Friday, February 27, 2009

crafting for perpetuity

parents houseThe phrase for all perpetuity crept into my consciousness a few years ago, in assignment contracts from magazines. At first I thought it was funny, I mean, it sounds so scifi , usage far into the future...and forever after? Of course it is grossly unfair to freelance photographers but that's another story. Here're the indie knitwear designer's similar woes.
parents house
Anyway, last week while visiting my parents' laundry room. I found these hangers, waiting for me to drape my delicates to air dry. Holy crafting ! I made these in my boondoggle-addled youth in the late 60's. I was a boondoggle queen. My summers between the ages of 7-11 were spent in the center of our town, they opened the high school woodshop up to us kids who didn't go to camp. We spent hours covering anything that didn't move with plastic coated cords, or tile or popsicle sticks, leather working and making weird wooden things with the jigsaw and glue.
parents houseThe hangers have held up rather spectacularly. It's been a source of amusement & amazement to Dave & I that my parents have shiny pots they use all the time, wedding gifts 53 years ago, while we can't keep matching coffee mugs intact for more than 12 months at a go. My, omigod- 40+ year old crafts will outlast us all.
The parents hanging in there pretty well themselves.
If you want to make hangers just like these, I can show you how without batting an eye. I was the go-to girl for every braid from three to 16 strands. Or, lookie there, you can make the recycle-yer-grocery-bags version.
parents house

Thursday, February 26, 2009

dork on the green alert

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Francis Revisited, all blocked and ready to wear. The before shot, earlier this month.
yarn: Andy's Merino from Farmhouse Yarns
needles: size us 9 - and I had gauge, spot on gauge, in both stitch and row. Amazing.
notes: I've nothing against seaming yet there is something so thrillingly..what's the word..oh yeah, immediate, about a top down raglan. And that gigantic skein? There's a lot of it left. My mom admired the yarn,she has the leftovers to knit a kid's sweater for a fundraiser. I bet there'll still be a hat's worth afterwards. Now that's a skein.
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The cowl is my favorite part. Loving a cowl again? Who'd have thunk it? I pray the shoulder pad and high waisted jeans won't starting looking good to me again, too.

About that title.
0209famvar_  687 I ate lunch with my talented friend Edwina in the center of our town (on the green, in local parlance, it's all very New Englandy 'round here). She's a boffo fashion photographer and normally has easier material to work with. I asked her to help me show off FrancisR once we'd polished off our veggie burgers and mutual grousing about The Times We're In. Outside I froze (as you can tell by the handwear) and was acutely uncomfortable seeing as I was on display at noon for all to gawk at. Self-deprecation 'graph: even though the variegation isn't so flattering for the fluffy bodied, and my slumpy-I'm-embarassed-to-be-posing posture isn't showing the fit so well, you can see, I'm happy. I've worn it constantly, in fact, since that top photo.
It's a sweater so nice I'm knitting it twice. I just cast on in a solid, drapier yarn. The Shadow wing of NaKniSweMoDo abides!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a crumby start, now i'm on a roll

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Beginning of Swirl . Not looking...right. There are extra wraps and crosses going on. If you stretched that swatch, you'd see X's between the not-quite-ribs.

A few attempts later, I gave up and worked the almost version , the fisherman's rib, as in Bounce and Fourteen.
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Still not right, now my needle is too small for the stitch in this yarn.
It bugged me that I was unable to get the pattern going as written, I mean, I do not have trouble knitting basic stitches and it's just yo's and K2 togs so what in the name of french buns is the problem?

I kept starting over, so many times the first few yards of the buttery Peruvia wool yarn was felting from the friction and palm sweat. It seems that in this stitch, the YO is more of a yarn forward than a full wrap. The K2tog is a half stitch from the yarn forward with the stitch it crosses. Sounds more complicated than it is.
I had a pep talk from the designer Sarah Chilson (rav link) herself (blog link). (Knitting world trivia: it was Sarah's fabulous dragon scarf that inspired the Red Scarf project for OFA. )
Then! A small success following the Purl Bee directions , ripped out because I didn't want a selvage edge, and some viewings of this demo video put me over the top.
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I got it.
Brioche stitch. Simple. Really! Now I'm jammin'.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

talk about feeling crummy, try having this in your tummy:
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Postcards from an interesting museum we visited in Philly last week. Yup, that is an enormous colon, the real thing. We started out fascinated but after an hour the place really got to me. Even my horror movie loving 15 yo son was put off his feed, for a while. A must if you have a thing about siamese twins, horrifying skin diseases or were wondering where to see the exhumed body of a woman turned to soap. yeek.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

haiku for large tam

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Oh Mr. Noro!
Insolence of the blue dot
on beauty of browns.
• • • • • • •
gift • • • • • • • • • • •
Another large Bounce for the dread headed nephew, a birthday tam. This one is just right. Last one seen here .
Size 10 needles from all manner of Noro scraps: 3 Silk Gardens , some Kureyons,a little SuZen cutting out yardage when they (inevitably) went too purply pink, using up one scrap, moving on to the next. The brilliance of Noro colors. I tried striping 2 colorways at a time but in this pattern, where you knit into the belly of the stitch below, nu-uh. Mush instead of crisp.

I adore this pattern, so quick and fun to knit, an afternoon and you've got it done.
Sadly, not every head can rock the style. Want proof ?
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(Hey Scout and Wendy! I had to do it. Um..maybe I forgot lipstick...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

mission accomplished: red scarf 2009

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I was in very excellent company in DC this Wednesday. This great looking group of college students are among the 2500 who received handknit red scarves from YOU, today, in their Orphan Foundation of America care packages. If you're coming into the middle of this party, the OFA supports and advocates for young people who are on their own , having aged out of foster care and become college students.
Most of the OFA students received their care packages today on their campuses across the US, but this group came to Washington to take part in a Capitol Hill Care Package event, in which congresspeople and other Big Shots come together in the US Capitol to stuff care packages, and otherwise draw attention to the need for policy that supports these kids. There are speeches and handshaking and posing for official PR photos that are sent to the media in the politicians' home districts.
GZUCKERofa0209_  325That's where I come in, making photos like this one, featuring OFA spokesperson Jett Williams, an NYU student from Tennesee , and a US Representative Marsha Blackburn, also from Tennessee. Its all very bipartisan and friendly, fyi.

Actually it's all very moving. The students are some of the most poised and focused kids you'll meet, and they break your heart when they look you in the eye and say "Thanks. When I get an OFA care package, and a scarf, it changes my life".

To quote a Kay-ism, much ferklemptitude. And to quote red scarf OFA booster extraordinaire Norma, you could just plotz.
Also, I'm not much for pimping the major corporations, but props and a shout out to CVS, Schering Plough , Otis Spunkmeyer and FedEx . Even in these financially stressed times, they donate big for the care packages.
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If you're a red scarf knitter, or scholarship donor, thanks. And this goes for any charity knitting, or donating, not just to the OFA. I know how much thought and care go into the knits, then you send them off to an office, with a pile of boxes and a harried staff, and maybe you wonder if there's really anyone out there on the receiving end.

There definitely is. Here're a few [very spruced up for the occasion] someones.
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Happy Valentines Day to all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

it's the overthought that counts

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This is my Francis on Monday, hastily thrown on my handy dandy backdoor tree. I didn't think I'd have another chance to show her to you unfinished. When I shot this, I'd just realized I was heading down to DC by train on Tuesday. Five hours with my iPod ,knitting, and a trackside view of old industrial spaces, peering into the neighborhoods passing by? Love it. It is transcendent. I say this sincerely, do not read anything sarcastic into it.
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Anyway, I had one sleeve almost done, one to go and a cowl. Which is no match for that much train knitting roundtrip. Plus, did I want to drag along a whole sweater when I already had major shleppage of cameras & lighting equipment to deal with? No. My brain began to whir. I'd need another project. peopleOther than this piece of old unrelieved boredom , nothing else is on the needles. What next? I devoted a long tumble down the Ravelry rabbit hole to the question. An hour or two gets lost in the process.

Vestuary! I'm a vest loving type. Pre-blog I knit Grace, in this crazy # 163 color of Sisik , which I wear often. I find this Blue Sky pattern , plan to purchase and download it before departure and squeeze an extra 15 minutes in my crazy Monday to swing by a yarn store. It takes...almost an hour. Damn, wouldn't you know their inventory of worsted weight yarn is so low, I find nothing lovable and vest-worthy.

My so-called stash is mostly single leftover skeins. I find 850 yards of Ultra Alpaca yucca. I do not want to use it for the vest. I spend ..a while.. going through my books, magazines & back to Ravelry to see what options have I. Another hour gone.

I wind the alpaca. I decide to order and download the vest. I discover its not downloadable in the first place.
why? what to knit?

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I am loving Francis , but this yarn creates a very different garment than the drapey alpaca modeled in the pattern. Light bulb goes on! I'll dedicate my 850 yards to another Francis, with a contrasting stockinette hem & cuff edge, in place of the seed stitch.

All this thinking & fussing left me with no time Monday to finish work or knit.
Tuesday, I grab the large almost finished Francis after all, as well as the wound alpaca. On board, my conscience gets the better of me and I spend the WHOLE TRIP DOWN working on my laptop, editing and processing the projects I neglected while thinking of what to knit on the train. I do not knit. I also work most of the way home and knit for, like, an hour. Painful, isn't it?

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Union Station, Washington DC. (and it was 70 degrees out! yayy!)
GZUCKERstough0209_  337 What I was doing in DC was way more interesting than all this blather of what was in my brain the day before I left. I'll share tomorrow. Hint: red. and scarf.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


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It's International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.
History here.
1) eat ice cream
2) for breakfast
3) on the first Saturday in February.

I've got my espresso chip and my whipped cream. Perhaps adding a banana. Are you ready?
This from an earlier year. Dig in. You can work it off later with some vigorous seed stitch.
I know Ellen and Natalie are prepared. Seriously, gelato con brioche? what a concept!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

locked out

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We're not sharing any photos of Wednesday night, when I met Carole & Dale for dinner.
Why so top secret? Are we hatching a plot to overthrow knitblogdom in our Fat Babies and handknit mittens? Nah. Are we embarrassed that we dragged our lace scarves through the olive oil dish by accident? Nope.
Believe it or not, neither of us brought a camera (!). Or any knitting. (double!). Rest easy, between three of us in that booth, we sported ten handknit garments, at least. Or 15 if you count socks and mittens individually. Her sweater btw? Wonderful. I don't think we were overdoing- it was so cold in southeastern Mass I'd have gladly stuffed unspun batts down my pants and under my shirt to warm up. And, no, I wouldn't have shown a photo of that, either.

Carole & I have been just missing each other at wool festivals all over the northeast. When I was hired to shoot a project in her neck of the woods, we finally had our chance. We drank, we ate, we laughed, we gossiped about knitters far and wide, we commiserated on life with teenagers, we talked politics, and movies, y'know, it was dinner out with just the kind of friends you want to have. And all thanks to the internets!

Back at my chilly and anonymous hotel, things went downhill fast. I decided to try on my partially complete Francis . Pulling her on, I broke the join off one end of the circular needles , dropping stitches all over the place as the cable unsnaked. (Fit good though).
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The photo shoot was all about teachers and students. The location: unrepentantly old school. And I mean literally.
Doesn't this remind you of that dream where you can't get out of high school until you take one last final but oh crap you realize you never went to class, and the test is in a few minutes...

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I have no idea what this is about. They stopped at the same intersection as I did, just for a minute, in Providence. When they saw me looking, they hit the horn. It moooooed.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

upon closer inspection

0109famvar_  762Another walk round the 'hood to find some winter mojo. I'm trying.

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The great big sweater skein wound! Last week Rebecca brought her suitably supersized (and aesthetically pleasing) swift and ballwinder to SnB for me. It made a spectacle, set up as we are in the window area of a downtown sandwich shop. Once the wool bits stopped flying, I had four very nice large cakes , the table had a fuzz covering and one knitter (blogless Irish Ann) had a sneezing fit. All in a night's work, right?
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Turns out my theory of the sweater skein, that it would be almost monochrome, was waaay off. The colors shift from a deep rich red, through dusky dark raspberry , to dull rosy shades, and one of the cakes has apricot undertones. Does it sound like a wine tasting? Maybe. I don't think I'll need all this yarn, the apricot-ist one may be left out or end up on the ends of the sleeves. Francis is coming along nicely. If not solidly.

Monday, February 02, 2009

smooth segue

pattern: Emerald by Amy Swenson/Indigirl
yarn: Araucania Naturewool Chunky (ignore the name, it's a heavy worsted)

notes: Size medium width and size small proportions in height/sleeve length- resulting in a size L petite sweater. Don't ask, just go with me here, it's all about the measurements.
After the trauma of my ginormous Imogen, this is sweeeet. And you should see how much less yarn I used.
Great fit. At first - and I do apologize to my SnB friends, I may have gone on about this way more than necessary- I thought the hips were too snug but after constant wear in a day it fell in nicely all over. You know how wool does that.

I'm foregoing buttons. I like how it hangs open and, truth is, I never button cardigans anyway.
Love the cable raglan shoulders, love the yarn, this is a choice pattern for breaking up the crazy color changes of kettledyed no-dye-lots skeins.
My pinktabulous new socks accessorize my finished sweater! This coordinating of handknits amuses me no end, not being known for my accessorization. You can't see them under the pants and boots-but I know they are there.