Saturday, March 26, 2005


With my RibbyCardi sleeves on their last few inches, I see rigorous blocking ahead. I usually wait till I've got the whole sweater finished & sewn, then do a light block. But look at this, if my arms were Olive Oyl's, or, say, the size of your average banana, I'd be fine.
I'm trying to be all zen about having to wait out the blocked pieces drying, and appreciate the process. But really? I want something new on the needles. I've been ogling yarn online. I was in the mood for a real yarn store. I figured I'd head out with my boys in the afternoon , and work a yarn shop into the day.

I know better than to tell 11 & 14 year old guys that's what the day holds.

I had a Plan.
It started with outdoor activity, y'know, for getting out ya-ya's.

    Then the Plan kicked in. Admire my brilliance if you can.

  1. Feeding - we go eat at a cafe that just happens to be located on the same block as a yarn store and an exotic bird store. A subdivision of Feeding is Bribery, and this cafe just happens to sell old-fashioned candy like those multicolored buttons on paper. I will sink this low to insure myself some time undisturbed in the yarn store. Check, lunches eaten, candy puchased, all goes flawlessly. I am thinking I have a good hour ahead in the yarn store. Undisturbed.

  2. Diversion- we are suckers for animals. The guys run into the bird store, I head for the yarn store. Its more crowded than I'd hoped. I spend 10 minutes looking over the sale stuff, and have just settled in front of a wall of unaffordable but beautiful Mountain Colors and Collinette. I can finally see true-life hues, on touchable fibers, not the monitor version.........and then I hear it. Commotion by the front of the store. I try not to look. "Mom, Mom, Ma, you gotta come " - they're jostling each other and the cluster of knitters by the table. They get louder. By now everyone is swiveling their heads around to find the parent of these hoodlums disturbing the knitterly peace. "You gotta come, they're GIVING AWAY DOVES" . I reply in my best knitting store whisper " No! no more pets, especially not doves." Which only makes them repeat louder. By now one of the store owners has joined us , eyeing the 11 year old's hand clenching a strip of candy buttons in a sticky looking way. "No really Mom, you gotta see them, they're FREE, we'll take care of them, C'MON you have to come, DOVES...FOR FREE!"

Next door, I find this weird training session going on. We go home. No yarn.
Also, no doves.birdleash

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

dimanche is for strolling

I'm back from Montreal to testify that, should you ever need a destination for a long walk in the Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood, the yarn store Magasin de Fibre LB is your choice. Just don't do it on Sunday. Or else, like me, you'll be standing with your nose pressed against the window, wondering why its the only shop on the block with no hours listed next to the word dimanche.

Honestly? I was relieved . This place sells yarn by the pound. You choose your fibers and colors, and they ply it right there. Just for you. Imagine the possibilities! But looking at the hundreds of cones on shelves- and I mean hundreds- I realized the combined effort of translating the only-in-french words, and the meters-to -yards, and the $CD to $USD all while making a color/fiber/plying decision would cause my brain to explode, splattering all the lovely fibres and causing an international KNITTING RELATED INCIDENT.

Instead we reversed our stroll and had a springtime sidewalk Montreal treat: sugar on snow. The propietor ladles hot maple syrup on ice and as it turns to taffy , you roll it up as a strip onto your stick. mmm-hmmm.

Anyway, I really didn't need any yarn, because Mason-Dixon Ann has got me fixated on this cotton Blue Heron yarn, in Old Gold,
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as my next purchase, when I am ready to take the Clapotis shawl onto my needles for spring.

Friday, March 18, 2005

stripes & semiotics

I just couldn't resist a little knitting on my RibbyCardi sleeves, and then once I'd done a couple inches, I needed to see how a stripe would look. Not sure about it. Does a stripe say something sporty about the sweater?

and while I'm on the subject of semiotics... we watched About a Boy . I'm not a big Hugh Grant fan, he plays the same guy in every movie, but we're working our way through the local library's dvd collection. The first time one of the main characters appears, played by Toni Collette, she's wearing a handknit hat (possibly that cat-eared one from the SnB book), sweater and bright scarf and her son's in a knit sweater jacket and earflap hat. Here's the son:

I think of her: "cool, I like this character". It quickly becomes apparent that the handknits are meant to telegraph to us that she's loony, goony, self-indulgent, a neo-hippy out of step with mainstream culture not to mention she's depressed. It gave us a good laugh. Hmmm. Should I be worried? I have the same haircut...if not the hairy sweater.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

oinkers on wing

Its March, its still snowing. We're watching out for flying pigs. Why? Unprecedented and surprising behaviours , submitted for your perusal:

  • Reason #3. Matching storage boxes.
    While cleaning out the Extra Room to get ready for a guest, I discovered the urgent need for a lamp. We have almost no lighting fixtures in this house. Floor lamps keep moving around and disappearing. An eleventh hour trip to Ikea yielded illumination and a set of matching boxes to store yarn in. Why the sudden urge to do this? No idea. I've been storing yarn in an unattractive collection of old tote bags and large zip locks for years. Ever since moths got into the attractive open baskets I used to use......shudder....can we not talk about the moth incident?

  • 2. Reason #2 Really dumb mistakes on a simple pattern. My Ribby Cardi is taking longer than it should. Apparently my ability to knit, talk & drink coffee at the same time is impaired. For the past two Sundays, while meeting friends for coffee, I've made big honking mistakes. One on each front, not noticed till 20+ rows later. Yesterday's was doing the armhole decreases in reverse stockinette, a move so dorky you really have to wonder.

  • 1. The # 1 reason why pigs will fly: Dave & I are going away together for a trip. Alone. Just the two of us. For the first time since becoming parents 14 1/2 years ago. Despite my desparate need to see something green outdoors, on the weekend we're heading north to Montreal. I'd say something clever and very happy in French here but my vocabulary is tres challenged.

  • What to knit enroute. I've just cast on the two Ribby Cardi sleeves. I'll put them aside and work on that Torgeir until I leave, so I can do the Cardi sleeves in the car. I've been simmering the idea of a spring Clapotis . Its irresistible, its French and I'm heading to Quebec, I should start it there. D'accords?

    Any yarn store recommendations in Montral? I found this one's description intriguing, Magasin de Fibre, they sell yarn by the pound and custom ply it for you. Has anyone been there?
    Here are my Clapotis yarn wishes:
    1. Cost $30. or less total
    2. Be sort of smooth with a little sheen- maybe a yarn with cotton & silk blended in it. Maybe even no (gasp) wool.
    3. Match this color palette of a hike we took to spy on wintering seals yesterday afternoon.

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    why wool is still in season

    What happens when I mess with weather voodoo by looking at cotton blend yarn online.
    In the yard:

    And the view down the street:

    Please supply your own stingingly cold winds.

    Finally, the view in my office:

    Don't report me to the local chapter of Women Who Knit Too Many Variegates.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    women and addiction

    In celebration, this work by my friend, the artist Julie Fraenkel. Its doubly appropriate since in this entry, she's the other main knitting character.

    Julie & I meet early most weekday mornings to exercise. In decent weather we hike, in spring through fall we also kayak and in summer we can swim in the 'hood. In the winter we go to a gym, where we are bored to death.

    Anyway, lately I've bullied encouraged Julie to pick up her needles again, after a long knitting hiatus. First she did a bear for The Mother Bear Project . Then she got the Interweave Folk Bags book. Julie's making a string bag with a tight basketweave stitch at the top and an open stitch below. She's having trouble with it, so brought her knitting to the gym the other morning to see if I could give it a go.

    After working out & showering, we sat down in the locker room to knit. I don't know if this is normal in your gym, but in ours its definitely not. Strange looks, a couple comments on the pattern and the wonderful greenish yellow cotton yarn, sort of the same color as the items on the shelf in this piece Mostly the gym women stepped around us to their lockers.

    She ripped back, she cast on, I taught her a different cast on , we tried both of the stitches in the pattern on different size needles. As an aside, I think there's a mistake on the basketweave gauge listed in the book. Buts its a bag, not a sweater, so no biggie. Soon we'd been sitting there for close to an hour. We were happy. We deserved the strange looks we were getting.

    Then, a woman came slamming in, looked us over and shouted "You know what you knitters are? Yer all addicts!" .

    I got me some shiny needles and some killer Noro, wanna split a kilo?

    Friday, March 04, 2005


    What to do with this ball of pink fuzziness?
    Its about 1/10 of an ebay yarn faux-pas, purchased last December. The seller said dusty rose, wool mohair blend. In my optimist's mind, I saw subtley colored lace. I received.....this. Don't adjust your monitors. It is to dusty rose as mustard is to egg yolk.

    Don't get me wrong, I like pink. In some light, like pale shadows of winter, its candy colored, and on my red kitchen floor its something else.

    It appears as pepto bismol on the face of my 14 yo Son Who Won't Wear Wool (but is OK with lying on the floor with it ).

    Call it Angry Tonsil or Just Plain Pink, its definitely not lacey. It knits up way too chunky for my imagined shawl. So it sits in the Extra Room. If you live in an old house like ours, with almost no closets, you are very glad to have an Extra Room, even if its small. There we put the things we don't want to deal with, things we don't want to look at, and the fax machine. The bookshelf in it has books we barely acknowledge, such as copies of Bed & Breakfast Inn books I photographed in the late 80's & early 90's (uselessly out of date), and a rug that a visiting sister spilled patchouli oil on many years ago. It still gets aromatic at the right temperature.

    I can usually close the door and walk by but tomorrow, my father-in-law is coming for a visit. In the morning, I must turn the Extra Room into the Guest Room. I don't like cleaning & tidying. For starters, I am contemplating the pink.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    bear with us

    Here was the scene on Sunday, for the Knitting Happy Hour to benefit The Mother Bear Project. Go look at the link before I share the riveting action you expect when ten friends in shoreline New England get together in the winter.

    Essentially, knitters making bears that are sent to orphaned children in Africa& India, where AIDS in adults has created an epidemic of homeless little ones. You can see, it doesn't solve the huge problem but it gives them something to hug. Can that be bad?

    Given that I'm not the teddy bear type, some of my friends doubted my seriousness about wanting them to knit teddy bears. No one doubted that I wanted a happy hour, however. Some whining, some wine-ing, we got down to business.

    Two people learned to knit. Two learned to purl. I learned that some people view purl as the Evil Sister Stitch, something to be endured until the Good Sister Knit stitch row comes up again. Who knew?

    The thing is, the pattern is hardly more than a scarf, see here's a partially finished bear:
    Its knit in one piece, and folded over on top of the head. You can't make it wrong. It can be all garter stitch or any combo of stitches. When you put the stuffing in, uneven tension problems are eased over & cuddly. A perfect beginner project.

    Thats what I like about knitting, there's so many right ways to do it. Or, if you're a half-empty glass type, there aren't too many ways to do it wrong. You know what else I learned? Some people need rules ! And one of my friends doesn't believe in knots.

    Final score: zero bears finished. Ten started. Lots of loud talk & laughter, driving my all male household scuttling to a local pizza place. Knocked February on its ass. Next knitting happy hour, in March.