Wednesday, December 31, 2008

ending at square one

My one & only 2008 knitting goal was to make something for Dave. Done.
pattern: Turn A Square
yarn: Victory Ranch Alpaca, machine spun, in three natural shades
Doesn't the brown/white plied together remind you of......something?
Yup, me too. It was all I could do to restrain myself from knitting a thin red stripe along the bottom edge, or maybe lining the bottom few inches in red , leaving a bit to show when you see it turn out to the ribbing.
I bet you think I procrastinated till the last day of the year to make this. Nope. Close, though with good reason: Dave is a native Minnesotan. He doesn't do the woolly layer thing for just any cool breeze. It's got to be certifiably Friggin' Cold, or snowing briskly , to make him pull on more than a canvas baseball cap. This week , and definitely today, the time for warm and handknit is upon us.
And upon the dog, too.
Happy 2009 to all, and may all your goals be well met!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

two mo fo

More of the gifts.
I never showed the blocked finished version of this one.
pattern: Aibhlinn
yarn: Brooks Farm Solana- 1 skein= 320 luscious superwash yards . The link is to Red Rover, which is close to the color I used, mine was an orphan skein.
needles: US8
Notes: Based on my last knit of this, ,and the many many views of it on Ravelry, I cast on 89 stitches, and got the size I wanted. It's about 24" wide and 19" long, with pulling it over the hair as a hood in mind.
Still, btw, loving the bobbles.

Back in August I mentioned my nephew requesting a tam. He has, as you can see if you click on that link, prodigious head/hair dimensions. I've been queuing spacious tam patterns like mad ever since. When the time came to finally cast on, I had a skein of the same yarn this pattern was shown in, so , there ya go, low risk tamming.
pattern: Bounce
yarn: Andys Merino , maybe 120ish yards? I used part of the skein here, and wondered what to do with the rest ever since. This is a pattern for the wildly variegateds amongst us.
needles: I went up to US 11 to make sure it'd be, um, large enough. A case of getting what I wished for, definitely.
It is so spacious I can't show it to you on anyone around here, it looks absurd. Each person who tried to model it, and knows the nephew personally, said, yah, he's got a huge head , this'll work.

But about the knit itself? Its a sort of fake brioche stitch that I didn't think I'd enjoy knitting, yet I did. Fabulously. I wish this style looked good on me so I could knit another, that's my testimony. I had the idea I'd model this one for you, makeup & everything , a glam photo like this, or this, to suit the fashion of it all. eek. I looked more Dumb Donald than Vogue. Probably all for the best - I don't think I can handle the lipstick to truly pull it off!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Added 11/4/16
I wrote a little bit about this pattern today on my blog.
It's still a free download. But I'll add the following, because I feel more strongly than ever that all work has value: If you like this pattern, and download it, please consider a donation of any size to CRAN, an orphanage in Bogota Colombia that I am close to. Every nickel is well-used and appreciated.**

I'm ready to show & tell the finished gifts but Lamar gets its own post. I like it that much.
LAMAR a reversible cabled chunky scarf
Designer: me
Pattern: free download here 
and in German here (ed 04/13--the german link disappeared but I'll leave it just in case someone replaces it)
Yarn: Cascade 109 Tweed, a chunky yarn, 109 yards per skein, 3 skeins in walnut
Needles: size US 13
The backstory: when bro-in-law said he'd like a scarf I was ready to jump on one of those striped scarves. Except he added, "it has to be reeeaally soft so I can have it right on my neck."

Now, I can call the Noro Silk Garden soft enough when blocked for me, the knitter, but in the real non-knitting world? Not so much on the bare neck.

So, what to knit? I have Opinions on scarves. They should look great from both sides, and no ribbing allowed on the ends if they're cabled. And I wanted cables but not with squared off long sides. I felt like knitting chunky. So I winged it. (wang it?) . Manly enough for the guys, don't you think? Still a litle artsy, looks good on women too. That's sister Lulu lending her neck for the cause. Again.

I usually get bored on the last quarter scarf, but not this time. It was that quick a knit. And I found myself loving the yarn/cable stitch combo I'd chosen. Usually I recoil from mushroomy-beigey tones, yet I have to say Kathy's right. Mushroom is the New Black.
oh? did I mention? I found the cushy squooshy Cascade 109 Tweed yarn on sale here, hustle over if you want to make this scarf on the cheap in a way that suits our economy.

Monday, December 22, 2008


That's Heather, pg 142, scrubbing away in the Go Lightly Gloves (ravelry link) in Mason Dixon Knitting: Outside the Lines. And the winner of the contest, randomly chosen, is Elaine.(send me your mailing address!)

I have to admit, when Ann & Kay asked me to shoot their second book,being the smartass that I am, I replied , "Sure! unless it involves a handknit mop cover... " and just then Kay got this funny look on her face.

Whatever I may feel about the Swifty, I heart these gloves. If you need a last minute hostess gift this week, run to the book and make a pair of these. Wacky? yes, they are. But somehow hip and sophisticated at the same time. Just like Kay & Ann. (But don't tell them you heard it here.)

And speaking of small projects....
Looking for a knitting break from the scarf/mitten/cowl/hat parade? 0507vr_0940 Check out the Santa Fe Bag, free pattern at that link. We're using the gifting season to share some of the original Shear Spirit patterns we had to chop out of the hard copy book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

scattered wintry mix

The finished Aiblinn is damp & blocking, see it next post. Here it is, a row of bobbles short of a full cowl. You could say the same about me this week.1208famvar_329
I thought I'd take a break from the cowl on Saturday, and, as you can see? Bit of a color rut . Cowl yarn on the right. On the left, Lumpy Bumpy yarn double stranded with some Andys Merino and an afternoon of primo knitting time for this hat (which I now realize is identical to this hat I've had queued for-evah) until almost done, I realized it was all wrong. Too thick and bumpy on the brim. Flashback to a hat of my mom's in the early 70's cringeing the teenage me. Not. good. Gone!

I'm back on the [scarf] love train now, with this yarn.1208famvar_338
I call it mushroom to point out its utter lack of hue but
Cascade says Walnut. Dull , bulky , cabled, winging it-- and enjoying every minute. Should be ready for viewing in a day or so.

One last scarf , it's not knit but maybe you're feeling sew crafty? The backstory: I shot for these folks last summer, in a swanky photo set apartment. No one lives there, it's rented out just for shooting, you move the furniture and decor around to suit your images. CraftStylish shoot day1Here's one we shot in the kitchen- I'm not sure I'd be happy trying to get food stufflets out of the nooks & crannies but loved the poured concrete rustic countertops for the photos. Anyhoo, I was thrilled to see this, featuring my assistant Heather sitting in as model. Extra points if you can find Heather in action in Mason Dixon: Outside the Lines. It's like a craft world Wheres Waldo, but with much better makeup. No, wait! Let's make it a contest. (edited later)Leave me a comment with the page #, or, just leave a comment (like, duh, won't the answer be in every comment anyway? I'm not so good at the contest running!) and I'll put you in a drawing to win a set of Harmony DPN needles size 2 and a skein of this sock yarn. (I know, it should be something uber-Mason-Dixony but there are indeed sock patterns in the book ). Enter till noon Saturday 12/20.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Maybe you heard me on Brenda Dayne's podcast Cast-On ? She, swoon, did a beautiful review of Shear Spirit, with live readings, an interview, and music. We're about 1/4 of the way into the podcast. Try to ignore the contrast between Brenda's smooth as silk voice, and my nasal natter. (I even uptalked? What's with that?). If you've never listened to her before, download a bunch of back episodes, too, and enjoy.
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The ZigZag Cowl modeled by Rebecca at SnB last night. Maddeningly, I'd grabbed my strobe (flash) along with a battery pack that was drained of power- and in the most unprofessional way had no back up. That's the deal with being professional- knowing how to solve your problems. You just don't say "I didn't have enough light" . grrr. I didn't have enough light!

So here she was willingly posing looking gorgeous at our local faux french sandwich chain, the best knitwear model I've had in ages, I mean, she knows what goes into the knits and look at the wonderful stockings and outfit she had on- and there I was doing a Rumplestiltskin imitation stamping my clogged feet in frustration and sputtering after 2 exposures by the tea display.
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This is a gift for an entirely dfferent Rebecca, who is in Vermont and needs the warm.I made it long enough to pull up over her head as a hood in the snow.
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yarn: Mountain Mohair by Green Mountain Spinnery, 2 skeins
needles: size 8us (I knit loose, you might use size 9us)
finished size: 24" around x 18" long
modifications: to accomodate the yarn & size I worked the pattern in 88 stitches.
notes: My first picot! A reversible stitch pattern might be better for a cowl of this length since you want to roll it down on itself around the neck, but I was assured by the SnB my panel of experts that it looks good as is, the picot gives it a nice finished edge. Super warm in this yarn, not for you southerners or indoor wear.
And: if I was knitting a scarf, it'd be about 1/4 the number of stitches wide, and let's say I'd want 70" long...I'd be doing about the same number of stitches as here, right? 88 x 18" = 22 x 72" but somehow the cowl feels like a way quicker knit-- even with 88 stitches of picot on each end. Maybe its the round & round ness of it all.

I'm well into the gift knitting- and if you are related to me stop reading now!

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I'd picked up this skein of Solana from Brooks Farm, the colorway screamed my sister's name. I was planning a scarf -- the Just Enough Ruffles - but when here for Thanksgiving , she tried on my Aibhlinn and asked if I might make one for her next year. She thought I'd completed my gift knitting already...yeah. right?!--I happily switched gears,this satisfies my recent passion for cowl knitting and bobble making.1208GZUCKERfamvar_  032 What's with me? Picots and bobbles?Next I'll be sticking pom-poms and fringey things on sweaters, watch out.

Anyway, the Solana is a superwash even though it doesn't feel like it, and is a dream to knit, so this was whipping along until I put a crimp into my style.1208GZUCKERfamvar_  038
Literally. Defying all odds, the tip of a needle sticking out of my bag got caught in the whatsit thingy that makes the screen door not slam as I passed by, pleating it. Quick click over to Knitpicks , new size 8 tips are on their way. Its amazing how a small dent can slow down the yarn. on. every. stitch.

More gifts to come. I must be feeling the pressure, I'm queuing patterns like this now.

Monday, December 01, 2008

knitting, thanks ,and cha cha (cha)

In keeping with the season - and I would have posted this at least a week ago but life kind of hijacked me- some small things to be thankful for. We're not talking love, family, a house to live in , good healthcare or democracy . Nope, I'm talking about small things that just take your day up a notch. Here're three for starters.
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1) Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day. Seriously, deliriously brilliant. See that bread up there? I made it and it was no freakin' big deal, it was just today's basic loaf. These folks deserve a Nobel prize for Home Baking Genius.
Have you ever noticed I don't go on & on about recipes or the joys of the domestic life especially baking? It is - along with political reasons- because I am a sucky baker . I lack patience & precision. Other than making killer pies, you don't want my baking.

Last spring Christina posted a link about this book. I waited for the weather to get cool. Now, it's fab bread every day. I plan to work my way through but honestly the first two basic recipes for rustic peasant loaves (white /sourdough , and european peasant wheat/rye) are slaying us. Why did no one notice you could do this before- in a few minutes make a sticky unkneaded mass, throw it in the fridge, and have 4 loaves worth of incredibly good crusty bread?
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2) Cowls. The kind that can be pulled up to cover your head as a hood and still cover your neck. We're not talking that many less stitches than a scarf but I just love going round & round on these, and it seems like they go zoomingly fast. This one will be a gift, it's Mountain Mohair in the Zig Zag cowl pattern. 88 stitches and size 9 needles do the trick , and it looks like the two skeins will make just the right length. Technically I'm behind on the holiday knitting but not sweating yet. I've got the cowl to keep me happy.
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3) 1-800-2 Cha Cha. You dial (ok punch it in) and ask a question. Any kind of question. And an answer is texted back to you. For free . Could that be any cooler? Since learning about this 2 weeks ago, I 've asked about locations of businesses, when a play is coming to town, store hours, if a specific dvd was in stock at a store, and a slew of phone #'s. I have not asked any of the really big questions, like where do all the paperclips go and why do dryers eat socks, and if you eat a pound of something like potato chips with dip, can you gain more than one pound of weight? but give me time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

think RED:3 weeks to go!!

That's right. You better get them needles clicking- your scarf is needed by mid December at the Orphan Foundation for the Red Scarf Project.

And this may be the only time you see these words here: STEAL THE IMAGE. That's right, no need to email to ask permission , just get it from the Flickr page it's linked to and post it on your blog--or anywhere. It has the updated due date for this year and the address up top. And my copyright so leave it intact, please.

If you want a printable sized file of the image to hang in a shop or bulletin board, send me your email and I'll pop you the link. ezisusATsnetDOTnet .

Final thought: I know I'm recycling this poster from earlier years but for a good cause. A great cause. So bear with me and spread the word.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vermont trifecta perfecta

Montpelier on Saturday: great people, great yarn store, great town. The weather cooperated with lots'o wet grayness , perfect for whooping it up at The Knitting Studio. BTW? If you haven't been there in a while , check it out: spacious new storefront digs and friendly new owners. Here's the calm before the storm,
Not that I'm calling her a storm but Norma blew in a moment later. This might have been the last moment the shop was orderly until we closed them down.

Did I say Norma was famous? I meant infamous. So fun to spend the day with her, and see her CPH/no-H) in person. Her Dimorphous Mitts are also pretty spectacular. They so embody Montpelier's aesthetics- artsy, stylish and brilliantly functional. I predict a flurry of them soon.
Next came Sabra and Carol, posed with us above, two of the Mountain Fiber Folk, a cooperative of fiber farms and fiber artists even further north. Definitely Shear Spirit peeps. They cracked us up with tales of the local bar's mens knitting & drinking group (details over at Norma's). Norma seemed to know almost every knitter/blogger who popped in, including Sarah, and I knew many of the others- so it was a loud party. Knitting projects passed around, much admiring of yarns in action. Seriously, isn't it great when you see a yarn becoming a sweater and get a better sense of it? My Rhinebeck friend Barbara and her sister came by (Barbara -do you have a blog?) I know Barbara as the Mother-of-Sarah-Who-Knits-at-Landfills, it's part of her job. I know, don't you want that job too? um, maybe just the knitting part.

If Joan could have joined us it would have been a ShearSpirit reunion. Pop over to the bookblog and check out Joan's new knit, the Mendocino Vest. Rebecca, our book producer/agent was there.
I was teasing her about her passion for the sheep and dogs and not-so-much the patterns. Although a friend leaked the secret that now even Rebecca is knitting. Mission accomplished ! I left with a promise to knit her a cowl, and soon. At a delicious dinner down the street, the book's designer Linda Mirabile joined us- more blab and laughter, over wine and the kind of food you want to last for a week. That good. Seriously, my dinner made me a Brussels sprouts fan.

I left town with the lingering wish for a yarn souvenir, I'd been so busy knitting & talking I didn't get a chance to shop. My drive home goes right by Webs, but tragically (said sarcastically) they're closed on Sundays. Whatsa knitter to do? Duuuh! The Green Mountan Spinnery shop is open and also enroute.
The knitter and designer Eric Robinson was there working, I was thrilled to learn she likes our book, when she noticed me wearing the Montana Tunic (Rav link). As a perfect footnote, no groaning, she taught me to cast on two socks (or mittens) on one circular, something I've been mentally playing with but hadn't quite wrapped my brain around . And I left with two skeins of squeezy soft Mountain Mohair for Rebecca's cowl.

Now that's what I call a weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2008


It's the Lumpy Bumpy Worm scarf. Last seen here in its larval stage (at the end of the post). After you biologically clever types commented, mentioning organisms like worms with teeth, I was reminded of an aquarium exhibit of deep sea worms that live in geo thermal vents and..well, I really had to put it away for a couple of weeks. I wasn't so sure I was liking it, but as it grew, the weight of the yarn pulled the rows down , and it began to look interesting and textural instead of...I don't know, clotted up and organism-ish.
I'm over that now. It's very soft . I made it wider than the pattern suggested, so it used more than one skein, its a quick, fun knit , Lumpy Bumpy by Charlene on size 11 needles. I may put the leftovers together with a ball of solid Farm House Yarn that coordinates, and make my niece a chunky hat to go with it. This is, of course, the first of the holiday knitting.

My sister Lulu graciously agreed to model it for you all, she'd popped in to use my internet as hers was down. There is nothing like older sister pressure. "um, Lu? You can't leave here until you model a scarf. Yes. For the blog. Yes. Outside. Its not raining that hard".
Her observation: "Some scarves are big warm functional things that you tuck into your coat. And some are accessories. This.... is an accessory!".

Sunday, November 09, 2008

more knitting, less filler

Front & center: Imogen. I am so enjoying the basic stockinette production on this odd sweater.
Odd because it's almost impossible to photograph it in a way that shows a shape, it's sort of an origami type thing as you knit it in one piece, the sleeves wrapping over the shoulder attached to the back. I'm almost done with sleeve #2 now. I've had little time to truly sit & knit over the past few days so I sneak a row whenever I can, I'm just that into it.

For instance, Saturday am. You'd have found me sitting on a commercial fishing dock in New Bedford , Massachusetts, in the fog, finishing off the first sleeve, then picking out the provisional cast-on for the second , in the company of the Deadliest Catch/Ice Road Truckers film production crew. Not the knittiest gang to hang with.
NBC show Swords boat Eagle Eye II crew comes into port in Fairhaven MA
I was there on assignment for NBC to shoot some publicity photography for their newest real life/macho job series, Swords. We were literally waiting for our ship to come in. I had less than an hour before the action started but that just shows you my level of dedication to this cardigan, I can not put 'er down. Until large men in slicker overalls are jumping ship towards me.NBC show Swords boat Eagle Eye II crew comes into port in Fairhaven MA

NBC show Swords boat Eagle Eye II crew comes into port in Fairhaven MA
I love the ropes you find on commercial wharfs, like gigantic yarn except the plies are mondo sized.

Maybe I'll have Imogen done by next Saturday, when I'm up north for my Shear Spirit booksigning at The Knitting Studio in Montpelier VT. It's going to be a lovely afternoon, 1-3. My friend Norma said she'll be there. Her wonderful blog is part of my daily nutrition; if either she or the cereal are gone when I sit down each weekday at breakfast, watch out.

Stop by, check out the book and bring yer knitting. Or your ships' mooring lines. You know I'll be happy to see you either way.

Friday, November 07, 2008

don't harsh my mellow *

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A splendid week to be an American.
My day as an Election Official (which is the same job but not as cool a title as Mary Lou in Minnesota) was well worth the 4:30 am start. By 5:30 we had a line down the hall waiting in our little district, and polls didn't open till 6. My job was Demonstrator/Greeter which is the voting way of saying I was Bouncer . I stood by the entrance, controlled the flow, explained our new-ish ballot system and reminded folks to get their id's out, without a pause till the crowd thinned at 1pm. Then the oddest thing, it got quieter,with a steady but much slower flow of voters passed through, as I chatted with neighbors and cranked some major pea green stockinette on the Imogen.
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You know what was the coolest thing about being an Election Official? This democracy thing really works. The polls were neutral, there was respect, dignity , sincerity and a complete vacuum of politics inside the building.

Even better was the next morning when I learned my college son in Florida and my 19 yo niece, in college in Boston , had called each other to scream together about our new president. I'm old enough to know here are few times- if any- that you feel that excited by an election, that you feel hope and huge potential for the world we live in to be better.

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* I used this phrase while blabbing at SnB the other night and drew blank looks from my fellow knitters- but seriously? don't!

Monday, November 03, 2008

nana na na

Hey hey.
I considered NaMoPoBlo but it was already the 2nd day of the month at the time. Too late!
Then I thought about NaKniSweMo but the sweater I intend to knit this month was cast on while it was October, and anyway, my life is all about deadlines, do I need more?
Na. Definitely nahhhh.
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I caught some major stockinette mojo yesterday anyway and now the back piece of my Imogen is close to done. It has an unusual construction- the row count is the width, the back wraps over your shoulders and becomes part of the sleeve tops, you pick them up and knit down. So, I have no idea if this'll fit correctly just looking at the section.
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Yeah I swatched for gauge. Yeah, my gauge seems to have changed about as drastically as the yarn dyes do from skein to skein.
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The challenge of working with crazily varying skeins of Araucania Nature Wool Chunky in colorway 109 was giving me fits until I decided to surrender to the green .If I wasn't lazy I'd go grab all of the skeins so you could see the range from fairly consistent yellowy light green skeins that are thick, to noticeably thinner yarn in skeins that range from pale yellow green to forest pine, to in the middle mossy/olivey/khaki green. I did some switching out every two rows to blend, which only made things stripier. I'm trying to keep it symmetrical from side to side of the garment. My whole reason to knit this sweater, beside the obvious that it looks cool, is to use the Araucania vertically, knowing I'll be unhappy with my , um, fluffy, appearance if it went horizontal.
Families and kids at Derby Public Library. a Community Foundation grantee, during he Harvest Festival
Enough about that. If you're a US citizen go vote!! I'm working at a polling place (you know those polling place officials you hear about? That's me) from 5 am to close. The busier, the better!


I'm trying to see if I can get through a post without an alpaca. Day at a time, and all that.
I'm borrowing from my mom : her FO's spied last weekend.
From The Knitter's Book of Yarns, the Baby Soft Cardigan, in a superwash wool but I've forgotten which. The three pigs pewter buttons, love'em.
This one from 12 Month of Knitting,in a cotton blend (Rowan? Debbie Bliss? Can't remember but I know I was with her when she bought it last summer). Again with the buttons. She knits them for a benefit auction for a DC charter school . Every year she does 3 or 4 , never the same pattern twice. Last year she did a Mariposa Cardigan from Shear Spirit in bright limey green with flower buttons and I didn't manage to get a shot of it. arrrgh. The version in the book is below, as a substitute.
Just when you think I might get through the post without an alpaca, look what sneaks in.

and then there's my nephew, Cory. His first NYC acting gig, in this hiphop video, you can't miss him. He's Tom Cruise. Dance white boy!

Friday, October 31, 2008


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6pm Thursday evening, Princeton NJ
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Lola & Kasa get noticed.

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With huge appreciation to Elizabeth & Bill Johnson and the girls, Lola & Kasa, from Abenaki Acres, and to Debi , the events person extraordinaire at B&N, for giving this the thumbs up. And to everyone who stopped by. We are pretty sure this is the first time a Barnes & Noble anywhere has had alpacas at a booksigning.
Not wanting to be outshined, I dressed up my Montana Tunic, wearing it with a short skirt, textured tights and my Fatbabies.* That's a pretty good upgrade from my usual appearance attire.
Not that anyone noticed
my grooming.

*I see mine are not available anymore , they're like these in shiny black but not patent leather, but check it out see they're in all kinds of colors now, I've has these for six years and they just keep kicking.