Monday, July 30, 2007

Which Comes First: The Yarn or The Project?

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On our road trip this past month, we spent a little time in Bennington, Vermont. It was hot; we'd been driving all day.

"Instead of checking in to the motel right away, let's walk down their Main Street first to stretch our legs," I said.

I swear I didn't know The Naked Sheep, yarn store extraordinaire, was there. But thar she was - air-conditioned, even. Can you believe my crew opted to slip off next door to the bookstore while I fondled yarn?

While I bought yarn. Sock yarn. The Naked Sheep had a scrumptious selection.
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I almost always start with the yarn. The pattern comes later. I shop for groceries the same way. I see what looks good at the grocery store and go from there.

At the bookstore next to The Naked Sheep, my anthropologist husband bought me a present. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

What a lovely town Bennington is to visit, even if The Naked Sheep was in the process of converting to online business only. There's the Bennington Pottery. Up the hill, the museum has a nice collection of Grandma Moses paintings. And in the shade-dappled cemetery of an old church, lies Robert Frost.

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"I had a lover's quarrel with the world," his epitath reads.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Acrylic Holiday

My nephew and his wife are going to make me a great-aunt. Free associating the concept, I come up with: chin whiskers.

We're not talking about the whiskery kiss of a beagle.
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This is Suzy the Beagle in a sweater I knit her last fall. The purse would be for me, a lot like Queen Latifah's collages in her Book of Possibilities in the movie "Last Holiday".

The great-aunt I knew best was quite elderly in an era when old ladies were unabashedly old ladies. She wore silk dresses and stockings and those black lace-up shoes straight out of "Arsenic and Old Lace". Never married, she had worked for decades as a public health nurse in the South Carolina mountains. She had a cool dog and a cool sense of humor but coolest of all was her fabulous collection of children's books.

I hereby promise that only beagle kisses will be whiskery. I promise shelves of children's books at my house, homemade donuts, and the occasional kid-friendly knit.

How fun it is to surf the net for knitting ideas for baby! In a perfect world, cashmere and angora make a terrific baby garment. In the real world, babies spit up, meaning everyday baby wear has got to be superwash, cotton, or

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Okay, I know. In most situations, this is heinous yarn. I confess to having two skeins of vivid acrylic/acrilique/acrilico in my stash, originally purchased to make slipper socks for someone in the hospital.

The gauge over 4 inches is 18 stitches by 24 rows on #8's. Not a delicate gauge and not a delicate color palette. To me, this says pullover, crew neck, hood to jazz it up. I fiddled around and came up with a design for a 6-month old, which I'll post in the next couple of days.

I cast on this morning and have pretty much finished the back. As I knit, I started imagining where the baby would wear this sweater. Picnic by the lake, maybe?

Every idea sounded like the way Mattel names Barbie outfits. Picnic by the Lake. Happy Go Acrylic. All That Acrylic. Acrylic Holiday.

Really, the fabric on the right side looked more like a beagle sweater
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The wrong side of the fabric looks more like a baby sweater, don't you think?
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Here's a closeup:
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Favorite E-Mail

An e-mail every knitter wants to get:

A [insert name of yarn store here] gift certificate was purchased for you by your sister. This gift certificate gives you a $250 shopping trip. Happy Birthday.

I know - heart-stopping and in a good way!

I got that very e-mail. My sister is a very thoughtful, generous and wonderful person. I don't know what yarn I'll buy. Your suggestions are welcome. I do promise this yarn will be fabulous with a capital F-A-B.

Speaking of wonderful celebrations ...
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My friend Steph and I enjoyed a mutual birthday blowout at Saratoga Springs, NY earlier this month. This is me, after my first Ben and Jerry's cone ever (I know - late to the party). We also had a luxe window-shopping spree and dinner at Hattie's, which you may have seen on Food Network as host to a Bobby Flay fried chicken throwdown.

Fiftieth birthdays inspire not only fab presents and feasts but also personal inventories. This is mine, inspired by Christopher Kimball, editor of Cook's Illustrated:

I can remember buying the lp "Meet The Beatles" at age 7, price $3, eating Space Sticks, watching "Love, American Style", paying 25 cents for a milkshake, and wearing white go-go boots with a Brownie uniform.

I'm still not old enough to understand NASCAR, why anyone would knit a bathing suit, or why men have such a hard time multi-tasking.

Someday, when I am older, I hope I will be able to appreciate moebius scarves, stay the night at the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon, make homemade pumpkin fudge better than what I can buy, always have the perfect shoes for an outfit right at hand, swim 100 laps of freestyle without getting out of breath, and no longer worry about how you think I look in a bathing suit.

I am still much too young to spend the winter in Florida and wear gold loafers.

I am just old enough to fit the definition of Middle Age: when you're home on Saturday night and the phone rings and you hope it's not for you.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Helen Five-O

For the past twelve summers, we've packed up the family and headed out to Wyoming. It was work and pleasure, both.

This summer, we packed up the family and headed the other way. Destination: Prince Edward Island. Purpose: the celebration of my 50th birthday and the eating of lobster. My personal not-so-secret purpose: the buying of yarn, should any yarn-buying opportunity present itself.

It did! But you knew that. Here's the haul: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

From left to right: 2 skeins each Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% Superwash Wool, 20% Nylon)in Black Watch, same in Black Pearl, 800 meters of Fleece Artist Woolie Silk 2 Ply (65% Wool, 35% Silk), 300 yards Alpaca 3-Ply and 2,000 yards Alpaca Laceweight from Alpaca Bay Farm in Prince Edward Island.

That's some good knitting!

Everything about our trip - the getting there and back, the being there, the lobsters - exceeded my expectations.

Except for the yarn-buying opportunities. We were more in finished-sweater-buying territory. They were very nice finished sweaters, mind you.

We didn't see many sheep on the island. We did see alpaca. Also, goats. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
This is my older daughter at a goat soap-buying opportunity.

I got in some knitting on the trip. These are an abbreviated version of Nancy Bush's "Unst" sock from her Knitting on the Road. I knit them in a silk blend in a greyed oystery color I really don't love. The sock itself, I do love. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now, what to knit with that beautiful lavender Woolie Silk 2-Ply ....