Rhapsody in blue

Now that I have my camera back (thanks, Anne!) I can show you some pretty things. First, a basket of lovely blue sample skeins from Elann:

A basket of blue

I might do an afghan for my mother, if I can find the right deep blue foundation color. Otherwise, who knows? Anyone have any suggestions for me? I might just leave it in the basket and gaze at it lovingly.

Sally Melville Styles has some good advice for how to incorporate odd bits of yarn if you are interested in designing unique pieces from your stash. I am not crazy about the patterns in that book, but the color and design information is at least worth browsing.

Another blue project is on the horizon. Geoffrey is graduating from high school (yes, the one with the famous room), and I am determined to make him something out of this. It's Highland Wool Bulky, again from my beloved Elann. His eyes are exactly the same color. I keep browsing through Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, but can't find inspiration. I need to cast on soon - graduation is in six weeks and I am a slow knitter.

I leave you now with something truly amazing to behold - a garment of hand-spun alpaca, knit in Peru:

Something pretty I did not knit


Bitter grounds

Today is Dave's birthday. I had been scheming and squirreling away yarn shop paychecks for months - money that otherwise would have purchased yarn, so you know I am serious - to get him a high quality espresso machine. My plan was to surprise him this morning with a steaming cup of java. I was even going to try my hand at latte art.

Dave is hard to shop for, and even more difficult to surprise. He does love a good cup of latte, though, so this was going to be the perfect gift. My fellow blogger and foodie Kate recommended the right machine. It wasn't in stock locally, but I uncharacteristically started planning early enough that I could wait the month for it to arrive. When it came my neighbor hid it in her basement (Dave is impossible to hide things from, too). I even bought a simple set of ceramic espresso cups and a tool for tamping the grounds down.

As the day approached, I got appropriately wonderful coffee beans, Grumpy Monkey, and the best local whole milk, Calders, from Big 10 (aka "Cheese Cheese Cheese"). The day before I found some amazingly gigantic, luscious strawberries and some good chocolate to dip them in, for an elegant accompaniment.

Before going to bed last night I sprung the machine from its hiding place and hid it in the back of the truck. I cleverly set the alarm on my cell phone to go off half an hour before Dave usually awakes.

I was at my most brilliant, most sneaky, most generous best (not counting the part that I really wanted the espresso machine for myself).

Until this morning. The alarm went off. I spent 15 panicked minutes searching for my car keys. Finally found them here - whew! Spent another 15 minutes reading instructions and putting the thing together. Then someone sprung Evan from his crib, and he and Brian came to help. Have you ever had two children under the age of five help you prepare espresso?

As I was simultaneously swatting away small children and priming the pump on the machine I snapped the steam nozzle off in my hand. Panicked, but hoping it was a detachable part, I called Kate for tech support. She gently informed me that I had broken the damn thing. But the show must go on! Dave must get his latte! Kate talked me down, encouraging me to forge ahead with the espresso and forget about foamed milk. Unruffled, I placed the cups under the spigots and set the machine to espress, or whatever the appropriate verb is. Hot water gushed from the steam nozzle and all over the counter. No espresso came out. I called Kate again, just for sympathy.

Then Brian, Evan and I dipped the strawberries, made plain old drip coffee, scribbled our names on a card, and headed back upstairs for the sorry presentation of gifts.

I want a do-over. Or maybe not.


When will I knit again?

Update on the interview - I was offered and accepted the job today and start Monday at 8 AM. It's only half-time consulting, doing software QA for a local company, but I am already worried about when I will ever find the time to knit again.

Someone must stop me. I collect jobs like some people collect eyewash cups. I accepted another job (well, a course assignment for the fall at WCC) just hours after accepting the consulting gig. Early American Lit, for the curious. And I accepted another job last week, at a local yarn store. (Yes, I've switched allegiances.) At least maybe they will let me knit at work on occasion (5/2: clarification - I mean vs. the QA and teaching jobs, where knitting is discouraged).

Is this an illness?

I wanted to blog more about spinning, and show you my lovely fleece and spindle, but I can't find my digital camera. Crap! Oh well, I have to go, anyway. I've got several resumes to get in the mail before my date with yarn at 7 PM tonight. If you live in Ann Arbor, please join us!

Knitting around town

I've been attending a monthly spinning group with Anne for a few months. Last night Fran helped me with the drop spindle I got at Spinner's Flock last year. I keep breaking the yarn and getting the spin up in the drafting zone, but I think I am starting to understand what is going on.

Sunday I met a new friend Leah at Sweetwaters and taught her how to knit. She's already knitting like a rock star. Seriously, it was amazing how quickly she caught on. She completed an entire pencil cozy during our session.

Tonight I am heading back to Sweetwaters for a meeting of the fledgling Ann Arbor Knit In group. If you are reading me from AA, please come join us.

I'd post some pics, but I'm heading out for a job interview in an hour, and I still have to iron my blouse and park the toddler somewhere. Don't wish me luck, because if I get the job, when will I ever knit?


The more things change, the more they stay the same

Recall the lovely azalea I posted just days ago? Here it is this morning, covered in snow.

View from the driveway, April 24

But some things never change. Evan continues in his fecal exploration. Yesterday at the mall play area he found a lovely little dried-up turd and popped it in his mouth. And this morning Dave and I were roused from our Sunday AM snuggle by Brian. "Mommy, Evan is playing with his poop again!" Once more, I will spare you the photo.

Maybe Geoffrey was right - it is a sign of mental illness. If if it continues I know I will come unhinged.

On the bright side, I get to do my fourth favorite thing today - teach someone to knit! I am meeting a blog reader at Sweetwaters downtown. Woo-hoo! Should I teach her properly, and risk a repeat of the whole Nancy fiasco?



Look what I got for $5 at a garage sale this morning:

$5 garage sale treasures

That's eight balls of Encore DK, seven balls of Paton's Kroy 3-ply (fingering weight), three circular needles, 5 pair straight needles, two baby pattern pamphlets, and two sets of stitch markers, and some mystery off-white worsted.

I probably won't be able to knit with all of it, but there is good EZ baby surprise potential with the rose, grey, and tan Encore. There's also a cute pattern in one of the pamplets for a baby jacket and leggings that will use most of the Kroy. I can give the needles and white worsted weight yarn away to knitting students.

Yay me.


Vaguely scatalogical

Actually, downright shitty. Literally.

Evan discovered the joy of playing with his own excrement yesterday, and engaged in this new hobby, twice. I am still recovering from the disgust and shock.

I'll spare you photos, but suffice it to say that there were many loads of laundry and many baths. My 18 year old (the one with the room) expressed concern that this is a sign of mental illness. Evan is two. If I had to place a bet, Evan is not the family member most likely to end up in a padded room.

I leave you with a photo, not of a toddler and crib bedding smeared with feces, but of something lovely blooming by my front porch.

Not too shitty


Green is the color of spring

Here's the beginning of my green green afghan, taking a snooze in the hammock:

It's easy being green

To answer everyone's burning questions - I am calling this a freeform afghan because I don't have a pattern, or even a plan other than to knit when I feel like, purl when I feel like, and change yarns when the mood strikes me. Nothing complicated or even very well thought-out. I am hoping that with garter, stockinette, and reverse stockinette on both sides there will be a lot of visual interest and no right side/wrong side.

The only possibly interesting technical note is how I am using my Denise needles set. I've connected one US 9 tip and one US 11 tip with about 60" of cable. I figure since I am using different weights of yarn, the unevenness of the needle tips and more textured fabric might have an overall unifying effect. So far, so good.

I have exactly two balls of each yarn, so I separated the yarn into two identical piles. When I am done knitting up the first pile, I'll decide if it is big enough to be half an afghan. If it is, then on to the next pile. If not, back to the yarn store.

I know I promised there would be no more dishcloth photos, but I can't help myself. They just look so peaceful relaxing in the afternoon shade.

Well-rested dishcloths

If anyone else in Southeast Michigan is interested in knitting these for Project Scrubbie, let me know - maybe we can get together for a scrubbie knitting party, and or find a local place to sell them. Otherwise, these will be shipped off to California soon. Though I have to say, I am growing quite fond of them...


My next victim

To borrow a phrase from my friend Kate, this is my next victim:

Lots of green yarn

Except in this case, the victim will be knit, not eaten. I have been haunting the sale bins the last few months, collecting greens for a free-form afghan. I am getting tired of small projects, and want something big and mindless to knit while watching old movies.

Speaking of Kate, here is her daughter Fiona modelling the bonnet I made:

Supermodel spokestoddler


Muskrat love

I don't have a lot of knitting content for you today, unless you want to see three more dishcloths. Didn't think so. I did discover last night that I can knit dishcloths in a dark movie theater (and in the bar).

Really, it's been too lovely outside to knit much, hasn't it? We had a great outdoor weekend. Saturday Brian and I planted radishes, spinach, and lettuces, (peas, cilantro, dill, and parsley coming soon). Sunday we went to the botanical gardens, where we met this fellow:

Muskrat Suzie or Muskrat Sam?

Yes, I am showing my age.

I am happy to report that I have knitted my required 10 items (full accounting coming soon), which is a good thing, because I bought a lot of yarn lately. I've been collecting different green wools and mohairs for a freeform afghan. I am also about to get started on a graduation gift sweater for the surly one, if I can get over my issues. All this means I should have some actual knitting content soon.

In the meantime, I leave you with more photos from the botanical garden.

Evan discovers there IS light at the end of the tunnel

Brian wallows in daffodils


The transformation

Here's the mane just minutes before it got chopped:

I didn't think it was this long

The braid for Locks of Love

The new me - don't I look happy?

I was so pleased with myself I went home and made this for Project Scrubbie:

Celebratory scrubbie

Many thanks to my dear friends Anne for moral support and photodocumentation, and Stella for watching Evan so that I could relax during the event.

More signs of spring in Ann Arbor

Proof positive that spring has arrived in Ann Arbor:

Shakey Jake doing his thing.

And if you need more proof:

Flowers in the side yard

Flowers along the driveway


String Scrubbie Smackdown

I thought Brini Maxwell was the most bizarre crafting show, until I came upon Craft Corner Deathmatch last night. Annoying announcer, and the Craft Lady of Steel is uninspired, but I love the concept.

I want to see a Celebrity Craft Corner Smackdown, between Brini and Martha. Certainly Martha's buffed up in the last 6 months, but ten bucks says Brini could take her.

I am also a formidable opponent. Gaze in awe at my latest creation:

Janice commanded that I knit a few of these for the String Scrubbie Project for tsunami relief. To spread the joy I coerced Jennie and Denise to knit a couple, too. I still need to get their cotton to them.

I leave you with these words of wisdom from last night's crafting bloodbath:

"Remember, it's cheaper and easier just to buy stuff."


I am a fiber animal

For those of you into exotic fibers (possum, golden retriever, musk ox), feast your eyes on the soon-to-be-shorn fleece of the Hippy Chick:

I don't normally let my hair get this long. About 6 months ago I decided to donate my hair to Locks of Love, a charity that makes wigs for poor kids suffering from long-term hair loss. Although my hair was long enough to donate at the time, since then it has been very easy to procrastinate the haircut - I finally had an excuse for looking unkempt!

Hair today, gone tomorrow (well, actually Friday)

In the meantime my good friends Deb and Anne have both donated their hair, as has my niece Sarah. People were starting to seriously doubt my commitment to this enterprise, and suspect that I was morphing into Lady Godiva (the one immortalized by Tennyson and Collier, not the famous chocolatier).

So today I marched right into a downtown salon and made an appointment (actually arrived on horseback to much fanfare). Check back in a couple days for the big reveal, to borrow an ungrammatical term from the icky lexicon of reality television.

And if you are curious, I've posted a new Locks of Love button on the right sidebar. Click through if you want more info about their worthy cause and how you can help.

I'd love to hear your hair donation stories, and see before and after pics. Leave me a comment.


I've been tagged

Awhile back Erin tagged me for a book meme. I'm a bit slow in replying, but here goes.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Well, the point is it has to be memorized, right? I am terrible at memorizing, so I wouldn't have a chance unless it was in verse. It should also be something worthy of becoming part of the oral tradition. This is a great responsibility, and I take it seriously. I'd like to choose The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, so the plays would live on, but I'd just feel silly doing all those different characters. Am I thinking too hard? OK, The Canterbury Tales. I already have the first 100 lines of the General Prologue memorized anyway.

The last book you bought is:
I've been trying hard to use the library more, and the bookstore less, due in part to lack of funds, and in part to lack of bookshelf space. Here is what I brought home from the library last Thursday:
  • High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
  • The Lecturer's Tale, James Hynes
  • No Idle Hands, The Social History of American Knitting, Anne L. Macdonald
  • A History of Hand Knitting, Richard Rutt
  • Knitted Embellishments, Nicky Epstein
  • Shadow Knitting, Vivian Hoxbro
  • Sally Melville Styles, Sally Melville
Also some videos - two Elizabeth Zimmerman Knitting Workshop videos, A Star is Born (the one with Judy Garland), and a bunch of kids books.

The last book you read:
How to be Good, Nick Hornby - excellent.

What are you currently reading:

  • Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
  • High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
  • Saul and Patsy, Charles Baxter

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

  • A very comprehensive survival guide, with sections on building shelter, first aid, wilderness cooking, you get the idea.
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (a decent edition that all comes in one volume, so that it only counts as one book).
  • The Oxford English Dictionary (the one volume version, with magnifying glass).
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: the Major Authors, 7th edition in one volume (my full-length edition is two volumes, so I can't take that).
  • The Norton Anthology of American Literature, shorter 6th edition (my full-length edition, at five volumes, would completely blow my book budget)
Rationale - I am not approaching this as a "five favorite books of all time" question - that would be a completely different list (mostly fairly light, contemporary fiction, plus Bleak House, Emma, and Tom Jones). My strategy, instead, focuses on the most pages of worthwhile reading I can fit between 10 covers. Although my emphasis on the traditional canon reflects an unfortunate bias for the works of dead white men, it lends itself to some really enormous anthologies, so if I am stuck on the island forever, I'll be all set for reading material.

Once again, thinking too hard.

What three people will you pass the stick to, and why?
First of all, I am limiting myself to people I have actually met, because I am shy (can't you tell?)


Baby's first knitting lesson

The media has made a big hoo-ha lately about men and boys who knit. Snore - In the knit blogging community this was hardly news. It got me thinking, though. What about baby boys? I say as long as we're trying to teach them Spanish and swimming before they can even sleep through the night, why not knitting?

Here's my newest knitting student:

One month old boy, learning to knit

He's coming right along, though after a couple of minutes it is usually time to eat or take a nap. He's already cast on for his first project, so watch this space for photos of him sporting his creation soon.

I actually finished a small knitting project over the weekend - behold:
Baby Bonnet from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

This is supposed to be a 4 hour project, but it took me much longer because I had to pick up and rip out the garter edging three times before I realized that there is probably a mistake in the pattern. The pattern says to pick up 31 stitches along each side, but when I did that it was way too many. 21 worked much better and the end result looks much more like the photograph in the book. The pattern also recommends to apply the I-cord from the right side of the knitting, but after a few false starts, I decided that it looked much better when applied to the wrong side of the knitting.

If anyone has made this, I'd be interested to hear your opinion. I still love the book, and since I am an inexperienced knitter I could be convinced that I am just barmy.

I completely missed the boat on the April Fools Flash Your Stash event hosted by the knittyfolk. Instead, I will share with you a visual representation of depths to which my out of control SEX* has brought me and my family:
*Stash Enhancement Expedition

Windowpane patches on tiny jeans

These are not just patches on kid's jeans, folks. These are patches on kids jeans, purchased from thrift stores, while upstairs a closet jam-packed with Rowan, Colinette, Cascade, Koigu, and little white boxes from Elann reminds me daily that I purchase yarn much faster than I can knit with it.

Fortunately the teenager likes his jeans holey.


Instant gratification

This isn't knitting, but I had to share:

machine sewn skirt, black linen with multicolored lizards
And she sews, too!

After we lined the felted bag, Nancy helped me make this skirt. I used to sew in a previous life (like 25 years ago - yes, I am that old), but I haven't used my machine in years.

Note the adorable lizards:
colorful lizard closeup
Lizards, up close and personal.

I am working hard at finishing a few small projects. I have a bad case of startitis right now, and nothing seems to get done for one reason or another. It felt good to actually complete a project, even if it wasn't knitting.

Over the weekend I read How to Be Good, by Nick Hornby. I enjoyed it immensely, and promptly checked out a couple of his other books from the library. My startitis extends to reading as well, so it also felt good to finish a book for a change.

I got this alpaca/tencel in the mail from Mark today, in exchange for some Tahki Cotton Classic:

quechua from Elann.com, alpaca/tencel blend
A great trade!

I think the grayish blue will make a lovely scarf.

It finally fits!
another baby sweater...
Not trafficking in baby animals, really
Some days are like that
Restraining Order
American Beauty
weaving class
yarn fairies
Coveting the scarves of friends
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
October 2007
November 2007
March 2008
April 2008
January 2009
My Local Yarn Store
Crack for Knitters