Monday, May 26, 2008

Why I Deserve to Sit and Knit Tonight





Even further after...


I don't know what I'm going to do when all six (six! what was I thinking!) of the Supersweet 100 tomato plants start bearing, but at least I'll have plenty of basil. And broccoli. I'm debating whether the front right corner gets more lettuce, or one (one, mind you) zucchini plant.

Ms. Robin was waiting in the wings as I took that last photo, I suspect to go dig up some of the worms I found. Now if I could only train her to dig up and fling over her shoulder some of the THOUSANDS of rocks I found, I wouldn't be quite so sore tonight.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Didn't Buy a Fleece

I am so proud of myself. I went to the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Fair yesterday and I did not, repeat, did not, buy a fleece. I fondled them, I smelled them, I lusted after them, I thought good and hard, and I resisted. I just want you to know that it's possible.

Now back to our regularly scheduled obsession.

So, Pat and I and Pat's two lovely daughters laughed and drove and knit and laughed all the way to the fair and back. Pat and her older daughter Isabelle (whom I forgot to take a photo of - sorry, Belle!) learned how to spin on a spindle. Here Olivia, the younger daughter, is dutifully holding the spindle while Pat demonstrates extreme spindling over lunch.


I admired the sheep. I really admired the Cheviots - they are just adorable with their big brown eyes and their perky goat ears.


I swear I did not notice this good-looking young man blocking my view of the Cheviot judging until I downloaded my photos. Anybody know who he is? Do you suppose he has sheep?


I bought yarn, in a restrained fashion. Two skeins of Judy's...


And one of Just Our Yarns' tencel laceweight.


I bought Shear Spirit. I bought a small mesh bag to wash fleece lock by lock. I did not buy lamb bits - the grill was out of them, alas!

And I bought this.


This is a gorgeous Corriedale/Finn/Rambouillet/mohair batt from Spinners Hill. I watched Pat and Laurie buy some of the enormous bag of this beauty, and then I handed the bag to Terry (it's blue; of course she bought some) and I wandered away. The Spinners Hill booth was very busy and rightfully so. I thought I'd get out of the way while I waited for Pat.

Later I wandered back. There was still some of this batt left. I bought what remained, only a pound and a quarter. Not that much really; it was the only roving I bought all day (well, except the braid of Spunky Eclectic BFL I bought for Isabelle; gotta start them off right, you know).

I just want you all to know the true story, since the dear if slightly demented Ms. Hog-All-The-Blue, upon seeing me come by with my treasure, promptly set upon me as if I'd robbed her cradle - she wanted more! She had first dibs on the batt, she got what she wanted, and then she wanted more! She wanted some of MINE!

Not likely. Let this be a lesson to all you young fiber whippersnappers - always buy all of the true treasures when you find them. And then make sure they're under lock and key when Terry comes to visit!

(Terry, Spinners Hill will be at Rhinebeck. I promise you can have the whole batt there!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Motley Assortment

You know, for all that I complain about how little I get done, I do a lot. I just move in all directions at the same time - what's called Brownian motion, if I remember correctly.


So, here is a finished, blocked Zigzag Afghan, ready to be packed up and shipped to my parents. This is exactly, and I mean exactly, down to the dye lots I think, like the one I knit last year for a wedding present. Go see that post if you want the details. I still have some of the red yarn left, but having knit two big afghans and an Einstein Coat from this yarn, I think I'll give it a rest.


Exhibit #2: I cast off my Road Not Taken scarf last night and it's blocking now. I got to use my blocking wires for the first time!


In case you've forgotten, this is a Lisa Lloyd pattern, from her new book A Fine Fleece. Despite it being a very simple lace pattern, I screwed up now and then, as you can see from this close-up.

some wonderful anal-retentives we all know and love, I decided to leave many of the imperfections in this scarf. Life is too short to worry about perfection and, come on, once I wind this around my neck, are any of you going to notice the occasional bungling? No, you're not. And if you do, step back 20 paces.

I've said this before and I'm going to say it again: The yarn I used for this scarf was wonderful. This is Gail Callahan's (aka
The Kangaroo Dyer) kid mohair/silk hand-dyed confection - get thee to her etsy shop and buy some. You will not regret the purchase. The pattern calls for 400 yards of laceweight; each ball of Gail's yarn said it had 240 yards, so I figured I was well-set with two balls.

Indeed, I was. I followed the pattern exactly (well, aside from the occasional screw-up) and after not quite one ball of yarn, I had knit 18 repeats of the pattern, making a scarf 7" by 68", blocked. Long enough for me. So, buy one ball. (I see that her etsy shop says the yarn has 330 yards per skein; I bought the yarn at Metaphor Yarns in Shelburne Falls, MA, where the label said 240 yards per skein.) Trust me, you need this yarn in your life.


Exhibit #3: Just so Elizabeth stops worrying, I did make it through the birthing process of her handsome Sloane Pullover. I'm using Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in a pinky lavender with the catchy name of #325601, since I had the exact amount called for in my stash and it came to hand in the first stash bin I opened (no, I have not memorized the locations of all my yarn). I've never knit a sweater with this construction before - cast on along the top of the shoulders, knit down in all directions - and as you may remember from my last post, it was a little complicated. But I'm all set now - onward!

Exhibit #4: I went flower shopping yesterday, since I'm craving color and life. A hundred bucks later, I have these four pots, plus more, all planted up on my porch.





That last one's for Terry, of course. And everyone's invited to come knit and spin on my porch this summer.

Exhibit #5: Yesterday I also went to WEBS' tent and fleece sale. I didn't buy anything from under the big tent, I didn't buy anything inside the store. I did, however, buy some Rambouillet roving from Tintagel Farm of Brookfield, MA, and this beautiful sock yarn from Diane Roeder of Sojourner Design.


See those long color repeats? This is sturdy, rustic (read: a little scratchy) yarn, perfect for socks, but I'm very tempted to use this in a scarf. I may knit up a swatch and wash it to see how much it softens, if any, although Diane noted it's already been washed in Eucalan.

Oh, and another sheep followed me home. No flesh and bones and big brown eyes, though - just a wooly hoggett Romney X Border Leicester coated fleece with gorgeous crimp and luster, from Winterbrook Farm in Staffordville, CT. Now, tell me, could you have resisted this beauty, even if there are, ah, maybe 7 or 8 fleeces in the house already?


I didn't think so.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blogging Make-Believe

I thought about blogging tonight, but I'd really rather cast on for something new. You see, I finished the giant afghan ...

[insert out-of-focus photo here, of entire bed covered with red and blue stripes]

and I've knit 60", slightly stretched, of the scrumptious kid mohair Road Not Taken scarf (and I still have one and a third of a ball left, when my math indicated I'd need two balls; interesting) ...

[insert fuzzy photo of fuzzy scarf here]

and I finished a tedious, long, stressful, boring project at work today ...

[insert map of dragonfly habitat here, all across Massachusetts]

and I'm tired from chasing dragonflies yesterday with friends.

[insert slightly tilted photo here, of tired friends eating ice cream after dragonfly chasing]

I'm going to go cast on something new instead of blogging. Maybe two somethings new - Elizabeth's Sloane Pullover, which I just downloaded, if the appropriate yarn and needles are in my stash (whaddaya wanna bet they are?) and Jillian's Boo, Too, which I loved when it was in Knitty and when I saw Jillian wear it at Rhinebeck and I still love it now that it's published in More Big Girl Knits. I know I have the yarn for that - half is my handspun, half I bought at WEBS (where I put it all is another question).

So, I'm not going to blog tonight at all. You're just going to have to cope without me.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Why is finishing something so hard?


Here are 18 rows of red; I need to knit only six more to finish this giant afghan entirely.

I've already knit ten blue stripes - eight rows each, that's 80 rows of blue - and ten red stripes - one of 24 rows, nine of 12 rows each, 132 rows of red in all. Plus those 18 rows in the last red stripe. So, I've knit 230 rows so far.

But those last six rows - oh, they drag. They dawdle. They move along as fast as a slug on a hot, dry sidewalk. Six rows is only 2.5% of the total - not much really, but too much, really.

Isn't knitting supposed to foster patience? I think I'm really more of a process knitter than a product knitter, although if there's a category for knitters who constantly start new projects while leaving a trail of unfinished ones - well, yup, that's me.

Maybe I should start another afghan after I finish this one. Maybe I'll learn patience then.

Five rows to go. An eternity.

I forgot to count the cast-off row, so it's back to having six rows to go. Damn. And the weaving-in of ends, although luckily most of them are already woven in. Plus, when I get that close to the end, I'm obsessed with finishing.

Unlike these final four rows. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thinking about the Journey

Juno has me thinking. Juno is a thinker of depth and character, but I - well, I just skim the surface. I regret not being a particularly deep thinker; it might be useful in this time of global restlessness. Oh, I'm smart and I went to school a long time and I'm reasonably sane and I can think my way through a long, involved project (see here, but don't download the pdf; trust me, it takes forever. Or you look at this, also a pdf. Neither one has anything to do with fiber, by the way, and please pardon my showing off), but the restlessness and whining that's been infecting me for a while now - I haven't a clue. Not good at the self-analysis. Not educated in the ways of the soul and mind and heart. You get the picture.

So Juno was writing about how she wants and needs perspective and goals and intent in her fiber workings right now. Rather than pigging out on yarn and fleece, she wants PIG (perspective, intent, goals) instead. (I made up that acronym; Juno has too much class to write that, but it amuses me.)

Me, too, in my best groupie chirp.

I went to southeastern Pennsylvania this past weekend (by Amtrak, not by car; I feel virtuous) to join the rest of my family in wishing my dad a happy 80th birthday. Here's the obligatory photo of Dad, looking pensive.


He's doing rather well for 80 - shortly after the photo, he went back outside to continue splitting up an entire elm tree by hand.

I got lots of knitting done over the four days, too, as will happen when one gathers 12 or so people ages 80 to 8 months more or less under one roof - there's lots of waiting around, for the youngest to wake up from his nap or the brother to pick up my niece from her SATs or somebody's plane to come in or leave.


I took this scarf, the new socks, and the new sweater to Philly with me, but all I worked on was the scarf. The socks and sweater are at that stage called "starting the cable pattern" and I couldn't quite cope with doing that while swaying on the train or chatting with family. I did, however, get about 3 feet of this scarf knit, and I'm enjoying every stitch. It's wonderful yarn. Go to Gail's etsy shop and buy something from her; it's all wonderful yarn.

I found, though, that I had to really concentrate on my knitting. This is a very easy lace stitch, worked over only 38 stitches, yet I often came to the end of a row and found I had 39 stitches on my needle. Hmm. Or I'd get through the first repeat just fine and then come up a stitch short or a stitch too many at the end of the second repeat, when I KNOW the previous lace row was perfect. Hmm, some more. I can blame the yarn, a little: mohair is wispy and generates faux stitches where there are none, or two stitches snuggle up too close to one another and are k2tog when they're not supposed to be. I can blame the motion of the train - hard to catch just the right loop in the middle of a sway or swoop. I can blame bad light or an awkward seat or any number of things, but really ...

I wasn't paying attention enough. I was not centered on the task. I kept thinking: Am I on the right train? Why do parents have to get old and eventually die? Should I have had kids? Where is there a yarn shop I can go visit? I wonder if Mom has any good books she wants to give away? Am I on the right train? Why do I have to get old and die? What are my 4 siblings really like? How do they cope? Should I knit on the sock instead? Am I on the right train?

What is my journey, anyhow? Hell if I know. In the meantime, enjoy my orchid cactus - there must be 30 blooms and buds on this one plant. Some days, beauty is all there is.