Friday, October 30, 2009

Another finish - Michael Powell Bookmark #1

Now, more on my latest tiny cross-stitch project. Turns out a lot of people at the Nancy Bush knitting workshop had been cross-stitchers, but stopped when knitting took over their lives. I understand that this can happen. So, everyone else brought socks, shawls, knitted whatever to work on before class and during lunch; I had my little cross-stitch bookmark.

I worked on it at work on Monday at lunch, and on the way home.

I worked on it Tuesday at lunch, and on the way home.

And far too late Tuesday night, I finished it. (And then woke up and took a really blurry photo of it.) Here's what it's supposed to look like - click on the photo to go directly to the Michael Powell site, and see all the lovlies!

Also dug out my almost-finished Teresa Wentzler "Tropical Dreams":

I'm hoping to have this one finished up in October, to bring my monthly average finishes firmly above "3".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yarn on Thursday - A good source for Knitting Magazines?

So, this past Saturday, while still in a histamine haze, I wandered into the Big Giant Used Book Sale at the local library. On the left, you'll see a box of Regency romances; on the right, a box containing a lovely full-color-plates book about the exhibits in the Hermitage, a book about Disney animation, a 1937 "American Guide to the Game of Chess", and a huge stack of knitting magazines. Mostly Pingouin, the English-language version of a French knitting magazine that seems to have vanished sometime in the 90s. I randomly tried typing "" into my URL bar since, well, if I had a company in France for that magazine, that's what I'd want the site to be, and actually GOT - so maybe it's on its way back? I hope so! Anyway, got about twenty issues at $1.00 a pop - which beats the stuffing out of the $6-$14 asking price on eBay!!

There were many, many more magazines that didn't come home with me, though, including these two gems.

Trust me, the very best photos & patterns *are in fact* those on the front of the magazine. Wow. I wonder what it was like, back when an entire knitting/crochet magazine only cost $1.29? Then again, glad I'm in the age of Ravelry. I was almost tempted by the magazine that had this in it:

Yep, that's "Master Knitters of the 90's" at the top of the page
... but I managed to let it go to a lady who wanted the mag for more than just the one article.

Anyway, lots and lots of knitting stuff abounded, most of it stuff I hope to make someday, and most of it stuff that will, in another forty years or so, find its way back to the library for another sale, I'm sure, to be loved by someone else. That's the magic of yarn, it extends its umbrella over all its little friends. And, while we're on the subject of magazines... I sure don't see either of these being around in 40 years, do you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things tangentially related to knitting

Drawing your attention to Erika's post, which is my favorite Finished Sock Post ever.

Now, drawing your attention to, well, drawing. Not mine (oh, how I wish I could draw this consistently!), but to the Hugo Award-winning Gaslamp Fantasy Comic of Phil & Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius. Adventure, Romance, Mad Science! High school libraries stock it locally, since it portrays smart, strong women in science; it wins awards because it's just that gosh-darned good.

It all starts HERE.

Pay attention to the backgrounds, because frequently, there are little gems in there... and the dialogue, oh the dialogue. I mean, isn't this the best excuse a Mad Scientist could use to avoid going into the Pit of Certain Doom?

A Wee Tiny Taste of the Comic


ETA: The Girl Genius site is having problems this morning (as of 9am Eastern, 10/28), at least from my end. Please try going there again tomorrow if the link doesn't work for you today; it's TOTALLY worth it!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Overture to Estonian Lace - Squeee!

Okay, so this week's Just Knitting post is very, very cool. On Sunday, I got to take an all-day workshop with Nancy Bush (!!). This was "Overture to Estonian Lace". Goes nicely with her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. (Do a Google search for ["Nancy Bush" knit*] and be in awe at the number of lovely things she's designed, and that thousands of people have knit.) It was *really* interesting!

I can now find Estonia on a map, and Haapsalu, where the commercial lace venture all began, thanks to some high-born Russian tourists back in the annals of history:

All the cool stuff started in Haapsalu

I can now talk a bit about the lace tradition there (not actually as "traditonal" as you'd think!), properly pronounce "nupp" (rhymes with "soup"), and I have a lovely little sampler thing as a result of the class:

I also have a real appreciation for Estonian lace. Oh, I wish I could show you the pretties, but Nancy asked that no close-up photos go on blogs, so, here is a distance shot. It's an entire table full of soft, delicate shawls and scarves. And there were more than just that! A Google search of 'Haapsalu Ratikud' (umlat over the "a" of Ratik) brought up some lovely examples, if you're curious, but honest - if you can see some of The Real Stuff it it person, do so! There's also a wonderful book, Haapsalu Sall, presently in Estonian, but soon to be available in English. This book is BEYOND beautiful - (writeup here) enough so that I was trying to locate it (FOUND IT - here! Now I just have to figure out my US Dollar to Euro conversion... While doing that, I found a link to the museum that has some lovely examples of Estonian lace. Yay!

OMG pretty stuff!!!

Now, imagine that each of those little blobs of color is an amazingly lightweight, intricate, lovely bit of wool, knitted into lace, using lovely patterns. Some, like the Crown Prince motif shawl, were really big; some were smaller, like the Money motif scarf, made out of gold-colored quivit (approrpriate, no?). Some were knitted by Nancy, other by her friends in Estonia. Pictures of much of it are in Knitted Lace of Estonia, along with a lot of the history she gave us, but it was truly wonderful to be able to see (and touch!) the actual knitted articles. The Greta Garbo shawl (or was it a scarf? Scarves are square, shawls are rectangular) kit is available from The Wooly West, Nancy's online site. I am saving up for it, and for Folk Knitting in Estonia.

I wish I could've found my other books (Knitting on the Road, Lace Style, just to have her sign that pattern, Knitting Vintage Socks, Folk Socks), as Nancy kindly signed books after the workshop had ended:

I don't know why my phonecam decided to focus on the CHAIR at the back of the room!

Now, I was all excited about this from the get-go, since the first shawl I ever finished was her Lilly of the Valley from Lace Style. It was the infamous Cup-o-Shawl from my photo with The Yarn Harlot in 2007:

Really, the lavender blob Stephanie is holding is Estonian style lace.

Having blocked out the little piece from the workshop, which is really just a much-scaled-down version of the Lilly-of-the-Valley shawl, I will now, finally, have the confidence to block it (photos next week, probably). I love the way the little pointy bits stay pointy, just like they're supposed to!

So, in closing, the workshop was both fun and educational, which is my favorite kind!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Master's Monday: Week 21


Yes, I'm finally back on track after a waaay too long hiatus. It hit the point, last week, that by golly, I was going to do something on my Masters Hand Knitting Level I before I had to post this entry, or Very Bad Things were gonna happen. (Possibly involving kerosene, matches, and my finished swatches.) Thankfully for all concerned, I was, in fact, able to Do Something.

First, I finally decided that I wasn't going to be scared of little bits of knitted cloth, and started to block the swatches. It began badly, when I discovered that my Bag of Finished Swatches didn't actually contain a swatch for #13 or #15:

Then there was the choice of weave in and block, or block and weave in, and according to notes I took at some point on some project (I really need to organize my notes better), blocking *first* gave me a better result. Not that I started to block, or anything. But I found the swatches, found out that I had more knitting in my future, and went to see what I'd actually done so far.

It wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared. Somehow, I'd gotten into my brain that I received my Level I packet at the end of March; nope, it was the second week of June - so I haven't even been at this six months yet, which made me feel much better. Also, while not cleaned up, most of my questions *are* answered, and if the citations aren't in official Blue Book format, they're at least there. Basically, what's left is the report (which is at least outlined), and the questions that require blocked swatches. It's NOT that bad. I can face it again. And I hope to have everything turned in *before* my two week vacation (well, two weeks of working on remodeling my kitchen instead of being at work - Disney World would've been much more fun!), when everything in the house will be up in the air.

I really don't want to lose anything I've done at THIS point!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

UFO Friday, with lots of UFOs...

1. Selected Craft Books, 30% off at Borders &

2. I am completely beside myself to learn that Coni (aka Spinster Stitcher) has 48 projects going right now. It makes my 54 53 a wee bit more bearable, to know that there's at least one other person (who blogs, even!) out there with a "starting problem" that isn't connected to a "finishing solution." Be that as it may, I have been working on Getting Things Closer to Finished. This involved frogging the Socktoberfest Socks (I must stew on exactly how to do the pumpkins; I *almost* had it, then I didn't, and I like knitting short-row toes, so re-starting won't be a problem.)

3. Then it involved starting a project small enough to carry around with my injury - ie, under a pound. It's a lovely little Michael Powell bookmark, one of a set of four (and I have to track that fourth one down!) called "Misty Morning". While there are other designers I like as much, whose finished product is just lovely and TOTALLY worth the work, I get the absolute most enjoyment out of Powell's pieces. They tend to be blocks and splashes of color, thus:

And then, suddenly, add lines and something completely different emerges. I just love this stuff!

4. At home, I have two projects active right now. The first is the Angel of Hope cross stitch for my father-in-law. It's done with EternaSilk (which I am NEVER using again - it's lovely, but really, really shreddy), two strands over one on 32ct linen. Yes, over ONE. THIRTY-TWO count. That, my friends, means the stitches are so tiny that for bits of this piece, I can't wear my glasses, since I can't focus small enough with them on. (This also means that I've got the piece about four inches from my nose, and my husband can't watch me stitch, since he's worried I'm going to poke myself in the eyeball. I don't get that; I can see the needle just fine, it's right there!) Anyway, here's the two colors that aren't white done on her left wing:

It's blurry because it's close range with my wee cameraphone

Sadly, I completely mucked up the counting on her right wing, so I'm going to have to very carefully snip out all those miniscule stitches and start again. Luckily, it's not all *that* many stitches, only about 100 or so. I've got one piece - Autumn Queen, that I'm doing six strands over one on 10ct fabric, where I've got about 2000 stitches to take out... THAT takes a while. At this point, about four years.

5. Finally, I'm working again on my Dragon Illusion Blanket. You know, one of those lovely things where one "row" is actually a knit row, a knit & purl row following a pattern, another knit row, and then a knit & purl row that's a mirror image of the last knit & purl row - yep, that's four rows to get one. And yes, I said BLANKET. This is the first non-test-swatch bit of Illusion Knitting I've done, it's an original pattern, and it's a BLANKET. As in "cast on 245 stitches on size 9 needles in worsted-weight yarn; you will need about 2.5 POUNDS of yarn in each of two colors." It's going to be a lovely blanket, and I'm about 1/3 of the way into it, and I can actually see the dragon's head and forepaw and tail now, and it's really, really cool... but there's a LOT of knitting involved. Luckily, every other row is "knit across", which means I don't have to be concentrating *all* the time. This is a photo of the ORIGINAL blanket I started years and years ago, and frogged to restart earlier THIS year, but I'm up to about the same point I was when I frogged it, maybe a little bit past, and coming in from the front of the dragon, not the back. Same yarn, though, and same basic mass.

So, that's this week's UFO report!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I dunno... what were *you* thinking?

Okay, everyone has one... that thing that you spend a lot of time lovingly knitting, possibly even designing, hours and hours getting it just right... to discover that it's very, VERY wrong. Here's mine:

Yeah, because I totally needed a short-sleeved bat-wing mock-turtleneck midriff-baring sweater made from eye-bleedingly odd acrylic. (Really, I thought I did. I even thought it looked cute, at one time, which it may have done - but not because of the sweater, that's for damnsure.) I'm not sure if anyone will want it, but I'm going to donate it just in case, as it's in very good condition, even if it is a mite ugly.

So, what's your "why did I knit this??" C'mon, you know you want to share.

(Does anyone know if a successor to You Knit What? has appeared?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A tiny quilted finish - BEFORE the holidays!

... And the end of the finishing spate. This is a tiny little quilt that, while being pieced, fit in the pocket of my jeans. Or the side pocket of my bag. Or what have you. It's scraps left over from another project, hand-pieced with thread left over from various cross-stitch projects. The back and binding were bought special, as was the gold and red sparkly floss for the actual quilting, and thread-wrapping on the back. I really like the way it came out, especially since I was winging it on the quilting! Don't know if I'll ever use it as a chessboard, since I can't find any of my chess pieces just now, but it's a nice little holiday accent - and, oh, FINISHED!!!

front - the chessboard

back - the stylized tree

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A crochet finish...

Okay, so last week, I told you that I'd finished a couple of things. This one at least involves yarn. It's a double-sided crocheted scarf, designed by my friend stitchlove [Ravelry link]. I changed it up a little bit, making a three-color chain (Caron Supersoft in Navy, Ecru and Persimmon) and doing the back longways to make putting in the racing stripe easier (although it was a really really long scarf - I'm really glad my big afghan hook had a big stopper welded on the end). I have the materials for the hat to match, which will eventually go on The List, but not until the new year.

view of both sides


striped side (back)

chain side (front)

It's gonna be super warm!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Too Swift...

So, I have a swift, but no ball winder. This is not a problem, as I don't mind hand-winding balls. This time, however, I got a brilliant idea. The Lovely L had shown me how to make little center-pull balls a while back, so I decided to try making one.

I should've gotten up to get an actual tube-shaped object (as she told me to do), but lazily grabbed the bottle of Benadryl on my sidestand. I knew that if part of the ball went over the wrong end of the bottle, it could be a problem, and honestly, for the first Really Long While, I was careful about it. Then either I got tired or TV got fascinating, and I didn't notice that the yarn ball had closed up a bit... on the cap end of the bottle.

Thus, when I tried to remove the bottle from the center-pull ball, I discovered that somewhere in the very center, the yarn had closed around the smaller neck of the bottle, between the large bottle and the larger cap.

So, I am now knitting my Socktoberfest socks from an *outside*-pull ball of yarn, with a nice, rattly Benadryl weight in the center.

My husband, who has been helping with the de-stashing and de-stuffing of the house, has decided I need to get a ball winder! I don't want to tell him that... um... I have one, I just can't find it.


Friday, October 16, 2009

A finish...!

I started this piece in 1994 (!), and it's finally done. Eventually, it will go *back* on the list as a Sewing project (to turn it into a pillow), but as I have no intention of doing that any time soon, nor do I have the materials to do so, it's OFF the list for now, and finished!

I did alter the original design somewhat. All of Santa's hair is done in Whisper, and I left out the candles in the wreath, because I just didn't care for them. Oh, and it's six strands on 10ct fabric - the whole thing is about two feet by two feet. It's gonna be a BIG holiday pillow someday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's never too early to plan for a good sale...

Attention, DC-area residents!

Fibre Space is having a big Black Friday sale, starting at 6am!

I'm sure gonna be there!!

The same Dye Lot?

Same Dye Lot? I don't think so...

(There will be a YoT on Dye Lots and Why They Do (or don't) Matter To You at some point. Just not now.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Better, sort of...

Thanks for the good wishes, everyone, it's appreciated!

Um... still not really back. There won't be a Yarn on Thursday this week; I don't have enough time to put one together, sorry! Um... what do I have, what do I have? Um...

More on Clapotis. Here it is near the end of September this year.

Okay, doesn't look like much from this angle...

But ooooo, you can tell there's a lot of knitting that's happened from THIS angle!

Also, received some Michael Powell bookmark kits in the mail (and discovered that there's a fourth one to get at some point)... I just love Michael Powell kits. They're fun, and it's really *all* about the backstitch/line. ♥!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brief Haitus

Hey, everyone...

So, Friday's trip to the doctor's office turned into Friday afternoon's trip to the Emergency Room (where I got asked several times why I didn't go to my primary care physician first, to which I replied "I did, she told me to come here immediately"). I was poked, stuck with needles and tubes, and run through Gigantic Space Donut machines (aka CAT scanners), and other sorts of fun.

Three days later, they still aren't sure what's wrong, but at least it's hurting a *bit* less, and they've ruled out most of the life-threatening, surgery-requiring stuff.

I'm talking today off (even though it's not a holiday at my job), just to recover from the Big Adventures of the weekend. Hopefully, I'll be up for a full day of work tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobody home right now...

I'm not actually here today, this is really yesterday, even though now it's Friday as you read this. I have a Pain in my side that's causing enough problems that it's time to go to the doctors' office and get poked at (and, hopefully, diagnosed properly and repaired).

I have a couple of finishes I want to share, but I don't have the photos, so we'll do that next week.

Until then, enjoy this amazingly-lovey-SO-going-in-my-Ravelry-queue Snowflake Stole from Fiddlesticks...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Busy, pain, ow, busy

No Yarn on Thursday (sorry, no time!)

Just to continue my finishing insanity, quite some time ago (I'm going to guess "about a year", you'll know why in a moment), I started stitching a cute little diaper holder. The idea was to have it done for my friend K's baby shower... but I didn't quite make it. Um. By a lot.

Anyway, the baby-in-question's First Birthday Party is in just under two weeks, so BY GOLLY, K is going to get a diaper holder. (The baby is a bit young to appreciate much of anything, but I'll get a brightly-colored lead-free chewable sparkly toy of some sort.) I am *also* going to finish a wee baby sampler with All The Stuff I Wish I Knew on it (what day of the week the little one was born, and in which town... that sort of thing).

Please ignore the fact that, up until about a month ago, I knew EXACTLY where it was in the house and now I can't find it, but I know it's in there somewhere.

Now, I'm not completely insane; both items are mostly finished, just a lot of backstitching and some framing on the one, and a couple of words and some backstitching on the second. It *is* actually possible to have them finished.

Possibly not wrapped, and I might be stitching the diaper holder as we hit their driveway on the day, but it's *possible*.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More on the Future Meltdown front

"Elusive, and highly prized are reproductions of samplers.
One of the most highly sought is the 1760 Chase Sampler by little 11 year old Mary Starker."

Amen to that - I've been looking for one of these for over TWENTY YEARS. See, my mother bought this kit back in the 70s and worked the whole thing, framed it, hung it on the wall for all to admire. And then, in one of the many, many Army relocations our family underwent, it was lost. She was heartbroken. So, ever since I started seriously stitching in college, I've been on the lookout. Antique stores were haunted, estate sales were attended, and there's been a troll crawling eBay for me since I first discovered eBay.

Finally, this year, one showed up on eBay. After the new PayPal rules (so I couldn't just use my own credit card for the Buy It Now), so I had to explain to my husband why he needed to RIGHT NOW pay an unseemly sum for an ancient kit. Thankfully, he'd heard about it at some point during the past decade from both me *and* my mother, so he got it.

My mother doesn't know.

The original sampler:

Size: 16"x 24" design hand printed on pure linen, size 20"x 28, cotton floss, diagrams, directions and stitch instructions.
Artist: Mary Starker, 1760, as reproduced & licensed by Elsa Williams
Manufacturer: Williamsburg by Elsa Williams, Exclusive Manufacturer of Williamsburg Needlework
"This is the Elsa Williams licensed reproduction of The Chase Sampler. Copied from the sampler worked by Mary Starker, this reproduction kit duplicates the gay colors and charming design of the original in the Williamsburg collection. A rare example of American needlework design, because it combines an embroidered picture with alphabet lists and includes the embroiderer's place of birth "Newbury, New England" ( thought to be Newburyport Massachusetts). Mary's name, place of birth, date, and a pious ejaculation, "Goodness and Mercy Ever follow those who shape their Conduct by Gods Holy Laws" have been deleted from the reproduction so that the 20th century worker may personalize the work."
While I understand that the kit has Great Value as an untouched item, screw that. It will have much, much more value to us hanging on the wall, thus I'm stitching this in secret for my mother, and hope to have it finished and framed by her next birthday as a surprise. She's going to love it!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Future Meltdown Alert

Okay, so, having decided that (a) I am indeed a mite insane when it comes to knitting and (b) I can, in fact knit things for people without undue separation anxienty as long as I'm knitting something for someone else from the get-go, I decided to knit things for Christmas for a lot of folks.

First, to keep a long-running joke going as long as possible, I will be knitting Baby Owlbears for my entire gaming group (ten people). I have only a vague idea what a stuffed knitted Baby Owlbear will look like; I only know I need ten of them. Luckily, there's a lot of yarn left from 30 Rabbits in 30 Days. Here is a cute Baby Owlbear, drawn in 2007 by talented artist Babbletrish (seriously, go check the portfolio behind the link; the artist is open to taking comissions, (serious inquiries only)):

While my knitted ones won't be nearly this adorable, this is my favorite Baby Owlbear pic *ever*.

Then, there's my husband. Again with the long-running jokes, I would like to make him a Trilobite hat, Trilobite socks (from Wendy D. Johnson's recent book), and a small stuffed Trilobite. HE HAS SIZE 14EE FEET. The socks... may not happen this year.

Then there's the other-craft stuff: a huge sampler for my mother (the incredible story behind this will follow once I've got enough of it done to show you), a huge cross-stitch angel for my in-laws, which is actually beyond the point in this picture. I have only the wings left to do... but the wings are about as many stitches again as I've already done;

...a huge stained glass window for my father, and a bunch of ornaments for my friends that I believe the four I finished say "2006"... so some frogging needs to happen there, assuming I can even find those now. If I do, I may just change the year to "2010" and hope I finish by holiday-time next year.

Now, very little of this is actually going to get done, but all y'all can have fun watching the meltdown as it happens!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Scarves for College-Bound Foster Youth


Not a productive weekend. Just pretend you've never heard of me doing anything with the TKGA.

On an up note, though, I'd like to draw your attention to this


KNITTERS AND CROCHETERS TAKE NOTE!!! The submission period for this year's Red Scarf runs from September 1 to December 15, 2009
A Great Charitable Knitting AND Crocheting Initiative Provides Warmth and Encouragement to Foster Youth

In 2005, OFA launched a unique initiative to warm the hearts (and necks) of college-bound foster youth. We began taking donations of handmade red scarves to put into our Valentine's Day Care Packages.

I learned about this last week from She Shoots Sheep Shots's blog, and really, the word needs to get passed along. This is such a great idea, and I know just where to get some great yarn!

Friday, October 2, 2009

I have teenage relatives younger than this UFO.

Okay, so I haven't actually started my Socktoberfest socks yet, because I'm really really close to finishing one of my older UFOs. To wit, a lovely cross-stitch, "Spirit of Christmas". By "older", I mean "started in 1994". Yes, I actually keep track of just how long something's been a UFO. Anyway, I pulled it out after finishing my lovely Phoenix, and, as of September 20, 2009, here's where it stood:

And here it is a few days later in the week....

And here it is over the weekend...

... and I'm really hoping to have it finished by Monday, along with at least half of my Socktoberfest Socks. And here's a late September shot of Clapotis with George, just because:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Still the Hot New Look

Knitting is the Hot New Thing Again This Year. FOR TRUE. I walked down the Big Mall on Saturday, and in the space of five minutes, took all of these pictures:

Ann Taylor

Coldwater Creek

Brooks Brothers

United Colors of Benneton

Wet Seal

American Eagle Outfitters

Over at the bargain outlets, it's selling as well. TJMaxx:

JCPenny Catalog Outlet Store:

Yes, that's Moonlight Mohair & Fun Fur.
At JC Penny.

And good heavens, even the local newspaper has a knitted outfit on the cover (for the second time this year):

Nothing beats the Yarnball Sheep in the Diesel window from last year, though. Baaaa!