Thursday, October 28, 2004

Just checking in

It's been so busy at Skein this week that I haven't had much time to work on even my shop sample project, a Koigu child's sweater. But I am almost done with the back. The front is done. I'll try for a photo or two tomorrow or Saturday, depending on my progress. I've been swamped with lots of scarf knitting questions, and corrections, as well as people who are just confused about the pattern instructions.

We were a small group at Thursday night knit together. But I got to see the new puppy and she is way precious. So tiny and so ferocious. Mendy says she's not an Apricot but a separate class called Red. She's really dark. And a handful. Literally.

I am almost finished with the first chemo cap I'm making to take to the Knitters' Retreat next week. I think I'll be able to get one more done. And now I can focus on what project(s) I'm going to take to work on. I should probably think about what to take to keep warm. It's been in the high 60's here, and for us that's cold. I do have a ride from Dulles too. So that's one less thing to fret about.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

New Toy!

Well, actually she's a miniature poodle. Not mine. Patrick would be too confronted if I even mentioned a dog. This is Mendy's new baby. I can hardly wait to meet her when I go over there on Thursday. I've never seen a poodle of any size in this color. Last I heard she was named Brandy, but that was still an open discussion.

I have abandoned the attempt to cable without a cable needle. At least for now. I spend way too much time fiddling with the loose stitches. The only advantage I can see for me at present is not having to keep up with the cable needle. I think I can do that. I managed a few rows yesterday on the Aran sweater. I think I'll be okay to take it with me to the KR Retreat.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Feeling frustrated

I'm trying to teach myself how to do cables without a cable needle. Without much success. I spend more time rescuing the stitches than I save by not using a cable needle. I think I understand what I'm supposed to do so maybe I just need more practice. The Aran sweater I'm making has lots of cables, mostly two and four stitches so this should be an ideal time to learn. I'll be looking for some links later today. I need more markers first.

I'm feeling burned out with my knitting. Maybe I have too many projects going. I took most of yesterday off and just read a book. This is not a good time to let my knitting go. Ann Mary keeps suggesting more projects that she wants me to knit for the shop. The holidays are coming. And there are two projects that I need to finish for one of my students who go herself way in over her head and pleaded with me to help her out. I'm going to one of the other shops in my area later today. Maybe that'll help shake this off. At least I'll have the additional markers.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Friday wind up/down

I worked on the Midwest Moonlight scarf last night while I was at Mendy's for the weekly knit together. I hadn't touched this scarf in over a month so it took a few minutes to get the pattern going. I like the pattern and the yarn a lot. I still have about a ball and a half to go before I'm done. If I don't get distracted by any of the other projects I should finish in a few days.

Here's what it looked like a few months ago. It's the same now, except longer.

I need to get back to the Aran I started last month. I want to take this project with me when I go to the Knitters' Retreat in a couple of weeks but I don't want to have to fuss too much with the set up so I'll have to get the stitches picked up across the front of the saddleshoulders and get the pattern started so all I have to do is knit.

I was just on the phone with Bess whose post about the KR Retreat last year got me really interested in attending. This is the first time I've actually talked with her although we've been exchanging emails for a long time. What a hoot! and a thrill! Only a couple of weeks to go.

Meanwhile, I'd better get back to packaging my current projects. I have to do this every few weeks or I lose track of where I am. I'm really bad and sloppy about putting things away when I'm done so after a while my living room becomes a tangled mass of needles and yarn. It's really a good thing that the cat isn't interested in my knitting. Or maybe it would be better if he were. Anyway, back to that before I get ready for Skein.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Un-progress report

I spent a lot of time yesterday working on a hat to take with me to the Knitters' Retreat next month. I ripped it out at the end of the day because it was about ten inches too big. So much for knowing what you're doing. I've also pretty much decided to rip the La Luz vest as well. I've finished the crochet edge on one armhole. It just doesn't do it for me. I don't want Lisa to have to have this vest dry-cleaned and blocked everytime she cleans it. Plus, I'm not sure that blocking is going to fix the problem. Actually I think I feel better knowing that I'm going to rip it. I've put far too much into it, trying to save it, and still don't like the results.

On the upside though, I just cast on for another hat. When I joined in the round I forgot to check if the stitches were twisted. But it all came out just fine. This one won't be too big and it'll fit someone, somewhere.

I bought a few new knitting books yesterday, including the new Vogue Holiday issue. We finally got the Tahki, Stacy Charles and Filatura di Crosa books so I needed all of those. And I picked up the new Hollywood Knits Style by Suss Cousins. I received her first book as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. Like the original there isn't a lot of good stuff in the second book but there are some simple things that will work well for when I need something to knit that doesn't require a whole lot of attention. I haven't had time to memorize the other books but overall I'd say they're pretty much trendy/faddish sort of things. I'll show them to Lisa and see if there's anything she'd like. Since I almost never finish anything, except socks, it probably doesn't really matter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Wet Wednesday

It's still raining. We're into day three, or maybe it's four. Last night was the best so far. Not torrential, just loud and steady. I walked to and from Skein yesterday but it wasn't raining then, just a few drizzles. I may have to drive today if it keeps up the way it is right now. I love the rain, especially since I don't have a long commute anymore.

I was checking out the Knitters Review Forums last night. I've been trying to hook up with anyone who is attending the Retreat next month and who would be driving from Dulles to the Retreat. So far I haven't heard from or connected with anyone. I do have an option but I don't want to inconvenience anyone. Anyway, I noticed that there is going to be a collection of chemo hats at the Retreat. So I'm getting started on another project just as soon as I finish here. I just have to match up some available needles with the right size yarn. That's more of a challenge than it should be.

I got all the knitting done on the La Luz vest last night and have started the crochet around the armholes. I was feeling a little depressed about how the vest was coming out but the crochet is really making a difference. Still no buttons though.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


What I didn't mention yesterday was that while I waited for the defragging to complete I also started a new project. How's that for a convoluted sentence?

Years ago, before I really got seriously overtaken by knitting, I bought some yarn for a sweater that I had seen in Vogue Knitting. Not knowing very much about fair isle, or anything else, at that time I decided to have the sweater knit for me by someone who was touted as knowing all there was to know about knitting. Actually it was the mother of one of my co-workers.

In those days Manos del Uruguay was available in a dk weight, or more of a worsted light. (I can't bring myself to type "lite".) I remember I kept buying more and more skeins as the knitter kept running out of some of the colors. It was during all this buying that I got to know the ladies at Mariposa, a now defunct needlework shop where I worked for a number of years.

In due course the sweater was finished. It had a fair isle yoke with a repeat of the motif just above the cuff on the sleeve. I tried on the sweater and discovered I couldn't even lift my arms. The floats on the inside were so long that they were dangerous and had no give at all. At the time I didn't know what was causing the problem. I was that much of a novice. So I just paid the knitter and put the sweater away. A couple of years later I decided to rip the sweater and preserve as much of the yarn as possible. It has been sitting for about twelve years just waiting for its turn.

I don't know how much of the yarn I have. I could weigh it I suppose but I know there's not enough to make a sweater and I have too many scarves going already. So I'm making a watch cap. I like making hats and caps. I usually have a stash of completed ones on hand but I seem to have depleted that. If I get it done I'll be able to wear it when I go to the KR Retreat. In any event, it's a good project to work on while watching paint dry or while Ad-aware is checking for spies.

I have finished the back of the La Luz vest and only have the upper portion of the right front to knit, which I'll probably do tonight. Then a little crochet around the armholes and the neck and then knit the button bands. I guess I'd better see if I have any suitable buttons which I probably don't so I'll see if there are any at Skein. I don't like going to Jo Ann's if I don't have to.

Monday, October 18, 2004


Right on time for the official start of the rainy season here in Southern California. And also perfect timing for the house next door. The landlord decided he needed to fertilize with the good stuff. I hope the rain speeds up the process. Phew!

I've been watching my computer defrag itself this afternoon. That's a lot more exciting than the stockinette stitch I'm doing on the silk vest. At least you can read the progress bar when you're defragging. With the vest it's more like you're struggling to stay even. Actually, I'm getting close to the back neck and shoulder shaping but that's still about four inches once the center stitches are bound off.

I think I've experienced a new rite of passage. Starting tomorrow night I'll be taking a cholesterol control pill. It seems like everyone in my age group is on some variant of this drug. I guess it just goes with the territory. And then there's the exercise and diet watching. I don't like either of those. But I'll get some new batteries and dust off the old Walkman and the walking shoes and get started. And I'll finish my last grapefruit tonight since I won't be able to have it again once I start the new pill.

Friday, October 15, 2004

What's a tlapauhcolcotl?

On Tuesday night I met my friend R for an evening at theSouthwest Chamber Orchestra and a concert of music composed by Carlos Chavez. The percussion ensemble Tambuco joined the regular members of the orchestra for a wild and raucous concert. Several of the instruments that figured in the music were reconstructions based on ancient Aztec relics found in the area around Mexico City. The teponaxtle, the omichicahuaztli and the tlapauhcolcotl were mixed in with rattles and gourds and glockenspiel and lots of drums of various sizes. It was, as I said, wild and raucous.

So the new concert season is off to a great start. Most of SWO's repertory is contemporary or mid-twentieth century. It's a lot more fun to watch than it is to listen to all by itself.

There's nothing new on the knitting front. I've completed the left front of the La Luz vest and have started on the upper back. I may make the Halloween deadline after all. But I'm really having a hard time sticking to it. I didn't buy any yarn this week either. So it's a little dull around here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Blocking La Luz

"Silk yarn is a very delicate fiber. It should be treated gently and carefully. Because this yarn is an unplied silk, it should never be washed in the machine or it will fuzz and pill. We also recommend that you use a zip lock baggy and put the ball into the bag and knit from it. We recommend only dry cleaning for this fiber. Since silk does not have a 'memory,' do not flatten the yarn for it will not rebound, and will always be flat."

So how do I get this

to look like this?

Just a few more rows, six maybe, and I'll be at the armhole divide. The lace pattern along the botton edge really wants to curl. The photo on the pattern instruction sheet shows the lace as flat and open. I wonder if I'm supposed to flatten the yarn contrary to the care instructions.

I've never tried to block silk. I wonder if it's done the same as any other blocking.

There will be some single crochet around the armholes and the neck. The pattern doesn't call for it around the bottom but I think I might have to try that.

Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let me just get this out of the way first. There was only a minimal amount of knitting this weekend. Maybe four or five rows on the La Luz vest. Just too much else to do.

Saturday night Lisa and I went to hear a Scottish harper, William Jackson, perform at Cal Tech. The performance was great. He's a very quiet, gentle man with a soft sense of humor. I don't know anything about Scottish harp music but it didn't matter. The performance was beautiful. He also played some tunes on the penny whistle, or as he called it "the pretty penney whistle".

Even though Cal Tech is just a few blocks from where I live I had never been on the campus. I think I'd like to go back and wander around during the day. The architecture is somewhat eclectic and pseudo-Mediterranean, except for some of the newer buildings and parking structures. And I noticed there were lots of pools and small ponds scattered through the open areas. Very nice.

Yesterday I went on a home tour. One of my students is an interior designer and is on the board of the local chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers. She gave me a pair of tickets to tour five different homes that all had newly renovated or remodeled kitchens. My friend Robert joined me. At lot of driving was involved but it was all worth it. I thought we were only going to see kitchens but we got to see large portions of the rest of the houses as well. Let me just say, some people really live well! There was the eight bedroom colonial, a newly constructed castle, a 1940's ranch house, a Spanish hacienda and a relatively tiny English cottage. I got to see lots of the San Gabriel Valley that I had never seen before.

Patrick is giving me fits this morning. All he wants to do is play. We've already played way beyond my interest level and still he's whining and begging for more. I guess I'd better go see what he wants.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in Canada. What a great idea! Start the holiday season a month earlier.

Friday, October 08, 2004

It's been a quiet week over all. My knitting projects continue apace but nothing is really close to completion. The child's sweater in Koigu is moving along. Just started the back today, the front was done first. I worked on the La Luz vest last night at Thursday night knitting. I still have about five inches of plain knit until I reach the armhole divide. Everything else is on hold until the vest is done.

I went outside a couple of minutes ago to take a sky picture. I don't know what's causing that big column of smoke. It seems to be gone now but there's a lot of traffic coming down my street so I assume the fire department is on the scene and is redirecting the rush hour traffic.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Gettin' ready

I got my Knitters' Retreat packet a couple of days ago. I have a few things to do to get ready for this trip. I haven't been anywhere requiring advancd planning for a long time. It's hard to believe that I'll be on the other side of the country for the first time in twenty years and that I'll be meeting Bess and Jennifer and Clara and Annie and who knows who else. (I just had a phone call from American Airlines letting me know that my departure and arrival times have changed, on both ends of the flight, not by a lot but enough that my obsessive worry over details would have been totally thrown off if I hadn't known about it. Funny. That phone call really makes this all seem more real and I'm much more nervous than I was.)

I still haven't figured out how I'm going to get from Dulles to the actual retreat. I've checked on the KR forum but haven't seen anything that looks like a discussion of transportation issues. I'm arriving at 6:32AM on Friday and leaving at 5:40 on Sunday. Anyone out there who needs a passenger or wants to share a rental? I wonder how long it takes to get from Dulles to Syria, VA. Here I go, fretting about stuff.

Not much change on the knitting front. I knit another six rows on the La Luz vest and am almost finished with the Berroco scarf. I had to rip about four rows on that last night as I had lost a stitch some time during the day. Patrick really had a hard time resisting the sequin yarn. He kept putting his face about two inches from it. You could just see him measuring the reward versus punishment thing. But he resisted after a couple of verbal admonishments. But he did mutter a lot about how it just wasn't fair.

I still don't know where the guavas (thanks, Evonne, for letting me know what they are) came from, or if they're ripe enough to eat.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

More stash,etc.

When I got home yesterday there was a plastic bag sitting by my door.

I don't know what these are, or who left them. At first I thought they were figs, then I thought maybe cactus pears. Now I'm thinking they're some kind of pomegranete.
And maybe someone left them at the wrong door.

I got started on the La Luz vest using Fiesta Yarns Sunflower Vest pattern.

So far I have done eighteen rows at 226 stitches per row. There's only a small amount of lace at the beginning then it's stockinette for the rest of the way. There are some serious problems with the pattern. Well, serious may be too harsh but still, some of the yarn overs were left out of the stitch pattern. And some of the row endings are just plain wrong. Other than that everything is fine.

Here are my newest goodies:

Meileweit Cotton Multiringel sock yarn. I'm not sure I can hold off. I should probably hide this in the sock yarn bin and finish something else first. But those colors are just too fun and funny to resist.

The two wound skeins are yarns that Mendy gave me. She got them from Mystical Creations and didn't like the weight. I got the Yang Ribbon to go with them. If Berroco can run four yarns together so can I. Actually it's lots of fun to combine different multicolors. Kaffe always said so.

And just because it was on sale, seven skeins of Isis ribbon from FFF. I don't know anything about FFF but I'm seeing more and more of their yarns around town. I seem to suddenly have lots of lavender blue yarn. Gotta watch out for that.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Done stuff and new stuff

This is the Soy Silk Chenille scarf that I started at the beginning os September. Yesterday, in a fit of cleaning and finishing, I sat down and got it done. It's about five inches wide and a little over six feet long. The colors in the photo are only a pale approximation of the real thing but you get the idea. Doing the diagonal pattern was slightly more interesting than a plain garter stitch. I'd have made it wider but I wasn't sure how far the yarn would go. I do have some left over that I'll probably use in scrap scarf.

And I finished these Saturday night. I need to wash and block them. Part of the yarn felt like someone had dropped a jelly sandwich on it. All the stripes matched until I got to the toes. I must have been one row off when I started the second sock but they're close enough for a galloping horse.

And I am about half way through this. I'm making this for Skein as a shop sample. It'll cost you somewhere between $85 and $100 to make, depending on where you buy your yarn.

These little pumpkins are the La Luz I showed last week. The color is very washed out here. Last week's photo is more accurate. Anyway, Ryan suggested that I could make something for Halloween. At first I thought not but I checked with Lisa and she said she'd like to have a vest or top. I can do it if I put aside the Aran and a couple of other projects that I've been trying to finish. Christmas is still a couple of months away so what's the problem. The silk is lighter than air and easy to knit. I just have to decide on (find) a pattern. I only have 1050 yards so that's a constraint. Mendy is bringing me a pattern she got from Fiesta Yarns that uses this yarn. The one I saw online is plain and that may be all I'll be able to do. But the yarn is very pretty worked up. Even though it's a solid there are enough variations in intensity to make it interesting to look at.

Friday, October 01, 2004

More is more.

There may be times when "less is more" is appropriate. Like weight loss or hours in the work week. But generally I think more is more. Like pizza and chocolate. Or yarn stash. And there's nothing like surrounding yourself with enthusiastic enablers. Having a set of friends who share the same philosophy has lead me to the very edge of my ablility to store my yarn and we won't talk about the damage done to my checking account.

It used to be that you had to get out of the house and actually go to a yarn shop if you wanted or needed some more stash. And while I still do that, a lot, it's much easier to just click a few keys and in a week or so you'll have that new stuff that you don't know what you're going to do with but have to have just because you don't have it already.

Now, I already have some of this:

But I didn't have these colors. This is Fiesta Yarn's La Luz. One hundred per cent silk. Goldenrod and Bluebonnet. 210 yards per skein. I already have the color Pecan. There are five skeins of each color. And I haven't begun to think about what I might do with it.

Also from the same source:

La Boheme. A two strand yarn. Mohair, wool, nylon and rayon. Three skeins at 165 yards each. Big scarf or small shawl probably. The colorway is Aster.

When I'm not working on my yarn collection I've been doing a little knitting. Almost done with the back of the Koigu child's sweater, about halfway through the second Hang Glider sock and I finally started the second half of the Choo-Choo poncho that has been hiding under a pile of new yarn for over a month. Still need to finish the second shoulder strap of the Aran sweater. I'm thinking I should retire again but not when there's so much new yarn out there.