlot - I love them all, excluding those gross Bertie Botts Beans. What is it about a Jelly Belly?

The thing is, they give me a headache. The sugar rush makes me tired. They are no good, those Jelly Bellies. And so, because I cannot control myself around them, I have gone cold turkey. No more Jelly Bellies for me, at least for awhile.

The tank top in the photo is from Vogue Weekend Knits. The yarn is an angora/silk blend. I knit it last summer not on a weekend but during a couple of weekdays, sitting around in Wyoming while the hubster was out on the rez doing field work.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, One Bag Full 's physical plant is not far. However, if you're shopping for anything besides mint-green acrylic for a baby afghan, it can be depressing. Every so often, they hold a warehouse sale. It's a hodgepodge of stitchery kits and paint-by-numbers kits and embroidery floss and fiber, all arranged on long tables in the actual warehouse. If it's a hot day, bring a bottle of water because there is no air-conditioning in that warehouse.
But if you get to the sale early, you just might score something wonderful.
A few weeks ago, Herrschners had another warehouse sale. It was raining cats and dogs. It was cold People were lined up in the pouring rain, waiting on the off-chance there'd be something wonderful.
At the sale last June, I found my something wonderful: German superwash sport-weight in a tie-dye look. I got hot pink; I got forest green; I got cerulean blue. I went crazy and kept loading the stuff into my cart. $1.99 for 109 yds.!

It wasn't until the checker was packing up my purchase that I realized I had just bought a grocery bag full of the stuff. I already had a terrific pattern from It cost $6.00, downloadable, and worth the money, although there are plenty of free mitt patterns on the web. Pink Lemon Twist's is clear, easy, has very complete directions and two variations from the basic mitt you see above.
The mitts knit up fast and easy, almost a pair to one skein of the German superwash. I'm on my third pair. I may just knit up the entire grocery bag full of wool into these mitts.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

1" Rain, 6" Knitting on Lucie

48 Things You Could Care Less About
1. FIRST NAME? Helen
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My dad's mother.
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? When I saw my Jeep in the tow yard. A man ran a red light and slammed into my Jeep at 35 mph. My husband was driving and sustained a shoulder injury. My daughter was in the front passenger seat and is fine.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Sure and we'd go for a decaf nonfat pumpkin spice latte, no whip.
7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? This be it.
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No. The sensation of imminent death does nothing for me. For thrills, I shoe shop.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Blueberry Morning.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I'm a wimp when it comes to the Great Outdoors. But if you need something done right and on time, I'll move Hell and high water to deliver.
14. SHOE SIZE? 8.5 or 9
5. RED OR PINK? Red.
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I don't like physical activity.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My dad. He died almost 8 years ago.
18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Post your answers on your blog, what the heck.
19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I'm wearing a striped blouse with two purples and ivory, a brown skirt, and Uggs slippers.
20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Popcorn. So, so good.
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? My husband turning the page of a book he's reading.
23. FAVORITE SMELL? Lily of the valley.
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? An insurance adjustor calling about my late Jeep.
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON you stole THIS from? Sure. CARRIOKE's blog is a fun read.
27. FAVORITE DRINK? English Breakfast tea
28. FAVORITE SPORT? Ugh. None.
29. EYE COLOR? Turquoise.
30. HAT SIZE? I don't know.
32. FAVORITE FOOD? Pot stickers, no contest.
35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer. Winter gets old by March and we have a good month, maybe two to go after that.
36. HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses.
37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Crème brûlée.
40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? I'm reading a collection of show biz profiles by John Lahr.
41. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE Pad? Blue sky and white clouds.
43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Rain, thunderstorms.
46. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I speak French really well.
48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I stole it from Carrioke

Friday, October 20, 2006


Really, what's not to love about Lucie? The neck is right. The shoulders are right. The shaping is right. The ease is right. The length is right. It's all, well, right.
The yarn is the star here. A. de Sauveterre's merino-and-silk Arianne takes a pattern that is 100% and makes it irresistible. The colors glow and the hand is softer than soft. You do get what you pay for.

The colorway in the photo is Plankton. Everyone must agonize over which colorway to choose. it's all so pretty and unique. I even asked a non-knitting discussion board which they liked best. Answer: Briar Rose. But I decided I need a sweater to go with a turquoise necklace. Plankton it is.

The photo shows the back of my Lucie. My photographer daughter liked the purl side so that's what she shot. You can see that I'm letting the colors pool. I tell myself it looks more like plankton that way.
An adult sweater from fingering weight. And I'm hoping to have it done for an occasion less than a month away. The back is done. The front is 1/3 done. I'd better get knitting.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Like A Little Glitter

Cherry Tree Hill's Glitter Alpaca makes me happy. The yarn has exactly the right hint of glint - just a shimmer peeking out from the other fibers.

My eldest daughter is modeling the stole in the photo. It's in the colorway Mountain Madness (variegated forest greens, blacks, deep blues, plus the glitter). Mountain Madness looks like the mountains at a great distance but it also resembles the ocean. And what's more ocean than the crest-of-the-wave stitch?

My three skeins became this stole which became my favorite knitting so far. The Glitter Alpaca and the stitch are completely in harmony, the fiber quality is A+, the stitch easily memorized.

I gave this stole to a friend in Wyoming, no regrets. But I'm thinking I'd like to make one exactly like it for myself. Or maybe I'll try one of the other colorways ...

But first I have to finish the Lucie sweater.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In or Auf?

To test out the Knitware Basics Design software I bought, I designed a sweater for Suzy the beagle. Her expression says she's not knit-worthy.

The particulars: the neck border is Swedish Check from Barbara Walker's Vol. I. The rest of the sweater is in stockinette.

Beagles are low to the ground and the sweater will soon get very muddy. I may deeply regret that I used wool but hey, this is Wisconsin. It gets dang cold.

The software did not disappoint. It's easy to use, flexible, and cost about $100. As soon as I finish my Lucie sweater, I'm doing something with my stash of Black Water Abbey from . Check out that Pink Heather - sublime, non? I must warn you that the hand is really burly, rugged, outdoorsy, perfect for romping over the moors.

As in suitable for a dog sweater. But the beagle can just forget it. My Black Water Abbey yarn is going to the more worthy cause of one of my daughters.