Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Down on the Farm

Believe it or not, I did actually spend maybe a few hours in Connecticut between my 2 disaster Amtrak trips. And, to make up for the lack of livestock, foliage pictures from Rhinebeck - here's a taste of CT:
One of our big excursions over the weekend, was the long trip down the road to Five Pond Farm, where Kathryn buys her milk straight from the cow. The Farm was having a fundraiser, and I bought some lavender sachets and a few bars of soap. Also available were handknit felted bags, based on the Noni patterns, selling for $175 - only in CT!!!
Five Pond Farm also sells wool spun from its sheep - but it was basically a scratchy Shetland, and after Rhinebeck, the last thing I need is wool in my stash that I bought just because of atmosphere.

And what else does one do in suburban CT? Go to the mall, of course. At some point, Kath had to buy shoes for her husband. We were walking through the mall, and this guy at a flat iron kiosk whisked me aside, and told me he could straighten my hair in 15 minutes. Since I had no desire to shop for shoes for Kath's husband, I was like, buddy, if you can straighten my hair in 15 minutes, I'm buying that flat iron.

We all want what we can't have. Sometimes, that turns out to be a blessing in disguise - for example, all of you who are my age, and spent your teen years with that Tom Cruise poster from Risky Business or Top Gun on your wall - aren't you relieved that you can't have him! And sometimes, what we thought we wanted, we really didn't want at all once we had it, i.e., my straight hair.

When I was little, my daddy made me promise that I would never never never cut my hair. My hair was long, and wavy, and down to my ass, and around 4th grade, I rebelled and cut it all off. Mistake - daddy was right. No one knew what to do with my hair, and I spent my junior high and high school with a total 'fro. At Penn State, I finally found a hairdresser, who could cut my hair so that my curls would curl instead of frizz, but all I wanted was straight hair.

I have tried every product on the market to straighten my curls. First, I had some straightening process that burned the top of my head, and turned the color of my hair orange. Then, I did this thing called Paul Brown processing - which was supposedly gentle, from Hawaii. This torture session took 5 hours, and the ordeal entailed having every one of my curls matted down onto a long plastic board, until when my head was completely covered, it weighed at least 25 pounds, and I sat there with all of the fumes in my face for a good hour. Then, there was the Japanese thermal processing invasion - much like Barbra Streisand in the Way We Were - I had my hair ironed. The Japanese thermal processing took several hours, cost a gazillion dollars, and was completely permanent.

No more curls.

And, for about a year, I wore my hair completely straight. I did the process 3 times - and on the last time - my hair broke. That's right - broke, in the middle of the back of my head, and I had to cut my very long hair to just below my ear. And back came the curls.

And I was happy. I was me again. I was free - and so was my hair - no more ironing, no more blowdrying, no more straight hair.

But, it's always nice to do something different for a change. And, this new flat iron gets hotter than Hades, and I don't even have to blow dry my hair with all of that pulling with the roll brush. It's amazing. My best purchase in CT!

I also finally gave Kathryn her birthday present, the Shetland triangle from Wrap Style. I don't know why blogger flipped the one picture, but it did - of course, this is in Anne - ah Anne! I knit Shetland Triangle last Passover - this was the shawl/scarf that I swatched in bed - making for interesting bedfellows - hello pin! Oopsy. Based on the pattern, the shawl can be as big or as small as you want it to be - you just keep doing the pattern repeat over and over again. My bed swatching didn't work out so well, and I totally wasn't on gauge - although I liked the gauge that I was at with Anne - the problem was yarddage. How far could I really go? So, I sat in front of the t.v. all weekend with my mother's Weight Watcher scale, weighing my skein every repeat or so. The scale never changed - hmm, maybe that's why Weight Watchers never works out so well for me.
For me, I probably would have used 2 skeins of Anne, and made it bigger, but I only had one, and it was a race to see if I would have enough yarn to finish each repeat. Ah, the suspense of knitting!

So to pass the time in CT, because that's what one seems to do in CT, pass time, I taught Kathryn to knit. We went to her yarn store, a Stitch in Time, and bought Manos, the yarn I used for my first knitting project. I have to say, either I'm an awesome teacher, or Kath is a natural, because she cast on without blinking an eye, and didn't drop nary a stitch while I was there. Hopefully, she can keep up the good work -

And, besides Amtrak, there was one other disaster over the weekend. I showed Kath my blog, and she really liked the wire bracelet, and asked if I would make one for her boss to give to her at Christmas. So, we went to Walmart and bought supplies. Walmart was out of straight metal knitting needles, so I decided to use my Addi's that I had brought with me.
For train knitting, as I've already said, I finished Maude, and had brought what I needed to start my Wallabee in the Brooks Farm Four Play (more on that tomorrow, because there's a disaster in the making there, too) - a circular 5, a circular 7, 5 double points, and 7 double points. Over the weekend, I made pretty good headway on the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, and was getting ready to switch to the 7's - when diaster struck! I broke my addi 7's with the wire. Panic set in - I had a premonition about the train being late again - what would I do if I had no knitting. So, I tried melting the Addi's back together again -
Clearly, that didn't work. Luckily, after the trip to Five Pond Farm, we were able to go back to a Stitch N Time and procure another 7. I can't even imagine that Amtrak trip if I hadn't solved that problem.

Monday, October 30, 2006


So, how happy am I that I ripped out the Maude mistake, and now Maude is perfect! Just like a winged creature should be.

Thanks to the 50 billion hours on Amtrak this weekend Maude is finished. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to fling the "wings" across my shoulders and strut down the hallways at work. I feel like a superstar, or at least a very important person. How can you not when you're wearing something so pretty?
I photographed Courtney in Rittenhouse Square, and my friend and I attempted to capture Love park with this Maude. Unfortunately, the sun and shadows weren't exactly cooperating - so I ditched the atmosphere, and just tried to get the best shots that I could of dear sweet Maude.
I just loved loved loved the rhythm of the pattern. Bringing the yarn all the way forward before doing the yarn over really made the motion almost musical, and this was a very soothing knit. Even if you're knit-a-long phobic please consider knitting this pattern - I would love to see a dozen or so Maude's floating down the street (certainly an improvement over one more Ugg vest!)

And, while I still regret the loss of those burgundy/maroon/berry skeins that slipped through my fingers, I'm very happy with this blue - which also has maroon, and berry, and green thrown in for typical Koigu measure.

Congratulations Courtney for another awesome pattern - and I can't wait to test knit the new one!

And, if you aren't knit-a-long phobic, check out the Maude A Long, and you too can be a rockstar!
Dear Amtrak:

You F-ing suck!!!!! After spending a delightful, but long weekend in Rhinebeck, I really didn't have any desire to spend the next weekend in Connecticut - I really just wanted to cuddle up with my new yarn. But, my married friend, a former New Yorker, trapped in the suburbs, begged me, begged me, to make the trip - and, I had made the commitment months ago, and the truth is, I usually love a train trip - listening to my iPod, knitting in peace. So, I reserved my ticket for the 4:00 train to Stamford.

4:00 - not 6:00 p.m. - yes, that's what time we left 30th Street Station, after standing in line at the gate for 2 hours. Ok, I'm 2 hours late, not the end of the world. But then, you broke down outside of Trenton. The rain was coming down, the electricity in the car went off. We sat, and sat, and sat . . . until the conductor finally shared the fact that the engine was shot, and they were sending a rescue train to pick us up. We waited, and waited, until we were finally rescued by New Jersey Transit. As we transferred trains, in the middle of the rain, in the middle of the woods, the conductor cautioned us, "don't touch both trains at the same time." Great, we're all going to be electrocuted. We hobbled into New York City, now 4 hours late - and to add injury to insult, as we deboarded the train to get on our new train to take us the rest of the journey, our conductor thanked us - "Thank you for riding New Jersey Transit." Of all the humiliating things in the world - to be rescued by New Jersey Transit!

So, we board our new train, and take off, speed along, past New Rochelle, off to my stop, Stamford. But, what's this! We're stopped again - and now we're going backwards! Backwards to New Rochelle, to drop off a navigator who should have been left at the station in the first place. Unbelieveable.

I arrived in Stamford at 10:00, and at my friend's house in Redding at 11:00 - just in time for bed. Thanks Amtrak.

So, what could possibly go wrong when I returned to Philly on Sunday? My friends dropped me off at Stamford, my reserved ticket popped out of the Amtrak Quiktrip box just as planned, and then the board changed - my train was 2 hours late!!!! 2 hours turned into 3 hours before my train finally arrived. And how does a train get 3 hours behind - well, that's what happens if you hit a truck that's sitting on the track.

3 hours late, I boarded the train, and off we went. Speeding along, the conductor apologizing at every stop for the delay, and then HALT - again! Right outside of New York. We sat, and sat, for at least 45 minutes before we limped into Penn Station. I finally got home at 9:00 p.m.

So, between Friday, which took 7 hours, and Sunday, which took 6 hours, I could have made 2 round trips to California.

Thanks Amtrak, for totally sabotoging my weekend - the only good thing was that I finished Maude and knit half a Wallabee - but I'm not even going to show you pictures, because you don't deserve it!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crazy trial a thing of the past, insane work week over, and we were headed to Rhinebeck! After a four hour drive, lengthened by the 45 minute traffic fest that escorted us out of Philly, we arrived at what could only be described as the Bates Motel, or, as I put it, "Christina, I think people come here to kill themselves."
But for $120 for 2 nights, it was just fine. So the once tiled shower now had a concrete slab, and we seemed to have a ghost sharing the room (Christina slept through it, but at some point during the night, all of the bottles over the toilet leapt off the shelf onto the floor) -- what did it matter when Christina was up and at 'em at 6:45 a.m. It was Maryland Sheep and Wool all over again - the anxiety to get to the Koigu tent replaced by the manic desire to secure Socks that Rock. So, at 7:30 a.m., we found ourselves at the Every Ready Diner, chowing down on Silver Dollar Pancakes, and scrambled eggs with lox. Mmmm, mmmm, a hearty meal to set us up for the shopping fest to follow. We left for Rhinebeck, ten minutes down the road from Hyde Park (yes, we stayed right next door to the Roosevelt Estate, no we didn't go), at 8:30, and we were in a parking space at the 4H gate at 8:45.

I've read on some other blogs that people were forced to wait until 10:00 a.m. to storm the compound, but we got lucky, purchased our magic ticket, got our t-shirts, and we were in - straight to Building A, and the Fold.

When we got to the Fold it looked like this - I sheepishly asked, "Are you open," and Toni was like, "Yeah, sure, come on in!" And, this is what we had to choose from:

And, this is what we bought:
We each bought 7 skeins, 6 for ourselves, one for someone else. By the time I got home, though, I was in a panic - I hardly ever knit socks, what was I thinking????? So, I ended up selling off another skein, for a nice number of 5 in my stash. So, in this bunch are Farmhouse, Rocktober, Rooster Rock, Puck's Dream, Waterlilies, Bleeding Hearts, and Rhode Island Reds.

Once we had our Socks That Rock, we crossed the aisle to Brooks Farm. How convenient! I bought enough Brooks Farm Four Play in Maryland for a Clapotis, and then I ended up making it out of something else. I got it in my head that I wanted to make a Wallabee out of what I had - but of course, I didn't have enough yarddage. So, I thought of ways to improvise - I could do the pocket and the hood in a solid, I could do a provisional cast on, and if I ran out of yarn, I could do the bottom ribbing in the solid . . . I could buy different yarn. So, I knew that I wanted to buy sweater quantity yarn at Brooks Farm. I walked around, felt up the yarn, but none of the colors were really calling to me. I wasn't moved. I decided to put off the purchase, and come back. There must be something wrong with me that I couldn't find a skein that I loved.

So, after Christina made her purchase, we made a drop off at the car, and returned to the now increasingly crowded fairgrounds.
And then I began my quest to fix my wheel - see below. The search for parts and gadgets did distract me from the yarn a bit - but I did buy laceweight at Skaska, along with an Orenburg triangle pattern (what was I thinking - there's like 10 charts - I'm going to have to go into a month-long seclusion just to get it started!!!), a Moorehouse Merino scarf kit, and enough 50 llama/50 merino to make the scarf/bonnet in Knit2Together. And yes, fairly late in the day, I wandered back to Brooks Farms - and found the perfect yarn - a beautiful variegated green - hidden on the bottom shelf of an almost empty cubby. And, when I paid for it, one of the Brooks Farms women was like, "ah, you're buying my green." I think they had secreted it away, in hopes that maybe no one would find it. But, I did! Yum.

Christina was a much more adventurous buyer than I - buying the 50 merino/50 Samoyed yarn. That's right, Samoyed, dog. I know that fiber festivals are about adventure, and trying new things - it's like going to a restaurant and trying tripe. But, if horse were on a menu, I'd pass. If monkey's brains were on the menu, I'd say next. And, I feel the same way about dog. The woman who spun the yarn told us that it's so great because, just like a dog, it's water repellant - in a rainstorm, the water just falls right off of it. Uch. Not interested. Dogs are pets, not products. And not headwear. Christina, I know you love your hat, and that's great, but it's not for me.

We met lots of livestock, see Christina's blog for her love affair with Lamby, the alpaca. I had no idea that the different breeds of sheep looked so incredibly unique. And, because we got to the fairgrounds early, we had a chance to talk to a lot of vendors before they were swamped, about spinning, and yarn, and running a farm, and this and that. And, thank you so much to everyone who recognized us and said hi - you really made us feel like rockstars!

Late in the day we headed to the Morehouse Merino store - where the pictures of Poppy below were taken. At some point, I took my glasses off and put them in my back pocket - oopsy. I bent them ever so slightly, but while we were in the Morehouse store, I felt slightly off balance, and while it was the most beautiful yarn store I've ever seen, I didn't buy anything, and all I really wanted to do was sit down. Luckily, in the car, a few adjustments later, and the glasses were back on track, whew!

I would definitely go back again - I think it's very different from Maryland Sheep and Wool - the festivals compliment each other. I know from talking to people, it used to be a lot smaller, more intimate, and I definitely got that feeling when we were wandering around before 11:00 a.m. So, I know there are those who think its ruined, too big, but I had a great time, and hopefully, will find myself back again next year.

So, now, I'm home, and I love my yarn, and have big big plans for it - well, except for the Socks that Rock - but I'll get to it . . .

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stay Tuned . . .

I'm really really trying to put together my Rhinebeck post, but BLOGGER IS NOT COOPERATING.

Hopefully, I'll have it up tomorrow . . .

Monday, October 23, 2006

Poppy Play

Welcome to Stop 3 on the YarnPlay blog tour! Lisa Shobhana Mason has the day off - and I'm going to unveil my finished Poppy - drum roll puhleaze!!!

When Lisa emailed me after I interviewed her for the podcast, and asked if I could cast on Poppy by the week of the 23rd, I hesitated. I had big big plans for my money at Rhinebeck, and while Poppy was definitely in my knitting queue, I knew I didn't have enough in my stash to get the job done. But, I loved the book, and I loved the sweater, so I decided, eh, what's a few more skeins of yarn I was going to buy anyway.

The bottom panel of the sweater is knit in Cash Iroha, with rows of Silk Garden thrown in, and a few garter rows for good measure. So, I took my 16 miscellaneous skeins of Silk Garden over to Loop to pick a color of Cash Iroha that complimented my stash, thinking that instead of using one colorway of Silk Garden on top, I would pick 6 similar skeins that I already had - I mean, I was supposed to be playing, right?

So, I picked Cash Iroha, maroon. I think it looks more like chocolate than maroon, but it's maroon. Let me just say this and set the record straight - this is an awesome yarn - I know that Cash Iroha has recently gotten swept up in the Debbie Bliss cashmere controversy - but you don't buy this yarn for the cashmere content - it supposedly had 12% cashmere - I don't know if it has any, and I don't care. The color is rich, the fabric is lush, and I hope that this yarn isn't pulled from the shelves, and that everyone can knit Poppy the way she should be knit.

Anyway, before I cast on, I picked a skein of Silk Garden for the random striping. I picked a skein that I maybe had another 1/2 skein of - I just intended to use it for the striping, and use another colorway on top, another for the back, and another for the sleeves. Once the color was chosen, then I thought about the stripes. I'm not a random girl - randomness scares me - I'm a bit of a control freak. So, instead of throwing in stripes that were completely "random" I used a Fibonacci series of numbers for a roadmap of my stripes and garter strips - I threw in either a color or a garter row every 5, 8, 13, 21, 28 and 34th row, and then the same numbers in a descending order. To me, that's playing - maybe it's math, but it's still play.

Once, I finished the bottom panel, which is a straight stockinette, no shaping, I decided to block it before I sewed up the seam. I emailed Lisa first to ask her about blocking, but she didn't block. Now, I'm normally a girl all about short cuts - no blocking means no blocking - fast and wrong. Because it's stockinette, and because it was curling at the edges, I just didn't see how I could neatly sew the seam without blocking it. So, block I did.

So, I sewed the side seam. The pattern says to sew the seam in the back, but I decided to sew the seam on the side, and when I picked up the stithces for the top panel, the side seam became the marker for the beginning of my row. While I did sew a pretty nice seam if I say so myself, I still liked the idea of hiding it on the side, rather than having it in the middle of the back. In fact, if I were going to knit this pattern again, I might do a provisional cast on, and either graft the seam with the side stitches, or perhaps do a three needle bind off on the wrong side.

Anyway, now I had a dilemna. The colorway that I had chosen had really distinctive colors from the other skeins of Silk Garden in the pile. The skeins that I had intended to use were all earthy, muted colors. But this skein had mustard, blue, green and a cherry maroon. So, I decided to pick up the stitches along the top of the bottom panel with the same skein, so that at least the top would be picking up the colors of the stripes. Then, to bring out those colors even more, and thinking I was going to switch to another colorway when I ran out of yarn, I knit the front of the top first.

Once I had the front of the top done, I had a real moment of truth. It was love all over again with Color 234 (it's the same colorway I used for my Sunrise Circle Jacket), and I loved how it looked with the maroon Cash Iroha. It wasn't much of a struggle to convince myself that I needed to buy five more skeins of that Silk Garden, and ditch my cost saving measures of mishmashing the Silk Garden I already had.
So, this is the final color combo - sweet!

And, at that point, I unconsciously made another decision - that I was going to try to make the colors symmetrical. Everytime I've knit with Noro, I haven't really been concerned with lining colors up, or having symmetrical colors on each side of a garment. But, there's something about this sweater that calls for balance. On the bottom, to get the different colored stripes, I cut my partial skein of 234 into color segments - and mixed up the segments somewhat randomly. For the top and the sleeves, I also cut the skeins, so that I was able to start and stop with the same color. Once the top was done, I knew that I wanted the shoulders to be green or blue - so the bottom of the sleeve necessarily had to be maroon.

The top was done in a snap, and before I started the sleeves, I sewed up the shoulder seams and tried it on. I was nervous about the fit - I'm a pretty curvy girl, and I'm used to my sweaters having some side shaping. But, it's perfect. Onto the sleeves.

The sleeves were knit in the round, until the shaping at the top, which is knit flat. The finished sleeves, are then eased into the armhole. I have to say, this was the most, and only, difficult part of the sweater. I'm used to blocking my sleeves, then sewing - and then I know that it's going to fit in the armhole. Not possible in this case, because the sleeves are already done. It took a bit of fudging, and a bit of easing, but the sleeve found its way into the armhole, and viola - Poppy complete!

Poppy came with me to Rhinebeck, and boy did she get compliment after compliment! One woman even stopped me and asked, "Is that the sweater that's on the cover of Yarnplay?" Not only were Knitty D and I kind of knitting rockstars, this sweater was totally Queen of the Festival.

And, here she is -

Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the tour!

wednesday 10/25 -Purl Jam
thursday 10/26 - My Life In Stitches
friday 10/27 - Serendipity
saturday 10/28 - Scout's Knitted Swag

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wheel Today, Yarn Tomorrow

So, I would love to show you my Rhinebeck yarn today, but honestly, I'm too exhausted, and somehow I got suckered into going to my brother's house for the second half of the Eagles game - after the 3 1/2 hour ride back from Rhinebeck this morning,the last thing in the world I want to do is go play with my niece's Barbie Dreamhouse, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

So, yarn tomorrow - but I wanted to post an update on the wheel dilemna. When, I left for Rhinebeck, I did a quick diagnostic of the wheel - As you can see, the thingy, which I later found out was a bearing, that holds the flyer is busted. On the ride up to NY, I pretty much rejected the idea of buying a new wheel when Christina and I were talking about how many skeins of Socks that Rock we could buy in good conscience. Skipping ahead in the story, and for reasons I'll reveal tomorrow, we got an incredibly early start to the festival, and ended up in the main building at 8:45 a.m. I had a lot of time before the festival got packed to talk to a few spinners about fixing the wheel v. buying a new wheel. The consensus really was that it sounded like a relatively cheap problem to fix - and that I should go for it.

While there were a gazillion wheel vendors on the fairgrounds, only Stony Mountain Fibers had brought their part supplies with them. Of course, it took me hours and several criss-crosses of the fairground before I found it (thanks Purlewe!!!), but here's all I needed: About $20 worth of supplies.

Then, I got home, and reinspected the wheel - hmmm . . . where did I put the flyer???? I ripped apart my stash closet - not there. In the kitchen maybe? I tore through the cabinets. And then I remembered - when I had people over for the Oscars last March, I had scooped up a bunch of crap that had been cluttering up my kitchen counter, just to get it out of the way for the evening. Uch, I had never brought the bag o' stuff in from the backyard. So, I found the plastic Gap bag in the yard, filled with mudd - and my flyer -
Yep, there it is rotting, and in pieces.

I've already ordered another one ($33) before I even started thinking about a new wheel again. In inspecting the maidenboard, I'm a little worried about the state of the bearings/brackets/and screws, and maybe I should have bought a whole new flyer unit ($122), but I'm going to try getting new hardware from the handy dandy neighborhood hardware store, and go from there. I had my flyer shipped Ups Priority, so hopefully, I'll have it by next weekend, so I can get my wheel up and running.

In the meantime - um, there's no shortage of yarn! More tomorrow!

Friday, October 20, 2006

To Wheel or Not To Wheel

That is the question . . . for those long time readers of my blog, you know that my wheel met with an unfortunate accident in the form of my cleaning lady. Yes, my shoe steeling cleaning lady knocked my wheel over, breaking the metal brackets that hold the flyer, and totally throwing the wheel out of whack, the whole thing is just misaligned. And, since I only paid $200 for the wheel in the first place, I wasn't sure if it was worth it to reconstruct the thing, or to just buy a new wheel.

And, there were other reasons I stalled out on fixing the wheel. First, my yarn habit is already sucking my bank account dry, did I really need another fiber fetish to put the nail in my financial coffin? And, spinning definitely took time away from my knitting.

But, I've watched as Carol's Black Bunny has gotten better and better every time I pick up a skein -- and I've been mighty wistful staring at her roving. And, I really did enjoy spinning, especially when I had finally gotten to the point where I was spinning something that actually looked like knittable yarn. The final motivator in my wheel lust was Shannon Okey's visit to Rosie's last week. I blew into Rosie's straight from court, wired, stressed, and while not in motion, still moving, thinking, anxious - and when I sat, watching the wheel going round and round, and her hands drafting the fiber - there was something so relaxing about it, soothing, that I immediately wanted to go home and break out the wheel - but the wheel is broken.

And, that brings us to Rhinebeck - to bring home a new wheel, or just say no to my wheel envy? Or should I just bring pictures of my broken wheel, and talk to an Ashford expert about getting the parts to fix it? Dilemnas, dilemnas - all compounded by the stress of getting to the Fold booth when the sun comes up to snag Socks that Rock (don't worry Judy - I won't forget you!).

So, Christina and I are leaving at 4:00 today, and heading up to the Hudson Valley. The newly finished Poppy will be accompanying us. I can't tell you how much I love this sweater. The bottom of the sweater is knit in Cash Iroha, which has recently come under scrutiny about its cashmere content. I did not buy this yarn because it had cashmere in it - I bought it because it's fabulous regardless of the content. The color is so rich, and the fabric feels like butter. If it doesn't have cashmere in it, it has some other kind of magic - I hope this isn't the death knoll of Cash Iroha, that would be a sad thing indeed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I never thought I'd say this, but, here it goes . . . I like Annie Modesitt's latest book, Twist and Loop (and because I like this book so much, I'm not even going to comment on her other new book, Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them, featuring matching Rastafarian hats for you and your dog - 'nuff said!). Holiday knitters take note - knitting a wire bracelet, necklass, cuff, whatever, is a snap, and you can get all of your holiday knitting done, in say, an afternoon?

On Sunday, I took a class with Annie at Loop - in the morning she taught Combination Knitting - I passed on that. I could knit faster, I could knit with yarn in both hands so that I could do fair isle - I could do all of that, but I don't - and I accept that. I've accept my throwing, even though Jews Don't Throw. But, I did take knitting with wire, even though, as everyone who listens to the podcast knows, I've been a pretty vocal DON'T DO IT when it comes to Annie Modesitt patterns - I'm still not over the Peter Pan skirt in Interweave and the fact that it would cost $600 to make! - but, I wanted to try knitting with wire, and she teaches it - the law of supply and demand. And I thought, maybe, if I get the hang of it, maybe we could add some jewelry to the Knitty D and the City Mom and Pop Store (whenever I figure out ZenCart in my spare time). So, Annie is quite the character, I now understand where her designs spin from, but she is a very good teacher, and if she blows through your town, you should take her classes. And here's what we learned:

Your supplies can be as cheap or as expensive as you want them to be. You need Art Wire, beads, and aluminum or metal knitting needles. You can incorporate any number of things, like ribbon, or yarn, once you get the hang of it. Helpful tools, of course, like a needle nose plier and a snub nose plier, are good things to have handy if you really take a liking to it - everyone in the class pretty much did without tools.
Once you've assembled your supplies, cast on! It's as easy as that. Annie recommends a long tail cast-on - because it requires the least amount of manipulation of the wire - the less manipulation, less kinking, the lesser chance of breaking. And then, just knit -
Here's my swatch with just the one color wire.
And, here, I added a lovely pink to go with the silver. Both swatches are in stockinette, using Annie's combination knitting purl stitch - wrapping the wire from under the needle, as opposed to over the needle, and her knit stitch - through the back loop because the stitch is twisted from the purl stitch. Whatever, not so important - again, it manipulates the wire less, but you can do whatever knit/purl stitch you like. Just knit, and pull the "fabric" at both ends as you go, to block out the stitches.

Now it's time to add the beads. I don't know why Blogger flipped this photo - but here it is - just bead your wire before you start to knit. Then, bring the beads up between the stitches, and voila! That's all there is to it.

And, here, is my finished bracelet!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

Sunday 10/22 - Knitting Aloud
Monday 10/23 - Lolly Knitting Around
Tuesday 10/24 - Knit And The City
Wednesday 10/25 - Purl Jam
Thursday 10/26 - Hook & Needles
Friday 10/27 - Serenedipity
Saturday 10/28 - Scout's Knitted Swag

As you can see, my blog is stop number 3 on the tour, on Tuesday, October 24th. I'll be knitting Poppy, the v-neck sweater on the cover of the book. Without giving too much away, my Poppy is in a completely different colorway, and is, hmm, nearly complete (and you thought I was just sitting around fretting about Maude!). Stop by on Tuesday for perhaps the finished sweater (I don't know - Rhinebeck may prevent that!), and tips on picking your yarn, and knitting the pattern. And be sure to pop by all of the stops on the tour, no ticket necessary for admission (cheaper than Barbra Streisand tickets, and no one will tell you to shut the f- up!) - it's going to be a great show!

Monday, October 16, 2006


In life, generally when you make a mistake, you're stuck with it. Oh, you can apologize to the wronged party; you can try to make amends; you can retrace your steps, and try to do things differently. But, a mistake is a mistake, and it's out there, and depending on how major the mistake was, it may continue to shape and mold your life for years to come.

In the law, we generally don't hold your past mistakes against you when you're on trial - in other words, if you're on trial for assault, if you hit someone before, we don't assume that because you hit someone in the past, you've hit someone in the case you stand trial on today. That's called propensity - and the law, for a change, acknowledges that propensity evidence has no place in a trial, and that frankly, it's the most damning, yet irrelevant evidence that could be put to the factfinder.

In the case I just tried, the Commonwealth was allowed to present evidence of all of our client's prior bad acts - not to show because he had engaged in aggressive behavior before, that he was aggressive on the date of the incident - oh, no, they know that would be illegal - instead, they used it to show that he had the legally guilty mental state before (i.e., he knew what he was doing was wrong 10 years ago), so he knew what he was doing was wrong in 2004.

Did I mention that my client was extremely mentally ill - and that this was conceded by both sides - the only issue in the case being was he legally insane at the time of this incident, i.e., did he know, or have some idea, what he was doing was wrong at the time he did it?

Is it a surprise to anyone that when the jury heard of his prior acts of violence, combined with the one in front of them, that they convicted?

But, that got me to thinking - what if you don't even have the capacity to understand you made a mistake? You can't apologize, you can't rectify, you can't change - the mistake is still going to shape your life, whether you know its there or not.

So, when I showed Maude to people, I held it up and said - see, the mistake is there - a few people at Rosie's peered at it - and said, "what mistake?" But, I could see it, and unlike life, I had the power to completely fix it, so that it would never gnaw at me again - so that everytime I lifted the thing up and saw the glaring missed yarn over, I would cringe.

Knitting is a beautiful thing - you can erase a mistake, and start all over again, fresh, clean, and spanking brand new.

So, I ripped all of Maude out, even at 80 increased stitches - and I'm pretty much back to where I left off. No more missed yarn over, no more section that looked like a pull in a sweater - where everything just moved a bit to the left. Just pretty Maude, mistake free - if only we could be so lucky!