Monday, March 23, 2009

a stripey cuff's not hard to find

But apparently, it's hard to match....
See that little extra row of yucca colored stitches? I didn't notice them, either, until I'd already cast off the second cuff and started the cowl. Oh well....this way I'll be able to tell my left from my right.

Still undecided on cowl treatment for this Francis. Maybe just a couple of stripes at the edge and three rows of chestnutty purl to finish, as with the cuffs. Which are long sleeves, btw. My sister was talking me into brown bobbles. I'm tempted..but not quite there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

field trip: a good thing

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Wednesday morning early, I met sister Lulu here, NY bound. Say what you will about New Haven, we have incredible pizza and a grand train station.

By 11 am we'd rounded up our mom, and her sister, Aunt Marcia from points south and points east.0309famvar_  486
All very proud of ourselves for accomplishing the meetup, we celebrated by
flowermkt...cutting through the side streets of the flower district . This time of year, its like walking through the magic forest in the middle of the dismal city. I didn't do it justice, but I did catch Lulu showing off her Meseta Alta (rav link) shawl. Tulips by the hundreds in bloom! Pussy willows 8 feet tall! Ranunculus in every color! We oohed, we ahhed, we made asses of ourselves smelling the blooms while blocking the narrow passageway.

0309famvar_  500A few paninis & coffees later, we head to our people in line.
It looked suspiciously like a sheep & wool show......oh the shawls! and felted totes! and sweaters!

0309famvar_  504and ....a cupcake. Being completely obsessed interested in queuing up my next 8 sweaters for the NanKniSweaMoDo that I'm, ahem, not really doing, this was great opportunity--- sweaters on parade. I had a 2 minute conversation with someone in a minty green mohair cardi, it reminded me of this or this, but the fit was less roomy, so flattering..she told me it was from an IK , Fall of...(help can't remember!)..damn those frowning production assistants in their headsets, just as she was giving me the lowdown, she was swept away for seating. All I heard was, in the mag it was shown in a hearty tweed but she'd knit it in a Jo Sharp something-fuzzy--and if you know what I am talking about, send me the name of that pattern! Of course I went home and looked through my old mags and didn't find it. It was a cardigan , and there were a couple of panels with diamond shape eyelets, bell sleeves....
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Oh, sorry, where was I/ yes, ahem, on the set of the Martha Stewart Show, the special yarn show where we were invited to bring our knitting projects, descriptions requested in advance as if someone cared. We were there to show the love by knitting throughout the show while also clapping wildly on cue. (Don't try this at home.)

My 2 second review: fun to see the studio set, Mo Rocca is much better when he can do his shtik alone, the audience was wonderful, the show Ok, the crocheted urinal was...worth a peek.Or should that be worth a pee? You can watch on Monday 3/23 and judge for yourself.

It was a beautiful spring day in NYC, anyway. We left with an enormous tote bag each, a sample of Soak from Purl (mwah) and swag choice from a sponsoring yarn company . Margaux' (tentenknits) expression here said it for all of us.

word to Martha:it's International Year of Natural Fibres. And that, my dear is a good thing.
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ps that giveaway for copies of Shear Spirit is still on over at the fiber farm CSA blog, in honor of the year, go over and enter!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

with mixed success

this just in: click on over to the A Shepherds Tale blog, she's giving away copies of Shear Spirit in honor of the International Year of Natural Fibres . That's our kind of year. Spread the word!
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My second Francis Revisited is moving along nicely now. I love working with the Ultra Alpaca in this grey-ish green (Yucca Mix, btw). I think this version should be called Local Color, I am so blending into March around here.0309famvar_  441
Thinking I'll run short with my 4 skeins, and wanting to change up this version anyway, I'm using leftover Araucania Naturewool in a chestnut brown as an accent.
I went for a hem, inspired by Susan's, with the brown for the purled turning row so it'd show just a little. My plan is long sleeves, with 1x1 stripes on the last few inches, not sure yet what I"ll do on the cowl. Everything is coming together nicely, the fit is just right, except... see that hem edge on the left of the sweater? It keeps flipping up. It's just not right, and it's driving me nuts.
My other weekend endeavour:0309famvar_  453
I have this thing about beach glass, I pick up a piece or three every day when I walk the dog. Over time, it's added up to jars & jars like these. I've always wanted local sea glass buttons for sweaters and hats. Or on bags, if I ever knit a bag.

With a little research I knew what to do. I called my friend most likely to lend me a
Dremel drill (I was right, she had 4 to choose from, I love my crafty artist friends), I tracked down a diamond dusted bit from the glass beadmaking guy at my local bead store, and he reviewed the technique. When I asked if I should buy a second drill bit in case I broke one, he said, "as long as you are patient, drill in little light touches and always under water, you'll be fine."
My first two are sweet, they are about 3/4" across. That's sock yarn threaded through.

Then I thought I'd try a dark green, and I thought since it was going so smoothly and with no obvious heat in the water, I might just try, for a fraction of a second, to drill just a skinch out of the water. So, exactly how old will I have to be to outgrow my Question Authority attitude? It immediately shattered from the heat, a dramatic jolt with lovely dark green shards flying all over the room and the drill bit bent into an L. 0309famvar_  450
Not to worry. More to come.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

the sound of one hand waving sadly

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If you've met me in the last six years, chances are you've seen these fingerless mitts.0309famvar_  402
I adore fingerless mitts, in general.

As a working photojournalist I wore them in the 80's and 90's,when it looked unusual. I'd get the comment "how punk, niiiiice" .0309famvar_  412This pair was an extra favorite, improvised 2x2 rib, just before lots of fingerless mitt patterns appeared on the internets to make my life easier. A replacement pair? I'll make Maine Morning Mitts. Or any of the dozen more decorative patterns I've put in my queue when I fell for them.
These have been in tatters for months, I've been too sentimental to do anything about it. I mean, for 10 months a year, for six years, they went everywhere I did, they did some work on every single farm I photographed at for Shear Spirit. They went on hundreds of dog walks, to work in all kind sof chilly settings, to the bullfight in Bogota..everywhere. Until this morning, I must have let one fall and now, there's just this one. So...sad.
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Are you wondering what yarn held up to all that wear and abuse? Me too. A long time back, a fiber artist acquaintance closed her studio and handed me a bag of tangled skeins. There was a large, super messy amount of this hand dyed, mohair (I think) dk weight yarn. It took me months to untangle it all. When I took out the remains today, I discovered I'd started a classic Portuguese Fisherman's sweater with it *. (Why? I can't remember!). The back is done.0309famvar_  424 It gave me a laugh, I'd just seen this. I mean, c'mon, if you knit in the late 70's/early 80's, tell me you didn't knit one? Or a few? Out of something hearty and earnestly crunchy if not downright scratchy?0309famvar_  428 Here's my now 18 yo college student in action with his baby version . Awwwww. And for the record, he wouldn't be caught alive now in a turtleneck, a bowl cut or this sweater style.
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Look how good the yarn looks knit up. Hmmmmmmmm.

* Just for funs, I looked on Ravelry and you can download this classic pattern there if you missed it's first wave.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


0309famvar_  054You'd think I'd be talking about the next Francis Revisited I'm knitting. And I would be....except I knit to the split for the sleeves (top down, we're talking 8 " or so) when I realized I was short a raglan increase.I don't mean a stitch- I mean I skipped a whole seam's worth without noticing. Which is fine if I had only one shoulder. Francis is well on the way of being revisited again, happily and with two shoulders. Coming soon to this space.
0309famvar_  051>Instead let's revisit my ongoing love affair with Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes- the book that continues to amaze me (need to scroll down on that one).
This week's I-can't believe-I-made-that-with-no effort-at-all is a loaf of sundried tomato & parmesan peasant bread. It didn't even last 24 hours 'round here. 0309famvar_  062
A revisit my intention for Vestuary.
I signed up late, took till the middle of the month to fixate see the pattern online , didn't bump into the yarn till late February. I was good to go copy of the pattern.
Oh Blue Sky Alpacas, why no downloads? I couldn't track down a hard copy locally, I couldn't find any other vest suiting my mood, it was going to cost me $5. shipping for a $5. pattern in the mail, which seems. so. wrong. To my rescue, a local knitter who I knew only by Ravatar , she nabbed the pattern for me at Webs last weekend and made the drop, spy style, in the lobby of a hospital yesterday. (mwah!). I guess I'll call it Mest. or Varch.

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One more thing I intend to revisit as soon as I get to Traders Joe's again. I decreed these my Official Snack for the Duration.

Monday, March 02, 2009

larger than they appear

Swirl Neckwarmer
design by Sarah Chilson
yarn: Berroco Peruvia
memo to self: next time read through the whole pattern before buying yarn. At the shop I fell for Peruvia Quick. The salesperson correctly told me to walk away and buy regular Peruvia, worsted, the weight the pattern called for. Back home I learned I'd be knitting Swirl entirely with two strands held together...guess what? Peruvia Quick is two strands of Peruvia plied together loosely. Doh!
needles: size us11. Because I misplaced my 10.5's.
notes: a gift for my bff (seriously, since we were 11 or so), she's a larger person than I am. When I tried it on my neck at the cast off point it felt a little chokey . I kept on knitting. I was loving the ooooh cuuushiness of brioche stitch in this yarn now that I had it under control , so I went a few inches more, and then a little more. Now it's a buttoned scarflet instead of a neckwarmer on me. That doesn't mean it's any less lovable. I had a ridiculously good time crocheting those scallops,and plopping on big buttons. Such a satisfying finish to the piece. I hope she likes it.

With a nasty snowstorm pending, my sister and I decided to take a hike up a local city landmark late Saturday.
0309famvar_  019Maybe it was the gathering storm, or the fact that my main other weekend activities were taxes and book keeping but everything seemed so heavy. Even the signs along the way. Metaphor, anyone?
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