Donnerstag, Dezember 28, 2006

What I did on my birthday

I wound Mustang Sally so I can start stringing beads for "Winter's Eve," Blue Moon Fiber Arts's final sock club kit for 2006.

I played in the snow with my grandkids (we don't put the kids on the web, but the snow is OK).

I kept warm with Christmas socks from my daughter-in-law, Joanne.

I picked out yarn for the MimKnits Hidcote Shawl (and joined a Knit-a-long for it).

I frightened away most of a flock of robins, trying to take a picture of them.

Paul gave me a painting for my music room.

The only downer was what I spent most of the day doing--taking Baby Arwen apart. I misjudged how many stitches I needed to cast on for the sleeves, which are knit in one piece with the front, and they're way short. So I hand-stitched steeks and cut off the arms. I'll finish the body and hood and see how much yarn I have left; then finish the sleeves. If there's enough yarn I'll add in a seed-stitch panel at the top to lengthen them. If not, it will have three-quarter sleeves. Sigh.

Dienstag, Dezember 26, 2006

And now the loot!

We had a GREAT Christmas! Hope you did, too.

So yesterday I finally got to play with the yarn I bought in Portland. Turbo kindly allowed me to include Christmas loot in her photo session this afternoon, but as far as she is concerned this is all about her.

The most daring purchase (because I don't wear glitz well) was Blue Heron's Rayon Metallic in "Deep Space." I am calling it "Queen of the Night" because I plan to knit a throw to wear to the opera in May.

550 yards/8 oz. skein; laceweight

I also got Fleece Artist's Handmaiden Cashmere (Toque pattern included). The colorway appears to be "Bronze," although mine has more blue in it than the website shows.

100 % cashmere, 170 m/50 g skein; 22 sts/4 " on 4 mm needles

I was a little disappointed that Knit Purl didn't carry Fleece Artist sock yarns, so while I was shopping I had consoled myself with two skeins of ShibuiKnits Sock. You can't really call these a consolation prize, though. They're gorgeous!
Tropic (left) and Pebble

100 % merino superwash, 350 yds/1.75 oz. skein; 7.5 sts/in. on 2.75 mm needles

There were too many incredible Alchemy yarns to choose from. I got Haiku (top) in Aubergine and Bamboo in Montreat Path.

Haiku: 40% silk 60% mohair, 325 yds/25 g. skein; 5sts/in on US #7 needles(laceweight)
Bamboo: 100% bamboo, 150 yds/50 g. skein; 6 sts/in on US #5 needles

The yarn I was most dying to see was Handmaiden Sea Silk. Everyone blogs about it. Everyone raves about it. Now I know why. It was also the most raved about here on Christmas morning by the knitters in the group. It has such a beautiful sheen that it almost glows from inside. This colorway is Sangria.

70% silk, 30% seacell (a seaweed product); 400 m/100 g.; 28 sts/4" on 3 mm needles (laceweight)

However, there was a knit-related surprise amongst the packages. Sharman and Chris had warned me that my gift from them was cooler than the autographed opera poster they got for his parents. Sure enough, it was WAY cooler! I got the ACTUAL KNITTING NEEDLES used in the opera,

autographed by the ACTUAL MEZZO who sang Penelope, Kendra Herrington.

Now I just need to get a photo from the opera of the suicide scene (with these exact needles!). Chris says there is one. I'll post it when I get it. Apparently acquiring the needles involved a formal request to the properties master, who said (naively) "Sure, they're just knitting needles." A lot he knows.

Incidentally, they are not Clover #10s, so I was wrong about that. They are 7 mm, which is between 10 1/2 and 11, with no brand marking. They have a round wood-bead end.

Nevertheless, the biggest surprise of all on Christmas was not knitting related.

I thought we had decided that tenor recorders were too expensive. I was not expecting a musical instrument at all. I love it! Paul found it online through Lazar's Early Music, where the owner was really knowledgeable and a lot of help. Neither Paul nor I know anything about recorders; I've only been playing for a year and half. This is the Küng Recorders Superio cherrywood tenor, from Switzerland. It has the most beautiful sound.

And one nice thing about wood recorders: you can only practice them for about an hour a day, or they get soggy. Too bad there isn't some kind of limiting factor on harps, pianos, and organs.

Turbo approves

I did get lots of other great stuff, including a clean sweep on "The Pianst"--book, movie, and CD; more books; a beautiful Norwegian sweater; a Cross pen and pencil set, and on and on. And my mom ordered a Space Board for my birthday; it's waiting at Needlepoint Joint for me to pick it up. Maybe tomorrow?

So I'm having fun, and I hope you are too. Happy Boxing Day, Happy New Year, and Happy anything else wonderful you have going on!

Dienstag, Dezember 19, 2006

Can't we just use ziplock bags?

Man, the gift-wrapping is starting to get to me. I wrapped all these gifts before I went to Portland, but I didn't put on the bows. Now I'm putting on the bows. Bows are made out of ribbon, and ribbon is a kind of string, like yarn, but boring. BORING! Maybe someone will come over and help me put on bows. Hint. Hint.

And why is it always my job to wrap the presents? Paul knows how to put on tape. He can tie bows. In fact, he can tie those stinkin' fancypants doctor knots where you don't wish you had someone to put their finger on the knot while you tie it.

The worst year was when I decided to wrap everything in tissue paper and stick them shut with sealing wax. This was before the invention of hot glue sealing wax. Can you imagine how long that took? They looked incredibly cool, though. I should have taken pictures.

When I get sick of putting on bows, I work on Baby Arwen. It was a little complicated to do both fronts at once with the short-row sleeve shaping. Now it's three inches or so of straight knitting. If I get to it.

Oh well. At least Che is helping.

I promise, as long as I'm putting ribbon on packages, this is how Che can help most.

Just to tide me over until Christmas . . .

. . . Blue Moon came through with my last Rockin' Sock Club package of 2006:

The Oh-Too-Gorgeous garnet red yarn is the club offering, Mustang Sally ("ride, Sally, ride!"). The woodsy, Legolas-colored yarn is my "Rare Gem." That's the name Tina gave her dying "mistakes." This one doesn't look like a mistake to me. I love it!

I also got an Honorable Mention for the knitted chicken I sent to Scappoose:

There isn't a pattern, sorry. I made it up as I went. It's done in Rhode Island Red sock candy. I had originally planned on making it dishcloth size, but my attention span wasn't up to that. But it's dishcloth width!

Our Big Sleepover has started. Sharman and crew arrived last night, and of course Howard and Amber have been here since the weekend. The biggest source of excitement is trying to keep Trusty from licking little people in the face. Most of their faces are right at lick level.

Montag, Dezember 18, 2006

Baby Arwen

It's like living in the napping house.

They've been this way all morning. Is it the Christmas music?

However, it's the quiet before the storm. So to speak. My daughter and her husband and three kids are on the road from Portland for the Christmas vacation. My son and his wife are already living in our basement, waiting for their house to be built. They're both at work and their 2-year-old is playing with cousins. I'm alternating between final gift wrapping, cleaning, and working on Baby Arwen.

I'm knitting the Arwen Cardigan from the Winter Interweave Knits in a baby size. I found that with the gauge I'm getting (this is the Colinette Cadenza I bought at Gail Knits in Vegas last month) I can use the instructions for the smallest size. Of course I'm using a kid-sized pattern for the length-wise measurements.

I worked a Very Large Swatch the sweater back on the plane, finishing it on Wednesday. I had a setback when I realized the chart was not totally readable in the instructions I had photocopied so as not to risk losing my copy of the magazine. I made a guess and kept knitting, but when I bought a new copy of the magazine on Friday it turned out I had guessed wrong about which way the reverse stockinette cables were supposed to twist. Luckily I had only done a couple of repeats.

The clever thing about this pattern is that the cable panels are reversible (that's the point of the reverse stockinette bits).

Of course it would show better in a less mottled yarn. But this was the yarn I wanted to use, and the pattern I wanted to try, right?

Back to work.

Freitag, Dezember 15, 2006

Following the Crowd is Fun to Do etc.

OK, you guys, I'm going on the wagon. I'm joining Wendy's "Knit from your Stash in 2007" knitalong. Here are rules, formulated by Wendy and Lindsey-Brook (and printed by permission):

Knit From Your Stash 2007

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months.

2. We 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?

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

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

2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.

4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.

I figure I'm pretty safe, since I'm getting that great haul from Knit Purl for Christmas, much of it lace-weight. And since sock yarn is allowed, and I mostly only knit socks anyway.

Here's my other copycat thing, from Joanne's blog:

Spill your (holiday) guts:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Can I have both?

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Sits them under the tree, carefully arranged to look as big and spectacular as possible.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White on the tree, the house is left au naturel.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Not any more. We tried it, but if you use the mistletoe with fake berries it looks dumb, and if you have real berries they fall off and can poison children and pets. I have already had to remove poinsettia leaves from Trusty's drooly jaws this year.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
As soon after Thanksgiving dinner as I can manage it; this year it took a couple of weeks.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Cheese balls with cracked pepper on the outside.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
The year I didn't get any presents. My mom came to me in the afternoon on Christmas Eve (I was about 14) and told me that they had just come from the post office, and my gifts, all from the J.C. Penney catalog, had not arrived. I would get no presents on Christmas morning, although I would get them eventually.

I was used to that kind of thing (although it had never happened at Chrismtas) so I was pretty philosophical about it. I decided to have a spiritual Christmas. When my parents went to my aunt's Christmas party that evening and I was left babysitting sleeping siblings, I settled down in the living room in my pink baby doll nightie and put on Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas records. I turned on the tree lights, lit candles, and read the Christmas story from the Bible.

Suddenly I heard a big racket in the kitchen. Before I could go to explore it, Santa Claus came Ho-Ho-Ho-ing into the living room, jingling his bells. He took one look at me in my skimpy little nightie, and Ho-Ho-Ho-ed right out again as fast as he could go.

Later my parents came home and my mother was distraught because she had found a box of welfare food on the doorstep. "Who was here?" she demanded. I told her it was Santa Claus, but she was convinced it must have been the bishop. It ruined her Christmas because "the bishop thinks we're poor." Later the bishop told them that the welfare center had extra food that had to be distributed, and that everyone in our congregation had gotten some.

The fact is, we were poor, and so was everyone else in our community. We were Idaho farmers, for heaven's sake.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
When I was about seven I wandered out on Christmas Eve and found my parents stuffing Christmas stockings. When I asked what they were doing, my mom explained that they were helping Santa Claus. She invited me to help, so every year after that I was into stuffing stockings in a big way. It convinced me that there really was a Santa Claus, because if I wasn't helping Santa, then who was I helping?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Paul and I don't, but when the kids were little we let them open a present like new pajamas or something boring.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
It's a free-for-all. We have everything from pricey glass garlands (I hope they survive Cesare's constant tree-climbing this year) to blobs of salt dough with a ribbon through them. I would love to have an elegant tree but I don't have the patience for it.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I totally love it. I even love shoveling it, especially if I can do it early in the morning when it sparkles like diamonds in the trees.

12. Can you ice skate? I used to but I haven't tried in about 40 years.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My favorite gift as a child was a poseable Madame Alexander ballerina doll. It's too hard to decide what was my best gift as an adult, but the framed medieval manuscript pages (one music and one an illuminated Bible page) are right up there.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Belive it or not, it's the spiritual aspect of it. I just get through the shopping as best I can, but the lights, music, and Bible story are the big thing for me.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Fantasy Fudge

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Constant (mostly high quality) Christmas music, a fire in the fireplace every night it's legal, and The Big Breakfast on Christmas morning: before we open any presents, we gorge on waffles with non-alcholic Bananas Foster, strawberries and whipped cream, and butter and syrup. We have loads of bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, and juice. New members of the family have added new traditions, such as Amber's pastry Christmas tree.

17. What tops your tree?
An angle I mean angel.

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Giving, but I don't get the wrong idea--I like the stuff I get, too.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Can I have a song cycle? Britten's Ceremony of Carols.

20. Candy Canes... Yuck or Yum? Yuck, too sugary.

Mittwoch, Dezember 13, 2006

I love Portland!

On Tuesday I went to the opera. On Wednesday I went to Knit Purl. What's not to love?

The opera was super. I saw/heard my son-in-law, Chris Clayton, in the title role of Monteverdi's "Return of Ulysses." I had never been to a live performance of a Baroque opera, so it would have been exciting even if there wasn't a family member in the cast. The conductor directed from the harpsichord, and the space was small and personal. Chris was just incredible, both singing and acting!

This was opera with a knitting theme. Penelope (mezzo Kendra Herrington--I think she was perfect) ripped out knitting instead of the traditional weaving, and attempted suicide with what looked like a pair of Clover #10 straight needles. It just killed me to sit there without my camera, but Chris threatened warned me not to bring it.

I did take a camera to Knit Purl. No yarn research should go unpublished. They have wonderful window displays, but my photos won't upload. You'll just have to go there yourself and see them.

We were greeted by the incredibly helpful and enthusiastic Terrisa

who took me on a tour of Knit Purl's exotic wonders while Sharman expertly managed her kids ("let's pretend to take naps under the table"). I saw display after display of yarns that are hard to find elsewhere, especially all in one shop: Tilli Thomas, Art Yarns, Handmaiden, Habu Textiles,

Alchemy, Shibuiknits,


plus less exotic stuff such as Noro, Rowan and Debbie Bliss.

I know, I know, to a lot or us those are exotic yarns.

I met Darcy Cameron, the owner of and genius behind Knit Purls. You go, girl!

I got the most amazing stuff.

Er, well, this is one of those really elegant places where they wrap the skeins in tissue so they won't fight in the bag on their way home. And this bag of treasures is my Christmas gift from Paul. It would be Wrong to open the tissue and play with the yarn (and photograph it) before Christmas Morning. See me on Boxing Day.

OK, I will admit that I frantically peeked into the packets until I found my Sea Silk. I was worried that I had bought the sparkly Art Yarn lace-weight in darkest midnight blue (I'm going to knit a Queen of the Night shawl to wear to the opera) instead of Sea Silk. But my shopping sense had not failed me. They were both in there.

My daughter scoffed at my inability to re-wrap the packets so no one could tell they had been opened. She and her sister were champions at it.

I sort of went over the budget a little. Oops.

Montag, Dezember 11, 2006

Yip yip yipee!

We woke to a lovely fall of snow this morning.

Paul proclaimed the new snow blower a success when he was able to clear a path through slush past the mailbox. Trusty is usually excited about snow, but today's big interest was a dead plant he pulled up and carried around the yard.

More Trusty and Che pictures

I had a successful day, too. I finally finished the Christmas stockings!

And the hats!

The hats are in the mail, but I didn't have time to wrap the stockings. I'll do that next, and take them to the post office late at night when no one else is there . . . to the Automatic Postal Center.

I don't want anyone there to see me after I tied up the line for 20 minutes getting $23 in real stamps on a package going to a child in England. Plus, if no one else is there, THERE WON'T BE A LINE, WILL THERE???!!! One can only hope.

Incidentally, these are the stockings I knitted last year, for my daughter's family:


I hope no one things Vegas and Cash are kids' names.

All are knitted from the Wool You Order "Baker's Dozen" pattern. I had to come up with my own Grinch and basketball designs, and took the leg and foot designs on the dog stockings (the last two) from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road.

I was especially proud of the dog stockings, since I managed them out of leftovers from the others. I used an idea from Renaissance music composition, the talea and color of the isorhythmic motet. My "color," or melody, was the star pattern from Nancy Bush's design. My "talea," or rhythm, was the stripe pattern, which had a different row repeat to that of the stars. I think it makes the stars look like falling snowflakes.

Although nothing beats the real thing.

And now: to pack for my trip to Oregon. I'll let you know how it goes.
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