Sunday, June 30, 2013

Big Triangle

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Giant wraps are my new favorite obsession.  They are the coziest things I can imagine, and they offer so much knitting, miles and miles of it, which seems to be what I’m after right now.  This one used to be a sweater, knitted by me about five years ago, and unraveled recently, in order to re-use the yarn.  I think this yarn is Kathmandu DK, a cottony-looking wool with lots of tweedy flecks in it.  It looks kind of recycled, if you know what I mean, like it’s been re-spun, very fluffy.  It’s pretty and soft.  I had spit-joined it all together when I made the sweater, so after unraveling, I was left with one huge ball of this khaki color and two smaller balls in muted shades of lavender and lilac. 

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The lavender is going to be what I hope will be a huge ruffle at the bottom edge of what I hope will be a really huge triangle.  I guess what I’m aiming for is half a blanket.  Turning that air-conditioner on, then?  Go ahead, I’ll be ready.  (Ugh, air-conditioning.  Don’t let me get all wound up on that subject.)  This edging right now is at about 700 stitches per knuckle-busting row.  I’ll just say that it’s miserable, and that I can’t wait for it to be over.  There’s no way for 700 stitches to slide happily along any needle. 

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In between rows I’ve been massaging my wrists, making jam and pie, thrifting beautiful old mismatched plates, and washing all the quilts.  And binge-watching 30 Rock on Netflix.  My cherry tree is bursting with fruit; I’ll never be able to reach it all, even with the ladder.  Dean picked a half-bushel yesterday morning, in the rain, barely making a dent. It’s a grand thing that they are my very favorite thing to eat.  I’m looking for a sweet cherry pie recipe, got any good ones?

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One row at a time. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Albers Cowl

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Happiness is the Albers Cowl.  You know how it is when you find just the right pattern and just the right yarn for wherever it is you’re at?  This project was exactly what I wanted.  I was captivated, and even monogamous, which is not my usual way.  Log cabin construction is just endlessly interesting, and these squares went everywhere with me this week.  Love.  This is sock yarn on US #2 needles, which, as I think about it, seems like it would take a long time.  It seems like it should have, but I guess I was just fascinated by the whole thing.  I went at a rate of about one square a day, and I made four so it would wrap twice and be all cozy.  Ridiculous in this heat (yes, heat!  Ah, summer in New York!) to have all this wool on my neck, but such is my life. 

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So tough, the selfie.  I should just get out the tripod.

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These are all sock yarns, and they were all in my cupboard. (Two different oranges?  I wanted two different pairs of orange socks?)  Two or three of them are leftovers from something else—the lightest pink is the last remnant of my Purl Soho Spud and Chloe, the yarn that didn’t fly off the back of the Staten island Ferry into New York Harbor, only because I was clinging to it for dear life—and the rest is either Louet Gems Super Fine (colors Citrus, Bright Red, and Pearl Gray) or Cascade Heritage Silk (colors 5610 and 5648) or one beautiful skein of orange semi-solid handpainted Merino Wool from Ellen’s Half Pint Farm.  

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There’s a lot of yarn left.  Maybe I’ll make this with it.  So much plain knitting.  I swear I think of that and just get a little thrill. 

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Actually, there’s the Albers Shawl, too. 

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Watch this space!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A short yarn story, the beginning of a cowl, and more beginnings

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I was in the yarn shop the other day, because we were nearby, which we almost never are, and it was open.  A lady seated on a sofa near the Malabrigo was knitting, and she asked me what someone will always ask if you go into a yarn shop:  “What are you going to make?”  I said I didn’t know.  Which I didn’t, and don’t.  This is how it goes with me.  I never know what I’m going to make, I just now and then buy some yarn I like, kind of at random, and then, when I do come across something I want to make, I open up the cupboard and see if the right yarn is in there.  If it isn’t, I guess I just go make something else.  And there always turns up something that is just perfect for the yarn I have.  Always! 

So, by way of a labyrinth of blog hopping, I spotted Ann Weaver’s Albers Cowl.  I went to the cupboard, and found a whole lot of fingering weight solids and semi-solids, and they looked well together, and it was good.  Happily, the Albers Cowl involves garter stitch, and Log Cabin-style construction, and it is simple and soothing and portable and, well, everything I want in a project right now.  I also want to make this and this.  I am already headfirst in the cupboard about those, too. 

I know why I need so much garter stitch, so much calming and simplicity.  It is because of this:


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He’s so handsome and awesome I can’t stand it.  It was his birthday, too.  So much transition around here.  I am practically dehydrated from all the emotional blubbing.  Oh look at them, on the brink of their bright grown-up lives, remember when they were little?  Mercy, I can hardly manage it.  Enough with the caps and gowns around here already!  Must knit garter stitch!  One Log Cabin-style cowl, coming right up. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Last Day of Spring Shawl, and the movies

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This scarf really hit the spot, knitting-wise.  I haven’t tried to wear it yet, so I don’t know whether it’ll do that usual thing that shawl-shaped things do, which is to make me feel like a poseur hippie on her way to a Ma Ingalls look-alike contest, but knitting it was fun in the extreme, and it went soooo fast, even I can’t believe it’s done already.  I saw Kay’s (scroll down to June 5th) and coveted it madly, so I delved into the stash and cast on immediately.  It is the strangely named Clapo-ktus, which sounds like a sneeze if you say it out loud, made with sock yarn, and which very cleverly uses exactly however much yarn you have.  Simple and interesting, with a razor-sharp efficiency for not creating leftovers.  I quite love it.  [Knit jargon alert:  If you make the leap yourself, I’d suggest doing a M1 for the increases, rather than yo.  Big ol’ holes at one side only.  Yargh.] The yarn is a skein of fingering-weight merino wool in, well, gray, bought at a fiber fair—it came from here.  I can’t wait to wear this.  I’ll wear it today, I think.  It’s a gorgeous, spectacularly sunny day, perfect March weather.  Brr.

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Have you guys been to the movies lately?  I don’t know if this is happening everywhere (oh my goodness, I hope it is) but our movie theater—I’ll tell you about this as if you’re still in the movie theater dark ages—has taken out all the raggedy old flip-down seats and replaced them with, I’m not even kidding, plushy leather-like recliners.  Big, smooshy, like your dad’s chair.  There’s a cup holder in the arm rest.  You watch the movie lying down.  Or curled up on your side, hands tucked up under your chin, cuddled under a blanket, lightly dozing, and I don’t know about you, but $7.50 seems a fair price to pay for two hours of uninterrupted comfort, whether you stay awake for it or not.  Is this happening everywhere?   Can you imagine seeing Star Wars for the first time like that?  Mind=blown.  We saw Before Midnight, and I ‘bout sobbed with the bliss of it all.  I stayed awake.  It was lovely.  On the way out, I tried to hug the kid at the popcorn counter.  Then there was dinner out, with a cocktail, and my darling man and I sat at the table together and just talked and talked and talked.  Happy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Crochet Patchwork Pillow; farewell to the scraps

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More scrapbusting is happening around here.  I do believe I have mostly tapped out the scraps, if you can believe it.  I just counted, and it looks like I managed to squeeze this, this, this, this, and also this blanket out of the scraps.  And a whole mess of hats too, and maybe some other stuff I’ve forgotten about.  Most of these scraps are leftover from this epic project, made possible by the Great 70% Off Sale of 2012.  So if you’re after making one of those, be warned:  that baby wants a lot of different colors, and you’ll be smothered in leftovers.  Which hasn’t been a terrible thing for me, and it feels strange not to have them anymore.  With the last of them, or the pretty ones anyway, I made this pillow cover; there were just enough different colors left to make it work.  The motif pattern is from The Royal Sisters, found here

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What to do now?  It is one of those mornings today, with golden sunshine pouring in the open windows and doves in the garden.  Cloudless blue sky.  It is an old-fashioned morning.  I’d like to tie on an old apron and shoo some hens around, and bake a pie to cool on the windowsill.  Hang the washing on the line.  Later, I think I’ll sit in a rocking chair on the porch, sip an iced tea.  Imagine some non-scrap project possibilities.  Already, I’m thinking about this, which has a lovely, scrappy-ish quality.     

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Wow, no scraps left.  What an odd feeling. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Not a skirt

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This is not a skirt.

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This is not the back panel of Mari Lynn Patrick’s beautiful Sunshine Skirt from the Spring 2004 issue of Interweave Knits.  (Yes, 2004.  What, you don’t have nine years’ worth of pattern magazines cluttering up your workroom?  Hmm.)

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This is two days’ work, which in the big picture is not that much.  But it isn’t a skirt.

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It would be 3/4 of a skirt.  If I weighed 90 pounds.   Hang on, I just want to look at this for another minute…

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…before I have to unravel it all again. 

Either this pattern is deeply flawed, or I am, and I’m guessing me.  Raveller Dominik tried to help.  I thought I had this one.  Cottony soft DK weight yarn, in a simple two-panel design, worked flat.  Easy instructions.  Fun and interesting stitch patterns.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, gauge, for one, and also my basic lack of ability to count things (aargh), not to mention my rudimentary grasp of decreasing in crochet, and my haphazard attitude toward pattern-following in general.  A perfect storm. 

Discouraging, but I am undeterred.  I shake my fist in defiance of failure!  Sunshine Skirt, this is not over. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wooly kerchief

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I spent a day watching Before Sunrise with the luminous Julie Delpy and the impossibly young Ethan Hawke—when did that movie come out, anyway?  It feels like it’s been a long time.  I could look it up, but I guess I’m content just to wonder.  I love that film.  I love how they just talked and talked and talked, and didn’t get mad or take offense or get bored or run out of things to say, but they didn’t decide they were madly in love, either.  And those nighttime in Vienna camera shots, all gorgeous glowing streetlamps, oh man.  Sigh. 
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So, riveted by 90’s nostalgia and daydreams about spontaneous romance on a train from Budapest to Vienna, I sat there and knitted this thing, this little kerchief thingy, all in one morning.  It is the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief; that name is bigger than the scarf is, but so evocative.  A scarf with a name like that wanted me to knit it in gray, but something else called to me from the cupboard, so I used a Madelinetosh DK “onesie” in the color “Lowland”.  It’s gray enough, right? 
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This little eyelet detail looks like links of chain.  So steampunky!  Anyway, I hardly had to look at it at all, just back and forth, eyes glued to the charming Jesse and beautiful Celine, and of course, that’s too much knitting all at once, and now my thumbs hurt.  I won’t bother telling you about how I blocked it—of course I blocked it, you knew that—and as it dried, I cleaned the floors and planned to bake cookies.  I say planned, because (maybe I’m alone in the world on this; tell me if you agree) I like the dough better than the cookies, and none of it actually made it into the oven.  Well, there you have it.  Oven-free cookies.  Make the dough, freeze it in a plastic bag, and break off pieces to eat when you feel peckish.  If you’re afraid of salmonella, leave out the eggs.  I digress.
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I don’t want to harp on about the weather, because it’s miserable most everywhere this year, and my neighbors to the west have it so much worse than just cold and rain, but dang.  It just doesn’t feel like June.  I will be wearing this wool kerchief.  This year, this week.  Luckily, it’s beautiful. 
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Meanwhile, there still must be yarn action, but my thumbs hurt, so you know what that means.
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When you can’t knit, you crochet.  And vice versa. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Simple Knitting

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So much yarn-related activity is happening right now.  A flurry of yarn.  A blizzard.  In-progress scarves and hats are everywhere (I guess because I’m cold?) and crocheted (non-granny!) squares, worked Just Because.  Just because that’s what one does.  Yesterday, I found myself hanging around waiting in the hallway of a university engineering department, waiting with anticipation for something good to happen (which it did) and of course, as I waited, I whipped out a ball of yarn (you would have, too) which drew some looks of confused intrigue from the passing scientists.  They had clearly never seen the likes of me.  I was having a confidence crisis anyway, and feeling a little bit simple, you know, surrounded by geniuses as I was, and I found I was just kind of clinging to my little squares, working madly at them, in a big hurry to finish one and have something to show for myself.

More cotton/angora dishcloths.  They comfort me, from the knitting to the scrubbing.  That yarn lived in my cupboard for so many years, just waiting to become something useful.  I see it’s discontinued now, which is too bad.  It makes the best ever dishcloths.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Happiness Fairy

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There’s a new hat, and it’s all business around here, for about twenty seconds.  She stands over by the tree, and manages not to laugh.  I say, “Stand here, look there, eyes up, chin down.”  All serious, you know.  She’s trying so hard to keep a straight face, her forehead creases with the effort.  Then I say, “Smile a little.  Not that much,” and that’s it.

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These are my favorite ones.  She can’t help smiling.  When she was little, she had a tutu and and a homemade paper crown, and she went around as the Happiness Fairy, and not for Halloween, but just, you know, on a regular Tuesday.  I’d be stomping all over, hollering about somebody’s shoes in the middle of the floor, and just then she’d come twirling in whistling on an ocarina, a big piece of pink silk tied around her head with a lanyard, and saying, “I’m the Happiness Fairy!”  Bam, just like that.  Smiles.  It’s her superpower.

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Doesn’t she just look like the most awesome hipster angel in that slouchy scrap hat?  Everything looks good on her.