Friday, January 30, 2009

shoveling while it's still snowing

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing
is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing."

—Phyllis Diller, comedian

That is my life in a nutshell this week and a smart and funny woman said it for me. There was another storm. The Huz has been away so I shoveled by myself, twice. The house is a sty. Oh well.


There was the biggest icicle outside our window. I estimate this lethal dagger was almost six feet.


Swings are still fun in the winter especially when you jump off and land in a pile of snow.


Beetle can happily root around in the snow like a truffle pig for hours. What in the world does she smell under there? Spring, I hope.


February Lady is moving along finally, I seem to have gotten into the groove with the lace pattern. I don't think I feel love for lace though, the way I do for other kinds of knitting. I really wanted some nice semi-solid variegated yarn for this but didn't come across any. I'm using Berocco Peruvia and really like the color which has flecks of purple, orange, and brown and has a bit of a halo. The yarn feels soft but I wonder if it will itch since it's %100 Peruvian Highland wool. Feb Lady is hanging out of a bag given to me by a friend last summer. I adore this bag by Kit+Lili and carry it everywhere.


This is my Great Uncle Gerald's recipe card for his well-loved Katherine Hepburn's Brownies. It makes a dense brownie that will blow you away.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

and the winner is...

Obama! I wonder if Barack knits? Sorry I've been MIA here about the end of the contest but we were away for the weekend and then there was the inauguration. The acceptance speech really transcended the usual political rhetoric to be very moving. Why do big events like this make me feel misty? I hope this poor guy can deliver on his promises, he's carrying the weight and expectations of the world on his shoulders.

As for the contest, I was really pleased by the fact that there were 20 entries. Thanks to all of you for stopping by and leaving comments. There was one controversial entry, Paige left a comment on the last day and when I received the notice that she has posted in my gmail it was 6:21 p.m. EST. The contest was supposed to end at 5 p.m., but looking at blogger it says that she posted at 3:21 p.m. Hmm, I'm thinking that blogger time must be on Pacific Standard Time. Of course, I allowed her comment to count, I'm no hardass and I hadn't specified what time zone the contest was in. I also counted Julie's comment for the Thrummed Mitt post since it was still within contest time, and that added up to 20 comments. I used a random number generator to come up with the winner and that number was 15, or knitarooooo. Knitaroooo, come on over and claim your prize! Checking her blog this woman is on a winning streak, it looks like she won Kim's contest too.

I've started a February Lady Sweater and I've made it past the garter stitch yoke to the theoretically very easy lace pattern. I seem to have a block when it comes to lace, it's more of a lace-acre, a lace massacre. Ugh.

TV: America's Best Dance Crew and American Idol both started new seasons last week. There are some great teams on Crew and it looks like it's going to be a good season. Just when it looked like TV viewing was a wasteland it is overflowing with riches.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thrummed Mitts

Just a reminder that the contest is ending tomorrow.

Ernest Shackleton could have worn these mittens on the Endurance, they are so warm. My hands are always cold, so I was pretty glad to have them on this morning when it was 6 degrees. These were made from a kit that I bought at last year's Spa, it's Spunky Eclectic's Thrummed Mitt kit. As always, Spunky's colors and the yarn is fabulous. I'm not a spinner, so I loved having an excuse to play with roving and make the thrums. I used size 4 dpns with the worsted weight yarn and my only mod was to lengthen them a bit to fit my biggish hands.


Making thrums slows things down since there are at least 20 or so thrums per thrumming row, so these definitely take longer to make than an average pair of mittens. But, they are fetishistically soft on the inside and the kids have developed an obsession with them.


Below is a view of the inside of the mitten. I've gone back and forth about the thickness of these mittens as I was making them, wondering if I was making my thrums too big or if I should have been working in a pattern that called for fewer thrums. Now that the mittens are done I like them as they are. I think the roving on the inside will felt down during wearing and will form a continuous layer of softness. With fewer thrums I think you might run the risk of it feeling lumpy on the inside.


The Yarn Harlot has a nice post about making thrums if your feeling thrummy. I didn't knit the yarn in with the thrum as she suggests but followed Spunky's pattern which says to carry the yarn behind, I think this gives a more prominent looking thrum.


TV: Tess of the d'Urbervilles was on Masterpiece Theater for the last couple of Sundays and I was riveted. It was really well done and the perfectly cast Gemma Arterton is my new crush. She wore this incredibly plain brown garter stitch shawl criss-crossed in front and tied in the back at her waist with such style that I feel I must have one too. A search on the internet has turned up nothing about this shawl except for an article about the wardrobe fire. There aren't even any good press pictures on the internet of the shawl even though she wears it almost the whole time. You can see it fairly well in this clip. If any of you have any ideas about this shawl I would love to hear them.

Friday, January 9, 2009

circular needle organizer (and contest!)

One of my New Year's resolutions was to organize my Medusa's nest of circular needles. I know some people like to put them in plastic sleeves inside of binders, but having them coiled up like that didn't appeal to me, so I've designed my own. It hangs on the wall, I can see all my needles at once, and the wires are nice and relaxed. Below are my very easy directions for how I did it and you are welcome to them. If you do make one, I would love to know how it turned out.

I have used 100% wool felt for this project. Felt needs no finishing at the edges and I had lots of it leftover from when I was making and selling pillows, and I love the way it looks. 100% wool felt isn't easy to find, I got mine from Central Shippee. They only sell it by the yard so it can be costly. Craft stores also sell felt, though usually not wool, I would try to buy the thicker stuff there. The dimensions that I decided to make my organizer are completely arbitrary and you can adjust them to suit your fancy.


The first thing I did was square up my base piece of felt. I trimmed that to 8 1/2 x 25 inches using my rotary cutter and cutting mat. You can do this with scissors too, it's just easy to see if it's square on the cutting mat.


I cut 13 pieces of different colored felt to 2 1/4 x 4 inches.


Lengthening the stitch on the sewing machine and lowering the pressure foot tension helps the machine cope with the thickness of the felt and not squish it out of shape too much. I find it's almost impossible to sew a really straight line with felt and I don't really care, I'm not a precision sewer.

Fold over the top edge of the base felt about 1 1/4 inches and sew it down close to the edge.


Arrange the smaller pieces of felt on the base piece, overlapping edges about 1/4" and pin them into place making sure they are more or less straight. Sew close to the edges making sure to catch both edges.


A 1/2 inch wooden dowel inserted into the top pocket of the organizer with two metal hook eyes screwed into it completed the project and kablooey, swearing every time I looked for a needle came to and end.


The contest: My first blogiversary is coming up on January 15, so why not a little contest? I was on a roll with my organizer and I made two. The second one will be a blogiversary prize, and there will be a little something yarny too. Leave me a comment and I will randomly draw a winner. The contest will close next Friday, January 16th at 5 pm.

Thank you to all of you who have been reading, commenting, and finding me at fiber fairs. This blog has been an unexpected treat and you bloggers, and the folks that haven't wanted to leave a comment but have found me in person, have made it even more so.
Thank you!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

a tragedy, a hat, a dream

Happy New Year all!

The tragedy: my Balsam is lost. It might have been dropped in a hotel, a restaurant, or getting out of the car. I've called all these places and no one is fessing up to seeing it. I hope that whoever has found it is loving it as much as I did and if anyone in the Greater Boston area sees it, look for a smile on the wearer's face and wish them well. My Balsam did inspire my craftophobic mother to take up knitting though, which I think is really cool. She's going to try to knit herself one. She claims she used to knit but I need to see her in action before I believe it.

The hat: Elizabeth Zimmerman's Very Warm Hat


Pattern: Very Warm Hat by Elizabeth Zimmerman
found in Knitting Around and The Opinionated Knitter.
Knitting Around has better directions and Opinionated Knitter has better photos.

Yarn: Mountain Colors River Twist in Hot Springs, 1 skein
from The Yarn Basket in Portsmouth, NH
and Sweet Maple Alpacas, Elijah, 1 skein from the NH Sheep and Wool Festival.

Needle: size 6 bamboo circular
Gauge: 5.5 stitches to the inch

Mod: I cast on 104 instead of 92 and added a
few repeats of the pattern to make up for it.


Technically the is the last FO of 2008, but I'm only just getting around to posting it and it's a great way to greet the new year. This may be my favorite hat EVAH. It's a reversible hat and I'm constantly changing which side of it I'm wearing. The yarn makes it extra super deluxe. Mountain Colors River Twist is 100% Merino, has gorgeous colors, and looks like handspun yarn, it's fauxspun. If it wasn't so expensive I would make something big with it. And then there's Elijah the alpaca's yarn from Sweet Maple Alpacas, 100% alpaca in it's natural color. This animal must be otherworldy because the yarn is so soft and the white so nice. I wonder if Elijah has any unicorn friends?


The dream: I dreamt that I was helping pack up an office or studio that had a lot of knitting supplies in it as well as office supplies. Things were being put in boxes and then taken down the hall where people would pick through the contents and pull out what they wanted and then dump the rest. Once most boxes had been carted away, I realized that my own yarn stash had been boxed up too. I frantically ran down the hall to see if I could recover any of it. My stash was gone and all I could do was repeat that I had projects I was working on! I woke up in a sweat.

This is my most vivid knitting dream. I may have been over excited about going to Halcyon Yarn the next day where I bought enough of their Botanica in white to make the February Lady Sweater. I've been thinking about a white sweater for a while but am I going to be able to stand working with white yarn for that long? Halcyon was great, totally worth the visit if you're passing through Bath, Maine. The trip was even sweeter because there were five of us on the yarn crawl and we took our time and enjoyed it.


My first blogiversary is coming up at the end of the month. The blog has been a great thing for me, I've been surprised by how much I've enjoyed it and how many people I've met through it. Thanks Kim for pushing me to do it, why did I ever resist? A blogiversary contest is in order, no?