Sunday, November 14, 2010


I'm officially a prince and a knight, as the above envelope clearly indicates. It's good to be me...

It's a beautiful Sunday morning and, although I secretly resent Sundays simply because they're the end of the weekend, I find them to be wonderfully suited for certain things like napping, knitting and enjoying an entire pot of coffee. Yes, milk and sugar, please. Thanks!

I'm about a week overdue in properly expressing my thanks and gratitude to one of my favorite intrawebs knit buds, Peter, who sent me a fantastic care package! As a dude on a yarn diet for the past ten months, I was understandably twice as excited when I opened it up and found all the goodies inside!

The main reason for the package was to return to me the grey Icelandic top there in the back. For those not in the know, it's essentially a bag of unspun wool, acquired a couple years ago when I thought I would spin myself oodles of gorgeous yarns using only my trusty drop spindle. In fact, it was Peter himself who inspired me to give it a go. I discovered soon enough, though, that spinning just isn't my bag, I send the grey fluff to him, hoping he might get more spinning use out of it than I did. Peter, however, has been crazy busy, moving cross-country for school and even taking a jaunt to Bali to study their traditional music. Yeah, he pretty much rocks!

So, though the fluff remained unspun (and probably will into the near future), he did include a collection of seriously yummy treats, including those of the edible variety:

It's a thing with knitters...chocolate. Oh, and cupcakes, too, which seem to have been adopted as the official treat of the knitter world. Personally, I like normal cupcakes with a little frosting on top. Recently, though, cupcakeries have sprouted up all over this fine nation, serving what can only be referred to as mutant bastard cupcakes, sometimes the size of a small child's head, filled with oozing, delicious cremes and fillings, topped with metric ton of icing and sometimes with edible sculptures of chocolate, spun sugar and other craziness.

But, I digress. Though the chocolate will be thoroughly and sensually enjoyed, I assure you, the real excitement comes from the other stuff, mainly new yarn! Starting off, we have a beautiful, shadowy hank of the oft-coveted Malabrigo worsted, containing deep hues of blue, green and a bit of brown. It's a popular yarn, a little on the pricey side, but knits up like spun butter, so very smooth. Yum...but what I'm most excited about is this one:

It's a hank of hand-spun done by Peter himself. Seriously, I love this...from the colors to the plying of the various strands. Peter, seriously, you know how to spin some serious fiber, my friend. This makes the third hank I've been fortunate to receive and really, in my opinion, from one knitter to another, a hank of expertly rendered hand-spun is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts. I know how much time is involved in its creation...thank you, Peter, so very much. In other news, 'Ber's Baby Blanket is officially on the needles and speeding ahead! I'm almost ready to add in the first garter ridge of accent...which I'm dying to do if only for the little variety it will give me.

On the upside of repetition: this blanket is great movie/tv knitting! Yes, copious amount of the same, smallish repeat but I've made it through a third of the second season of "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer." No, I'm not's like seeing an old friend all over again. Plus, being able to stream it through Netflix and my PS3...nothing short of the single most revolutionary development for homebodies and nesters everywhere.'s the solution to over-priced cable and satelite services.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I have a pot of coffee, a bag of chocolates and a baby blanket to work on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's Up, Baby Blanket?

I. am. bloody. brilliant!

How's that for a Saturday morning affirmation, huh? Now, to put this all into context, I can also be completely clueless on some counts, especially where math is concerned, which is what makes this story such a sweet little victory.

Since my last post, the elusive chevron pattern needed for 'Ber's Baby Blanket has, well...eluded me. I knew what I was looking for...see? I even sketched it out:

...but I had been unable to find just the right pattern. Some of my online knit buds even tried helping out with suggestions, but they weren't quite right. In order to achieve the V-shape characteristic of the chevron, you need a combination of increases and corresponding decreases, so that when you increase your stitches, you form the top of the mountain and when you decrease, you get the valley. You always decrease by the same number you increased, thus always ending the with the same number of stitches you started with. The problem is that most of the patterns I had so far found involved the use of yarn-overs as the increase method, forming lacy eyelets which could cause a tangle hazard to little people under the age of one.

I wanted a more solid fabric, one without gaps for little hands and feet. I found one that was close:

...and so I sat down and started knitting up a swatch, partially to determine gauge, partially to experience how the pattern was constructed. Knitting and grammar are similar in my mind in the sense that they're only made up of components, replaceable, changeable components. A noun is a noun and you can always substitute one for another. Likewise, a double increase is a double increase...and if you don't like the way it looks, substitute one for another. Once you realize this, whether about grammar or knitting, that one component can always be substituted for another, similar component, creativity begins to really flow freely.

In the lower half of this swatch, you can see the original pattern, which due to the use of a k2tog-ssk combo as the double decrease, creates a vertical gap. For the double decrease: a pair of k1fb. Not bad, not bad...but not what I wanted, not quite. So...switch it up.

Instead of k1fb twice, I opt for k1m1 twice, picking up and twisting from in between stitches to make a new stitch. And, instead of the k2tog-ssk combo? Sl2 as if to k2tog, k1, p2sso. This put the middle stitch squarely on top, giving a nice defined ridge.

Eureka...almost. As I started knitting with this modified pattern, I realized my stitch count was off. Apparently, my improvised pattern didn't need as many stitches as the pattern I was bastardizing. So...this required some figuring, as you can see:

...but I finally got it. I finally fuckin' got it! A solid chevron fabric with no lacy eyelets and a single garter stitch ridge for accent.

...and this is why I. am. bloody. brilliant!

So, going back to the sketch. Remember the sketch? Yup..., the idea is a white chevron field and every 5 or 10 rows, a garter stitch ridge of accent color, cycling between crimson, dusty rose and pink, according to the color scheme 'Ber had indicated. Badda-bing, badda-boom...ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we are ready for take off.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It Starts With A Tweet...

"If I can't find a simple chevron pattern in any of my stitch dictionaries, clearly I need to expand my library. #HowKnittersRationalize"

On a recent trip back to my home state of Michigan, I was spending the afternoon with my 'Ber and her 4 kids at a local craft store, picking out fabrics for the new nursery. Yessir...she's expecting her fifth. Give it up, yo! Anyway...fabrics, yes. Color palette, chosen. She's come to me to request one of the most crucial elements of any nursery: a baby blanket.

I love doing baby blankets, I really do. Don't get me wrong, it's not as if I'm a serial blanket knitter. I mean, what kind of knitter do you take me for? Seriously, though...I love making them, thinking that my blanket might become their "blankie." I don't know if that's ever happened yet...there are only 3 or 4 in the world thus far. It's about to become 5.

So...a blanket. Okay...I'm in. We talk size (about 5' x 5'), density (not too thick, not too thin), materials (acrylic, no question), colors (white, with accents of crimson, dusty rose and pink) and patterns (nothing with too much open work). We decide on a simple chevron pattern, probably about 5 rows high, with garter ridges in the accent colors. Not a problem, I say, I can find that in my stitch dictionaries at home. With the vaguest notion of a new baby blanket in my head, I headed south, back to St. Louis.

For those who aren't familiar with them, stitch dictionaries are to knitters what a thesaurus is to an English major: a nary used but indispensable reference. They are vast collections of stitch patterns that, like Lego bricks or Lincoln Logs, inspire creativity and often end up a component of something we're working on. Knitting, like grammar, is fond of substitution and stitch dictionaries, like the thesaurus, provide the bits that serve as substitutes. Replace that rib with another variation. Get rid of the rib in exchange for a more feminine picot. Insert an off-center cable running down the side of a cardigan where there was only stockinette before. We look through them like coffee table books, languidly looking for a spark, a curve, a line to catch our eye and spur the imagination.

I just scanned the bookshelf. With the stitch dictionaries alone, I have over 750 different stitch patterns. You might think that would, indeed should, suffice to find what I need. But my search for a simple chevron pattern, I came across many new patterns I had never seen, several patterns I had seen, many that I already knew (but that were named in the book differently) ...even a chevron stripe and a divided chevron pattern. None were right, not even close and thus was born the simple tweet:

"If I can't find a simple chevron pattern in any of my stitch dictionaries, clearly I need to expand my library. #HowKnittersRationalize"

Don't worry, though...I'm a resourceful guy. The chevron is not the boss of me!

Friday, September 3, 2010



I have a problem with knitting scarves. It's not that I knit them too often, nor that I knit them not enough. No, I have a real problem with scarves because they are Long (notice the capital L) and take a long time to finish right.


They're tricky, though, those scarves are...don't doubt it for a second. If you do, you're dead! No, not really, but it's true that scarves has a certain seductive power over we knitters. We see them, the classic, quintessential beginner knit project, in books and magazines, on Ravelry, and they look so chic and stylish or snuggly and warm. We see them, with their cable patterns and intricate motifs or maybe it's just the standard 2x2 ribbed scarf, simple, effective for both men and women. We see them...oh, yes...and we get it in our minds, "Wouldn't that be just a great project?"

Wicked Wine-02

So we stash dive, looking through our vast library of fibers and colors, determining what we have 2 or 3 skeins of ('cuz that's how much it'll take). Maybe a trip to the LYS is in order, you know, to find something special for this one. (We knitters need very little excuse to go to our LYS but "I need something special for this one project" is a classic.) Once we have it, we cast on and marvel, once again, at how quickly it goes. How can it not, right? The damned thing only has 30 - 40 stitches in a row. We're scratching out row after row...and we scoff, pshaw! I'll have this done in no time flat!


That was a week ago. Now, it's slowly developed into a labor of love, for yourself or whoever the lucky recipient will be of this long strip of knitted cloth. If you have a pattern motif, you've probably memorized it. If it's ribbed, you probably made a slip-up about 7 rows ago, exchanging a knit for a purl, due to the mind-numbing agony of repetition...but there's no way in holy hell you're going to rip out all the mindless toil you just put in. Oh no, I can't be bothered with that. This project has already lasted too long!

Toddler Scarf

Another week passes and you knit and you knit and you knit...and you see the scarf is too short. So, you knit and you knit...let's see what's on Netflix...and you knit and you realize the scarf is too short to wrap around your next. Onwards you knit and you knit and...zZzZ...what? oh! the scarf!...and you knit and it's finally long enough to toss jauntily over your shoulder...but not long enough to really wrap around your neck. Knit and knit and knit and you wonder why knitting machines didn't form a labor union and strike a long time ago. This is crazy! Will it ever be...

Three Sisters Scarf #2

...done! Finally, you stop a moment and take stock of your situation. After a seeming infinity during which you were clearly knitting but the overall length of the scarf never seemed to increase, not even a centimeter, you've suddenly entered the very delicate area near completion. This is a delicate and critical time in the creation of a scarf. This is the moment where you must decide how long is long enough...and how long is slightly too long. It's a finer line than you might think. Stop paying attention for even a few rows and you may find that an otherwise perfect, gorgeous scarf has suddenly become half-an-inch too long. Stop prematurely and your recipient will find it to be wonderful, albeit slightly irritating in that it's a mere inch too short to stay wrapped. (Luckily, knit wear stretches, so this is much less of a problem than the former.)

Hornburg-Politte Baby Blanket

The only things that might rival the scarf are blankets, which are not only as long as scarves, if not more so in some cases, but are wide as well. A blanket row is usually well over a hundred stitches, many time much, much higher than that. If you're knitting a blanket, may whatever gods there may be have mercy on your soul. It could take an hour to make it through one stinkin' row, many times longer than that if you're knitting a complex pattern.


Boneyard Shawl

The other rival to the scarf is the shawl, those tricky wickets that start out all cute and coy with their beginning 7 stitches (or 3 or 5 or some other small, odd number). They seem to bat their eyelashes at you like a ridiculous doe-eyes anime character, tricking you into their literal web with the beauty and intricacy of their lace patterns. But don't be fooled...the shawl is the mud-boggin' tractor pull of the kntiting world. Sure, you start with 5 stitches...but you increase at least 2 stitches every other row, many times it's 4. So 5 becomes 9, then 13 and 17 and 21 and...before you know it, your row has grown to 177 and 204 and 249...and on and on and on. Plus, it's lace...which means, "Pay attention, stupid." This shit is not hard, but one wrongly placed stitch and you'll be tinking back several rows to fix your own oversight. By the time you've gotten to finishing the shawl, you wake up and realize that you've been been binding off for the last 84 minutes and you still have a few hundred stitches to go. Like I said, the tractor pull of the knitting world. It starts out easy enough but grows exponentially until you collapse to the floor, knitting outstretched, mumbling, "Just one more row, I can do it."

Boneyard Shawl

And then it's all done. Very anticlimactic, don't you think? It's done and weave in those pesky ends, you soak and block until it measures perfectly. It's dried, folded, maybe gift wrapped with a lavender sachet...and you swear to yourself and all the universe tat you will never, ever knit another scarf again for as long as your knitting life may last.

But then you find that perfect pattern...and you do it all over again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I Don't (Often) Read...

You know...I have an English degree. Yeah, I know...but it's true. And I don't read. Shocking, I know.

There was a time when I made sweet, sweet love to my Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volumes A, B and C; a time when I read "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte and then didn't sell it back because I genuinely enjoyed the experience. I remember my elegant introduction to a certain Henry James, not via "The Portrait of A Lady" as so many have assumed but rather though the less common "Aspern Papers." I still have the $4 "Everyman" edition I bought used from the bookstore of Central Michigan University, a bit tattered and certainly well-worn. Jane Austen's "Emma" and Robertson Davies' "Fifth Business" languish on my bookshelves, though, in truth, I'm fairly certain the latter of two is there because the bookstore wouldn't give me any money for it.

I had professors who opened the doors and ushered me through to a world of analysis and a level of craftsmanship heretofore unknown to me. Deborah Aldrich-Watson gave me the key to understand medieval literature, especially the work of John Donne. One in particular, William Mayhan, was hands-down the single best literature professor I ever had the pleasure of taking a class from, three times: Intro, poetry of the Romantics and the Victorian novel. Bill, you completely rocked my literary world. I loved to attack my paper topics like I was in an episode of "Law & Order," proving beyond all doubt that William Faulkner's Miss Emily wasn't as batshit crazy as everyone thought but who was merely the victim of a horrible life of heinous abuse. You better believe I scored an "A" on that one!

My Anne Rice, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Shakespeare take up space on a set of twin bookcases positioned on either side of the entry between the living room and would-be-dining-room-turned-office. They stand there, sentinels of knowledge, keepers of extrodinary worlds, the indelible prints left on this world by some of the greatest (and not so great) minds of our time...and I completely ignore them. Dust collects on their gold-trimmed heads and at the base of their spines, which I wipe away with lavender-scented dust cloths about once a month. Why?

Because...I knit.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kitty Blankets

Okay, okay...will you people all just simmer down? I know, we've got a lot to go why don't we all just take our seats...Mildred, Leafa...are you about done? Thank you, now...

The first order of business concerns the creation of a new blog. Yes, yes, I's quite exciting but just...Bob, sit'll have plenty of opportunity. Alright, now...I've called it and it'll be the new location of "armchair political commentary." Basically, I've picked up my soapbox and set it down about halfway down the block. I started this blog, right here, as a place for my adventures in knitting with my cats and a little gardening thrown in for good domestic measure. I wanted to attract other knitters (with or without cats who may or may not garden) and, though I feel strongly about certain things goin' down in the world, we knitters come from varied and diverse backgrounds and I want to turn no one away. Politics and social commentary can be polarizing so...we moved them up the street just a bit.

So, on to the knitting, shall we? Harvey, Gladys, good of you to come but the cookies and punch are for after the meeting...okay?

Knit Picks September 2010

I was so excited when I got home from work. Look what came in the mail!

It's the newest issue of the Knit Picks catalogue! For those not in the know, Knit Picks is a really great, economical, online knit shop with an astounding array of options. You can check 'em out HERE. This is by far my favorite issue...the layout and organization is just superb and oh, what's all about autumn, my favorite time of year. Since I've also been conducting Yarn-Over 2010 since the beginning of the year, this is about as close to shopping as I get.

Speaking of Yarn-Over 2010, it's progressing along quite nicely, thanks for asking. A brief recap: I vowed to go all year without buying any new yarn. No, could be given, traded, long as money did not change hands, it was good. I meant for it to be both a stash busting and budget balancing event, which it definitely has been. I can honestly report that since the first of the year, I have purchase only 2 balls of yarn and, in my own defense, those 2 were for a project that was started well before the beginning of the year AND said project was for someone other than myself, THEREFORE...what's a guy to do? Leave a pretty German lady out in the cold without a hat? You see my point. Aside from that, new yarn.


People...people...don't make me call in security like last time, okay? I know it can be upsetting to some of you, all this talk about "no new yarn" but I assure you, it's much less jarring than you might imagine. In fact, I recently got to bust out of my stash some "vintage yarn" that I've has lying around for some time. This yarn has got to date back at least to the 80s, if not before. I mean check this shit out, yo...

Miracle Match

I mean, Just take a look at the labels, the was $1.49 a skein!


But wait...oh, what's that...what's that down in the corner of the label? Hah! It's the Amoco Oil logo...on a label for YARN!


I'm sure this is pre-BP ownership days but still, I knew I had to make something charitable out of it, if only to put something BP/Amoco/petroleum-based to good use. So...I present to you...


...kitty blankets, or CatMats, as I like to call them. I'm making a total of six for a local feline shelter, called Tenth Life. Though they don't yet have a physical building, they do have a network of foster homes and they focus on kittens and cats with extreme medical needs for which other shelters might find difficult to bear the financial weight. Though I can't adopt or foster, I can and do knit...and as any knitter with a cat will tell you, they just love to lay all over your stuff. I've included the pattern below, though you could probably come up with your own just as easily as I did. I added bit of left over sock yarn from the Sock Yarn Blanket in order to give myself some variety in color and to add some stripes.


Using any worsted weight yarn with US10s or US10.5s and using the knitted cast-on, CO 82sts.

R1-10: Straight garter stitch. Then...
R11 (and every WS row): K7, p68, k7.
R12 (and every RS row): K all.

This will give you a blanket approximately 22" wide. For the length, you decide. My shortest clocked in at just 16", the longest at 25". Really, the length is usually decided for me based on the sock yarn scraps I'm using to make stripes or patterns. When the blanket is as long as you want, then do another 9 rows of garter and bind off.

Now, that's all I have for this evening. I know you might be anxious to see some early pictures of the Bitterroot I'm working on but, as with all lace projects in their early stages, this one just looks like panties all bunched up...and, frankly, no one wants to see that, not even if they're your own, so...let's just move on.

The comment box is in the back, as always...and there are cookies and punch on the table back there. Thanks for your time and attention...I'm tired, shit.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Prop 8

It's Saturday morning, a few days after a Federal judge overturned California's Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment defining marriage for that State as a union between a man and a woman. In a nutshell, Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that is denies equal protection and due process as put forth in the U.S. Constitution to gay men and lesbians. An inevitable appeal was filed the next day.

So, for the past several days, after having read the 138-page decision, I've been bumbling around my apartment trying to understand the rationale behind the argument for those who actually support Prop 8. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am gay and, therefore, entertain a certain bias. I am also, however, mightily interested in trying to not just comprehend but also understand the other side of the coin. This has led me to read some dissenting opinions, to watch some segments from Fox News and to follow some more conservative Twitter feeds. I have found about what I expected: crazy conspiracy theories, poorly written essays, flawed logical thinking.

But I have also found some well-written and considered entries, as well, and though I cannot agree with their stance, I can at least begin to see where some of them are coming from.

For starters, can we just agree to forgo any discussion of religious belief, faith in Jesus or abominations in the eyes of God? See, I'm not a Christian, though I respect that you may be, and I have serious reservations about injecting religious or spiritual beliefs into a conversation best reserved for rational, factual, common-sense basis. We can still inject personally held ideas and the conversation can still be passionate, heated...but I would no more impose my religious beliefs upon you and I expect the same.

Religion shouldn't be the purview of the State, and maybe that's where we first diverge in opinion. Even within Christianity, there are too many variations, too many subtle differences between the myriad denominations...but when you add into the mix the other religions of the world that the U.S. is an oasis for, then the waters become too murky to actually promote forward movement. We all just stand around, arguing our points to people who, like us, are already too deeply entrenched in their own value system to objectively entertain the option of anything else. Everything becomes point-counterpoint...a verbal game of tennis in which we each try and knock down the arguments of the opposing side without actually trying to understand the ideas put forth. So, I leave you with your God and you to mine. Thanks...

First, I don't understand how same-sex marriage would detract from or weaken the institution, as I've heard so many claim. During the campaigns leading up to the election, this was one of the major arguments put forth but I have never, truly understood the logic behind the statement. How would my State-recognized pairing/partnership/relationship in any way adversely affect your State-recognized pairing/partnership/relationship? That's the question and I'll gladly entertain any serious, non-faith-based response you'd like to offer. Don't mention the Bible to a holder of 2 college degrees I would put forth that, as a factual source, the Bible is out-of-date and unreliable at best. No, describe to me how my relationship actually takes anything away from yours.

The loudest cry I've heard from the pundits of the Conservative Right is that the Will of the People has been brazenly trampled by yet another act of judicial activism. I really hate that term, by the way...judicial activism. If I remember correctly, the term was brought into vogue during the W.'s first term, when Bill Frist was Senate Majority Leader, to provide political spin to judicial decisions, usually made in favor of the Liberals. The Massachusetts gay-marriage decision was one of those decisions. Judicial Activism! they cried. We cannot allow our non-elected judges to abuse their positions for furthering their own beliefs...that is until a decision upholding the constitutionality of a highly restrictive abortion bill is handed down, then God's Will has been done. The Dems were a little slow on the uptake with that one but eventually, even they started spinning Judicial Activism back at the Right, like badly aimed ninja stars. We're all hypocrites, people...just politicians more than most.

But where was I? Will of People Trounced! News at 11...yes. It's true...Proposition 8 was approved by the electorate of the State of California. 52% of voters agreed that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." And yes, one un-elected Federal judge took that 52% and canned it in one fell swoop. C'mon, people...institutionalized discrimination is never a good thing...and sometimes the Will of the People is wrong. Oh boy...I'm gonna get in trouble for that one, aren't I? Well, it's true. I think it is fundamentally wrong to deny something, like marriage, to one segment of society to which all other segments, have open and free access. Can a black marry a white? Can my sister vote in an election? Is a black man an Man? Or only 3/5? When you're dealing with issues involving respect and human dignity, you simply do not put that up for a popular vote by a generally uninformed and impressionable "People."

In case you didn't already know, as a country, in the realm of politics...America, you're dumb. And that's me being nice. France consistently breaks 60% voter turnout; Germany is 77%. In an election year, we're lucky to break 50% and the number goes down from there. As a culture, we are more concerned about Lindsay Lohan in jail than the BP oil spill. Our collective attention span is about 2 weeks, near as I can tell, and then we move on. Recently, when I mentioned something about the Gulf, one of my co-workers sincerely asked, "Is that still going on?" In terms of our political involvement, participation is even worse. I now understand where the idea for the Electoral College came from. As sad as it is, people can often not be trusted to choose what is in their own best interest. We see this on the individual level all of the time and it's true in the grander scope of our society, as well.

Now, don't get me wrong...I whole-heartedly believe in self-determination but I'm also a big fan of not hurting other people. I'm a soft touch that way, I guess. You go ahead and do what you want. So long as you're not hurting others, I'm apt to let you alone. The essential character of Prop 8, however, does hurt people and quite a lot. It denies the recognition of a relationship by the State, and all benefits therein, to a suspect class of the population when such recognition is readily and freely available to all other segments of the same population and, in fact, has always been readily and freely available to the rest without the need for a constitutional amendment saying as much. Proposition 8 is all about one (large) segment of our society telling another (smaller) segment, "No, you can't have that. It's only for us."

And that is simply wrong.

There are other points, too: the concept of "ordered liberty," the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment...but those are perhaps for another entry. I am far from having said my peace on this issue, just as the Courts are far from having said theirs. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


If I cared more about what people think,
I'd be much less of who I am.

Likewise, the more I learn and accept about myself,
the less important becomes the estimation of others.

One day, I will know myself
and be free.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One sock, one scarf...

I know, I know...but these things take time. Meanwhile, enjoy a docu-photo-mentary-drama of some recent events and I'll come up with something clever soon enough.

I finished one of two socks at work.

Sarah was a total trooper on my recent trip to Michigan. I needed a picture of her "Bonyard Shawl" and it was a zillion degrees outside. Thanks, lady...much obliged!

I finally finished Grandma Dorothy's Lily of the Valley scarf. She was very tickled.

I tried to have a photo taken with her and the scarf but the lady protested, citing unacceptable hair-do status as a valid excuse.

That is all for now. Carry on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Knitters' School

WARNING: This post contains material of a highly knitty nature. If you're not a knitter, you should be...but until then, you might not be interested in this post...unless you just really like my writing, in which case I'm very grateful to you. You have been warned!

So, I get home from work tonight and am eating my dinner when I get this idea, more of a vision actually. I'm lying in bed with the lamp on my nightstand turned on. In my lap is a book, open to a certain page and a skein of yarn, some previously used and rewound skein of so-so yarn from the stash and I'm holding in my hands my favorite set of bamboo US 9s. This is knitter's school.

From time to time (and especially now that I'm the midst of large knitting projects only), I like to teach myself something brand-spankin' new. I'm not talking about having to re-teach myself the damned Kitchener stitch every single time I finish a sock; freshening up on the details of a long-forgotten lace chart; or looking up how to do that one finishing edge you love to do as often as possible but not often enough to remember. No. I'm talking about something you have never, ever done in your whole, entire knitting life: a new daring! A new picot edge...bold and, well, edgy! A new yarn, a new color, a new needle...anything brand new! This is knitter's school.

Tonight's little lesson, should you choose to follow along: Herringbone. Specifically, I'm referring to "Herringbone I" from The Harmony Guides: Knit & Purl by Erika Knight, page 32. If you have the book, run and look it up. If you don't have it, why not? It's a superb resource to have if you're into improv knitting. Remember, patterns are only guides and are always ready for a little improv-ing. In any case, if you don't have it, I'm including the stitch below**:

Herringbone I - Multiple of 2. 1st row: K2tog tbl dropping only 1st loop off L needle, *k2tog tbl (rem st and next st), again dropping only the 1st loop off L needle*, k1tbl. 2nd row: P2tog dropping only 1st loop off L needle, *p2tog (rem st and next st), again dropping only 1st loop off L needle*, p1. Repeat forever...or until you're done.

And to think I despised the linen stitch, with its back-and-forth slaloming yarn in and out and around each stitch. Compared to this, linen was a walk in the park. I cast-on 34 stitches and knit 1 row, you know...just to set up the stage, so to speak. Knit two together...through the back loop...okay, no it. Drop only the first loop off the left needle...okay, I...whoop...caught it. Yeah...that's going to be the challenge with this stitch, fellow knitters. K2tog tbl isn't a problem when the combined stitches get slipped at the same time...but when you have to stop and split them apart after you just bound them together...

Just be careful to not drop a stitch. I also learned, the hard way, that herringbone does not tink so easily. It's a lot like tinking an ssk, wherein you not only transfer the stitches from right back to left, but you also have to reverse the twist on each stitch...except it's nothing like that. Tinking herringbone is like trying to solve the Great Puzzle Knot of Egypt. It simply cannot be done by mere mortals...though Elizabeth Zimmerman probably could.

After 30 minutes and 3 failed attempts, I put the lesson down, but not before I saw what was supposed to happen. I just needed a break, so...I came out to the dining room and I'm telling you all about it. In my first attempt, I was just dead wrong in my execution; attempt two was a dropped, though recovered stitch; and the third involved a dropped stitch, the Great Puzzle and much furrowing of my brow. I wish you the best of luck on your attempt. I'm going back to try again. I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: After another hour and 4 perfect rows, I've decided that I love the effect and finished look of herringbone...but the amount of finagling and canoodling needed to achieve those results is just preposterously absurd, truly. I've put everything away and I think I might be ready for an early bedtime.

**"The Harmony Guides: Knit & Purl" by Erika Knight, page 32. This book contains several "public domain" stitches: garter, stockinette, linen, etc. As such, I don't have any qualms about reproducing the text of this one page here in my blog. Not only to I believe this stitch to be a "public domain" stitch, but I am also using it for educational purposes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gypsy Caravan

So, that last blog post was suuuuuper heavy on the text. Consider this its photo-centric brother. Less text, more eye candy. The subject? The Gypsy Caravan, an annual event put on by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in which people bring their wares from all over to sell in the blazing heat and sun of the Missouri summer. Megan and I went and my poor friend Daniel actually worked the event.

We founds hats.

We found more hats.

This is as close as I'll ever get to military service.

Its historical significance is its only redeeming quality.

You don't wear them, your shoes do.

I love classic tins like this one.

Oh yeah, more hats.

There were cocktails...

...and disco lunchboxes.

And still more hats.

So...what treasures did I take home from this swanky yard sale?

I don't have to explain the funny.

Softens like a powder; protects like an oil.

The Official Boy Scout First Aid Kit...

...complete with some of the original supplies!

Thank you, that is all. Carry on.
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