Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'd Rather Be Knitting

We are rather Luddite-ish in our electronic audio choices. The iPods tend to get used for cleaning sessions and car entertainment and hence are filled with songs you can sing, or at least hum, along to. We still have a huge collection of vinyl (although we are turntable-less and have been for longer than I'm going to admit here). We were late to the CD parade. This last is what I've been struggling with the past couple of days.

You see, the CDs sort of snuck in. They slipped through the door in ones and twos. Sidled into the occasional Amazon box. Smuggled themselves into Borders bags in dribs and drabs.

As they entered so slowly, storage options were not much of an issue; a stack here, a pile there, part of a bookshelf dedicated another where. This trickle, however, continued. The stacks and piles grew deeper and the parts of shelves more numerous. We indulged now and then in CD storage, but never often enough to bring any sort of unity or coherence. In a word, nothing matched, nor was it ever adequate.

Eventually,we succumbed to the lure of a good, basic music system. Not an audiophile's dream. Not a needs-its-own-room, mega-woofer, spend the children's entire inheritance, home-theater. We're technophobes living in a condo, after all. Something better, however, than the one-box, tiny-speakered, shelf systems we had been going on with.

Now the trickle grew to a fairly steady stream, fueled in part by the closing of Tower Records here in Chicago. We acknowledged that we had to formalize the storage for our now-burgeoning (for us) collection. In what I can only, in retrospect, call massive denial, we bought a couple of low shelves that could double as speaker stands. They weren't enough, so we reverted to our rather lackadaisical ways. CDs landed in baskets, piled on the dining room credenza.

Last week, in growing exasperation and in an attempt at dealing with reality, I decided I had had it and ordered up a shelf that would hold what we had accumulated and still leave room for expansion. I have no spatial sense, so it was bigger than I expected, and the wall that I thought was five feet wide is four. I have reconfigured my dining room three different ways just since yesterday. I still haven't reclaimed it. On the plus side, there is not a single dust hippo, and the baseboards haven't been this clean since we refinished the floors.

If you remember the pantry incident, you already know the rest of this story. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."*

*George Santayana, 1863 - 1952.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tickled Pink

I am recovering from plague - one of those where your brain hurts so badly everything seems to ache. Wearing my watch hurt. Annoying, although it does explain why last week felt so grueling. I intend to huddle up with my knitting and Harrison Ford until the boys get home from school. Before I do that, though, I thought I'd check in, since I have something nice to tell.

I was a good person (Stop snickering, I am sometimes, you know). I was one of those who sponsored Amy Artisan when she walked here in Chicago for the cure for breast cancer. She offered a prize, but I had used my favorite pseudonym, Anonymous. (As Virginia Woolf observed, "For most of history, Anonymous was a woman." I figure I'm continuing a fine tradition.) I didn't think I had a chance. Imagine my glee when Amy announced I'd won. The yarn arrived yesterday.

This is Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet Sock Yarn in their, appropriately, Breast Cancer Awareness colorway. I have 400 yards of 100% merino wool to play with. There was a time when a skein of sock yarn would have left me feeling pleased but bemused, since I don't knit socks. That was back when I thought you had to knit everything according to Hoyle: baby things out of baby yarn, cables out of Aran yarn, socks out of sock yarn. I know better now. I can make scarves out of sock yarn and fingerless mitts and afghan squares. Something from Knitting Little Luxuries seems particularly suited for this.

Good deeds may be their own reward, but sometimes, if you're lucky, you get yarn, too.

Friday, October 24, 2008

News. Really.

First off, in the interest of full disclosure and all that, I probably should report that short rows alone will not solve your triangular problems. So much for the scientific method and isolating your variables. Someone should let people know that "scientific method" is just a fancy way of saying "do it again."

The latest "do it again" added back 6 extra increases, one done every other row at the start of the reverse stockinette. This got them all out of the way before I had to start the cable pattern. It also placed them immediately next to that single knit stitch detail - a good place to hide a M1P, since this organic cotton yarn seems to show everything.

Yesterday, as this emerged, it was all I could do not to run over here and beg you all to hold my hand, first pleading, " Does this look like it's working to you?"

then exclaiming, "Is it working? It is, isn't it? Look, it's working!"

After all the alarums and excursions I've been through, I knew - no matter how many thousands-year-old Greeks stood behind me -- that this wasn't supposed to work either. If you wonder at my crisis of confidence, let me refer you to this. Oh, and this. Also this, this, this, this, and, oh yes, the one that started it all. There's more, but you get my drift. Trust me, however sick you are of this project, I am more so.

Having achieved triangularity, there is no way on God's green earth that I am knitting this two more times. By a conservative estimate, I figure I have already knit 99 of these. I'll knit it once more for an even hundred. This baby is getting the blanket with light blue corners. That's it. No expostulations, challenges, arguments or objections will change my mind.

(But it worked.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Biting the Bullet

My delft blue yarn arrived today. All of my other projects are making rude noises at me. I suspect circumstances of combining against me.

The red yarn pools in such a way that it looks like something spilled on it. Knitting it in wider sections doesn't really help. Diane pointed out that alternating skeins usually fixes this type of problem. Except, if I alternate every row I'm going to end up trying to cable from the wrong side. And knitting two rows at a time just makes it look stripy, which is different than pooling, but not, by any argument that I'm willing to entertain, better.

In frustration, and desperate for success and blog fodder, I went all the way back to last year when I was trying to knit the sea. I don't like this color combination either, although I despise it somewhat less than anything else I've tried, so perhaps I'll finish it and add it to the charity box. (Dream in Color Classy in the off-dye-lot of Cloud Jungle that only I, in the whole wide world, possess, this time with DIC Classy in Gothic Rose as the contrast stripe.)

What is it about this yarn that it changes every color I've ever tried to combine with it? The Gothic Rose looks all reddish brown wound up, until I sandwich it between the off-lot Cloud Jungle and it turns purple.

Bottom line? I suspect the knitting gods want me to work on this.

This scarf is going to be one of the longest projects I've ever knit. (For the record, the yarn really does squeak. At least, it did while I was casting on.) I think Cathy put it very well in her comment. I am going to align myself with her as a discerning knitter, and I am going to knit this (and knit it well) despite myself.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Dang. Knit Simple had the colors for the Winter Games wrong. Rather, they had the right blue, but the wrong white. Special Olympics want scarves made with 885 Delft Blue and 311, White (not Soft White).

Now you can order your yarn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can You Knit With Acrylic?

If you can, the Special Olympics wants you.

You may already know about this, but it's the first I've heard about it, so I'm sharing. This year the Special Olympics wants 5000 scarves for the World Winter Games, which will take place February 9 through 13, 2009 in Boise Idaho. That's one for every athlete and their support team, as well as the various dignitaries who will attend. Knit Simple reported in their latest issue that as of press time, the committee had 1000 scarves in hand.

The stumbling block is that, as Coats and Clark is sponsoring the project, the scarves have to be knit of Red Heart Super Saver yarn, specifically in 885, Delft Blue and 316, Soft White, the official colors of the winter games. If we buy regular size skeins, that's just 320 yards of worsted weight acrylic yarn. If we bought one each of the economy size skeins we could maybe even share. I could knit one and send the rest of the yarn on to you.

Anyway. Scarves have to be submitted by January 15, 2009. Send them on to:

Special Olympic Scarf Project
3150 West Main Street
Boise, ID 83702

Knit Simple has a pattern. So does Coats and Clark, but you can use any you like. Yes, it is acrylic, but it's only a scarf. Just one scarf. If I can do it . . .

The Special Olympics motto is, "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." Come on. Be brave.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Planning Is Its Own Punishment

I bet you've been thinking that I've been showing an astonishing level of knitting monogamy lately. I bet, as you discreetly hide your yawns, you've been wondering what's come over me. Little do you know what machinations and plotting have been going on behind the scenes.

After her field trip with us at Stitches Midwest, my mother had expressed a desire for a shawl. Both her knitting daughters thought this was a Good Thing. My sister has already completed one in beautiful shades old rose, gold and pale olive (it's the pastel version of La Boheme - N.B. There's another reason to go to Loopy tonight). While that was still in the works, I asked my mom what other colors she'd like. Mom said she's always liked red (which surprised me, since she tends to choose lighter colors for her wardrobe, but hey, her choice).

I admit, I may have gone a little overboard. I decided on a Faroese shawl. I pored over Folk Shawls and A Gathering of Lace. I bought Best of Knitters, Shawls and Scarves. I searched online and found patterns here, here, and here and a website with worksheets and graph paper (because it involves, surprise! Math).

I got to work. I opted for a diamond motif, but didn't like any of the work-ups in any of the resources. I decided on the method from Folk Shawls and 2 of the diamonds from A Gathering of Lace. I charted my little heart out. I ordered the recommended yarn from Schoolhouse Press. I held the actual knitting out as a reward for finishing the current Project That I Am Studiously Ignoring (which no, is still not finished, and no, I still don't want to talk about it). I cast on my 421 stitches using the cable cast on. I placed stitch markers, some to keep the count straight, more to mark the borders and gusset. I was ready to roll.

We had a chance to see my Mom this weekend. I brought my -- admittedly minimal -- knitting to show her. She liked the color. All the rest? I believe her reaction ran something like, "Oh, just knit it and be done with it already." There may have been a comment to "Forget the lace, just plain knitting, all of it." I think there may have been a recommendation to "Just be fast, already." That's a lot of "justs." There may have been a few more "Ohs" in front of them.


Well, after all, the woman is 83. Considering how long it's taking me to get the PTIASI done, she may have a point.

How about this?

Except in red. In a different yarn (Alchemy Wabi Sabi is pretty thin on the ground).

Without all those twining cables in the middle. Maybe cables just at the top and bottom instead. With maybe a 2 or 4 stitch cable on each side.

Yeah. That could work.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ooh! Ooh!

Okay okay. Sorry for all the squealing, but, Ooh! Ooh!

I told you about my insane purchase of their Donegal sock yarn at Stitches Midwest 2007.

I told you about my Christmas present from my sister didn't I? Yes, I did. Guess what, guess what? They're coming to Loopy! With a trunk show! My "Loopy News" said so, right here:

"Mark your calendars and don't miss out on the Handpainted Knitting Yarns Trunk Show on Wednesday, October 15th from 6 pm to 9 pm. Handpainted Knitting Yarns offers 24 different yarns in 20 colorways in the most gorgeous fiber blends. Loopy currently carries the Handpainted Donegal Sock Yarn that has been an instant hit among the sock knitters. This is your opportunity to see all that Handpainted Knitting Yarns has to offer...."

Are you excited? Be excited. Admittedly, this is on a school night, so my chances of actually getting there are slim to the point of almost non-existent. Still, there's no reason you shouldn't go.

On another, less exuberant, front. Did she make it? Well, no. No, she didn't.

I've got a good start on the next campaign, though.

I wonder if I can get a sitter for Wednesday?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I Will Get There From Here

Chicago has been a good place to be a knitter this weekend. Loopy hosted Anne Shayne for their grand re-location party. YarnCon also included a Mason-Dixon book-signing event. I am probably the only knitter in Chicago who missed both. (I do love my son. And his science fair project. I really do. Planting things so we can maim them with household chemicals is fun and way worth missing Anne Shayne. Twice. And not getting both my Mason-Dixon books signed. Twice. Really.) You'll just have to read about it elsewhere. Good thing I have other things to write about.

You know, I really like knitting. I like reading about it. I like planning it. I like blogging about it, setting out whatever I'm thinking as I form stitches and rows. I spend way more time day-dreaming about it than I probably should (fantasizing about a sweater while navigating I-55 does not, perhaps, make me the driver you want to be around). I like the act itself.

Therein lies the rub. Once in a while, not unreasonably often, I like to have some actual knitting completed. On some few rare occasions, I like to write about a knitting success. This experience has proved elusive in the past few months. I realize that some of that is because we had a lot of life happening here at Chez WoolGathering. I have, however, been attempting to take Elizabeth Zimmermann's advice to "knit on."

Meet my latest attempt. This is the Orphan's for Orphan's sweater from Knitting for Peace, Take 2. The heavier yarn is supposed to make it a) warmer and b) larger without having to knit significantly more stitches.

The cable up the middle front is the one from the pattern for the sleeve variation (and I'm glad to know before I start that in this yarn -- Malabrigo Chunky Merino -- that cable is going to be way too big for any sleeve). This needs to be done soonest, because the sweaters for the afghans for Afghans youth campaign have to reach California by this coming Tuesday. At the moment, this seems unduly optimistic. The poor thing isn't even half-way there. Even if I do finish the actual knitting, I'm thinking this yarn is so heavy, blocking it could take days. Memo to self - do not overwhelm the stash with additional purchases of bulky yarn.

This sweater is supposed to serve a further purpose. It is supposed to steel my nerves renew and refresh me enough to try that short-row thing with the Blessingway triangle. I've decided -- since none of you has actually howled, "No-o-o-o-o! " or otherwise waxed eloquent on the general futility of the scheme -- that the idea might work. Okay, none of you has fallen over yourself lauding the brilliance of it either, but I trust you're not here for the sadistic fun of seeing me make a complete idiot of myself over knitting. (At least, not solely here for that.)

The hope here is that one success will breed another. Then I can go back to thinking about knitting, reading about knitting, blogging about knitting, planning and fantasizing, oh, and knitting, with a clear conscience.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

5 Miles

That hole in my stash has been preying on my mind. That one where the bulky-weight yarn isn't. It just seemed I had a duty to fill that void. Nature, after all, abhors a vacuum. Who am I to allow such a precarious state to continue? Besides, I've been steadily slipping in the Yarn Marathon standings. Just under the gun, I took advantage of the "Power Boost" (a.k.a. double points) yarns for September, I made it to the 5 mile mark. Five miles means I get treats. I love it when I get treats.

Yarn samplings, a doodad/mini project bag, a sock pattern, and a Kitchener Kit by Knitcellaneous, complete with dog-tag (wasn't Kitchener a British general?).

Underneath that fun stuff - Malabrigo Chunky Merino in Velvet Grapes. Yes, Diane, I know it's purple, but it's purple that leans toward red. I'm thinking about another Knitting for Peace Orphans for Orphans Sweater, this time with a cable down the center front panel.

I may have gotten a little carried away. But I was really far down the list. Under the Velvet Grapes, more Malabrigo Chunky Merino. This lot is Verde Esperanza.

Maybe for the "Camping Out" sweater from the Yarn Girls Knits for Older Kids.

Now I've moved up in the standings to number 25. Only 21 more miles to go.