Sunday, April 29, 2007

back in the saddle

It's been quite an exciting and busy couple of weeks with only some time to knit and less time to muse about it. There was lots of work, and then a trip to Washington DC to visit my sister and my old college professor, and then lots of work when I returned. My brain is a swirling pool of mush and I can only remember things for a few minutes at a time before I switch over to the next thought that distracts me, kind of like a drunken bumblebee weaving from one flower to the next in a stupor. Elliott caught me going through the apartment muttering "I must remember to feed the sourdough starter!".

Anyway here are some highlights in no particular order:

1) I learned how to crochet a granny square. I love granny squares! My grandma made all sorts of granny square blankets, but she passed on before I realized that I wanted to know how to make one. I'm pretty smitten but haven't had time to make more than 1 1/2.

first granny square!

2) I finished the Noni prism bag.

noni prism bag

noni prism bag lining

noni prism bag detail

pattern: Noni prism bag - small fair isle version
yarn: WEBS Stockbridge: colors black and Stone Blue - 7 skeins of black and 6 skeins of blue
needles: 11's - 32" circulars
gauge: about 10 sts. to 4 inches
finishing: bag has sewn in zipper, handles, stiffening panels and lining

This is actually a store sample for WEBS so it had a deadline and I had to work on it late at night after my other work. So unfortunately this means I didn't get any good photos of the finishing work. And I can't get too attached to it. My friend let me felt it in her washing machine and didn't even freak out when hairy fibers were emitted in great quantity and were floating about the tub. The bag managed to sneak out of the pillowcase I had it in. The bag has a handsewn chunky zipper, plastic cross stitch mesh panels to give it shaping and a handsewn lining. I think the finishing work takes longer than the knitting, but the bagis so much better when you do it.

3) Elliott and I went to Washington DC to visit my sister, her husband, my old college professor and his wife.

DC trip mosaic

We had a great time! The weather was incredible, in the 80's and not humid, a nice break from new england. The mall and monuments were not crowded - also very nice. We did your basic sightseeing, as my sister and Elliott had not spent much time in the capitol. I also took a break from knitting and didn't even look up local yarn stores. But no fears! I'm back on the bandwagon.

This week promises to be busy but more yarn posts soon.
happy spring!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

knitting as giving

ella and blankie

I've been thinking a lot lately about the connection between knitting and gift giving. As far as I can tell, hand-knitting is not a get-rich-quick scheme. The cost of the yarn alone is generally more than any machine knit sweater from the store, and that certainly doesn't account for the hours of labor put into any crafted item. And you know what? I like it that way. I like that fact that when you give away something you knit, you are giving away a priceless gift of knowledge and time. And I like to think about the lifespan of the knitted gift, giving warmth and joy long after you forgotten about it and are knitting the next gift.

We live in this crazy world with apparent immediate gratification. And it is an enormous blessing and a curse. We IM, email, call on cell phones and expect speedy replies. We can purchase almost anything we want online and have it shipped to our door with rush service. And sometimes all of this availability makes me feel a bit empty and lacking in some way. The best way I know to counteract this lack is to knit - preferably a gift.

One of the joys of giving knitting as a gift is that you are giving a gift of your scarce valuable time. The time you take to consider what the giftee would like, what color, what fiber. The actual time you spend knitting (and maybe ripping and knitting), time also to think about giftee, your relationship with them, and time to wish them well. If you are knitting for a charity or a new baby you can knit your hopes and dreams for this unknown giftee right into the piece.

Above is a photo of the mitered square blanket that a bunch of us made for our friends expecting their first baby. It was so fun to give them a tangible warm blanket that represented our hopes and dreams for their new family. It's even more fun to hear how baby Ella is responding to the crazy color combinations we stitched together. I'm excited to see how this blanket will fade and unravel as it is enjoyed. I continue to be amazed that something so small as to knit and purl can make someone's day.

I really enjoy this on line knitting/crafting community. I am incredibly inspired by the beautiful and amazing things everyone is making. There is such an endless treasure trove of creativity posted on Flickr and so many blogs. Even the act of blogging and taking the time to share what you are making is a huge gift of time and I really appreciate it. Go take some time and make a gift for someone.

*Photo by Rachel at decenturbanlifestyle Photo posted with permission.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

noni prism bag and other cuteness

unfelted noni prism bag

In order to feel like I'm actually accomplishing something, I started knitting the noni prism bag. That's right, if you're tired of your existing projects the best plan is to start something new. At least with this one I feel like I'm making a lot of progress - this bag in it's pre-felting state is HUGE. I'm knitting two strands of Valley Yarns Stockbridge together on size 13's. I think I'm getting about 3 stitches to an inch. Look at it lying on the sofa there - threatening to take it over. I'm almost done with the knitting part - but there is lots and piles of finishing to do. Felting, putting in a zipper, making a lining and attaching handles. One step at a time - right?

bottom of noni prism bag

I also picked up a copy of the Cute Book by Aranzi Aronzo this weekend. Can't wait to make one of the felt mascots inside. Look how cute! I've resisted the cuteness of the Japanese until now, but I think I need to put felt mascots on much of my clothing. Resistance is futile!

cute book cover

cute book examples.jpg

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy easter and happy spring!

egg plant

Thursday, April 05, 2007

finally, the knitting

While there has been a bunch of knitting going on over here, I feel like I have almost nothing to show. It feels like a Sisyphean task - you might remember this guy from Greek mythology. Paraphrasing wildly here, this guy got punished by the gods for much trickery by having to roll a huge rock up a steep hill but everytime he gets close to the top, the rock escapes and comes crashing down to the bottom and he has to start again. It feels like that.

Elliott's sweater, case in point. I thought the third time on the hem would be the charm, but I was clearly mistaken.

pile of naughy hem

Even though I did math based on the gauge I had gotten, when I started knitting the body of the sweater, and it grew enough to not be constrained by the shorter circular needles, I saw that the hem was flaring out in a ripply dreadful sort of too big kind of way. Sigh. So instead of pulling out the hold thing, I picked up the stitches on the first row of the main body and cut off the hem. I'm using much smaller needles to reknit the hem. I think the problem lies in the fact that the red hem shetland spindrift is just a hair thicker than the shetland wool I got from the warehouse at Webs. So even though it looks like I just keep showing you the same photo - I really have done lots of knitting!

e's sweater bottom band

At this point I'm knitting on both ends!

And on more of the same kind of knitting here is the second pomatomus sock. I knit the first on over christmas, but when I finished I really thought it was too stretchy so I'm knitting this on 2.0mm needles instead of 2.75 as the pattern calls for. The second sock seems better - but you know what that means. The first sock has to be ripped and reknit to match.

pomatomus sock progress.jpg

And I've made more mitered squares with the dyed yarn - and started to seam block together so it won't be a dreadful pile of finishing at the end. I do about one square a day, as doing any more knitting with cotton seems to make my wrists hurt. Anyone else have this problem?

mitered blanket progress

Monday, April 02, 2007

how I know spring is finally here

Out there you all probably have your own signs of spring's arrival depending on climate. It may be seeing crocus peep up or getting rain instead of snow, but out here in western massachusetts there is one key sign for me. And that is when the Creamy Delights stand opens for the season.

creamy delights close up

Creamy Delights is on route 47 in the farming town of Hadley. Essentially it looks like the carnival was around for a spell and then moved on but the soft serve stand forgot to go. In the middle of a used car lot, across the street from a cornfield and tobacco barn, it sits.

across the street from creamy delights

creamy delights cone and stand

Run by the nicest people, you can get the best vanilla, twist or chocolate soft serve in a waffle cone with sprinkles, nuts or oreos for two dollars. TWO DOLLARS PEOPLE! That's for a small which is plenty big - trust me. They even put a marshmello at the bottom of the cone so it doesn't leak. So thoughtful! Of course they have other items on the menu like sundaes, shakes, lemonade and even hot dogs and hamburgers, but I can't resist the chocolate soft serve cone. On hot summer nights Elliott and I will go just before they close at 9pm and sit on the picnic bench eating our treats while customer after customer drive up out of nowhere for their after dinner dessert. Good times.

I think this concludes the unofficial week of sugary treats. Knitting tomorrow, I promise!