Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

Today is Earth Hour day. So what are you going to do in your hour of darkness??

Me? I know what I won't be doing. I won't be working on this:

My first real lace. If you consider a pattern that does have a resting row "real" lace. I've heard that some don't. Anyway, it's light, airy, made on #3 needles with thread-like wool, and has deliberate holes in it.....sounds like lace to me. I have nearly 6 repeats of the second chart done. The scarf that is shown in the pattern pic is 9 repeats, but I'm not familiar with the yarn and not really sure if the author even mentions what size needles she used. I might stop soon, I don't really want anything too big. When I run another lifeline after this repeat I'll take it off the needles and measure.

The pattern I'm using Zetor Scarf by Jatta Saukko.

The yarn is Knit Picks Bare Merino Lace wt. Obviously it is no longer bare. This yarn has been dunked in countless dye baths over the last year or so. It was first abused (lovingly so) in my solar dye experiment, a center pull ball, in a can, in the sun. :o) For the life of me I can't find a pic of the finished yarn but it really was a pretty robin egg blue as clear and beautiful as the sky that day. A nice color but not a "me" color, so it became one of the many "orphan" skeins I have hanging around, literally. Orphan skeins are those that I'm not thrilled with colorwise, but have potential. (don't they all???) When I begin a new dye project, I gather a few of the appropriate orphan skeins to cover any oops contingencies. What's an oops contingency you may ask, oh, anything from the unintended color mix made or perhaps a dye bath that hasn't been exhausted. Rather than pouring the unwanted/non-exhausted dye bath down the drain, I throw orphan skeins in it. Oh hell, I even use the orphan skeins to wipe up the occasional spill! Eventually there comes a day when I really like the look of a orphan and he/she is adopted for a pattern. The day before last was adoption day for this skein. She's happy and so am I.

I really am enjoying myself. I knew that I would. So why has it taken so long for me to finally get around to knitting lace?? Cuz of this:

That's my working copy of the pattern and charts.....sigh One note card per row, not including the resting rows. It's not that I don't like charts. And it's not that I don't like written text. (I don't and won't get in to that argument it means nothing to me.) It's cuz I have problems with my eyes. I can't depend on them. Some days I can see, others not so much. It's all part and parcel of the migraines, "visual disturbances". Don't bother suggesting post-it notes, magnetic boards, highlighted portions, huge photocopies, etc, believe me I've tried them all. They all do work and I can use them on "good" days, but often times good days are far and few between, so I came up with this. It works for me. It's very portable, and long term, it's nearly impossible for me to lose my place even if I put the project down for months. I use this method with anything that is complicated or involved, and with colorwork too. Sure it takes time to write it all out like that, but I can get all the chart work done on one good day and then have plenty of not so good days of relatively mindless, somewhat sightless knitting. It's a good trade off for me. If there are any others out there thinking about doing this whacked out thing too here's a little tip.....clamp or rubber band all the card together tightly (in both directions) and use a drill with the 1/8 inch bit, or smaller just big enough for the ring, to drill the hole. If you put the stack of cards on top of a cardboard box one bore through the stack and back out in reverse will make a really nice hole for the ring. Oh and you could also use little pocket notebooks and do the same thing, they work just fine, but aren't as durable and may not have enough pages.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I realize that this might not mean too much to any of you but today is a very special day here at the Hermitage. I supposed one could say it doesn't take much to thrill Joe and I, but really, I ask you, is there anything better than simple pleasures?

Granted the grilling season has yet to begin in earnest, it's still March and this is Illinois but, it is also 60+ degrees!!!!! It will prob'ly snow tomorrow. :-/ We take what we can get around here so a quickie trip up to the locker about 16 miles up the road and ta da heaven in a plain white wrapper.

Behold, the first porterhouse of the 2008 season.

Sans butcher paper for those who like it raw.

And while I'm on the topic of simple pleasures, how about something that isn't so simple, but oh so fabulous? Last night we went to the symphony to hear Joshua Bell play. I am still in awe. He played the always pleasant Violin Concerto by Mendelssohn. And of course playing it on his 1713 Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius..................heaven singing I'm tellin' ya. WOW As an added bonus he also included his own originally composed cadenza. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was, seamless, flawless, fabulous. If you can't imagine what that might be like imagine if you will your most fav musician, playing a great piece, on the most exquisitely craft instrument ever made then imagine further he/she going off on a incredible riff. Thrilling no? Honestly, if you ever get a chance to to hear him play do it, even if you don't think you'd like classical music, you can't help but enjoy his playing it is that good.

After the performance last night we went out for dinner. Lo and behold if Joshua Bell, the Maestro David Commanday and their party didn't come in to the restaurant to also eat. I was able to keep hold of my senses and merely applaud, but it took a butt load of restrained not go and ogle his Stradivarius. Yes, he did have it with him in a very nondescript, but I imagine specifically crafted, duffel bag of sorts. I wouldn't have left it in a hotel room or the hotel safe either! A 100 points to anyone who can tell me how much that violin is worth. Every penny of it too IMHO.

Oh btw, don't hold you breath for Weaving Wednesday I might not get around to it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nat'l Sweater Day

Now that's a Holiday I can get into.

Happy Sweater Day!!!!

Yes, today March 20th, is National Sweater Day. A day set aside to pay homage to the simple garment known as a sweater, jumper, Strickjacke, suéter, chandail, maglione, πουλόβερ, and a свитер. Also a day where the length of day and night are equal, but that happens twice a year so today is all about the sweater. (Happy Equinox anyway)

Be honest, think about it, there is at least one warm and fuzzy memory in your brain that has something to do with a sweater.

Perhaps it's an image of your Grandfather in his sweater. Maybe something reminiscent of Uncle Joe?

Or maybe the Captain on one of his red sweater days.

But for sure there has to be a memory of this guy,

Fred Rogers. The iconic children's tv host and champion of childhood education and welfare. Today is National Sweater Day in honor of his birthday. He would have been 80 years old. He truly is one our American Heroes.

One of his red sweaters is now housed in the Smithsonian. His mother knitted it for him. It was one of 24 sweaters he wore throughout his career. And when you think of Mr. Rogers, can you do so with out remembering the shoe toss?!? :o)

Are you humming the song??? Funny all the memories that coming flooding back. Remember when Kermit was sporting a red sweater too?
And speaking of sweaters...hey guys, how about Annette's sweater???

Me though, I was partial to guys in black turtlenecks.

Although I gotta admit Race was pretty hunky in the military-esque double buttoned shirt, but I had a better shot at Johnny he was at least my age. Oh and just in case you didn't know this little tidbit about the ultra-cool Johnny Quest....Tim Matheson was the voice of Johnny Quest. How could you miss that voice though really? Listen again sometime, age has not made that much difference. Unfortunately I can't find a picture of him in a black turtleneck, but I'm certain it would look fabulous. He can rock a toga pretty well.

So on this 20th day of March, National Sweater Day, I wish all heathens, who scoff and snicker at the enlightened ones who know the mystical powers of fiber, sticks, and hooks, would stop for one second and take notice of the beauty of what is a sweater and enjoy the warm fuzzy memories it can conjure. Sending a little wool to your local stick or hook slinger would be nice too! Isn't that what Holidays are for? ;-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I remembered!

Tap, tap, tap. (my baton now poised as a conductor at the symphony)

All together now......


It is supposed to be this:

I guess it's not too far off but.......

Just another in my quest for a decent hat to wear this summer. Obviously aside from the brim that is waaaay out of proportion, it is ginormous, but the hat did in fact work up pretty close to the original. Notice I didn't bother with the button at the crown, making the brim double thick as called for (why bother) nor did I sewing in the elastic. Apparently the designer/tech editor knew it would be huge and rather than sizing it or shaping it they thought it would be just fine to insert 3/4 inch elastic within the doubled k1p1 ribbing! Does that sound as strange to any of you as it does me??? I mean really, this is a hat, not the waistband of a skirt!!

I'm never going to wear this even if it did fit and the brim wasn't so dorky. I'm not really drawn to this type of hat, but it was something different and it has some really interesting shaping. I have never seen this much shaping in a hat of this type in anything other than sewing patterns. It really is well designed (notwithstanding the size issue) but I think a different gauge would lends itself to a much better hand than this heavy thick cotton. Actually I think a very small tight gauge cotton would work beautifully, but I'm not loving this hat that much to do the work both in the knitting itself plus the reconfiguring of instruction to deal with the gauge difference! I'm talking 12 st/inch, at the very least, very tightly worked...a really finger fatigue thanx. I'd rather start from scratch and match a sewing pattern....or find another hat I like better. :o)

Oh btw, the pattern is from a Mon Tricot magazine from the 70's (?) 80's (?)

Oy this is all the weaving I've done and I didn't even do it today, but I did know today was Wednesday!! Dang, if this keeps up, pretty soon I'll be able to keep track of Holidays and maybe even the date. Egads.

Yep, you're seeing that correctly, it's still on the loom and I ran out of weft with only two passes to go. No big deal, I'll fill it in with something similar. No one will ever know given the hodge-podge of all the random squares anyway.

It might seem as though I haven't been too knitterly lately and if the truth be known I haven't. I am working on another swirl bag, but that's just been late night right before bed knitting everything else is on hold. It's not due to an errant mojo, I've just been focusing on other non-fiber things. Unless you want to consider paper fiber. I've returned to one of my very first loves. Drawing. I use to draw/sketch/illustrate like a madman. I bet I hadn't picked up a pencil other than to sketch a clothing design for 25 years. It took a couple of days to get back into the groove, but my skill level (if you could call it that) is begin to surface again and I'm enjoying myself and that's what counts.

Not all my paper pursuits have been enjoyable though. I was working on the taxes again this morning. I did the federal taxes oh about 2 months ago. I just couldn't bring myself to do them again. Does anyone else do that?? I do the taxes, let them sit for a week or two and then do them again, just to make sure I haven't missed anything or made a mistake. LOL that was prob'ly a stupid question, why would anyone in their right mind do their taxes twice, but then you all know I'm a tad bit touched anyway. ;-) They really are a PITA, what with both houses, the farm, etc. We had the taxes done a few years ago but a cost us over $700!!!! And he is a friend!!!!! I think I can stand the headache myself for $700+.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weaving Wednesdays (?)

What can I say, I'm not a slave to the clock. While it is now, technically Thursday, eh, I did do most of the actual weaving on Wednesday, and considering I'm posting pix within 6 hours of completion according to my internal clock, it's still Wednesday. (Of course I still think I'm 30-something too so my clock might be a bit whacked) To be perfectly frank, I'm breaking my arm patting myself on the back cuz I even knew it was Wednesday yesterday!!! :-P

Two more squares done.

Aside from the cones and skeins this is all I have left that is already made up of this "colorway". Best guess is that I will get 4 more full squares and a striped one.

The blue/green colorway will be next. Good thing too, I'm getting pretty sick of this yellow/gold stuff. I know, I'm not too sure they will go together either, but the main focus here is stash reduction, I can always make them into separate rugs. I have GOT to "get rid of" some of these boxes that are crowding me.

I'm glad I started this "little" project in earnest. It was nice to have something to do when brain function was at a low. The only knitting I have any interest in right now is a lace shawl, and a couple of cable-ly sweaters, not really mindless stuff huh, and aside from the two squares, the only other fiber that has passed through my fingers this week was a thrifted man's sweater from which I harvested the wool. It was a nice find, a soft spun two-ply, DK wt., handknitted in Ireland that was still rich in lanolin. Ahhhhh, such sheepy goodness wafting from a bath of warm water.

Think I'll go warp up another square, ya never know at what moment all cognitive skills will disappear. Case in point, did I mention that it took me 4 tries to warp the loom for the second square last night? sigh.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Weaving Wednesday!

Ha ha ha, bet you thought I'd forget. I know I would have placed that bet. :o)

All warped up:


The next pic shows today's square (bottom right of photo) and a square I did a few days ago. Below that are a couple other squares I've done. (ouch a sunlight photo, oh well)

For right now I'm working up all the yellows/golds/oranges/reds that were already plied when I purchased the fibers. I "stole" these plied yarns from the "project bundles" which were part of the motherload. I've got a total of 6 or 7 squares done, (only about 28 more to go!) all different but somewhat similar. There is prob'ly enough of these pre-plied fibers to make another 6 or 7, and I do have many cones of the individual yarns to ply more if I need to. I think I'll weave all the pre-plied yarns including the boxes of blue/green fibers, blue/purple/pink fibers, and the browns/rusts just to see what I've got and what I'll need. Perhaps they will all go into the same rug or maybe they won't. :o)

Each of these are 18 inches square, made on my homemade 18 inch weave-it loom. Eventually they will be a rug(s) for the patio. I'm thinking/hoping for an 8x10 and then of course there is the hemp rope rug that will be 5x7. Joe is questioning the sizes I'm planning saying the patio isn't that big. LOL it's 30 x 22 I think it's big enough for two rugs! :o) There are plenty of places I could use a throw rug in the house considering the house has hardwood flooring throughout and not a single carpet anywhere. Ooops that's a lie, there is a vintage handwoven rug in one of my workrooms up stairs. I think I've mentioned it before.....a $65-ish estate sale find. 12x14 handmade of cloth (wool) strips, and judging by the materials used, I'd guess it was made in the early 40's. I LOVE that rug.

I do have some knitting news, but I'll leave that for tomorrow cuz today is Weaving Wednesday!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Stick a lure in it

I know, take a deep a breath, I'm posting 2 days in a row. Shocks the heck out of me too.

I mentioned a hat yesterday. Here it is. It reminds me of those hats fisherman wear with lures stuck in it.

Stat stuff:
Pattern: Tweedy Topper Knitters fall 2006
Yarn: 2 skeins Classic Elite Imagine
DMC perle' cotton size 5 150 yds of both baby blue and steel blue
2 strands of cobweb carry along mohair blend lt. blue and baby blue
(yep that's 5 strands held together)
Needles: #8
Gauge: I don't remember whatever it was in the pattern.

I followed the pattern faithfully. Yeah, I know, another shocker. I did omit the contrasting hat band but that has nothing to do with the construction of the hat anyway. I like the hat. I don't love it, but I like it so it's worthy of another try but the next one will be done differently. Go figure.

The next hat will not employ the use of the fiddly 'knit the purl bump x number of rows below with the next stitch' kind of thing. That's what makes the nice crisp turns and edges, but it's too fiddly to do, and doing it with mostly cotton makes this pattern a real finger screamer. Nope, next time I will faithfully follow the pattern unto that point where I'll smugly disregard the purl bumps x number of rows down and just keep on knitting. When I done I'll go back and either sew them or slip stitch (crochet) them to where they are suppose to be. Saves finger fatigue and time, boy, that fiddly stuff takes time! On the next go around I'll prob'ly work ssk's instead of k2tog. I think ssk's are easier than k2tog's when using an unyielding fiber like cotton, and who cares if they all lean left or right, there are very few of them that are paired. One other change will be the brim. It needs to be about .5 inch deeper and it doesn't need to doubled and it is in here. There is plenty of bulk and tightness in the gauge to keep it from being too floppy.

As a side note, if having something heavy on your head bothers you, do not work this pattern in cotton. It's really heavy, but to me that is part of its charm, to others it might be a PITA. Also note that I did not block the hat. I'm on the look out for a summer hat, I'm kinda over the whole baseball hat thing and I figured if it was going to be scrunched up in my bag all summer anyway why bother.