Saturday, September 30, 2006

For Laurie

This is an all Laurie-inspired post.

For those who may have just returned from the Biosphere, the International Space Station, or some other remote place where access to the internet is limited, (the horror! talk about roughing it!), Laurie writes a very funny, entertaining and popular knitting blog called Crazy Aunt Purl.

Go ahead - catch up on her last few posts. I'll wait. But I warn you, you'll be sucked in. So don't start reading her archives until we're done here, mmm-kay? ;-)

Anyways.... Laurie recently revealed her penchant for knitting voyeurism in a post asking her readers to email her pictures of their knitting spots. I debated as to whether I wanted to reveal yet another cluttered corner of my home for all the world to see, but then decided, ah, what the hell.

So here's my knitting spot:

That's my relatively new leather couch, (purchased about two years ago, along with a matching loveseat on the other side of the coffee table). Note to cat owners who are also bad housekeepers (like me) -- leather is GOOD. Cat hair does not stick permanently to leather as it does to most fabrics, especially the tweedy woven upholstry fabrics -- it slides right off. Life is good with leather.

When I bought those leather pieces, I wanted instant gratification, (shocking, I know), and could not wait the six weeks for custom-colored leather upholstry to arrive from Italy, (nor did I want that expense), so instead, took what they had in their warehouse, which is the snooze-fest beige you see above. So I figured I could jazz up the sofa and loveseat with cushions. I found those flowered turquoise pillow-forms at a local Tuesday Morning, and then figured I'd find some nice, non-bedroom-looking Euro shams to cover them. That was two years ago, and these pillow-forms still remain sham-less. (And perhaps shameless, as well). Have I mentioned that I'm lazy? I did search high and low for shams for awhile, but gave up after I couldn't find what I wanted. But, boy, are these pillow forms bright! Kinda kooky-crazy. And they've sorta grown on me. Have I mentioned that I have no taste? If you had any doubt, there's your proof.

My desk with computer backs right up against the couch. (Tiny house here: ~900 ft²). My television sits underneath the staircase to the loft, and is about four feet from the end of that couch. The head of that couch, where the pillows are piled, is about two feet from the fireplace. I don't have fires in it very often, which is why I can have the couch so close to it.

I have a large rubbermaid tub of yarn stash on the floor next to the couch, squeezed in next to the coffeetable. On top of that is more yarn, various knitting needle assortments, and my Vera Bradley knitting bag. Way in the back, you can even see the fiber and drop-spindle from my lesson with Bess. I'll be seeing her on Tuesday, so here's hoping she'll give me another lesson!

Okay, enough about the knitting spot. More than anyone wanted to know, I'm sure.

Onward to my next Laurie-related topic.

Again, if you've just returned from another planet, I'll sum up here -- Laurie's grandmother was recently put in a convalescent hospital and some of her readers decided to pull together a knit-along to create a blanket for her grandmother. That knit-along can be found here:

The organizers of the knit-along sent me an invitation to join, and so the other night I whipped up a little square and then washed it in a little Eucalan and blocked it with towels on the only uncluttered horizontal surface in my home - my kitchen countertop. It wasn't yet dry the next morning, and my being the inpatient sort, (shocking, I know), I decided to use my handy-dandy brand-spanking-new blocking device, otherwise known as my new Whirlpool Duet dryer with it's handy-dandy drying rack:

The blocked item lies flat while the drum and air rotate around it. According to manufacturer's instructions, I set it to low heat for an hour, and voila' -- dry and blocked. I love my new dryer! By the way -- I got the washer to match, (purchased after last week's deluge), my first extended experience with a front loader. (When I was working in St. Louis our hotel had these wild Euro-machines that were front-loading and both washed and dried clothes in one machine. A cool concept, but I found their reliability to be iffy, at best.) Anyway, I like the Duet front-loader, for the most part, although there are still times when I think a normal, top-loading, high-water-volume washer w/ agitator would work better. It requires a special detergent, which is not a big deal - you can find it anywhere these days, [although my favorite detergent (Gain) does not yet have an "HE" version, so far as I know - I'm a little bummed about that]. And I'll never be able to felt things with the front loader, so I hear, because there's not enough agitation. So, for that I'll just have to run over to mom & dad's house, I guess.

Again, more than anyone wanted to know about my washer and dryer.

So, back to the knitted square:

Do you recognize that design?

I decided to go with the "Virginia" design, (other state designs can be found here), because I always comment on Laurie's blog as "Mary in Virginia" to distinguish myself from several other Marys that are frequent commenters. And this way, Laurie's California-living Grandma will have a permanent reminder that her blanket squares came from all over!

A closer view. Knit in Paton's Classic 100% Merino in "Too Teal"

That block is now in the mail and winging its way to California. (View the Flickr group of everyone's squares here). My square is a little larger than requested - they asked for 8" x 8" squares, and mine ended up being 9" x 9". Here's hoping that's not an issue -- maybe they can sew it to the other blanket squares from inside the garter stitch border, so it'll fit. Otherwise, I guess I'll have to knit another one and just reduce the number of stitches in the border and around the edges, (or else go down a needle size - duh). I think it would be cool if a few other states showed up in the blanket. That fifty-state flag blanket on the Knitting Knonsense website is right cool, ain't it? But I'd hate to have to sew it all together. Kudos to Kristy and her helpers for organizing this knit-along and for agreeing to sew all the squares together!

Friday, September 29, 2006


It usually strikes without warning -- the grief.

All day I'd been pumped to watch new episodes of my favorite shows - Earl, Office, Grey's, and E.R. Was even going to tape the pilot episode of Ugly Betty, as it appears to be quite a cute show.

Mom Nature had other plans. A huge storm rolled in, bringing with it hail, tornado warnings and power outtages, and it knocked out my power around 7:30pm. So I stumbled through my cluttered house and found the flashlights, found my book, found my radio, and having first-hand knowledge of the sluggish response times of local utilities, I settled in for a night of reading.

I'm currently reading Ann Howard Creel's The Magic of Ordinary Days. (I believe this was a recent Hallmark movie; I'll need to see if/when it'll be on again). The story takes place in Colorado during WWII, and is told from the first person voice of a woman who has undergone some major changes in her life, including the recent loss of her mother.

At one point the narrator describes how she misses conversations with her mother. And that's when it hit me -- I could not remember the last time I had a real conversation with my own mother. And yet she's still alive, still healthy, save for her diminishing mental faculties. I cannot remember the last time my mother asked me about any aspect of my life. And once in awhile, that realization hits me quite unexpectedly, right where it hurts, and I cry. I rail at the universe for taking her away from me, even while she's still alive.

In the quiet of a storm-darkened house, when there's just the pattering of rain on skylights, soft voices on the radio and the dim light of dying flashlights, without the distractions of light and clutter and television noise and internet escape, one sometimes has to face these emotions head on.

And even as my brain tells me I should just rejoice that she still lives a good and happy life, I mourn the loss of the mother I once knew, who would ask me about my work, who would attend local events with me, who was my friend, who was my mother.

And as I lay stretched out on my couch in my dark house, book on my lap, flashlight in hand, I really began to wallow in the self-pity, railing against other things -- my never-ending headache; the fact that no one ever calls to check on me during a storm; the fact that it was now 10:30 and the power was still out and I'd missed every show I'd wanted to see tonight.

Sing it, Linda Ronstadt: poor, poor, pitiful me. Waaaaa.

And it was right then that power came back on. In an instant, as lamplight spread across the house, the clutter of my life flooded in to numb me back into unconscious living.

To be surprised by grief on another day.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tuesdays are for TNK!

Okay, is it me, or do others in my knitting group wait excitedly all week for the fun of Tuesday evenings? (Or, did I just reveal what a pathetic geek I truly am?) It's been said before, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll say it again here -- I love my knitting group!

This past Tuesday night, Jane was kind enough to model the progress on her way-cool Trinardi sweater:

as well as her beautiful new hair-do. (Do people still say "hair-do"?) I teased her that wearing the unfinished sweater made her look like a homeless person. Hope she knows I meant that in the nicest possible way!... ;-)

We had a big crowd again, which is great -- always fun. I always love to see what everyone is knitting -- so inspiring! Of course, was I inspired enough, (or sharp enough?), to take pictures of what other people were knitting? Um.... no. (Sorry everyone - lame photographer here!) But have no fear - Jane walked around and took WIP pictures, so perhaps she'll blog about those in the near future! :-)

Here's a look at the crowd:

(L-R): Patsy, Nancy, Sheddy, Renny, Jo, Robin C., Issy
***(L-R): Jo, Robin C., Trish, Norma, Issy, Sherry & back of Deb's head (sorry Deb!)

Way over yonder (L-R): Katie, Sherry & back of Mary Jane (sorry Mary Jane!)

At my table (L-R): Kathy, Jane and Joanna

Again, at my table (L-R): Joanna, Tammi and Christina
Uninspired by my umpteen other UFO's, while there I decided to cast-on for a new project - the Voodoo wristwarmers from Knitty, using the Rowan Tapestry I purchased in August from the Yarn Lounge. So far I've only knit a couple of inches, so there won't be a progress shot today -- perhaps in the near future.

Tomorrow, I hope to have photos to share of a couple of other finished objects, so stay tuned!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Grandma's Quilt

At some point when I was very small, perhaps shortly after my birth, (1965-ish), my grandmother made me this quilt:

It was on my bed for probably the first five or six years of my life, but for whatever reason, probably just before we moved to Richmond, at some point my mother folded it up and put it in the attic, where it lived for the next 25-30 years. Of course, I quickly forgot all about it. Within the last ten years or so, my parents cleared some things out of their attic and gave this quilt back to me.

I don't display it or have it on my bed because it's somewhat fragile, and the cats and cat hair would quickly destroy it. I wish I had a larger house with spare bedrooms -- if that were the case, I'd definitely have this on a bed, or at least hanging on a display wall. So, for now, it will stay in its protective bag on the top shelf of my closet for awhile longer. I recently brought it out to have the loose appliques repaired by someone in town. And handling it again has brought back sweet memories of Grandma.

And so, in honor of my Grandma who would be 106 if she were still alive, I've decided to display here all twelve panels of my Grandma's Sunbonnet Sue quilt. Here they are in order of left-to-right, top-to-bottom, (click on image to make larger):

Panel 1

Panel 2

Panel 3

Panel 4

Panel 5

Panel 6

Panel 7

Panel 8

Panel 9

Panel 10

Panel 11

Panel 12

Coincidentally, Robin F. has a very similar quilt, made for her by her grandmother. You can see her cat Ace resting on it here, (blog post here). And some of her recent fiber acquisitions posing on it here, (blog post here). Now I'm wondering -- did every girl of my generation have a grandmother who made them this quilt? I'm guessing it was a readily available pattern. I wonder about the age of those fabrics -- did Grandma buy them the year I was born, or were they pulled from her stash of many years? Perhaps our knitting group's quilt experts (Sheddy? Issy? Robin C.?) can answer that question for me.

I was just going to post one picture of my favorite panel, but I couldn't pick a favorite, so I posted them all -- hope you enjoy. At least this way, Grandma's quilt will live on, for as long as there is an internet.

What's your favorite panel?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Protege' Progress

Not much knitting activity going on here this week. I've had an intractable headache for two weeks now, and it has sorta taken the joy out of anything requiring eyesight, (reading, knitting, television, sudoku puzzles, blog-writing, blog-reading, etc.), that is, pretty much anything other than sleep. Here's hoping my new glasses prescription will resolve that. They should be back from the lab sometime this coming week -- I'm praying for Monday or Tuesday. So, anyway, when you don't have any real exciting knitting content or progress to share, the next best thing is to share your protege's progress.
You may recall my relating the story of teaching my coworker L. how to knit back in early August. Shortly after that, I took her on her first foray into a yarn shop while in Maryland for work. She fell in love with and purchased some Blue Heron rayon metallic in a colorway called "Deep Space":

Blue Heron's rayon metallic in "Deep Space"

I would call that a mix of black, deep navy and a few other shades of deep blue, with, of course, the metallic thread flickering throughout, and I think the colorway is aptly named. The shop owner wouldn't wind that 550-yard hank for my friend, and so, bless her heart, L. and her husband wound it by hand one evening, and here is her very first self-wound ball of yarn:

I then instructed her, by email and instant message, on how to knit her first gauge swatch:

Her gauge is 5 stitches and 8 rows to the inch.

L. would like to turn that yarn into a rectangular shawl. I've also been knitting a Blue Heron rayon metallic shawl, and was knitting it width-wise, (like a scarf). Last week I "tried it on" to see how much longer I need to make it, and looked in the mirror and realized that I hate the fact that the garter stitch rows, which look like stripes, run up and down (from neck to mid-back) when wearing the shawl, rather than lengthwise (side-to-side) or fingertip-to-fingertip, when wearing it. It just looks amateurish, and this lovely yarn deserves better.
Therefore, I'm going to be ripping mine out and starting it over by casting on to knit it lengthwise. I may even turn it into a Clapotis, but am not yet married to that idea. I do sorta like the mindless knitting of garter stitch. You'd think I'd be heartbroken about that, after working on this thing, off-and-on, for months, but I'm not. It needs to be frogged. My gauge changed significantly mid-stream after I read this article and learned how to loosen up my knitting, and I also made a very rookie mistake in the middle of it -- I joined a new ball of yarn in the middle of a row, which just can't be made to look invisible with this particular yarn, without, perhaps, using needle and thread, and this is knitting after all, and not sewing, so that's not an acceptable solution, in my mind.
So, I discussed this same issue with L., and she agrees and is willing to cast on for hers lengthwise, (about 300 stitches), to get her desired 5 feet in length. But since she's a new knitter, I've convinced her to knit an intermediate project prior to tackling something with 300 stitches per row, and so this week she went to Romni Wools back home in Ontario to fondle and purchase more yarn. She told me she was very overwhelmed by the vast selection, and from the looks of that picture on their website's homepage, (click "Home" on their sidebar), who can blame her?! But a very helpful salesperson steered her in the right direction, and she is now proud owner of three balls of Nashua Julia in "Geranium".

She's already begun knitting on her scarf. Progress below:

Nashua Julia in "Geranium"
The shop owner picked out some plastic needles for her which L. has already decided she doesn't like -- too slippery. So she may go back and get some wood or bamboo needles instead.

I'm quite pleased and proud of my protege! And I hope that she continues to enjoy knitting, and that this is not just a passing craft but becomes a lifelong hobby for her.

World domination - one knitter at a time!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I'm a firm believer in keeping the meta-blog posts, (i.e., blogging about blogging) to a minimum, (unless that's the express topic of one's blog - a blog about blogging), because I think that the boring, techy stuff should remain behind the scenes whenever possible, mainly because it's really not all that interesting to readers who are not bloggers, (and even to many who are). And it's not the main topic of this particular blog.

It's like when NBC news does a story on CBS news. Or People magazine writes a story about Us magazine. Or the Washington Post writes a story about the New York Times. Meta-news. Meta-copy. In my opinion, it's cheating. Newswriting about newswriting is non-news, in my opinion, and the gratuitous creation of copy just to pump up one's own industry feels slightly underhanded to me. Granted, a knitting blog is not network news, but you get the idea, (I hope). Not many folks really care about the printing press -- they just want to read the paper.

I will make an exception on occasion, however, when I, as omnipotent creator of this blog, deem it appropriate. (Sometimes it's good to be Queen!)

And all of that is to preface the following statement:

Bluebird Blogs is having a blog redesign contest, in case anyone is interested in updating their blog's look. Mine could probably use it, so I'm entering! :-)

And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Crap. crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. Sorry. Have to vent.

Into each life some rain must fall. Today, as I was washing pretty much every towel I own, I heard the washer go into a spasm of loud poundings during the spin cycle. This is nothing new. That stupid agitator somehow winds itself off of its little post at least once every ten washes, and so, as I've been trained to do when that happens, I got up from knitting on the couch to stop and restart it. And walked into an inch of water in my bedroom and closet (where the washer lives). Of course, I have no towels with which to sop up the water because they're all in the washer, wet. Aaaargh!

Enough. I've had it with this washer. I thought I'd bought myself another year or more with it after I had it repaired when it broke down in June. But that was not to be. Tomorrow I go to Lowe's to order a new one. And a dryer to match, because my dryer is also on its last legs.

And now I'm wondering how I will dry myself after my showers over the next few days, before the new appliances arrive. Maybe I'll pick up some towels while I'm out....

Money grows on trees, right? Right?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Wise women study under Wiseman

(Couldn't resist the punny newspaper headline title for this post). ;-)

This weekend I took two classes from venerable knitting instructor and author Nancie Wiseman. Classes were held at Got Yarn in Midlothian.

Saturday's class was on Continental Knitting, which I found is a skill that absolutely requires extended practice. The knit stitch can be picked up after a relatively short time. Purling is quite a bit more challenging. But I can definitely see the value in knitting Continental for two-color/two-handed fair isle knitting and for long stretches of ribbing or seed stitch, where you're switching from knit to purl and purl to knit relatively frequently. The movements are much finer, more precise and less overt than the American/English style method of "throwing" the yarn. Easier on the arms and shoulders, but requiring more time to re-learn to knit with tiny finger movements rather than big hand/wrist/elbow/shoulder movements. Ultimately, I can see that it is a faster method. Initially, however, it is much slower and more painstaking.

As Nancie indicated, with Continental, one must hold tension on the yarn. Since I don't currently hold tension when I knit American-style, my continental gauge is much, much tighter -- so tight that it's hard to move the stitches around the needle. I really will need to practice loosening that up a bit. Nancie recommends picking a project and knitting the entire thing via Continental, as that is really the best way to get the practice. I'm not sure I'm up to that yet, but I may just practice knitting more swatches. I don't have a swatch to illustrate here as I ended up ripping it out to use the yarn for Sunday's class. But it was just a boring garter-stitch swatch anyway, and not really photo-worthy.

I do have a picture of our instructor:

Got Yarn employee Natalie (tall redhead) and Nancie Wiseman

And here's a couple of silly fellow TNK members and class attendees:

Rita J. and Robin H.

As most local knitters know, Danna Savage, owner of Got Yarn, is closing her brick-and-mortar shop and will just be running an on-line business from now on. So this past weekend was the last chance for knitters (those of us taking the classes) to shop in her store. Everything was 25-50% off, which was really quite tempting. She still had a lot of yarn left, including a ton of Koigu KPPPM, Noro and many others. There were also still kits, books, needles, knitted shop samples, fixtures, etc. available for sale. (She would also like to sell her desk in her back office, so if anyone needs a desk, give her a call at the shop or leave a message). I'm kicking myself for not buying any Misti Alpaca super-chunky while I had the chance. I must have fondled that stuff, (and brought everyone else over to fondle it as well), at least six times over the course of the weekend. It was every bit as soft as the cashmere on the shelf next to it. I may see if she'll still sell me some....

I got out of there without too much damage to the wallet. I bought Nancie's Continental Knitting DVD, (will definitely be watching that again soon!), one hank of Takhi Cotton Classic in a mint-green, (for some washcloths), and some size 15 and 17 Brittany DPNs for future hat-making with chunky yarns (like the Misti Alpaca mentioned above - doh!). I also had Nancie sign two books I own which she authored -- Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques and Essential Book of Crochet Techniques.

Sunday's class was less like yarn-wrestling and more like fun. Nancie taught us Intarsia basics, and from her simple instructions I was able to create an intarsia swatch:
beginner chart (with lots of my hand-written notes) and swatch
intarsia swatch

messy back-side of intarsia swatch

If anyone cares, the yarns I used were Paton's Classic Merino in "Too Teal", "Peacock" and "Bottle Green". I really enjoyed this class and can see why people find this a fun technique. And I now feel less intimidated by charts, which is a major accomplishment, folks! TNK members Sherry, Sheddy and Sangeeta were also in my class, but we were all so busy knitting that I didn't get a chance to get their picture. I'm hoping they'll bring their swatches Tuesday night, so we can all brag together!

I didn't finish the swatch before class was over, but did so last night while watching my beloved 'Skins lose badly to the Cowboys. (Ouch!) One thing I learned -- it took me almost as long to weave in my ends as it did to knit the doggone thing in the first place! Something to keep in mind for future projects. I don't yet have an actual intarsia project in mind that I'd like to knit, but I will now keep my eyes open for one. I think I'd like to design a Redskins scarf with intarsia letters (gold letters on maroon background).

I'm loving this multi-color stuff! I think I'd like to take a Fair Isle class in the near future, and I think Unraveled is offering one this fall.

So, all-in-all, it was a fun and educational weekend for this knitter, and I definitely feel "wiser" for having been taught by Ms. Wiseman.... ;-)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Knitting DVDs

Okay, when both Amy Singer of Knitty and Clara Parkes of Knitter's Review give a set of knitting DVDs their collective four thumbs up, you sit up and take notice. It didn't take me but a split-second after reading the second positive review to decide to at least rent, if not purchase Lucy Neatby's Knitting Essentials. Alas, Netflix doesn't have them yet, and neither does, (preventing me from adding them to my Christmas wish list). So, moments ago, I just bought them outright from Webs.

I eagerly await their arrival and look forward to adding them to my knitting DVD library next to the my Elizabeth Zimmerman Knitting Workshop DVDs. Their quality is bound to be head-and-shoulders above the amateurish Art of Knitting I recently reviewed.

And I can't wait to order her Sock Techniques DVDs when they become available. Kudos to Lucy Neatby for advancing the realm of knitting instruction!

Monday, September 11, 2006

UFO sightings

(First of all, I wonder how many hits I'll get from alien-hunters because of this post's title ?)

Actually, it's not an accurate title anyway, as what I'll be sharing here are finished (!!), rather than UnFinished Objects. W00t!

I got a bee in my bonnet this weekend and decided to finish a couple of things that have been laying around collecting dust for months and months.

First of all, there's this scarf. I've had it piled in a bag since March, finished. It just needed its ends woven in and then it needed to be felted. So after I wove in all seven thousand ends, (seemingly), I measured it before felting:

Yarn: Plymouth "Sinsation" rayon chenille in aqua, 10 balls
Needles: Crystal Palace US size #11 bamboo straights
Gauge: Who cares? But for history's sake, ~3.15 spi
: Cast-on 28 stitches, knit every row

Width, unfelted: ~9 inches
Length, unfelted: 60" + 27" = 87 inches = 7'3"
(my tape measure is only 60" long)
Total scarf acreage, unfelted: 783 square inches or ~5.5 square feet.

Here it is post-felting:

Width, felted: 5 inches
(a reduction of 44%)

Length, felted: 44.5" x 2 (folded scarf in half to measure) = 89" = ~ 7'5"
(How did I GAIN two inches???)
Total scarf acreage, felted: 445 inches squared, or ~3.1 square feet.
An overall reduction in acreage of ~44%.

Extreme close up of fabric, post-felting.
It really is as cool and silky and slinky feeling as it appears here.

Okay, this scarf sure feels really nice to the touch, but it is HEAVY. And way too long. 7+ feet of a heavy scarf is a LOT of scarf. Lesson learned -- felted things shrink in width but not length, apparently! In the future, I would have cast on maybe 60 stitches and used circular needles. But I don't think I'll knit with this stuff again for awhile, if ever. Besides the expense of this yarn and the tiny amount of yardage per ball, chenille, especially this slippery rayon chenille, makes a horribly wormy garter stitch fabric which can be just a royal pain to knit. Its saving grace is the wool core which allows for felting and makes that stunning final fabric.

On the other end of the beautiful fabric spectrum, (i.e., the ugly end), I give you the butt-ugly scarf:

Can someone, somewhere love me?

(Conveniently meeting another description of "UFO", i.e., Ugly Finished Object).

I started this thing almost a year ago, and never finished it because it was just so, so bad. In my defense, I was a fairly new knitter at the time and like many new knitters, I thought gold dripped from my knitting needles. More like fool's gold. If You Knit What? were still up and running, I'd submit it to them. So, why finish it? Because it took almost no time and I felt sorry for it.

My sister-in-law thinks that I should make this scarf a booby prize in a contest of some sort. I'm open to suggestions as to the type of contest!

Knitted Fug. I'm just so proud.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Color Genius


Five or more years ago, long before I knew what's what about anything knitting-related, I was in a Tuesday Morning looking through their discounted books for an undiscovered gardening gem, and instead found this:

Welcome Home by Kaffe Fassett

Not knowing a thing about painting, weaving, knitting, quilting, needlepoint, and the seemingly dozens of other crafts in which the man excels, I was still inspired by his genius for combining colors, and bought the book. It's sat on my coffee table over the years, and on occasion I flip through it, always a little happier after seeing eye-candy like this:

Today, I still have no experience with most of the crafts in Fassett's repertoire, save for an amateurish, advanced-beginner knowledge of knitting, but I still admire his color genius. More of his designs can be admired on his website. SpunMagazine recently had an article about him, and there's even a Kaffe Fassett knit-along for those brave and/or skilled enough to try one of his patterns.

Maybe that brave or skilled person will be me one day. Next weekend I'm taking a Continental Knitting class as well as an Intarsia class, both taught by knitting & crochet guru Nancie Wiseman. It's a start, at least.

And in November, Kaffe Fassett is coming to Stitches East in Baltimore. I've not yet signed up for that event and may be too late to the party, as his lecture may already be full. I've not even decided yet whether I'm going to Stitches East, but if I do, I sure hope I can sit in on his class. It's not often one gets to rub elbows with genius. My only hope is that some might rub off on me...?

Monday, September 04, 2006

What Not to Knit

If you're like me, you've been mourning the demise of "You Knit WHAT???", that fantasticly snarky knitting blog that dared to skewer bizarre and/or badly-designed items that seem to be ever-prevalent in the world of knitwear. I got many a chuckle, giggle, laugh and out-and-out guffaw from that website.

But now, thank goodness, the baton has been passed and the reigns have been taken up by those lovely ladies at What Not to Crochet. They've started a new blog called What Not to Knit, and one of the more outrageous items they've posted thus far was knit by the same person who knits and sells the likes of these on ebay:

The stuff nightmares are made of....

Isn't that a travesty? Mohair should be used for good, not for evil! And if the hood alone doesn't scare you, how about an entire mohair catsuit? Or a dress?


[Update: seems there's more than one group willing to take up the cause of knitted fug. Check out a new incarnation of You Knit What here. And here. And also here. And here, too. And more crocheted fug here.]


What TO Knit:

Richmond's own talented Melanie Berney has designed these fabulous Snowflake Socks that are in this month's current issue of MagKnits:

Beautiful lacework, Melanie! :-)

Such a contrast, isn't it?! Now, run right over and get the pattern! And hopefully, these lovely socks will help rid your mind completely of the aforementioned mohair monstrosities!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hurricane Survival

Hurricane Tropical Storm Depression Ernesto kicked my butt.

But not in the way you might think.

Sure, I lost power for 15+ hours, while neighborhoods on all sides of ours were well lit. (Grrr!)

Sure there were some downed trees here and there, (but not in my yard, thank God):

But the real hardship was what to do with myself for all that time while my two idiot boxes (computer, television) were unavailable. Yes, I realize I'm pathetic.

After the eye of the storm seemed to have moved beyond us, I decided to entertain myself by driving around town to see who still had power, (everywhere but my neighborhood, so it seemed), who had downed trees, [Ha! Two of 16 (!!) newly-built homes on my block lost trees -- that'll teach them to increase the population density in my neighborhood!], and who was flooded.

In my travels, I was stopped by a freight train, which has nothing to do with storm survival but made for fun photography:

Here's the engine...

And here's the graffiti'd caboose.

In search of interesting flood images, I decided to tour Riverside Drive. There was no flooding down there yet as of about 5:30 pm yesterday, (I should have driven down German School Road -- they always flood), but the river was beginning to rage a bit:

I'm such a thrill-seeker...

Tree caught in dam hydraulics
(or damn hydraulics, depending on your frame of mind)

That was one huge tree - wish my camera's zoom wasn't broken or there was something else there for scale -- you'll just have to take my word for it. That Danger sign is no joke, though. Seems as though there's at least one swimmer/boater/kayaker a year who succumbs to that dam's hydraulics.

On my way home I picked up a "nutritious" fast-food dinner and some extra batteries. And here's how I survived the rest of the night:

Solar/battery-powered radio; Sudoku puzzle book; Pride & Prejudice; electronic solitaire; flashlights; and a Hardee's Philly Cheesesteak-burger, (Have you tried these? Beef as condiment -- they're decadent!).

You'll notice there's no knitting in that survival kit. I'm just not a big fan of knitting in the dark. Especially with the frou-frilly yarn I'm currently using.

I must say that the radio is a God-send. I purchased it shortly after Hurricane Isobel, as back then I went stir-crazy without any power or news from the outside world for days. Its internal battery can be recharged via your normal house current or via the solar panel on top, and it even has a hand-crank for when it runs out of juice -- one minute of cranking equals an hour of sound. A fully charged battery lasts 24 hours. And I am here to report that David Letterman is just as funny without the visuals. Love you, Dave!

Thankfully, the power came back on sometime while I slept. Love you, Virginia Power!

And now my next step is deciding what from the fridge/freezer needs to be tossed. And I should probably hit Ukrops at some point today....

For those of you still without power, I feel your pain! Wanna borrow my radio? ... ;-)