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.