Sunday, April 30, 2006

Better Now

Whew! I'm glad that's over. The Blue Funk, that is. I don't think I've been that blue for years. It wasn't a lot of fun.

But a little housecleaning, the return of my husband from his little climbing trip, and dinner with friends did a lot to lift my spirits. A return of hormonal balance didn't hurt, either. Thank you for your words of encouragement, and especially your thoughts for my mother. Those also contributed.

I didn't make it to Knit Happens yesterday. I didn't quite have the energy to make the trek to Alexandria. I'll catch Wendy next weekend at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

I'm making slow progress on the blanket, because I seem to be unable to knit a pattern row without making some kind of mistake. I forget yarnovers, I end up with extra stitches...fortunately, I haven't dropped another stitch during a cable (yet). But despite the slowness of the work, the Martina yarn continues to fascinate me. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy knitting with this yarn? I read the ball band again and discovered the source of the lustre...10% silk. That's why it looks like pearls. I can sit and stare at the lustre for hours. It grabs me and pulls me in. It's almost a shame to be knitting a baby blanket with it. And I feel really bad that the baby blankets knit for my niece and nephew were out of Lamb's Pride. Don't get me wrong, I really like Lamb's Pride. But it isn't Martina. Did I say how much I love this yarn?

Is anyone else going to be at Maryland Sheep and Wool on Saturday? (Well, yes, thousands of people will be. I meant knitting and spinning bloggers.) Last year at this time, the blog world was all abuzz about MDSW. Other than Melanie, I haven't heard much of anything about it. If you are going, would you like to try to meet up? Post a comment and let me know.

That's it for now. Time to finish some laundry and do some gardening and grocery shopping. Enjoy the day!

Friday, April 28, 2006


I'm glad this week is over as it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly down. Sometimes events just become too much and the defense is to roll up in a ball and pull the covers over your head. It isn't just my mother's cancer diagnosis that's causing me to feel like this. It's everything that's happening in the world--the conflicts, the environment, everything. It's our Administration and their extreme short-sightedness and cultural ignorance; it's the hatred that seems to be rife in the Middle East and Sudan, and elsewhere.

This feeling will eventually pass, but in the meantime, things are looking pretty bleak.

I need my flannel jammies and a warm blankie.

I stayed up until almost 11:30 last night reading Wendy Knits--My Never-Ending Adventures in Yarn. I just finished it (okay, I got sidetracked while writing this entry). It's a quick, entertaining read and is essentially an autobiography of a knitter. It's humorous (especially the Bad-Ass Knitters' Kitties' Manifesto). And the patterns provide inspiration. As does Wendy's blog. Wander on over there and check out her tiger socks. As Tony (the Tiger) would say "They're GRRRRREAT!"

I feel a stash enhancement coming on. I have been a tiger fan ever since I was a wee child when I was allowed to choose a toy for my first birthday. My choice? A stuffed sleeping tiger. It was the only thing in the entire toy store that I wanted. I still have it, too, but most of the fur has long been loved off and the stuffing is a But it's still my tiger. So clearly, the Opal Rainforest Tiger yarn is meant for me.

But wait, there's more. There Opal Rainforest Flamingo yarn. I love birds. And flamingos are special because of the Annual Goodtime Boogie. So clearly, the Opal Rainforest Flamingo yarn is meant for me, too!

Tom is off climbing this weekend; he'll be back tomorrow night. This would be a perfect time for a little stash acquisition. I could take a field trip to Knit Happens, get some yarn, meet Wendy (who's signing books from noon to 2pm)...or I could wait until Maryland Sheep and Wool next weekend. I think that's probably the better option.

Okay, I'm rambling. Time to sign off and get some tinking done. I'd close with a picture of my tiger, but it appears that Tom took the camera climbing with him.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

We Interrupt This Blog bring you an important public service announcement...

Okay, ladies. I have to ask you a very important question. When was your last mammogram? If it was last year, good for you. Be sure to get one this year, if you are at the "get a yearly mammogram" stage of life. If it's been two or more years? Call or visit your doctor and have her write an order for a mammogram, schedule it, and don't miss the appointment.

"Hmmm..." you are probably thinking, "This is isn't about knitting. What's up?"

You're right, today's blog is not about knitting. It's about breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last week. It's very early, very contained, and the prognosis is pretty good. They found it with a mammogram, which my mother has done every year.

It's scary that it's in my family. It's scary that my mom has it. But what is even scarier is the number of women I know who have had breast cancer. According to, breast cancer incidence in women is one in seven. I know (or know of) more than a dozen women who have had breast cancer.

So please, stay current with the mammograms, learn what you can about breast cancer prevention, and take good care of you. After all, you want to be knitting for a really long time, right?

We now return you to the blog in progress...

A New Arrival
It arrived! It shipped yesterday and arrived today! Wendy's new book arrived. I'm on p. 35 (it's sitting here next to my computer). So far, it's a good read. It's not laugh-out-loud-funny (well, not yet, anyway), the way Yarn Harlot's bookbookbooks are. But it's chatty and engaging and a very pleasant read. And I've already gotten some ideas about One Skein (hee hee).

In knitting news? I'm afraid there hasn't been much activity this week. Mom's diagnosis (coupled with the wrong time of the month...or maybe it's the other way 'round) put me in a major funk. I'm climbing out and should be back to my normal knitting self soon. I tried knitting the Jenna sleeve on Monday and managed to complete four rows, but it was not a pleasant four rows. It was "tarry" and slow and I kept making mistakes. The baby blanket didn't fare well, either. I decided to tink and was doing right well until I got to a certain "sl 1, k2tog, psso." I tinked wrong and now I've got two weird stitches. I'm hoping they'll right themselves on the next row, as well as a third weird stitch that emerged when I picked up the dropped stitch. Sigh...

Click your heels together and repeat after me: There's nothing like the process, there's nothing like the process, there's nothing like the process...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Houston, We Have a Problem

Help! A stitch has fallen and it can't get up!

One of my greatest knitting fears has been realized. I dropped a stitch during a cable and kept going, blissfully unaware of it for a couple of rows. I figure I have a couple of options for fixing it, none of which thrill me. I could try to fix it in place. Or I could tink several rows. The problem with fixing it in place is that I don't have a clue how to bring up that stitch and rearrange all the yarn overs and decreases. The problem with tinking is that I have to deal with unknitting the yarn overs on the purl rows.

Can any of you more experienced knitters offer some advice before I mess this up beyond repair?

In happier news, on Friday my friend Keith told me a story that almost made me swoon. His wife had lunch with a friend who was helping clean out the house of one her relatives who had recently passed away and who was apparently a knitter. She had (you might want to sit down for this) 52 large black trash bags of yarn. There were also a number of unfinished projects, still on the needles, neatly stored in bags with the yarn and pattern. No, I don't know what kind of yarn it was. In my imagination, I think of the most beautiful yarn possible: soft wools in luscious colors, beautiful silk blends, luxurious novelties; in short, all the types of yarn I want to own and work with. In reality, all the yarn could have been bad acrylic. The family donated the entire stash to a charity, which I don't think I'd be able to do (unless all the yarn was bad acrylic).

The mushroom hunt today was a little less than successful. We found (thanks to Sunil and Susan) a grand total of four little morels:

Tom and I found zero morels; I found one false morel (which you don't want to eat because they are poisonous). Susan graciously let us keep the whole haul, and they are now soaking in salt water to get all of the tiny bugs out. Tonight's dinner will be grilled asparagus, chicken prepared in some way, sauteed morels, new potatoes, pain rustique, and a salad. And ice cream for dessert, of course.

Hunting morels is a lot about the process. If you want immediate gratification, morel hunting is not for you. But if you like taking a walk in the woods, slowing down, and really looking at what's in front of you, the process can be very rewarding. Box turtles, butterflies, birds, brightly colored centipedes, wood spiders, wild flowers, and maybe even the elusive morel reveal themselves. It's a time for slowing down, and being aware of nature, which we so often are not these days.

So, in the spirit of Earth Day (which was yesterday), try to get outside and take a walk in nature. It doesn't have to be in the wilds; go to your local park. Slow down and absorb your surroundings. See how many birds, wild flowers, trees, and animals you can identify. Revel in feeling the sun, or wind, or rain on your face. And above all, enjoy!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Smack Down!

I cast on for the new baby blanket last Sunday. The Martina continues to knit like a dream and the pattern is very easy. So easy, in fact, that I got a little cocky during the second pattern repeat and made a mental comment about how easy it was and how I hadn't made any mistakes.

The Knitting Goddess at that point performed a cosmic smack down.

I was coming up on the end of a 195-stitch row and decided to have a little look-see at my knitting. looks a little weird, just slightly off. So I went back to the beginning of the row and compared it with the pattern. I made a one-stitch mistake at stitch 9. Gar! So I tinked and started again. Fortunately, the yarn is no worse for the wear.

The lesson? Never, ever get cocky about your ability to follow a pattern, no matter how easy you think it is. If you want to read more knitting lessons, visit Margene's blog. Her lessons are in the April 20 and 21 posts.

The blanket is progressing nicely. See?

That's 31 rows and roughly three inches and almost one ball of Martina. I'm not quite getting gauge, so the blanket will be a little smaller than what the pattern says.

The Lace-edged Cardigan sleeve is also progressing. I've only got one more increase row, then it's knitting until it's the right length. Henceforth, I'm going to call the Lace-edged Cardigan "Jenna." That's who it's for and Jenna is a whole lot easier to type than Lace-edged Cardigan.

What's on tap for the remainder of the weekend? The oft-postponed housecleaning and grocery shopping (the larder is getting a bit bare), the usual laundry. Tonight we'll have dinner at our favorite restaurant. I'm hoping that something on the menu will include fiddlehead ferns or morels. And tomorrow will be my first morel hunt. Yum, yum!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Never Say Never

A long time ago (okay, maybe not that long ago) when I first started knitting and began the stash acquisition, I was focused on reasonably-priced natural fibers. I'd read other knitter's blogs and they were using yarns that I never heard of...Rowan, Debbie Bliss, and so on. After I saw the prices of these yarns and how tiny the balls were, I swore that I'd never buy designer yarn. It's too expensive and too...trendy.

Never say never.

When I purchased the Rowan Cotton Glace for the Lace-edged Cardigan (can't Debbie Bliss come up with catchier names for her sweaters?), I started down the slippery slope, although I didn't know it at the time. I justified the Adrienne Vittadini yarn purchase because it was the right weight and color for the baby blanket and it was 40% off. But I swatched it on the way home today and I'm in love!

This yarn is an absolute dream to knit. It's soft and the resulting fabric is very lustrous, like pearls. I'm now having difficulty justifying using this yarn for a baby blanket, even though it is for a friend of my husband. I'm also wondering if I can find good deals on this yarn. I'm addicted, I'm afraid. Please keep me away from the cashmere and qiviut!

I finally took a picture of the kittens on the kitten blanket:

Pretty cute, eh?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Runner Down!

This weekend was the Fourth Annual Charlottesville Marathon and Half-Marathon. Tom and I signed up months ago. Unfortunately, I developed a problem with the IT band in my right knee and can't run much more than two or three miles without pain, so I knew a while ago that I wasn't going to be able to run. Tom, on the other hand, has been running regularly and was ready to set another PR. So yesterday, we packed up the car and headed to Charlottesville.

We met our friends, Jim and Lynda, had a cocktail and some shrimp and oysters, then headed over to Fellini's #9 for dinner. Dinner was quite good (I had fresh ravioli with roasted red peppers and carmelized onions). Then it was back to our hotel room for a good night's sleep before the race today.

But the sleep turned out to be not so good. Tom got that stomach virus that has been going around and spent the better part of the night in the bathroom. By the time race time rolled around, he was not quite feeling up to running 13.1 miles. That was a major disappointment for him.

I spent the morning knitting, or rather unknitting, the Blue Danube sock. At some point, I got confused and ended up decreasing in the middle of the bottom of the foot, not at the side. Later in the day, Lynda and I had lunch and shopped on the pedestrian mall near the hotel. I've been looking for the right yarn for another baby blanket and finally found it, at 40% off. It's Adrienne Vittadini's Martina, which is a nice sportweight merino and I got a lot of it. If you are looking for a decent sale on yarn, head to The Needle Lady in Charlottesville, Virginia.

As a result of not really being able to wander too far afield today, I was able to finish the Blue Danube sock, despite the decrease accident. And here it is:

The colors in the photo are washed out; in real life the second color ranges in color from light taupe to black, with rich plums and browns in between. This yarn is great to knit with. Despite it being merino and silk, it tinks well, not showing signs of abuse overuse. I hope that means it will wear well, too.

And as promised, a picture of the sleeve for the Lace-edged Cardigan:

I finally figured out the macro function on the camera (you'd think that someone who works in high-tech should have been able to figure it out sooner). This is the cable detail for the sleeve:

The picture is a little blurry, but shows the pattern nicely. The yarn is Rowan's Cotton Glace. It's a cotton, but it's easy on the hands. It knits well, even though the yarn kinks up quite a bit.

Tom is off to see the movie Thank You for Smoking with Jim and Lynda. He's finally feeling better and needed to get out. I'm taking this opportunity to update my blog and knit in the quiet of the hotel room. I'm undecided, though. Should I cast on the second Blue Danube sock, thus helping to avoid second sock syndrome? Perhaps I should try to make more progress on the cardigan sleeve. Or should I swatch the Martina? So many options, so little time!

Knit on, friends!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Organized (in spite of myself)

I spent another weekend with Miss Val, organizing my workroom. I'm happy to report that we're done! Yippee!

Here are some before pictures:

Now, I wouldn't describe myself as "unorganized." I would say, though, that my organization quickly devolves into disorganization or, as these pictures suggest, chaos. Really, it's much easier to leave things out if I know (or even think) that I'll be using them again.

After spending 19 hours working on this room, including the closets and filing cabinet, we ended up with one box and three large bags for charity, one large bag of trash, one large box of recyclables, and various piles that needed to go elsewhere in the house. And I was left with this:

Every time I walk past the room, I look in and say "Ahhh..." It feels more spacious, the energy flows better, and it's just good. But I did have to rein in Val a little bit. When it came time to organize the stash, she looked at my one stash box (and its overflow) and kept asking "Isn't there anything in there you can get rid of? Maybe some old yarn?" Nope, every bit of the stash stays. It took every ounce of my self-control to not pull out every skein, thrust it in her hands and say "Here, feel this. Isn't it wonderful?" (I only did it once or twice).

I must say, though, that it's rather sad that I couldn't do this organization project by myself. I think it was too overwhelming and I was only thinking along two lines: throw it out or give it away. For some things, particularly some of the things that came from my grandmother's house, I needed someone who understood the emotional attachment and who could gently detach me from that attachment and get me to realize that it was good to give it to someone who would get better use of the objects than I would. Thanks, Miss Val!

Because of the whirlwind of organization this weekend, not much knitting was accomplished. I started swatching for the next baby blanket. I'm considering using Indicieta, a sport weight alpaca yarn by Plymouth. I'm not sure that I like it...yet. The swatch needs to get bigger than one row. The sleeve to the Lace-edged Cardigan is slowly but surely growing. It's about six inches long right now and I've had no signficant cabling accidents. I think it will turn out rather well. I'll post pictures next time...after I replace the batteries in the camera.

Monday, April 03, 2006


It's done...the kittens blanket is totally finished. And here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

I tried to take a detail picture of the kittens, but as usual, the macro function created a blurry picture. I must read the camera user's guide sometime (but that means I'd have to find it first). It's really annoying to have blurry macro pictures.

I've finished the first full repeat of the Lace-edged Cardigan sleeve. It looks as if the gauge is working out, despite my stitch name translation accident. The sleeve at the cuff is supposed to be 8" and that's what I'm measuring. So far, so good.

In other news, Miss Val came over yesterday to help me get organized. One of my New Year's resolutions (with much prodding from Tom) was to de-clutter and organize. For a pack rat, this is pretty scary. But Val would like to become a professional organizer so I've offered up myself (and my stuff) as a guinea pig. It's exhausting work. Of course, it didn't help that I began with the most challenging room, the work room (aka the "fiber arts studio"). But we made good progress for one day. She'll be back next weekend and with any luck (and lots of work), we'll finish the job. I'll post before and after pictures when we finish.

And now? I'm off to knit a few rows on the sleeve.