Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas

I finished the Christmas knitting! Truly, it's a new record for me. My father's World War II Watch Cap was actually completed on Christmas Eve.

I finished knitting my mother's Traveling Woman on December 26. This meant I actually handed my mother a gift bag with the project still on the needles on Christmas Day.  Oh well. After a few days of tearing apart my so-called "yarn room," I finally found my blocking pins. With The Preschooler at Bubba's, I had some peace and quiet this morning to block out the shawl.

Finally, yesterday, I went to the jeweler's, with moral support from Steven, to have my rings cut off. I haven't been able to get them reliably on and off for over a year, and with last weekend's Christmas basically serving as a Festival of Ham and Salty Snax, my fingers swelled up to painful proportions. Because I'm pregnant, I knew it would get worse before it got better, so off they came. Steven insists I show you a picture of the immediate aftermath.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It is Hat Time of Year

I've been seeing a lot of people having really difficult times with their mothers lately, and while I don't claim to be the perfect daughter, I've been thinking about my own mother and feeling a lot of gratitude for all she does for me, particularly what a fantastic grandmother she is. So of course, this translates into The Knitting Crazy because I decide, one week before Christmas, to make her a shawl to show my appreciation. We won't talk about how far I've gotten with that crazy idea so far.

What I have finished for Christmas is a heck of a lot of hats.

From top left, a Lollipop Hat from Cosy's Knit One, Embellish Two in Malabrigo Worsted; a Baby Jester Hat, also in Malabrigo; a detail of a Windschief Hat in Malabrigo Worsted Vaa; another Cosy pattern, a Root Vegetable Hat in Malabrigo Chunky; another Lollipop, and finally, a Grace Lace Beret in Malabrigo Silky Merino.

Other than the shawl, I have two hats left to go. How is your holiday knitting coming along?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

In Praise of the Second Trimester...or How I Continue To *%_#_ Up My Knitting

So I've rediscovered that the first trimester of pregnancy, at least this pregnancy, is not conducive to knitting. It wasn't that the smell of wool or dye made me sick, or the motion of the knitting needles made me dizzy; it was just that the act of knitting, of picking up needles, moving the yarn around the needles, having to think about what I was doing, was absolutely exhausting. I would knit a row or two and put my needles down and sigh resignedly, like I was Beth on her deathbed in Little Women.

The second trimester is proving to be better -- even though this morning I find myself lurching about the house looking for something to eat like a zombie on The Walking Dead, even though I've already eaten a bowl of cereal, my Thai leftovers, and my son's Thai leftovers. Anyway, I felt so much better that I embarked on the Crazy Town that is Christmas Knitting. (If you haven't seen the video linked, please do so. It is funny because it is true.)

However, I am going to rue the day I made the decision to go to Crazy Town. For example, I intended to make these Fuzzy Feet for my father, and I thought I cleverly adapted the pattern to fit his wide, men's size 10.5 feet. See, here they are unfelted:

And here they are, felted. I don't have a picture showing the scale, but let's just say that my four-year-old has a new pair of slippers.

Remember kids: felting is an art and not a science. It's probably not a good idea to felt on a deadline, either. 
On a brighter note, at least the handknits from last year are being used and enjoyed, and even accessorized. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not too many finished objects around here....

...but there is one major WIP (work in progress), which accounts for my lack of productivity! Henry's Baby Brudder is due in May!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Mom, you're a really good knitter"

For any mom who knits, this is music to her ears. The Tomten continues to be Henry's favorite sweater.

I love this Hipstamatic app that makes any crummy old cell phone picture look good!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I've been lucky to obtain some really interesting non-commercial yarn lately.

I couldn't go to Rhinebeck this year, but I sent Yvonne off as my personal shopper, and she came back with this gorgeous skein of Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!, a yarn I've been wanting to try for ages, and this super-cute Jessa Lu box bag.

Lisa also went to Rhinebeck and brought back a skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Geisha in Manly But I Like It Too. Geisha is a light fingeringweight blend of mohair and silk.

This year, I joined the A Verb For Keeping Warm's Pro-Verbial Club; the club is dedicated to unique fibers accompanied by triangular shawl patterns. The yarn for October is Luster, an indigo-dyed blend of tussah silk and BFL fibers. 

My September Rockin' Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts arrived. It's the most gorgeous shading of olive greens.

Finally, I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered some of Brooklyn Tweed's new Shelter. I have three skeins of Sweatshirt that I'm thinking will make lovely mittens.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sunday morning

On Sunday mornings, my husband teaches violin lessons, and the Preschooler and I hang out on the second and third floor of our house. Right now, the Preschooler is watching Sesame Street upstairs while I putter around in my bedroom. So far, I have

  • gone through a pile of books to loan to friends
  • chosen the my yarn for the staff Stash Epiphany Gift exchange
  • knit a few rows on my Clockwork, and
  • I'm having a Jane Austen film festival! Persuasion -- the 1995 BBC version, the best one, of course -- is on now, and Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson!) is next.

Not a bad way to spend a dreary, rainy Sunday morning.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Baby Boys

It's baby boy season around here. Everyone I know is having a boy this fall, and of course, these boys must be outfitted in handknits.

Baby Boy #1 is the son of my sister-in-law's sister (did you follow that?). SIL's Sister is pretty conservative, so I went for a traditional baby shape and color. This is the Garter Yoke Baby Cardigan (sort of, as lately I catch myself casting on according to the instructions but then just going off in another direction) in Socks that Rock Mediumweight in My Little Color Brain. The slight variations of the yellow shading is about as wild as I felt I could get. The sweater went off to the baby's Christening party before I could get a picture with the buttons on.

Baby #2 is the baby brother of The Preschooler's betrothed (we have arranged their marriage and have already planned out the cookie table). #2's mother is a knitter, and I knew I could get crazy with the color. I chose three colors of the brand new Malabrigo Rios, a superwash yarn. I'm generally not crazy about superwash worsted, but the Malabrigo broke the stereotype of lifeless superwash: it's crazy soft and springy and still has all the depth of color of regular Malabrigo worsted. The pattern is Cosy's Baby Beau, with a smidge of Super-Natural Stripes thrown in.

Finally, Baby #3 is a serious matter. My good friend from high school went on vacation over Labor Day at 30 weeks pregnant. Apparently her body took the "Labor Day" concept seriously, and her water broke as she stepped off the plane. She's been in a hospital over 1000 miles from home for almost a month in the hopes that Baby Boy will stay in a little longer. He's set to arrive this Friday at 34 weeks, and I started a Baby Surprise Jacket in the fingering weight Mini Mochi, hoping it will be a good size for him to wear in the chilly fall to come. I also thought it was appropriate because I made my very first Baby Surprise for his big sister.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jesus Take the Wheel

Spinning is hard, y'all.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of taking Nora's Intro to Wheel Spinning class at the shop. Nora really went the extra mile for me, fixing up my mother's wheel back into a usable condition. I ended up taking the class on a shop wheel, and after several false starts, I ended up with 25 yards of this:

Nora, and then later, Steven, said it was really good for the first try. I don't know. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to practicing more.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not that I'm bitter or anything

A customer and friend once asked, after looking at my Goodreads feed on Facebook, asked me how I have time to read so much and knit so much. Here's the secret: I neglect my child. No, seriously, and I don't know how this happened, but The Preschooler has always been remarkably self-entertaining. Right now, he's lined up his Toy Story figures on the windowsill to watch the landscapers and is having his Buzz Lightyear, Tickle Me Elmo, and two baby dolls act out this elaborate game based on something he saw on Dinosaur Train. I am not allowed to play. I know how lucky I am.

So, Summer of Socks and Lace. I lost. I'm okay with that. Really. Steven is a worthy competitor. I finished eighteen projects:
  • Six shawls
  • Nine pairs of socks
  • One pair of baby booties
  • One lacy baby cardigan
  • One semi-lacy scarf
  • 9539 yards total

My mistake? I knit from stash, which wasn't always Natural Stitches yarn, which counts for double.

I did, however, get through at least some of my Socks that Rock stash. I finished my Ten Shawls in 2010! Overall, it was a pretty good summer, knitting-wise. Now on to knitting something in plain stockinette!

Friday, September 10, 2010

No promises

Mom's wheel, originally uploaded by bookscatsyarn.

But this is what I came home with from my mother's house over Labor Day weekend. It's her old Ashford. I'm really excited!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

What is up with that?

I posted this on my Twitter, but I'll pose the question here, too, because it baffles me.
In the past 24 hours, I've seen two knitters publicly berate other knitters for not having a life.

What gives, people? 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another Reason for Second Sock Syndrome

The scene: Maryland Sheep and Wool. The Tess booth gleams in the sunlight and I can't resist. It's hot, and we're all sweaty and dirty. The booth is crowded, and Tess herself (the owner's daughter) is shockingly surly for someone in a retail position. I can't stay away. I get separated from my group. Where's Anna? someone asks. Oh, she's back in the Tess booth. Again. Steven remarks that these colors are really girly. And then I see this:

I love it. I have to have it.

Three months later, when I'm packing for my trip, I see this again and wind it up, and then toss it in my bag. On a windy day, when it's too windy for the wind-phobic Preschooler to hike (seriously, ask him how he feels about wind), I start a pair of Sunday Swing Socks.

And they are perfect. The colors align to spiral gently down the leg. This sock has no ugly pooling, no blotches of color. I don't have to think about strategies to make this beautiful skein of yarn continue to be beautiful in knitted form. Even in the gusset, where cuff-down socks tend to look their worst, this looks great.

How can I possibly risk making another?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things I Learned On the Way Home

  1. Not all Holiday Inn Express locations are created the same. Enough said about that, other than does anyone have a reliable but nice chain that they use while traveling?
  2.  A preschooler can watch Monsters, Inc. once, twice, even three times a day and not get tired of it. 
  3. I don't think I like this Zauberball sock yarn. I'm totally copying the Yarn Harlot because I'd tucked a skein of Zauberball Crazy in my travel knitting bag and thought "why not?" But the yarn, although interestingly plied and sturdy, is way too thin and rough. I guess I really do like my sock yarn with some "squoosh" factor. 
  4. It's good to be home.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Traveling Sock

This plain sock -- Miss Babs in Jingle Jingle B -- has been tucked in my bag and worked on in idle moments here in Wyoming.

Here it is on the road in southwestern Wyoming:

Here it is poolside at the condo complex (and really, I am watching my child, really):

Here we are at the Rockefeller Preserve (seriously, it's good to be a Rockefeller. This was their private land until 2000):

And finally, at Inspiration Point, above Jenny Lake:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wyoming Tradition

Wyoming Tradition, originally uploaded by bookscatsyarn.

Every year, we take a photo at the entrance to Jenny Lake. It's not even the most scenic view here, but it marks the beginning of our vacation. We didn't come in 2008, but otherwise the growth of our family is documented from our honeymoon in 2005 to now.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

We're Here

So we’ve been coming out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Grand Teton Summer Music Festival almost every year since our honeymoon (by the way, we’re celebrating five years of marriage on Friday!).  Jackson is located in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, south of the Yellowstone Plateau, and surrounded by the Grand Teton National Park and several National Forests. It’s kind of hard to get to. The first year we flew to Denver and drove up, ending up going over non-existent roads in the dark. The second year we flew (did you know that the Jackson Airport is the only commercial airport to operate in a national park?) with newborn Henry. The third year, I flew with barely a toddler Henry while my husband drove our car. Then we skipped a year, and last year, we all drove, breaking the trip with a visit with family in Oklahoma.

This year, my husband declared we were going to make the trip in three days, not four, which would require ten hours of driving per day. Okay. I can get a lot of knitting done. The Preschooler is generally pretty agreeable in the car, as long as he has his dvd player. We should have been fine.

That is, until we blew out a tire somewhere in Iowa. Fifty miles east of Omaha, we heard a dreadful noise. Thankfully, my husband was able to pull halfway up an exit ramp before the tire completely gave way. It was still a dangerous situation as he struggled to put on the spare tire while avoiding exiting trucks, but it beat the alternative. I was able to walk Henry up to a truck stop – because of course at the moment of crisis, he pipes up “I have to go potty!” – while my husband worked on the tire. He put the spare on…and then the car wouldn’t start. The car repair place by the truck stop did not have the tire we needed and moreover, didn’t have time to come out and jump our car.  Mercifully, the car insurance has roadside assistance and within half an hour, someone had come to jump the car and locate a tire.

Three hours and a pretty scary tire shop later, we were back on the road.  I feel lucky; it could have been so much worse, but we still had to drive for another six hours to make our deadline. We made it through severe lightning storms in the plains of Nebraska before we reached our hotel in Ogallala at midnight. Henry slept a little in the car but woke up crying and distressed to still be in his car seat. My husband was bummed out that he didn’t get his Runza, apparently a staple of his Nebraska childhood.

And to top it all off – since this is a knitting blog after all – this year is the year that I get carsick if I knit. Carsick! I completed Kelli’s Sunday Swing Socks and listlessly did a few rounds on a plain sock, but this was not to be the year I speed through projects as we drive through the Midwest. Co-workers, I cede the Summer of Socks and Lace to you.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Has anyone seen my sock mojo?

Socks used to be a pretty reliable project for me. I could cast on 64 stitches on a size 1.5 Addi and away I would go. But this summer, I've had a devil of a time with socks.

It started with the Yarn Harlot's Lenore, which calls for Socks that Rock Lightweight, casting on 60 stitches on a size 1.5 needle. If anything, I thought they'd be too tight. But no! Too loose! I ended up going down to a 1.

Then, my March Rockin' Sock Club Socks, Slip Jig. Socks that Rock Mediumweight on a size 1.5. Okay. My gauge has been loose lately, so this should work. No. The sock was huge and the fabric stiff enough to walk away on its own. So I went back to my usual Mediumweight needle, an Addi 2 (2.75 mm) and cast on for the smallest size. I can barely get it over my ankle, but it worked.

Next project, Cottys, by the same designer of Slip Jig. Same process: Mediumweight (the color here is Valenscummy, which I love), 60 stitches on size 1.5, as the pattern calls for, way too big. Finally cast on 48 stitches on a 2, but I'm not happy.

And it's not just Socks that Rock or Sock Club patterns. Everything is turning out too loose or too big. I don't know what has changed. Here, let's look at my finished Kai Meis, in Dream in Color Smooshy in Lipstick Lava, from Cookie A's Sock Innovation. It took a year to finish the first sock; a week to finish the second. But they turned out fine!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Campaign of Intimidation

So it's Summer of Socks and Lace again over at the store. Last year I got kind of....competitive and ended up wiping the floor with my co-workers, one of whom got pregnant and the movement of her knitting needles made her sick, so that wasn't exactly fair. This year, I said I wasn't going to be that way. But I am. I persuaded Martha and Kelli to make a new category called "Doublethreat" so I wouldn't have to choose between socks and working on my 10 Shawls in 2010. In my defense, this has proven to be a really popular category, and I think everyone is really enjoying it. Then I vowed that I was going to WIN, and in a really twisted move, my two main competitors, Steven and Yvonne, and I started making things for each other. Steven made me a new February Lady Sweater. I made my new go-to pattern, a Traveling Woman, for Yvonne, out of Pagewood Farm Alyeska:

What else have I finished that I haven't shown?

A slightly modified Helena for a dear grad school friend's new baby:

After many, many, many false starts and a nasty tangle, my March 2010 Rockin' Sock Club Slip Jigs:

In the Land of Oz shawl, out of Malabrigo Sock in Rayon Vert. I'm calling it my "Wine and Thunderstorms" Shawl because I made it mostly during a spate of bad thunderstorms around here recently. It's also so simple that you can drink a lot of wine and watch chick flicks while you knit it.

And finally, these baby booties out of leftover STR Garden Daze from last year's sock club. I keep telling myself I made them to test out the Signature Needles DPNs that I got at Maryland Sheep and Wool, but really, I have to confess, I am building up a little hope chest. It's been over two years since my miscarriage, and I'm hoping for something good soon.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The birthday hat lives!

The birthday hat: year four
The birthday hat: year four,
originally uploaded by bookscatsyarn.
I made this hat for Henry for his first birthday. It was a little large at the time, but little did I realize just how very large it has turned out to be. The hat is the Wooderson of knitwear: Henry keeps getting older and the hat stays the same size. All right.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Why I Won't Win Summer of Socks and Lace

I was feeling all kinds of smug about finishing these Lenore Socks in Socks that Rock Lightweight in ST-2.

After several false starts, I was able to get some momentum going on my March Rockin' Sock Club Slip Jigs. Then this happened:

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Like much of the knitting world, I've jumped on the yarn bowl bandwagon. You'd think that as the daughter of two potters, I would have been all over this a long time ago. But yet, although my mother and I have sketched out several prototypes, we've never gotten around to making one. The bowls I've been using aren't made by my mother nor are they Jennie the Potter models; they are a small tea bowl from Pottery Barn and a handmade bowl that The Preschooler chose at the Empty Bowls Chili Cookoff at the Braddock Library.

Imagine my surprise when I left the room for a minute and came back to this. Peek-a-boo!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This is what I made my mother: a Shetland Triangle in Madeline Tosh Sock in Oxblood.

 This is what The Preschooler made for me. I love the "mixed-media" piece.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sheep and Wool Haul

From left to right, first row: Tess Laceweight, Three Irish Girls Glenhaven, Tess SuperSock and Baby, Miss Babs Sport.

Second Row: More Miss Babs Sport, two Socks that Rock Mediumweight, Miss Babs Sock.

Third Row: More Miss Babs Sock, Autumn House Bamboo Tweed (this is my precious), Miss Babs Tweed, Brooks Farm Solana (bought specifically for a sweater for The Preschooler).

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sheep and Wool

So I have, like, degrees in Women's Studies. Yet I think they will be revoked because I wore this to Maryland Sheep and Wool this year, as part of Steven's groupies.

It was ridiculously hot this year, to the point where I was standing in line for The Fold at not even 9:00 am, and I realized that it was just going to be too hot and I was not going to make it through the day. Unfortunately, that's come to be just part of life with a semi-chronic (according to the headache doctor) pain condition, and some of us were back at the hotel by 2:00 for a nap.

Fortunately, it did cool off enough for me to wear my completed Tappan Zee Cardigan to the after-party.

(Oof, I should have sucked my stomach in more!)

I got a terrific haul this year, and I'm so excited to cast on because Spring Cleaning is OVER! I finished four pairs of socks, a child's vest, and the Tappan Zee. It's so time to cast on like a crazed weasel again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Drool Black and Gold

Dear Elizabeth Zimmermann, forgive me, for I have cast on.

It had been fifteen days since my last cast-on.

But a baby has been born, and he's so cute. I just want to knit him ponies and such, but I figured some black and gold bibs are a good beginning for a Pittsburgh Baby.  These are based on the basic Mason-Dixon Baby Bib O' Love. The striped bib uses the slip stitch pattern from the Baby Genius Burp Cloth. The color block bib uses the same log-cabin-ing idea found on the Purl Bee blog's Log Cabin Washcloths. I restrained myself and knit only two.