Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Knitting

The day after Thanksgiving and I'm not out shopping and not intending to shop. Instead, I enjoyed sitting comfortably in my pjs reading through the blogs and seeing how others spent their Thanksgiving. It is a bountiful world out there in blogland and we are all most fortunate. I realize that not everyone was blessed with such warmth, abundance, and goodwill.

I'm thankful, too, for the relaxation and pleasure that learning to knit has brought me and the fun friends that blogging has introduced.

I knew there would be some sitting-around time after the big meal yesterday and I went prepared with a ball of cheap kitchen cotton and made myself two new holiday dishcloths.

I started with the old standby, Grandmother's Favorite, which is absolutely brainless and can be knitted in company and in between bites of pie even without fear of losing your place or getting off pattern.

Later in the day I turned to the Horizontal Dash and liked how the colors played out and how the purled dashes added some texture.

I may have still been on a pie buzz, but I think there are some errors in the Horizontal Dash pattern. I like my dishcloths on the small side. The pattern says to CO 42 or multiples of 10 plus 6. Thanks to the sugar rush, I didn't even realize that 42 is not a multiple of 10 plus 6! I started with 36 and when the main rows 1 and 5 didn't work out, I naturally assumed user error and returned several times to my computer screen to check and see if I jotted it down correctly.
In the end I just went with something that worked out for me. If you try this one, you may want to stick with 42 for the cast on OR correct it to be multiples of 10 plus TWO.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I love Lucy

The Lucy Bag that is. This is one well marinated project.

Pattern via my friend, Pat, was sent in 2005. I finished the knitting last summer and it sat around unfelted for a long time because who needs another visit with the washer?

It was clearly written and fun to knit. You start with Emily Ocker's circular beginning and 8 stitches and increase circularly for the base and then on up the sides.

I knit the small size and used two balls of Patons Classic Wool in Jade Heather. I've always found Patons to felt smoothly, easily, and predictably.

For the accessory, I found a fun fish at Joann's.

Right now I just have it sewn on for decoration, but I may change it and use it as a toggle button with a twisted cord loop to pull the two sides closed. But I'll carry it like it is for awhile before deciding.

This was really a fun felted bag. Thanks, Pat!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1 + 2 = 50!

1 Man + 2 Knitting Needles = 50 Fun Hat Designs

It's no secret here that I love all things Norwegian. {I do, after all, share my name with the Queen!}

I was delighted to happen upon a podcast by Craft Sanity in which she interviews Trond Anfinnsen, author of this book and designer of the amazing hats.

The story of how he first to learn to knit (only about 3 years ago), then customized a basic hat pattern with over 50 variations, knit them, gave them, photographed them, and eventually got a book published (and not even in his native language!) was simply fascinating to me. And, by the way, he didn't stop at 50. He's knitted over 200!

Here's a link to his Flickr photostream showing some of his hats. Browse around while you're over there to see more. You might just spot the Queen and a bunad or two!

I haven't seen this book in the local bookstores yet, but I'm going to be on the lookout for it. In addition to designing each hat with the recipient in mind, Trond introduces each one as they model their hat and tells a bit about how he knows them.

If you'd like to make one, here's a pdf for his Silje pattern (two colors and shown on the book cover, lower right).

Very clever.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Writer's Almanac

I usually check in to The Writer's Almanac, especially if I think I may miss hearing Garrison Keillor's broadcast at 11:00 am.

I was delighted this morning when, still half asleep, I learned it is the birthday of Helene Hanff. So delighted that I lifted the entire piece and pasted it here to encourage you to get to know Helene and this wonderful little book if you do not already.

It was on this day in 1949 that Helene Hanff wrote her third letter from New York City to a used bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. It was the beginning of a flirtatious epistolary friendship across the Atlantic that lasted for 20 years and revolved around classic literature. The letters were collected into 84, Charing Cross Road, a book Hanff published in 1970 and later adapted for the London stage, into a Broadway production, and into a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins (1987).

The correspondence began in early October 1949 when Miss Helene Hanff responded to an ad placed by London booksellers Marks & Co, whose bookshop was located at 84 Charing Cross Road. She wrote:

Gentlemen: Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase "antiquarian booksellers" scares me somewhat, as I equate "antique" with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes & Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.

I enclose a list of my most pressing problems. If you have clean secondhand copies of any of the books on the list, for no more than $5.00 each, will you consider this a purchase order and send them to me?
Helene Hanff
(Miss) Helene Hanff

Over the 20 years, Helene Hanff ordered from 84 Charing Cross Road John Donne's Sermons, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Samuel Pepys's diary, Plato's Four Socratic Dialogues, Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, and volumes of essays and poetry. She once wrote, "I require a book of love poems with spring coming on. No Keats or Shelley, send me poets who can make love without slobbering — Wyatt or Jonson or somebody, use your own judgment. Just a nice book preferably small enough to stick in a slacks pocket and take to Central Park."

Her relationship with the book buyer, Frank Doel, expanded to a caring friendship filled with banter and repartee. She also corresponded with other employees of the bookshop. She sent over to the shop parcels full of dried eggs and nylons and things that were rationed and hard to find in post-World War II England.

Today, there's a plaque up at 84 Charing Cross Road, London, commemorating her correspondence with the bookshop that was there, and another plaque on the apartment building in New York City where she lived for three decades.

(I left out just a bit - in case you would like to read the book or watch the DVD. I don't want to spoil any part of it for you. And the movie - cover shown above - doesn't even list Judi Dench who perfectly portrays Frank's wife in a very small role. What you wanna bet I'm at the library today checking out that movie??)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whoville Socks

I mentioned a couple of posts ago the purchase of yarn for a portable, people-friendly sock project.

Well the leg of the first sock is already done. This pattern, Zigzag Socks from last year's Vogue book The Ultimate Sock Book, is FUN and FAST to work.

I sent the intended recipient a link to the Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn page and let her choose her favorite color. She picked Spring Tickle.

I saw it was available at the online shop Eat.Sleep.Knit. This online shop is within driving distance of me and is open to the public for a few hours three days a week. This meant I would have the opportunity to see lots of yarns in person that I've only ever seen on the internet. Well, who could pass up such an opportunity?

This is my first time using Smooshy. I've read so many wonderful things about it - including this Knitter's Review - that I was anxious to try it. So far; so happy.

Although I had no specific date in mind for finishing and gifting these, I've decided it would be nice to have them done in time to give before Christmas. With that in mind, I've decided the color reminds me less of spring and more of The Grinch, [the redeemed Grinch at the end of the movie; the original animated one!] so I think of them as Whoville Socks. Socks to wear to carve the Roast Beast.

"Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. "

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lawrence Socks

Pattern: Rib & Cable Socks by Nancy Bush
Interweave Knits - Fall 2005

Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot
color: Blue Green
60% superwash wool / 25% mohair /15% nylon
350 yds/100 gr. ; less than 1 skein

Needles: size 1 Inox dpns

My daughter took the time to visit The Yarn Barn on a trip out to Lawrence, KS this past summer and brought me back a skein of this yarn in the richest, deepest blue imaginable. The yarn is a treat.

I never did quite figure out Nancy's directions for the heel turn which included some yarnovers so I ended up substituting the heel turn from her Madder Ribbed Socks and that worked out fine.

These had a new-to-me toe construction as well that used p2togs and p3togs for the decreases with no grafting involved. The fit is fine, but seems like the purled decreases on the stockinette background are distractingly noticeable.

The rib and cable pattern for the body of the sock is so pleasing that I feel sure I'll knit this pattern again sometime and just plug in a different toe. But the first time through I like to work as closely as possible to Nancy's instructions. She's a sock master after all!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

State of the Union

Mary asked if I was still nupping along. The answer is Yes; mostly.

Here is the current state of my Lily of the Valley scarf. I am almost finished with five out of ten repeats, so almost halfway finished. Humm......looks a little short, doesn't it?

It isn't shown as a long scarf in the book and the pattern gives it as 44"long which is on the short side for a scarf. I don't need one that winds around and around my neck anyway.

I'm still not in LOVE with this project and I can't quite put my finger on the reason. I know that I'm not overly pleased with how my nupps* are looking but I am keeping my fingers crossed that a good soak and block will make a world of difference.

In the meantime, I've bought some sock yarn for a portable, people-friendly project. More about that later.

Sometimes I find when I get a bit bogged down in one project, that starting a new one is all it takes to motivate me to hurry and finish the first one. Is it the same for you?

We'll see if that works this time.

[*wanna see Nancy Bush demonstrate how to knit nupps? ]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
"A Child's Garden of Verses" published 1885

Today is his birthday. No burning of leaves here on the cul-de-sac although their number could certainly create a smoke trail. Still it is nice to sing a song of seasons and remember the much-loved poetry of childhood.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey day!

No, not Thanksgiving yet although it won't be long. I'm talking about the country Turkey.

I was delighted to see that Susette at Knitting Letters: A to Z blog has a new post up and it is a lengthy and very interesting look at Turkish textiles.

She has a lovely picture of oya - the intricate needlelace edgings.

I first learned and read about oya in "Piecework" magazine (of course!). It appears that both the Jul/Aug 1996 and the Jan/Feb 2006 issues are sold out, but both contained fascinating articles on this beautiful lace. The above linen square with oya flowers arrived here thanks to Mary. I enjoy it so much and never fail to marvel at the beauty of this delicate handwork.

If you're signed up with Ravelry , there is an Oya Makers group here with only a few examples but with some more information in the discussion threads. Flickr account pictures related to the Knitted Letters article are here and more great pictures/examples here.

Isn't it a lovely technique?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feather & Fan

The Victorian Feather & Fan scarf got finished sometime back (10/17 according to my notes), and was recently mailed off with birthday wishes. I am only now getting around to finally posting a picture.

To recap, I used the easy and free pattern posted here and two 25-gram balls of Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere bought long, long ago.

The softness of the yarn, the lovely Victorian Violet color, and the soothing repetition of this classic old lace pattern made this a wonderfully pleasing project.

Knitted end-to-end, the Old Shale pattern results in two ends that scallop differently. I wasn't bothered by that for this project, but some other time I may try knitting two halves and grafting them at the center back.

According to Martha Waterman in "Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls", the Old Shale pattern is the most common used in Shetland hap shawls and shale patterns are named for the way the waves look as they wash upon a shale shoreline

Friday, November 6, 2009

New leaf arrived

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.

Chinese proverb

The Evergreen Bag is finished except for one lone i-cord drawstring. As I was working on the first drawstring, I learned a new grandson had arrived to a coworker. A new leaf on his family tree. Well new baby means quick cap, right?

I looked around the internet and found the Greenleaf Hat and thought it would fine with the Berroco Vintage and I had plenty left from the bag. From this photo angle the leaf looks a bit too big, but doesn't seem quite so much in real life.

I used a bit of the green at the start of the roll brim before switching to the blue and the switched back to the green, of course, for the leaf.

All in all, a quick and satisfying knit and I'll definitely keep this one in mind for future baby gifts.