Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving leftovers

are the best part, as we all know. Herewith some additional knitting projects that were under construction on Knit Something Day:

Sheila D. of East Providence RI, a top-down sweater 

Joan W. of Weston, MA, the start of a Suri Alpaca throw 
The yarns in the first two photos are strong arguments for the chicken-or-egg world of knitting inspiration.  How can anyone look at these beauteous fibers and not want to knit something immediately?

Then there are perpetual motion knitters, like Denise of the Langworthy Library Knitting Association. She's actually been retained by a friend to knit twenty cotton dishcloths from a cone of color-slubbed natural cotton yarn, as presents for the friend's extended family!

In addition, Denise, currently recuperating from surgery, has been spending her non-dishcloth-knitting time with a variegated fuchsia scarf

and these wonderful socks, a present for her doctor.  (Seriously, this might be a great way to reduce the high cost of medical care in the U.S.--hand-knitted socks for all medical personnel!)

Artemis, one of Denise's two resident felines, is in awe of her grandmère's productivity.

Gentle readers, we hope you celebrated Knit Something and Buy Nothing Days, and the National Day of Listening, all of which occurred on November 26th, in a heartwarming way.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coma weekend

It's that time of year when my brain seems to go into hibernation, while I'm apparently living my life. Thanksgiving was a grande bouffe at the home of ever-generous neighbors who thoughtfully provided an artistically-personalized twenty-pound shopping bag of leftovers for every guest, lest they suffer from a dearth of nourishment after the main meal. Eyeing the bottom layer of this gift o' love-- a Tupperware container of English trifle, a bag of Italian cookies, a hefty slice of gingerbread buche, a slab of pumpkin pie, a nine-million calorie hunk of cheesecake with cherry topping--I knew I had to do something drastic. So I ate the cheesecake for breakfast on Knit Something Day, then trotted downstairs to the neighbors' apartment, to return the cookies, trifle, and buche--but not the pie, turkey, stuffing, and large container of side vegetables--thereby maintaining the fiction that I'm trying to follow a moderate diet. (Meanwhile I ate the pie in small increments over three days, further supporting the fiction of moderation.)

What did I do this weekend, besides eat and knit? That is the question. On Knit Something Day I zipped through Deborah Newton's Cornflower Mitts pattern, and when I thought I'd almost finished, discovered, to my chagrin, that I'd made two right-hand mitts and no left.

Well, everything happens for a reason, right? Obviously I love this pattern, which I'm giving to a friend--love it so much that I wanted my own pair. I'm about a third through the first left-hand mitt. (I keep wondering, though, that if I hadn't eaten that grotesque slice of cheesecake and my brain wasn't all befuddled by the sugar-fat-cream triumvirate, mightn't I have read the pattern correctly in the first place?)

This, my friends, is a great design! Knit on number nines, it's speedy, and the rich detailing of cables and three kinds of ribs provides texture, interest, and extra warmth. (I'm sure that the thickness of the cable on the back of the hand adds extra heat retention, and the ribs make the mitts grippy.)

But enough about me...I wanted to find out what my knitting friends were knitting on Knit Something Day. Below, a partial visual record:

Susie B, NYC, lace-edged woman's hat.

Caroline B, Connecticut, twisted cable scarf of handspun, hand-dyed wool.

Carol M. of Connecticut Yarn and Wool,  Haddam, Connecticut, Christmas stocking from  local merino sheep.

The Knitting Goddess, Providence RI, a big eyelet swatch.

And more to follow, after I catch up on my Zzzzzzzs. Please send me photos of what you were knitting on November 26th, 2010, and they shall appear on this blog in the immediate future.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Knit Something Day!

and Buy Nothing Day and The National Day of Listening.

Quentin bought nothing.  He wore his new garter-stitch scarf.  And he listened to the Wood River where there is now no bridge.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We interrupt this sweater...

to bring you a TURKEY!

Gentle readers, the eve of Knit Something Day approaches.  It's time to fire up! I've temporarily put the sweater aside to create Mr. T, who will grace the Thanksgiving table.

As you can see, Rufus approves. Quentin is somewhat less sure.

If you'd like to give a vegetarian friend this winsome hand-knitted bird, there's a free pattern download on the Spud & Chloe blog. You can make him really quickly, well before November 25th. Even an entire flock, if you're a fast knitter. What are you waiting for?

PS: Since my last post, many have inquired about Quentin the Owl. Also, I have been sternly chastised by a member of the Langworthy Library Knitting Association who has powerful connections to organized wildlife protection, for having captured Quentin and sequestered him in my home without obtaining a permit from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Apparently it is not, um, legal to simply scoop up a hapless owl whose path happens to cross yours, and bring it home to live with you. (Or with me, as the case actually is.) And it doesn't matter to The Authorities that Quentin is essentially unable to fly or live on his own in nature.

Please know that I have tried to liberate Quentin. I have taken him around my yard and allowed him to go wherever and do whatever he wants. He enjoys the fresh air, but is unable to fly any distance. He's smart, too, and recognizes a sweet deal.

So, when I open the door to let Rufus inside, Quentin voluntarily hops in after him. We supplement his diet with mice and voles caught by Kramer and Rufus.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Loss and gain

Stonington, CT

Those who grew up before the Age of SPF and PABA often, as mature individuals, endure dermatological procedures that remove sun-damaged skin lest it morph into full-blown cancer. Such was H's lot this morning.  While he was being scraped, peeled, and stitched on the tenth floor of Rhode Island Hospital, the Knitting Goddess and I walked along the mighty Seekonk with our loyal companions, Brownie and Lola, discussing the merits of wool versus acrylic, a conversation prompted by my wearing of a pair of thirty-year-old acrylic mittens (knitted in an overall seed stitch by mother, who is late--to borrow a term from Mma Ramotswe), and KG's wearing of a pair of equally ancient acrylic gloves in a nordic pattern, inherited from an elderly relative.

KG maintains that acrylic garments can be as warmth-providing as wool. I disagree. To test our hypotheses, we have decided to knit two pairs of comparable mittens, hers in acrylic, mine in wool. We will engage an impartial scientist to measure the heat retention of said mittens as they are worn on a suitably cold winter day. I am sure you, gentle readers, will be as curious about the results as KG and I are. Stay tuned.

Shortly after our return from this bracing expedition, I was summonsed by H to bail him out of hospital hell. Then we were on our way to the River House, where four angry cats awaited, screaming for breakfast. H had come through his surgery stoically and with only one large bandage on his face. We decided to reward his fortitude with lunch in Stonington, Connecticut, a twenty-minute drive from our rural hideaway. Afterwards, we strolled to the water's edge. It was there that we encountered Owl.

He's about a foot high, five or six inches wide, and rather compact. Readers, you know my proclivity for homeless animals. There was no way I could leave him on the wharf, feathers ruffling in the wind. We scooped up the little beast and brought him home.

It turns out that he loves to watch me knit. This I discovered as we drove back and I, riding shotgun with Owl on my lap, picked up a rather lurid sock currently under construction and began to work. Owl nudged it with his beak and rubbed his head on the ball of yarn. When we arrived home, I put him in a basket with the almost-completed pair, and it was clear that he was in a state of avian bliss.

I promised to knit him a scarf from the leftovers.

Lola isn't certain how she feels about him.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knit Something Day approaches

Gentle readers,

No one needs to be reminded that we live in a society of wretched excess and gross disparities. As you may have noticed from the trend of my evolving "Blogs I Follow" list, I--despite the embarrassing size of my yarn stash--am partial to writers who chronicle the simple life. The low-tech appeal of knitting is part of my enjoyment of essential, meditative pursuits. I am also someone who really, really, really hates shopping--except, I admit, for yarn and knitting-related paraphernalia. There's a lot I will do to avoid stores, and an even worse nightmare, malls.

And now it is early November and in only a few weeks the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, arrives. Over the years social activists have campaigned to make this day after Thanksgiving "Buy Nothing Day." The idea is to reject the consumerist ethic that compels folks to shop until they drop in preparation for the holidays, and spend quality time on beneficial projects, whether they be some kind of volunteer work, communing with one's family and friends, or participating in an enjoyable non-consumerist activity. I am especially partial to the Annual Winter Coat Exchange on the lawn of the Rhode Island State House in downtown Providence (with ancillary sites around the state). Donate a gently-used coat (any size, from children to adult) on November 26th from 10 to 2, so that someone who needs a coat may be warmer in the winter months.

And once more I'll suggest another way to think of the Day After Thanksgiving:  Knit Something Day! Send me a photo of what you're knitting on November 26th, and I'll publish it in this blog so the world can see.