Monday, January 29, 2007

On Schedule

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And here we have Installment #1: the saddle shoulders and the completed upper back. You see, Celtic Dreams is a top-down Aran. In fact, to quote from the pattern in Interweave Knits, Fall, 1997, "This sweater ... is worked from the top down and features saddle shoulders, square armholes, Aran motifs, and a deep skirt (as the traditional Aran ribbing is called)." Two of the features of this sweater are new to me: saddle shoulders and twist stitches (seen along the sides of the saddles). I've enjoyed both!

In fact, aside from a certain problem in getting the upper back going (you'd think there would only be one topology in which the saddles are right-side-up and one is picking up stitches along the long side, but you'd be wrong), I've really enjoyed this so far.

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I have already made a few mistakes in the cables, as may be evident in this close-up. I like to think of them as the requisite biological diversity needed for further random evolution of the Aran style, and I'm going to leave them. In fact, I kind of like them. Makes this look as though a human made (is making) this, although, of course, in reality I'm a demi-god, but you already knew that.

Knitting these cables is making my hands hurt a bit, but interestingly, after a few hours, my hands stop hurting. It's as if my tendons finally get really warmed up and settle down to the task. I'm hoping my hands stay equal to this task, because I'm already thinking I ought to sub in different cable patterns to this general shape and knit up another Aran sweater from the other bag of Tahki Donegal. We'll see how I feel once I try this on and see how it fits.

Well, I suppose I better shut up and get tonight's assigned knitting completed. I believe I only have half the upper front scheduled for tonight - that's only 30 rows or so.

I am a dreamer.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm a Nut. But You Knew That.

I have been trying, really I have, to resist the siren call of SPA. I don't need another feast of fiber offered up for my acquisition; I'm trying to cut down my stash. (Remind me to tell you later about the laceweight I bought this week, by the way.)

SPA? It's a small spot of paradise in the midst of a New England winter. Knitters, spinners, crocheters, tatting-ers, all of us fiber fanatics, are invited to Portland, Maine, on Saturday, February 17th, and thereabouts, to hang out.

Let me repeat that.

We get to hang out together.

I need that. I need more fiberous hanging-out. Thus, when the temperature here dropped to below zero Fahrenheit and I've had a very cranky week and I get an email from the New England Textile Arts crew saying, yep, y'all come hang out, you hear - well, I responded. I forwarded the email to Sue - yes, the same Sue that endured me and Rhinebeck together in Rhinebeck - and said, Sue, dearest, darling, sugarplum, would you drag me there? (Since she has family in Portland,
family who knit, family who are welcoming and charming and have extra beds.) Sue rose to the challenge. We're going! Wahoo!

Which brings me to the point: I need something to wear to SPA. Something I've knit. Something that looks good and is suitable for a coastal New England city in February. You know. Something to show off to other knitters.

Surprisingly, I have nothing. I have no hand-knit socks. I have several handknit coats, but you can't wear those inside. I don't have any handknit shawls, not that are finished, anyway. My scarves - meh. The sweaters - well, let's just say I'm not good at forseeing how things will look on me. I'm sure that you all will be very kind and tell me I look great in fuzzy purple mohair with horizontal striping, but you really shouldn't lie like that.

So I need to knit something new. Something stunning. Something from my stash, something that flatters me, something I want to knit.

Somnething I want to knit so much, I can finish it in three weeks. [Hah!]

Remember the Knitting Olympics? I failed miserably. I prepared assiduously - I swatched, I plotted, I bought yarn, I cast on as the torch was lit. Yet I forgot the most important part: I didn't care for the entrelac I signed up for. It was fiddly. Annoying. Even worse - boring. I quit about three days into the process.

But this time will be different.! [More hah!] This time I shall succeed! [This time I really am nuts!]

Thus, I give you the challenge:
Celtic Dreams, by Beth Brown-Reinsel.

Yep, I'm really nuts.

Now, I've had a hankering this week to knit something from Tahki's Donegal Tweed. I happen to have two bags of this yarn in my stash, in a bright blue and a gray blue. I chose the bright blue.

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In my table of stashed yarn, I had noted three patterns that would work with this yarn. I chose Celtic Dreams.

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So I balled up the yarn.

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I circled the right numbers on my photocopy of the pattern.

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I swatched. I figured out that I need to knit about 70 yards a day for three weeks straight starting tomorrow - about 2.7 balls a week - to finish on time. And I cast on for the first saddle shoulder strip.

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Wish me luck. Lots of luck.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It Was an Exciting Game....

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting you can see by my wavering yarnover there third from the left. And, of course, the Patriots lost, alas.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Resolution #1

I did it! I figured out how to post my 2007 resolutions over there in my sidebar - see for yourself!

...[pause for audience to grasp the magnitude of what I've done]...

Which means that I have completed Resolution #1. Not bad for the middle of January, I'd say. Now if one of you omnicompetent knit-bloggers can tell me how to change the font size, color, styles, etc., over there, I'd be all set. I want those resolutions there to remind me gently, not to hog the whole bloggie show and kick me in the ass every time I come here. Do I need to go buy myself HTML for Dummies, assuming there is such a thing?

In fact, I'm so pleased with myself (hey, it doesn't take much to set my feet to dancing), I added two more resolutions: crochet something, and find 10 more rare species sites in this state. I'm an easy sucker for trendiness, not that I'm trendy, you understand, it's just that I want to be like all the cool people, so last year I couldn't resist buying Debbie Stoller's Happy Hooker, and I wanna make something from it. As for rare species, well, there's hardly anything I enjoy more than wading through bogs and climbing steep bouldery slopes in search of rare species. I didn't get to do much of that the past two years, between breaking my leg in 2005 and the incessant rain this past summer, so I'm resolved to change that this year.

And thank you for saying my new shell doesn't look all that bad. You're right, of course; it's just always a shock for me to really look at myself and realize I'm not the slender young slip of a thing I was thirty years ago. But I won't dwell on that thought today; it's gray and dripping freezing rain outside, so I'm not exactly cheery myself. And on that note, let's go admire my new sidebar to cheer ourselves up, shall we?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Best-Laid Plans

You may remember that I signed off a week or so ago with the promise that I would be adding my 2007 resolutions to the sidebar. Obviously that hasn't happened yet, because of all the other events this week that got in the way, namely:
  • my phone line going dead last weekend;
  • a minor car accident Monday morning;
  • various night meetings; and
  • Earle's struggles, over several days, to install DSL on my computer.

A lovely week it was, capped off by utterly lousy weather this weekend - gray, drizzly, just above freezing. Anyhow, here I am again, promising once more to add those resolutions just to our right here. Maybe tomorrow, if I have the inner fortitude.

In the meantime, I discovered just how much I can get done without the Internet to distract me. I read a good book, Peter Hessler's River Town, a fascinating tale of Hessler's two years in the Peace Corps, teaching literature in a small city on the Yangtze in China. It had nothing to do with knitting and yet I loved it. Furthermore, I'm two-thirds of the way through Memoirs of a Geisha, a stunning novel by Arthur Golden. And thank you, Cathy and Emily, for your reading recommendatiuons; I'll check those out. Interestingly, I've already read Number One Ladies' Detective Agency; my mother gave it to me last year, saying she enjoyed it immensely.

And I've finished the body of the shell I started on Christmas Eve. You may wonder why I say I finished the body of the shell, no doubt thinking to yourself, aren't shells all body and no sleeves? You would be right, of course, except I was debating all along whether I would leave this sleeveless or not. I decided to wait to try it on before making the sleevedness choice.

To review, here's an earlier pic with the right color.

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And here's a bad photo of me wearing the shell. You'd get a better photograph, except as you will remember, the weather's lousy, so no sun, plus Earle's feeling pretty lousy himself, so I didn't want to ask him to take a photo.

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I love this yarn, Berger du Nord's Charmant, a silk/wool blend. This knits up beautifully, changing gauge just a little when washed and blocked (which I remembered to do to the gauge swatch, by some miracle). Even better, I got this on 40%-off sale! I love this pattern, the shell from Joan Forgione's Thorn and Thistle Twinset in the Summer 2006 Interweave Knits. However, I don't love this shell on me. I was foolish enough to try this one as soon as I finished the crocheted picot edging around the neck. Over the jeans I had on, it looked like crap on me. More precisely, it magnified all my oddly bumpy plumpness, being lovely, drapey fabric.

I tell you, there's nothing like having something one has just finished look like crap on oneself to thoroughly discourage one from ever being in a good mood again. And did I mention that it's gray and raw here as well? Thus, I consulted my sage advisors at the Knittyboard, who offered chocolate to sooth my troubled psyche, recommended the use of appropriate undergarments, and counseled adding sleeves. I added in a short visit to Webs to that list. The photo above shows me wearing appropriate undergarments and sucking in my tummy. I think that, with sleeves (probably 3/4-length) and maybe a short cardigan (gee, it was designed as a twinset, you know), this might be OK on me.

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In other knitting news, I've been plugging away on a simple shawl, design from Victorian Lace Today, out of my handspun. This is maybe one-third done, plus there will be a border, so I have my mindless work cut out for me. Exactly what I need right now, with the addition of chocolate, of course.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


[cue harmonica]

I've got dem full-moon, mid-winter, post-holiday, mid-life, bored-to-tears blues.

[cut harmonica]

I'm cranky. I'm bored. I have been virtuously slaving away on the front of the mint green silk/wool shell....purl one row, k4, p1 the next row - boring.

I have virtuously avoided acquiring more yarn - I did not go to Webs on Tuesday for the monthly spinning group meeting, I did not go to the SnB in Greenfield Wednesday night (I've never made it there, but anyhoo), I am not going to take a learn-to-weave class in the next town over (because I do not need another fiber-related escapade), I've decided not to go to SPA next month, I'm meeting Pat tomorrow and we're not going to Woolpack, we're going clothes shopping instead, I resisted buying anything at the Cherry Tree Hill sale and the Redbird Knits sale and all the other end of year sales, and I've just torn myself away from the Brooks Farm website. [no wonder I'm cranky; I'm going through withdrawal]

I'm set up carpooling with friends from work, most of the lights in the house now have fluorescent bulbs, I've noted on my calendar the dates of upcoming concerts and whatnot, I removed all the edible holiday treats from tempting me (translation: I ate them), I even dusted the bookshelves in my bedroom. And I am restless, bored, cranky.

So, dear readers, help me liven up my life. Cathy, oh Lively Librarian, please do recommend some books for me to read - maybe a mix of books on what is the meaning of life anyhow and pure escapism chick lit? Jennifer - what else can I do to reduce my electrical use - set up a clothes line? Adjust the fridge temperature? Stop spending so much time on the computer? Elizabeth, um, does it count if I line the walls of my bedroom with yarn and fiber? That must count as insulation, right? I might need a little more "insulation", if that's the case. Btw, I'm going to try to get those resolutions into the sidebar this weekend, so expect a panicky email shortly. Batty, we should just order the kits before the price goes up (not that it's going to, I hope) and have our own little KAL. Stariel, there is no way in hell that I'm not going back to Rhinebeck, resolution or no resolution, so don't you worry your sock-covered little mind about that, OK? Plus, doesn't everyone screw up their New Year's resolutions? Why should I be any different?

I think I'll go make some hot chocolate and fondle some Sea Silk. Maybe by the end of the weekend, I'll be human again.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ten Percent of My Resolve

It's that time of year again, gang - time to resolve, to be resolute, to make the New Year's resolutions that will be forgotten by the end of January. This year, however, my first resolution is to figure out how to put these goals for 2007 into the sidebar of this blog, so that they will stare me in the face every time I check in. That's Resolution #1.

Then there are the Knitting Resolutions. You already know about #2.

Resolution #2: I shall reduce my stash of yarn, fiber, and unfinished projects by 10% by the end of 2007, down from the totals counted up in November of 2006. [We shall ignore, for the moment, the fact that I have yet to count up my fiber stash.] You will remember that I have quite a lot, quite a whole lot, of yarn and fiber and UFOs, so this is a pretty ambitious goal. The hardest part is going to be resisting going to yarn sales.

Furthermore, I have several more knitting-related goals for 2007:

Resolution #3: From the fiber I bought at Rhinebeck 2006, I shall spin up and knit two projects for me to wear to Rhinebeck 2007. I'm aiming for a shawl (which I've already started and, once I get past the first ten rows or so, I'll show you) (aren't I virtuous? I've already spun up this yarn AND cast on) and a sweater, one project for each day of Rhinebeck. If these two projects aren't completed, I shall not go to Rhinebeck.

Resolution #4: From the three projects' worth of yarn I bought at my LYS's December 2006 Midnight Madness sale, I shall complete one project and wear it to the 2007 Midnight Madness sale. If nothing is completed, I shall not go to the 2007 sale. (I'm positively aglow with virtue here; I've already finished, well, not the weaving in of ends nor the blocking, but I have indeed finished knitting up the back of a shell from one of these three yarns. See yesterday's post, if you don't believe me.)

Resolution #5: Knit myself a Hanne Falkenberg Mermaid, probably in this colorway. I've loved this jacket ever since Wendy knit one.

Resolution #6: Design and knit a sweater of many colors, something Fair Isle-ish. I want to push myself to create something of my own and I'm feeling very drawn to classic Fair Isles in subdued and graded colors.

Resolution #7: Design and knit a sweater with cables and textures. Just like with Fair Isle, I'm finding myself drawn to classic Aran fisherman sweaters. I even bought the yarn for this at my LYS's Midnight Madness sale.

Resolution #8: Knit one damned pair of socks, just to see what all the excitement is about.

Resolution #9: Knit for charity. Specifically, I want to finish my striped-block afghan for Afghans for Afghans, a kid's vest and five hats for Afghans for Afghans, and something for the Athol Bird and Nature Club to auction off at their annual meeting in October, maybe a scarf and hat set with some sort of nature theme.

Resolution #10: Create the Fernsworthy pattern that's been rolling around in my head. Details to follow, when I know them.

Well, that ought to keep me busy! Plus, I have some non-knitting goals, of course:

Resolution #11: Reduce my weight by 10% (hey, it's a classic New Year's resolution, and I need it).

Resolution #12: Reduce my driving mileage by 10%. I drive an hour to work each way and my annual mileage over the past six years is 33,000 miles, which is unconscionable. So, to meet this resolution, I have to drive an average of 2,475 miles or fewer a month. Hold on a sec, I'll go see how many miles are on the car right now...... OK, there are 259, 564 miles on the old Corolla today. That means by January 1, 2008, there should be no more than 289,264 miles on it, an addition of 29,700 miles. (Then I suppose I'll have to start thinking about a newer car, too!)

Resolution #13: Reduce my annual usage of electricity by 10%. Obviously, this goes right along with reducing the amount I drive. I'd aim for reducing my use of heating oil, too, but I just put in a new and much more efficient furnace, so I think I'm set for reduced use of oil. On the electric bill, my electric company prints how many kilowatt-hours I used this month and how many I used in the corresponding month last year, so it'll be easy to keep track.

Resolution #14: Read 10 non-knitting books. I'm getting way too single-minded about knitting and spinning; I need to remind myself there's something else to life besides fiber. Ten books is pretty minimal, but it's a start.

Resolution #15: See 10 movies in the theatre, and Resolution #16: Attend 10 cultural events (plays, concerts, museums, etc.; fiber festivals do not count as cultural events for this goal). See Resolution #14 above.

So, am I nuts or what?