Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the new tricks product report

manickin I am happy - or does this say manic to you? does that make it a manic-quin? - to present the New Tricks Red Scarf:

Knit almost entirely, except when I couldn't help myself, holding yarn in my left hand. Sometimes the continental mojo kicked in and I knit along smoothly, if not speedily. Other times, the repetitive stress injury was overtaken by a painful spasm in my neck from clenching my teeth in concentration. To see me working on this is like watching yourself brush your hair in the mirror but using your opposite hand. (Go try it, its supposed to be good for our brains.)

The official report:
A scarf for the Red Scarf Project and let's not forget Knit Unto Others, knit horizontally, my own design aka Make-It-Up-As-You-Go-Along. It has three rows of double moss stitch along each long side to keep it flat.The rest is rows of knit interspersed occasionally by 2-3 purl rows, to make it more ridgey and 2 sided.
Yarn: A skein of red Berroco Pleasure. A skein and a half of recycled sari silk. (Cool stuff). The better part of a skein of Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb in sky blue and some Brown Sheep Lambs Pride in orange.
Dimensions: 6" wide and a whopping 70"+ length , before fringe.
Who knew it was going to come out so long? I cast on, if not with gauge , then with gauginess (sorry Colbert) and as it was squished up on the circular needles, I didn't see the proportions till I cast off. I was wondering how a not-so-wide scarf could hoover up so much yardage. Duh.

Notes:I ran low on red way sooner than anticipated, so the scarf is more blue than I would have chosen in advance. Not a color combo I am drawn to ordinarily, that bright red and quiet blue. I wasn't sure how I felt about it in finished form until my professional trend-spotting sister stopped by. She's the director and buyer for a museum shop, so she knows groovy.
She said it had a Sundance Catalog look, neo-bohemian hippy but with good materials & textures. Actually she said a lot more on the subject including what trend it followed and why but I didn't retain it . She had me at Sundance.

My mom finished a Red Scarf too, hers decidedly more manly, seen here on my nearest man model.momred A basket weave stitch, done in a machine washable boucle because, as mom says, what college student will handwash a scarf? My answer of course, is what college student will wash a scarf at all? I hardly remember to wash scarves and I'm an otherwise responsible adult. When you're home for Thanksgiving, that's not the conversational angle to pursue at any age, so I patted and admired and we agreed that its going to be appreciated for its cuddliness.

Back to new tricks practice. More product soon.dogstick

Saturday, November 25, 2006

so, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks

oldDogBut it'll really mess up her gauge.
I've got some repetitive motion stress injury in my right arm. Not saying knitting's the culprit but it definitely aggravates things.

My solution to move differently is knitting continental. Easily said. Slower going. Purling OK, knit, not so much. In the end, when my elbow and hand are better, I'll settle on the combination style that Annie Modesitt promotes, its most natural to me, and I already knit through the back by habit.

The garment taking the hit was my first version of Swell. I can't show, I ripped too quickly, but I'll tell. I started it in blue with a black wave. I reassessed. Aside from the, ahh, lets say homey-ness of uneven gauge from left handed knitting, there were issues.

Too masculine for the giftee I had in mind. She and I have talked about how when the weather gets colder, we find ourselves wearing boy clothes. The black wave was handsome but just too. Also, the pattern has the first rows with ear flaps attached as purl completely around, creating a non-roll front forehead (good) but a ridge through the earflaps (not so). You can barely see it on the pattern but on mine, it looked like the earflaps were an afterthought. And my row gauge was longer so the wave placed too high. Applying my three strikes and you rip rule, its history.

I took a while to decide on the new colors.

This time I think I like it. (woof).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

my best thanksgiving

(At the end it relates to knitting and the Red Scarf Project)
My best Thanksgiving dinner ever took place 16 years ago. Far from home, far from the Land of the Pocohantas and the Pilgrims. It was in South America. These were the guests of honor :
These cuties were in the process of being adopted from an orphanage by families from the US. Dave and I had received an official adoption decree in court the day before, for the tiny guy on the far left. The US Embassy was closed to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving and we needed to wait till Friday to get our baby's green card, to take him home.
We found other families in similar limbo to share the day. The meal itself was forgettable, save for the can of jellied cranberry that a woman from Kansas had oddly brought with her. What is forever memorable is how thankful we were to have our son, and be a family, and how we marveled at the dips and turns life takes to place you in such wonderful moments.

Being an adoptive parent makes me forever conscious of what family means. Years later I worked on a book about what happen to kids who age out of foster care. The one thing the subjects all said, whether their lives were going well or a struggle, was they wished they had a mom or dad. Not for the big things but for the small. Someone to show up at your sports games, or know you won a prize, or to call on a bad day when your car breaks down and fail a test or have a problem with a co-worker. One man in his twenties, a huge strapping entrepeneur and former college football player got tears in his eyes telling me that no one, zero, zippo, was there to see him graduate from college.

That's what the Red Scarf project is all about. The students who get a hand knit scarf in a care package this February don't have families to send them something that says"I'm thinking of you". But they'll know that someone was, thanks to the efforts of the Orphan Foundation and the goodness of many knitters.

I'm going to spend this Thanksgiving with my family, hopefully appreciating each other during a very long car ride but let's not get too carried away, OK?. I'll be knitting something red, and warm, and hopefully lovable as a scarf with this: 1106FamVar073

For more info on the Red Scarf Project.
Or visit the Orphan Foundation website, they're the organization that sends out the care packages and arranges mentors for former foster care kids.
For more information about National Adoption Month (November) go here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

part one of a series

First giftee off the list in this year's holiday knitting jamboree

Sisterly accessories to go with the Fetchings she got for her birthday not long ago, from the pink merino yarn that was in my grabbed bag of goodness from Hopyards Spinnery. I'd made the mistake of being so enthralled that visit with so many choices that I took a little of this, a little of that...and now I'm figuring out just what to do with 100-200 yards each of the yarns I chose. Crazy! I plan to do better when I return there for this week's sale.

Fortunately I've got a sister who likes lots of color and texture. The scarf idea came when surfing along, I hit this scarf on Hedgeblog (you'll need to scroll down but you can't miss it) , she received it in a swap , and said it was Misty Garden, a feather and fan stitch scarf in ScarfStyle in variegated mohair, but here it was done in bumpy yarn.

I liked the effect, but having only 100 yards at best that fit the thick and thin bill, I put it together with some other
Farmhouse Yarns that kinda sorta shared colors, and this scarf resulted. You know what? I like it. Feather and fan is always fun to knit, and on size 10 needles, it was done before I had time to think too hard and rip it out as not working.

Here's my knitter's version of the play-by-play. fyi, the yarns are named after the farm's sheep.

When I got to the end of it, I realized a couple of things.
1- if I'd wanted it to be symmetrical, I should have knit half the length, held the stitches on scrap yarn, knit an identical half and then grafted them, because feather & fan stitch is quite directional.

But, to quote one of my favorite books, The Vintner's Luck, " God hates symmetry".
Yeah, OK, I'm quoting a fictional bisexual fallen angel with a fondness for fine wine but, he's right. (BTW? its a great read.)

Where was I?
oh, yeah, that slightly peculiar hat.
2- I still had some of each yarn left over. A coordinating hat, its your basic beanie- loosely based on BonneMarie's Chichatpattern- with the raspberry Andy's Merino held together with : at the bottom edge, the Lumpy Bumpy, then with the Wool by Bessie. When that ran out, it was 2 strands of the merino itself. When I got to the very tippy top, I ran out with one round left to go. Not to be defeated, I topped it off with a yard of merino in Key Lime.So now I have 199 yards left of that color.
I'm not sure if I love the total effect but knowing that this sister walks her little dog at 5:30 am all winter, she'll, at the very least, stay warm headed in the dark.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

flap happy

Somehow I left this out when I showed you my "think red " walk from yesterday:
Modern hieroglyphics.

On the gift knitting horizon I've two requests for earflap hats, from people with very different personal styles but (apparently) a shared desire for ear warmth. One is a guy who likes a point and whimsy/funky hat. The other, a woman, wants something warm and stylish yet artsy, but was clearly against a point. I bet you can't guess how much time one can spend surfing around looking for just the right earflap hat pattern? I hit Interweave's back issues, all of Garn, Knitty, lots of sites, books I own, and am still not sure. If you have one you like, send me to it.

As far as the yarn goes, I've got me a plan: I'm going over the river and through the woods, literally, back to the Hopyards Spinnery later this week, there's another Farmhouse Yarns sale. If you missed my gleeful haul objective reporting from the last one I went to, check here. Worth a daytrip, November 16th-19th, 8 am-4pm.

Friday, November 10, 2006

red(y) to go

The Bar Mitzvah was a crazy joyful blur. We observed, we ate, we hora'd, we Motowned, we resurrected bad dances of the seventies through nineties, we gave meaning to the vow to dance like no one was watching. I may have one hell of a messy house and be behind for work pretty much everything now but oy, such naches. (linked because although there was plenty of eating, tortilla chips weren't on the menu and I don't want you non-yiddish speakers to get the wrong visuals).

I'm returning to my usual diversions of blog reading and pattern perusing and scheming what to knit next. There's the holiday gift knitting, of course, and big, so big, in my plans : The Red Scarf Project. I was thinking red all day. I haven't decided on what red pattern to do first but am loving this new Grumperina pattern. I am very very tempted by the red dominated sari silk on Destash, I figure that'd do well mixed in as stripes with with some solid red yarn , and some other colors I have here already, to knit simple lengthwise scarves. (I am so tempted you may see that first set of skeins sold by the time you click over there but fear not, there are more below it).

I was thinking about what colors went well with what shades of red, knowing not everyone loves the primary bright red, so I took my camera along the dog walking route today. There's surely a red for everyone. I'm inspired.