Saturday, May 31, 2008

Own a piece of 1980s knitting history...

... one of Bill Cosby's sweaters that he wore on "The Cosby Show."
That show is why I always twitch a little bit when people start talking about color knitting and intarsia.
Happy Saturday, everyone.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


... for no reason other than being interested in how it turned out. It's a stitch pattern from the book of Japanese knitting stitches and it reminded me a little of Art Deco botanicals. Or am I thinking William Morris? One of those two. (I'm sure they're miles apart, artistically speaking, but it's 11:30 p.m. and I can't be bothered to go research this right now.)
It reminded me of some of the decor I've seen in "American Bungalow" magazine and the like.
It was also one of the simpler charts to read, with none of these little fish leaning to the left or right that indicate some kind of twisted stitch.
Here it is. Bamboo blend sock yarn. If it weren't getting late, I'd pick out another pattern to play with.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A brief update

While I was out, Angus decided he did not want to wear his collar and bell anymore. I was greeted by a silent cat, rolling happily on his back in the sun.


It's a sunny day here, and I've got afternoon plans that include going to the post office to buy a bunch of stinking 1-cent stamps (yay! rate hike!) and to the library. But first, a little bit about what we've been up to for the last week or so.
Just the fibery parts today. I'll see if the Fool will step up and share what he's been working on. We spent a week in Seattle between a contra dance gig in Colorado and the Northwest Folklife Festival, both of which were more fun than I can imagine having at one time.
At first, I thought the Fool was conspiring to keep us away from the Seattle area yarn stores, but no. On our way to the Olympic Peninsula, we took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, and visited Churchmouse Yarns and Tea. While browsing, we heard a woman say, "Hey, I know you! I met you in New York!"
It was Jayme, who we met at Rhinebeck in, uh, 2006. She had her adorable new kid in tow and was visiting family and friends in Washington.
"So wait," said a woman who works at the shop. "You're from the East Coast and you two are from Chicago and you met in New York and you're all standing here on Bainbridge Island?"
Well, yeah. Such is the power of fiber.
We stayed with some friends of ours, a former coworker of the Fool and his wife. When we met up with Matt downtown after we arrived, we went for a restorative afternoon beverage (coffee. Decaf for me. So maybe just a beverage. No restorative powers in decaf coffee.) The two of them, as they both work in computers, started speaking the speak of the geeks and I opted to nip across the street to Uwajimaya, a huge Asian market that I felt sure had a branch of Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore, in which Japanese knitting books can be found.
Sure enough, I found a couple.
The Fool said, "Hey, more books of stuff you can't knit!"
Heh. Very funny. I figure, I can order sushi, I can knit in Japanese. How hard can it be? It's mostly charts anyway. OK. The explanations to the charts are in Japanese, but again, there's a Ravelry group for this kind of thing. Entirely feasible. Watch this space for future developments.

We also made a trip to Weaving Works Inc. and So Much Yarn.
The Fool fell down hard in the face of a Dale of Norway kid's pattern. He's such a sucker.

We didn't buy much yarn. We were limited in packing space. Here's how it all got home. There was room in the fiddle case, too. We could have gotten a couple more skeins in.

I knit some socks. These went to Edward. We had the following conversation by text message this morning:
ED: Today, as I walk by, everyone admires my socks.
ME: Heehee. Who knew that was what it took to be a man of style in the math dept?
ED: Actually, all that takes is an occasional shower and clothes that fit. But the socks help.
(Socks: Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch, colorway 721, cuff in 2x2 ribbing with baby cables, instep in plain ribbing. OK yarn. It's a little fuzzy and tends to split. I like smoother yarns.)

I prevented myself from casting on for a sweater by knitting these socks from A Fine Fleece on the trip. They're out of some Dream in Color seconds.

The cats are pleased we are home where we belong. If I'm sleeping, Angus is curled up next to me, and this morning, he decided to sit on my lap while I checked e-mail and to play Pirate Cat, his favorite new game, where he sits on my shoulder as if he were a parrot.
Jen and Matt keep their five cats in line by putting bells on the feistier ones in order to give the meeker cats an edge in not getting pounced on and wrestled to the ground. We thought maybe that might give Spoot an advantage, so now Angus is sporting a nice blue collar (matches his eyes) and a bell. I'm not sure whether this is helping Spoot or not, but it's much easier to keep track of Angus in the house. I may have just spent $9 to make that cat even more obnoxious. We'll see.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Gray day, a little cold. The pregnancy hormones are making me insane today, as evidenced by a call to the Fool around 2 p.m. that sent him running to a coworker with small kids for advice on how to deal with the crazy pregnant lady at home.
I found a whole patch of morels sprouting in a completely different place in my yard this morning. Enough that the Fool is going to grill four steaks so a couple friends can come over for dinner.
We're heading out on another adventure this weekend. Moon Fest in Gold Hill, Colo. Contra dancing, old time music and who knows what else? We're bringing Edward with us. He's going to be a responsible graduate student and return on Sunday to teach his Monday morning calculus class. We are going on for further escapades in the Pacific Northwest.
I'm going to knit socks on vacation.
But first, a short parade of FOs and a quick update on activities chez Socknitters.

Three pairs of mittens for the Dulaan Project. I was reading an article about the miserable cold winter in China, and the Associated Press had taken a picture of an old Chinese woman in the country, hauling something heavy to market, wearing no mittens at all. I know how unhappy I am in the winter, and I suspect she was too, so I decided to knit stashbusting mittens for Mongolia. At least someone is going to have warm hands. I used an assortment of worsted weight wools from the stash basket, coupled with the basic mitten pattern from Ann Budd's handy uber-pattern book that I'm too lazy to go get the exact title for.
Tried something new to cope with thumbs, the bane of my existence. I bought a set of 4-inch DPNs at the urging of Crazy Lanea, who said she's not a fan, but I might be, and heck, for $5, I should find out.
I'm a fan.

These are a pair of gansey inspired socks off Knitty. They're for the Fool. He loves them. He said they are one of the few things he's seen lately that's gotten him excited about knitting socks again, something about the large-scale pattern. Not sure. But I'm making them out of Lorna's Laces, and they're a delightful knit. I'm on the second sock and expect to have them finished by the end of the vacation. Heck, maybe by the end of the flight.

Duck footed booties from Zoe Mellor's baby bootie book. I sent them to Boston, just in time for a nice warm summer ... sigh. My timing, she is not so good sometimes. Hopefully the kid will still fit into them by fall. I need to learn a stretchier bindoff. They were fun to knit, though, which is good, because I might make another pair for someone one of these days.

Socks for my friend Miriam, she of the amazing inherited stash. They're in Wildfoote (colorway: Rhapsody), which is a great sock yarn. I keep forgetting how much I like knitting with Wildfoote (which I always trip up and call Woollyfoot.) The pattern is a lace thing out of the Vogue socks book.

Not a knitting project. The Fool, Edward and I went to Milwaukee a few weeks back to play for an Irish set dance. The Cosmic Otters are diversifying. It was huge fun, but I couldn't take any pictures because unlike contra dancing, there isn't a break for the band. You just keep hurling Irish tunes out, one after the other, fast and loud, until the evening's over and everyone is sweaty and happy. We did good, though. The organizer said we can come back any time.
To kill a little time before the gig, we went to a museum on the lakefront with exhibits about the Great Lakes ecosystem and various other features of life on the lakes. Here the Fool and Edward are studying pulleys.
Off to get the rest of the evening going.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Look what's growing in my yard!

In Hawaii, where my mom was from, there's this idea of having a calabash aunt. These are adults you're very close to as a child, but who aren't blood relatives. Despite growing up in the Midwest, I happened to have a calabash aunt, who, as far as I knew, never set foot on the islands.
Aunt Mag lived about 10 minutes away from us and shared a house with her brother, neither of whom ever married. He was a soybean farmer, and she did everything else. My parents met them when my father, a plant scientist, needed a soybean farmer to help him with some experiment of his.
Aunt Mag took me off my parents' hands when I was undoubtedly driving them crazy. We went to garage sales in the summer, I helped her wrap Christmas presents and make sugar cookies in the winter, and every spring, we would go for walks in a forest preserve near her house looking for morel mushrooms.
I think in decades of looking, she found one.
The other day, I was walking down the sidewalk, and I noticed something growing under my dogwood.

I know a little something about morels, having been on a hunt with a mycologist, where we found some.

Because I'm a cautious person, I'm consulting with a mushroom expert ... but I'm nearly positive I have morels! Aunt Mag would fall over if she could see these little guys growing in our front yard.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I've tried not to be the kind of person....

... who leaves a trail of unfinished projects in her wake, knitting or otherwise.
But I had to go to the bookstore this morning to get a wedding present for someone and I decided to check out the knitting books because you never know, and I found "A Fine Fleece," and before I knew it, there I was at the checkout counter with two books and now?
Now I want to stuff all my projects in a box, cram it in a dark closet and cast something or everything on from this book. I might try to take the edge off with a pair of socks, see if that prevents me from buying Blackwater Abbey in quantity.
Off to putter in the garden for a bit before the Fool comes home.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rainy day today

Here's what I worked on yesterday to celebrate May 1 and the coming of spring.

I finished the flying geese quilt with the help of several episodes of "Frasier" on the DVR, and had it on the bed by the time the Fool came home. Here, Spoot and Angus give it their furry little stamps of approval.

This is what it looked like mid-quilting, on my friend Jo's long-arm machine. It's hard to tell what the quilting looks like in these pictures, but it reminds us both of ripples on water - long flat swoops back and forth.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Gelato and the Yarn Harlot

I interviewed this guy once who had just opened a gelato shop in town. He told me that he was one of those people who came up with good ideas for businesses, but never moved fast enough, and so would see his ideas put into practice by someone else, months later.
He told me about how, when he was living in Italy, he would walk past little restaurants on the street and smell the most delicious food, and even if he had just eaten, he would get hungry again smelling the food. It occurred to him that a great business idea would be to open quick-service Italian restaurants serving pasta with red sauce, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagne, pizzas -- that kind of thing -- in shopping malls. The smell of the cooking food would draw in people walking by and he'd have a successful business.
When he returned to the U.S. about a year later, he excitedly told his dad about his idea, and his dad had to tell him that unfortunately, someone else had already beat him.
This is sort of how Thorny and I felt Monday night. I drove to Madison to hear the Yarn Harlot speak, and we spent a nice afternoon hanging around Lakeside Fibers before heading off to Borders.

We got tickets for the signing, went out for cheap sushi and then returned in time to get a primo seat on the floor in the crossword puzzle section.

(She spoke! I swear, we saw her! See? She's the tiny little figure in the gray sweater right above the blonde woman's head.)

Now, Thorny (pictured above knitting a sock) and I have a longstanding joke about the Yarn Harlot stemming from the time we went to Rhinebeck two years ago. Thorny saw the Harlot at the bloggers' meetup, and joked that she had nothing on which to get the Harlot's autograph. I remarked that she could do "the rock star thing," and get the Harlot to autograph her left breast and then she could go get a tattoo of the signature. This, naturally, did not happen.
As we were standing in line to get our books signed after a really interesting talk (her theme this tour seemed to be about the effect knitting and other meditative activities have on brain structure and function), a bookstore employee came by with a pad of Post-It notes and handed us each one, suggesting we use it to write what we wanted the Harlot to inscribe in our books.
We stared at her, a little confused.
I thought, "Well, maybe she's tired of thinking up things to write, having just finished an entire book." I know how that feels, so we set out to do our best to think something up.
Well, we thought and thought, and threatened to write the other's Post-It note and forever give the other person a book in which we had prompted the Harlot to write something bizarre. Finally, Thorny said, "Hey, how about 'Thorny: Thanks for not asking me to sign your boob!'"
We laughed.
We got up to the table and as we were waiting for the group of women in front of us to finish chatting, we saw one of them grab a Sharpie and disappear, giggling, with the Harlot behind a bookshelf and sure enough, just like the gelato guy who had his chance to become the king of shopping mall meatball sandwiches snatched away by Sbarro ... our joke's finished. Over. It's become someone else's punchline.

So the lesson to take away from this is that being the first to have an idea just isn't enough sometimes.
(Oh, and knitting is not only fun, it's good for your brain.)