Thursday, March 31, 2011

Où sont les neiges d'antan?: 2KCBW4

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Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?
Whatever happened to your __________?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. 

...n'enquerez de sepmain,
Où elles sont, ne de cest an,
Qu'à ce refrrain ne vous remaine:
Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!
--François Villon, Ballade des dames du temps jadis (pre-1533)

Q:  Whatever happened to that Baby Bunting, knitted during the autumn of 1979?

A:  It's here, the babies aren't.

12 March 2011, Brentwood L.A.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2KCBW3: Tip of the iceberg.

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How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins.

Dare accepted, mademoiselle. My response takes the form of a photo essay, since words utterly fail to describe the mess, or whatever you want to call it:  disorder, anarchy, the creative unconscious, etc.--it is what it is.

But wait...there's more...lots more!  This stash represents years of investment collecting. But you get the idea, I'm sure, from these selected examples. I've made a faint attempt, at times, to sort by color.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All rising to great place is by a winding stair...

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Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. 
The more I knit, the more I realize that nothing in this game is linear. My latest challenge is knitting with two circular needles rather than four dpns to which I've been accustomed. Thanks to the Internet, I can access demonstration videos that amplify and clarify what I've learned by reading Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles (Passing Paws Press, 2001). 

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

The Worst and the Best:   2KCBWDAY1
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The Prompt:  Day One:  A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

As Oscar Wilde famously said, "My tastes are simple:  I like only the best." Similarly, I love organic fibers and intensely dislike synthetics. To be more specific, I love alpaca, cashmere, very fine merinos, and yarns that blend animal fiber with silk, such as Noro Silk Garden. I truly loathe acrylics.

A Diatribe Contra Acrylic Yarn
This doesn't mean that I don't knit acrylic or acrylic-blend yarn. Every so often I make something for a friend who is allergic to animal fiber, or for a child whose parents want the machine-washability of acrylic. I generally don't enjoy knitting plant fibers like cotton or linen because of their inelastic nature, and often my wool-allergic friends desire something warm, like socks or mittens, for which cotton wouldn't be suitable. Possibly you are wondering why, if acrylics benefit some people, I don't I like them. It is true that synthetic yarns have improved in quality since the 1960s, when I began knitting. Back then they were really grotesque. However, when I knit an acrylic, I am again reminded of its drawbacks. They are, even in the 21st century
  • inelastic
  • shreddy
  • plastic-feeling
  • and they have a weird sheen. 
Having said this, I will proffer an illustration of something I knitted partly with acrylic:

Tom Turkey's tail feathers are from a scary L*** Brand acrylic I found at my favorite store, Ocean State Job Lot. I used it to make a pair of hiking socks for a wool-allergic person, all the time thinking how sad it was that I couldn't knit the socks in merino.

A Valentine to Alpaca Yarns, in All Their Permutations
There are so many beautiful natural fiber yarns in the world, and there are so many distinctive kinds of yarn, that I could rhapsodize forever about their fabulous qualities. Frequently I've shared with readers of this blog images of beautiful yarns I've found in my travels, so for the fun of it you can page backwards and gander at the photos. As my gentle readers may also know, I have a seriously huge stash of yarn, the existence of which H thinks is symptomatic of some kind of personality disorder. (Side-note: my recent visits to LYS in Los Angeles gave me an idea for organizing the stash that I will put into action gradually, with the hope of eliminating some of the chaos of my store-room.) 

As only one example of what I deem to be a completely lovable yarn, I'll draw your attention to a skein I own (one of two) of handpainted Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk.  The fiber content is 80% Baby Suri Alpaca, 20% Silk. Each skein is 218 yards. I haven't yet decided what to knit from it (it's DK weight), and would welcome suggestions.

Here's the crux of my argument--if you're going to invest all the time and effort necessary to knit something lovely, why wouldn't you want to use the best and most beautiful yarns you can find? There's a lot to be said for honoring one's handiwork with a complementary fiber.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Second Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

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It all begins tomorrow....There will be a post each day, prompted by a topic generated by Eskimimi Knits.  Last year, more than two hundred bloggers participated (except yours truly, who was dealing with extreme flood conditions then, as you may recall). I'm so intrigued to see how it will play out this year.  Somehow I envision it as a kind of monster concert.

See you soon!

Friday, March 25, 2011

curved learning

I've been teaching myself to knit socks on two circular needles, thanks to Cat Bordhi's renowned treatment of the subject:

Like most things worth learning, it doesn't come quickly. Ultimately we hope the struggle will be worthwhile.

I purchased two different #2 circulars so I wouldn't confuse which needles were in play. Unfortunately the metal needles, by a venerable American company whose name I shan't mention (S**** B****) are completely horrible. I've never done this before, but I'm planning to return them to the store. The points are both rough and sharp, painful to work with. Yikes!

Meanwhile, vegetable seedlings grow apace in the greenhouse. Probably spring will arrive sometime before May.

Probably.  We hope.

Molly enjoys hothouse flowers.  She, like her muvver, is skeptical concerning the approach of warmer weather.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I returned from Los Angeles to find Ted impersonating a strawberry.

The cap is an Ann Norling pattern -- "Kid's Fruit Cap" --done in an alpaca-merino blend.

Rufus thought he would hide behind Ted.  Neither of them noticed the crocuses, but they enjoyed the sun.  Tomorrow is spring, and tonight is the spring moon, also called the Super Moon.  This optical illusion appears once every eighteen years.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

California Dreamin'

All the leaves are brown,
And the sky is grey...

Gentle readers...I am heading to L.A., returning to New England when spring has sprung, I hope.