Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's *not* wee yarn goblins!

It's the Fool.
There's been some discussion in comments of late about whether, in fact, knitters' houses are populated with small, mischevious goblins who flip balls of partly wound yarn off the ballwinder and tangle skeins.
That may be true. I'm not doubting that.
I'd also thought maybe they were responsible for some of the petty kleptomania that goes on, stashes of stitch markers that dwindle, a 20-inch #6 circ that was sitting there just a minute ago, where did that go, is it in the couch ... cat! Cat?! Bring it back.
Not so. Tonight, the Fool decided to clean out his backpack and it was all in there. Stitch markers, four (Four!) Addis of various sizes, a bamboo dpn and (mysteriously) a pair of toenail clippers.
So many questions answered....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

This time, a photo

Disheartened by the list of knitting I hope to accomplish by Christmas, I weeded out the recreational sweaters and took a photo.

Clockwise, from top:
Mystery Thing 2&3: Note there is only one thing, and it's still very mysterious.
Sea Silk scarf.
Sari silk scarf.
The Fool's scarf: Note that it is actually still a skein of yarn. Not good.
Sorta surprise socks: Note that I still haven't found the one I started.
Hedgehog: With newly bought skein of eyelash yarn to finish the little guy.
Eggplant hat in the middle, finished.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

Like many couples, we're dividing our day between two families. First, we get to meet some distant relatives of the Fool's, and then we're having dinner with my father, who has declared he is cooking the turkey this year. I suspect it's mostly to win the celery / no celery debate regarding the stuffing. I have been asked to bring a pie, a "real pumpkin pie."
I puzzled over that for a while, but decided he meant, no trying to pass off a sweet potato pie or a butternut squash pie on the pater familias.
The Fool and I took the three wee pie pumpkins on our porch from Halloween, butchered and roasted them, and are draining the puree as we speak. I hope Dad gets that for anyone else? I'd have opened a can of Libby's.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Not just a river in Egypt

It's been a rotten couple weeks at work, the kind of weeks that feel like there are six days worth of existence crammed into five, the kind of weeks that, honestly, make me want to bite people. I actually caught myself figuring out how I could drive around with a carton of eggs in my car to throw at people who don't use their turn signals properly while driving.
"The problem is," I thought, "I'm right-handed, and my left hand would have to be my throwing hand while I drive."

The point is, I have been turning in the evening to light reading, the kind of stuff that doesn't tax the mind much. The other night, I was reading essays from "The Secret Life of a Knitter," the one about Christmas knitting.

And I was feeling smug, because while I have a bit of holiday knitting afoot, I feel like I'm well ahead of the game. It's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Then, the next day, Thorny e-mailed me, and as we often do on e-mail, we talked about knitting. She sent me a list of what she was working on, a little update on each project, and I sent her one back. It's my Christmas knitting.

Here is the excerpt:
Secret Thing 1: I'm knitting this out of the Fool's sight. It's a little harder than I thought, but I had two good shows at Old Town to work on them, so that was a Good Thing.
Eggplant hat:
Ready for the green; will polish this puppy off this week.
Semi-secret blue socks: Lost the second one! Aargh!
Sari silk scarf for Carrie: Have a smallish ball of the first skein left; it's slow going, but it's going. I try to knit a couple inches on it every night.
Sea Silk scarf for Cass: Why am I knitting so many damn scarves this year? Hateses the scarfs, hateses them. Anyway. Is faggot lace pattern on 2s, and it's freakin' beautiful. I'm obsessed with knitting this scarf. It'll be a narrow little thing, suitable for several wraps around the neck, and despite the unkind things I said about this yarn earlier*, I am So. In. Love. with this yarn.
Hedgehog: (Or wedgehog, as I inadvertently called it last night.) Stalled for want of - quit laughing - a ball of brown eyelash yarn. Yep. Novelty yarn roadblock.
Plan to knit another rat for Carrie's squids, probably a white rat with blue eyes and a pink tail.
Secret Projects 2&3 :
Cast on for one. Is v. interesting knit. Love my lovely pointy 4s.
Fool's gansey:
Am working my way up the front, slowly but surely. More slowly than not.
My Blackwater Abbey sweater:
Drooling with lust over the pattern. But as you can see from the list above, I do not need to cast anything else on. CiT: Stalled until I have the time to figure out how to knit the damned twisty stitches right.
An Kamin: Stalled until I have the time to figure out how to knit the damned twisty stitches right.
Fool's scarf from that stuff I bought at Rhinebeck:Oooh, how I want to make this scarf, too. Am going to do it in plushy brioche stitch. But see above re: damn scarves. Not even cast on. Not even in a ball. Every couple days, I pick it up and pet it."

Hmm. So maybe I'm not as set with this Christmas knitting as I thought.

*It took me three days to wind this from a skein into a ball because I was being my own swift and it got all knotted up and it took me two days to untangle the knot. Then I was winding it into a center pull ball on the ballwinder and - I kid you not - it leapt from the ballwinder and made itself into another %$@! snarly mess, which took me another %$^# day to $$#%@ untangle.
But the colors are gorgeous!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Inflicting" is Such a Harsh Word

In fact, the lads of Stitches and Britches seemed overjoyed to learn a new techniques. Having had two requests for demonstrations, I decided to prioritize.

First was the Twisted German cast-on, where we played "telephone" with each other, passing it around the table, each teaching the next person until it came back to me. Seeing that there were seven of us, it's amazing that the technique stayed intact, although the method by which it was taught was somewhat altered.

The second technique I taught was the Magic Loop. This wasn't quite as generally interesting to folks, but Franklin (who requested the technique) was appreciative and a bit befuddled that it actually works. It is one of those techniques that you have a hard time believing in until you see it, so I don't blame him in the least.

I have started the Christmas knitting. Okay, so it's only one object, and it's at the request of Meg. She's pretending that she doesn't know what it is, and the rule is that I'm not supposed to work on it when she's around. Of course, this idea went straight to hell this afternoon when I made her try it on to see if it would be too small. I told her to close her eyes, but she didn't bother. At least I'm not at the interesting part yet.

I have to finish the secret knitted object (with rodent on the front) by Friday because the mother of the intended recipient will be in town. I get to meet him for the first time (the intended recipient), which involves a drive out to northwest Indiana. Then I have two gigs back-to-back in Arlington Heights with Donnybrook, immediately followed by Breaking Up Thanksgiving for the weekend in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Breaking Up is always a fun weekend for us, because we get to hang out with friends and play for the challenging contras workshop as the Cosmic Otters. I am also teaching a workshop on Celtic fiddling styles, and I'm not exactly sure what I am going to cover.

Speaking of Celtic fiddling styles, Meg and I have decided that it would be in my best interest to attend the Ceilidh Trail School of Celtic Music this upcoming summer. It sounds absolutely awesome, and I'm not sure I can wait that long! I wish there were more Cape Breton fiddlers or piano players in the area. You readers in the Boston area don't realize how lucky you are. I feel like I'm finally starting to get the style somewhat close to right, though it takes me awhile to warm up into the sound. It's not an easy style to learn, as it has taken me the better part of four years to get somewhat more comfortable with the tunesets. I owe much to Cape Breton Live for their nearly constant broadcast of live house parties and dances. Anyways, a week at the school could only help me get further down the road, and I am greatly looking forward to it.

We have a few hours to kill before we have to go D.J. our Celtic radio show at WHPK. Perhaps I will knit and make dinner between now and then.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Fool is off inflicting the Twisted German Cast-on....

.. on the lads of Stitches in Britches tonight.
I've been doing some thinking about my knitting in the meantime.
I realized that this Blackwater Abbey yarn, pictured above, doesn't really want to be this sweater.
I tried, I really did, but it's just not doing what I want it to do. The little twisty stitches are not very crisp and I'm not getting a lot of definition, probably because the Blackwater Abbey is a two-ply, not a three ply.

So this leaves me impaled on the horns of a two-pronged dilemma.
1. What do I do with all this yarn?

One good way to solve a knitting problem is to throw money at it, so I bought a pattern from the Blackwater Abbey folks. It's a cabled cardigan, and I'm making it out of that rust-colored yarn. Astute observers of my wardrobe (OK, the Fool) will notice that I actually already own this sweater. It's dark green, and I'd put it on in November and not take it off until March if I thought nobody would notice. I bought it in Galway the year before I started knitting. That proved to be a problem, because when I wore it to places where I was likely to meet knitters, I'd have this conversation.

THEM: Oh, that's a beautiful sweater!
ME: Thank you.
THEM: Did you knit that?
ME: Um, no. I bought it. In Ireland.
ME: I bought it before I learned to knit.
THEM: Hmmf.

So this way, when I knit my own sweater, it will be exactly the same as my favorite cardigan in the world, except I'll be able to wear it around knitters without feeling a little embarassed, much like I would if I had to eat a hamburger in front of a cow.
What clinched it was a conversation I had with a friend about this problem, who reassured me that all the fashion magazines say when you find a shirt or a pair of pants you like, you should get two in different colors, and as long as I didn't wear both sweaters at the same time, nobody would notice.

2. What do I knit that sweater out of, if not Blackwater Abbey?

Why, Cascade 220, of course. What can you knit everything out of? Sigh. I swatched in Cascade (which, I know, I should have done before buying all this Blackwater Abbey and setting myself up for a whole new sweater project) and it looks pretty good.
The only problem is that I don't understand Bavarian twisted stitch knitting as well as I need to in order to make this sweater work. I took a picture of the swatch, but it didn't come out, so take my word when I tell you that at first, the stitches travel along the way they ought to, and all is orderly and tidy ... and then, it looks like I started knitting with an eggbeater.
So perhaps I need to spend a little more time figuring out how to manipulate these stitches without having to use a cable needle or slide two off and swap them before continuing on.
One step forward, two steps back.

3. What do mittens knit out of the Gollum-colored part of a skein of Noro look like?
This. And also? The Fool's handspun (bottom) knits up at a different gauge than KnitPicks Merino Style (top). But they go on two different hands, and they're monstermittens anyway, so I'm not losing sleep over this one.
They're warm, and that's what I was looking for in a mitten, so I'm pleased. Also, I didn't knit webbed thumbs, which I did last time I knit mittens.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Twisted German Victory!

So the other day, I was putting dishes in the kitchen when I overheard several expletives coming from my wife:

Meg: "Damnit! Son-of-a-*$^@$! Mother%^$@er."

Fool (rather puzzled): "Honey, is everything okay?"

Meg: "Now that I've mastered the Twisted German Cast On, I can't remember how to do the regular long-tail cast on. Oh, hell!"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Figured something out

I realized last week that it was getting cold and I had no mittens, somehow. So I decided to knit a pair with two balls of leftover Noro (the Gollum-colored part), some of the Fool's first handspun and some KnitPicks Merino in olive green.
I swore off mittens last year, so this was a pretty major decision for me. Plus, it's getting cold again this weekend and I have to cover an outdoor event on Saturday.
Anyway, what I discovered, after knitting a pair of mittens in three days, is that I don't mind mittens at all.
What I hate are dpns.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dulaan Projects

I'm a man of few words this evening.

Presenting our household Dulaan projects:

The hat I made...

The hat Meg made...

Another, erm, hat Meg made.

Rhinebeck Plunder

Okay, so Rhinebeck was, in fact, two weeks ago. But that doesn't mean that I can't still post about it, especially considering my posts have been few and far between recently. Part of me doesn't really know how to put Rhinebeck into words, we had such a good time, so here is Rhinebeck in pictures:


...and wools!

Right, don't forget the llamas!

...and a Bosworth spindle.

And, perhaps most unexpectedly of all, trebucheted pumpkins!

Oh, right... don't forget about all the plunder that managed to sneak onto the plane with us.

Psst! Norbert!

This one's for you. It's really easy. I don't even get out the power tools when I make the cake, although I use the mixer for the frosting.

Pumpkin cake

2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. powdered ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
4 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
1, 15-ounce can of pumpkin

4 oz. softened cream cheese, or you can use neufchatel if you like it tangy
1/4 c. softened butter
1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. milk
2 c. sifted powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 350.
For cake: Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, sugar and can of pumpkin until well blended. Mix in dry ingredients. Pour in a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake is not jiggly and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.


Let cool completely before frosting. Or else the frosting melts and gets all gloppy and ... not so pretty.

Frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla. Add in sifted powdered sugar and continue beating. If it looks a little thick, add a tiny bit more milk until it's the consistency you like.

For extra-festive occasions, I like to put some fall-colored sprinkles on the top.

Bon appetit!