twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

We all need a hug… November 13, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 8:20 pm
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…Oh God. I’m watching the coverage of the terror attacks in Paris right now, and my heart is so very heavy. It’s like 9/11 all over again. I ask you, dear friends, to please pray for those poor innocent souls. God bless them and send their families comfort. My heart is aching for them.

I’m sorry to take my light-hearted knitting blog to this place, but I feel like I’m watching pure evil run loose in the world. And it’s not just in Paris. What about the Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East—and few are reporting about it because it’s not, well, politically correct. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before the terror comes here again. I’m not saying there aren’t problems in this country, but I am saying we need to stop dividing ourselves from one another and find reasons to unite. To love one another. Forget about opposing religious or political views. Some of my very best friends have different political views than I, and I love them dearly. They are unique and special to me in so many ways. We can all find reasons to unite if we open our eyes to them.

And hey, like Todd Rundgren says, “Love is the answer.”

There, that’s said.

And I do believe we all need a hug. A great big one. And if it’s a long distance hug you want to give, little is better than a shawl. And best of all is a shawl made with 3 skeins (or better would’ve been 3.5 skeins if I’d had them) of Malabrigo Worsted.

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Soft billows of Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Lavanda

Recently, a dear, sweet friend of mine has been taking on more of life’s tough times than she can handle, and honestly, since she’s thousands of miles away, I felt that she needed a good long-distance hug. I pulled out one of my favorite patterns, Stephen West’s Glacial Sweep.

This is a much better representation of the color

This is a much better representation of the color

 

I started it last Saturday, and am just finishing the contrast I-cord bind off. I love this shawl for so many reasons, not the least of which is it features lots of garter stitch and clever short rows in those garter stitch sections. And even though I ran out of yarn halfway through the final section(I know, but I was using Stash, so, I’m not being hard on myself), it didn’t much matter. Not at all. This isn’t one of those lace shawls where stitch count isn’t critical. Plus, though the pattern is written for fingering weight or worsted/aran weight yarn, I am fairly certain that you could be successful with any weight yarn.

Another wonderful shawl I’ve made for sending long-distance love is also a Stephen West shawl (just love his inventive, architectural constructions), and also a terrific shawl for giving to men, and that is his Boneyard Shawl.

Yet another fun shawl to work up for a hug is one designed by my Squam cabin mate Heather Classen called “Shuffle.” It’s lots of fun to knit. You have to check it out.

All of these work up relatively quickly, and all are wonderful hugs to send to well-loved friends. Especially now.

Knit some love, friends.

 

Decisions, decisions. Again. May 22, 2015

Filed under: knitting — kathy @ 12:32 pm
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Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merono light

Quill Shawl using Rovings Polwarth Silk fingering, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL fingering, and Madelinetosh Tosh merino light

What to bring on a trip always gets me in a dither. Here’s one of the places in my life where being organized is key to not making my head explode. I admit it—I start a list of what to bring the moment I make the plane reservations. It’s a list that has a hallowed spot on the little table beside the “chair,” a pencil alwaysalways resting at the ready on top. Oh yes, and I check the weather at my destination twice daily using my Yahoo weather app. I love to be prepared.

You can’t imagine the cranial chaos that ensues for me when Captain Romance suggests a spur of the moment overnighter. I used to be spontaneous. I used to be able to throw a few things (usually all black), makeup, some not-sensible shoes, and some fabulous earrings into a weekender and flit out the door. I blame motherhood.

After Bug was born I learned that if I wasn’t prepared for all diapering/clothing/hunger/thirst/boredom/stuffed animal emergencies and had diapers & wipes/a complete second outfit/cheerios/water/crayons, paper, chunky picture books/blue puppy and “beanie baby of the day” in my backpack, I would pay, and pay dearly for my foolish forgetfulness. Even if you don’t have a kid, you’ve probably seen the parent in the restaurant/plane who didn’t prep for this and the sad consequences that occur. And unfortunately everyone in the vicinity has to suffer share in the experience. But I’ve gone off on a tangent, as usual. Sorry.

As a knitter, this crazy “what to bring” list takes on a whole new dimension. I will confess to having some 600+ items in my Ravelry queue. But in my own defense, my queue consists of what I’d love to knit, not necessarily what I will absolutely knit. I tend to “fave” lots of projects because they’re lovely or helpful, and if I put those pieces I’d really like to knit in that favorites list, I’d never remember which ones they were.

Anyway, since I’m headed off to Squam (!!!), I must decide what to bring. It must be the sort of thing that can be knitted during lots of conversation(no lace), something that can be started and stopped easily (again, no lace), but not something that requires I drag lots of yarn along, like all the cardigans currently in my WIPs (works in progress). This narrows the field considerably to the following items: plainish shawls, mitts, socks, scarves.

Well, let’s knock the scarves right off the list to begin with. Scarves—unless they’re knit from something bulkyish—just bore me out of my brains. Well, except for that “mini mania” scarf. That’s one I’m dying to make…but I think not for “in public knitting.” I’d screw it up!

Can't wait to play with this!

Can’t wait to play with this!

So after scrolling through the list and going through the prodigious stash, I’ve decided to do these two things: Quill, a lovely shawl that’s a huge chunk of garter in the center—practically perfect for knitting and chatting. But a wise knitter knows to bring a spare project, just in case: using this amazing knitting algorithm idea by Statnerd on Ravelry, and this lovely basic arm warmers/mitts pattern from Fairieisle on Ravelry, I’m gonna attempt (attempt, mind you) a planned pooling project with this gorgeous Miss Babs Yummy “Cleopatra.” I’ll have to play with a swatch, first, but it’ll be a fun experiment, and perhaps if I’m lucky, there will be some “planned pooling” experts at Squam.

 

Write now…right now! November 5, 2014

Filed under: knitting,writing — kathy @ 11:56 am
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Ah, this would be my dream writing spot. Maybe someday...

Ah, this would be my dream writing spot. Maybe someday…

Hello dear friends!

Just the other day I had a nagging feeling I’d forgotten something…low and behold, I realized I hadn’t written a post here in nearly 2 months. For shame! I can only blame it on the fact that I’ve been busy writing other things, namely researching and writing a short story to submit for an upcoming fantasy anthology, and editing my novel, Lore. What wonderfully all-consuming projects. Whenever I write, no matter if I find myself blocked and agonizing over plot, or if I’m flying through the story with it flowing easily from my mind to my fingers, I find hours fly past. It is truly my deepest devotion, writing. To that end, I think I should focus more on writing here, as well.

 

Then there is knitting…T_MaryFrancesCover

I’ve been making good progress on my Clown Barf shoulder wrap, poncho-thingy. Just a few more “tiers” to go. And thank goodness; we’ve been waking to 40 degree temps–finally! Sweater weather at last. Though we have still had more than a typical number of over 80 degree days in the last month or so. Hmphf. I wish I could like hot weather. I just cannot take it. Even when I was a kid I wasn’t happy with heat and sweating. Ah well.

On the upside, though, it is easier to get yarn to dry when it’s warm outside, so I might just have to schedule some dyeing…;)

I’d really like to get underway with a couple of cardigans, and maybe even a last minute Christmas giftie. What’s Christmas without a frenzied race to finish a handmade gift, right?

And then there’s that Holiday Boutique I signed up to do. Many of you know I make jewelry, but I don’t know if you’ve heard I make rosaries and rosary bracelets, too. So the first weekend of December (in fact, about a month from now) I’ll be at our local church selling those items, as well as a few regular jewelry items, since I won’t be having a Christmas Trunk Show this year. I’ll be posting the address soon, in case any of you local readers might want to attend. I’d love to see you!

And instead of the Christmas Show, I’m planning on having a Valentine’s Day Trunk Show. Kind of a “buy something for your sweetie to give you Show”, or “give yourself some love this Valentine’s Day Show.”

Well, better skeedaddle…got lots going on!

What sorts of things are keeping you busy right now? Tell me–I’d love to know!

 

Clown Barf September 10, 2014

IMG_2105Yep. You read that right.

I myself read that description on Ravelry a few months ago while researching Noro Kureyon colorways for the new shoulder shrug/poncho/cowl thing I wanted to make for myself; it was a fellow Raveler’s perfect description, and it stuck. You see, as an alternative to t-shirts and jeans or sweats, I’ve found that the marvelous J.Jill Kimono Sleeve sweaters are the perfect thing for pulling on first thing in the morning to take the Bug to school, and then do a quick grocery shop or “meet the girls for coffee” mornings. I always feel pulled together when I wear one.

Problem is, with those big wide sleeves, it’s impossible to fit them comfortably in any jacket I own, or be able to bend my arms if I do manage to find a jacket to accommodate them. And dang—it’s cold in the mornings here in late fall and winter.

Solution? A poncho/cape/giant cowl thingy. I love entrelac—the Lady Eleanor Shawl is one of my most all-time favorite things I ever knit—so that would be the basis for the pattern. And because my kimono tops are pretty colorful, well, I needed a bold colorway. Enter Noro Kureyon #272. The plan is to knit enough “tiers” of entrelac to wrap fairly loosely around my shoulders without falling off, then connect it by adding a few bold buttons that secure with a shell crochet edge. Very simple (famous last words, right?).

I am having fun knitting it. It’s pretty brainless, once I get into the groove, and that has the added benefit of helping me meditate on the new short story I’m working on.

Wearing this puppy, however, may require a bit of bravery. What do you think?

p.s. Thanks to “A Little Fluff,” for posting this video earlier and reminding me how much I like it!

 

Drama Queen September 5, 2014

This colorway is "Artichoke" and is a lovely mossy leaf green. Photos just don't do it justice.

This colorway is “Artichoke” and is a lovely mossy leaf green. Photos just don’t do it justice.

Meet my latest finished object: the Haruni Shawl, a lovely top down triangle shawl by Emily Ross. Evidently “haruni” is the word for “grandmother” in Quenya, Tolkien’s elven language.

Hence, I named the project “Sweet Caroline” on my Ravelry projects page because my darling maternal grandmother’s name was “Caroline.” Now that the project is finished, however, I’m seriously considering renaming it “Drama Queen.”

Don’t get me wrong—this is a lovely pattern—free, no less! I’m thrilled with the finished piece. But I (re?)learned some valuable lessons about shawl/lace knitting and free patterns, heck, any knitting patterns. Let’s examine the harrowing evidence…

 

IMG_2005

Exhibit A:

Use Ravelry for the wonderful tool it is: check and double check the “helpful” project listings, as well as sample yarn yardage requirements and needle size used. And take a good sampling–not just one or two project listings. In my case, I used the required yardage estimate from the free pattern, as well as checked the listings for the yarn I used, the wonderful Handmaiden Sea Sock, and even though there were 6 or 7 projects that needed less than one skein, I still didn’t have enough yarn. This lead to a bit of a harrowing moment when I realized at row 17 of the second set of charts that there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to have yarn enough to finish. Luckily the Yarn Angels were smiling upon me as the LYS where I purchased the first skein months ago, still had another on the shelf. Whoosh.

I’m not certain what happened—I don’t believe the skein was short. I’m guessing it had something to do with the needle size I used. I love the soft, fluid fabric I got with the size 4 needles, however, that must’ve been the reason the shawl gobbled up so much yarn. Ah well.

Yes, I unravelled this on purpose.

Yes, I unravelled this on purpose.

Exhibit B1:

Don’t get cocky! So, at row 21 of the second set of charts, I noticed I shifted the eyelet patterns several rows below where I was working and even though the stitch count matched up, the pattern repeats didn’t. I should know by now that when there are lots of yarnovers in a row in a pattern, I should use stitch markers between the repeats or I am toast. Period.

Exhibit B2:

I repeat, don’t get cocky! And what do I do when I find this screw up? Well, since I don’t like “lifelines” in my lace (I know, I know, but they actually screw me up every time I try to use them), and there was no way I was going to tink back some 1200 stitches, I decided I’d just drop down the 7 stitches to the mistake and fix it the way I did here. Now technically, this should’ve been no problem, however I was in a not-so-ideal light situation, and had finished a glass of wine just minutes earlier. Well…needless to say, trouble was a stitch or two away.

I finally realized I had to stick all the live dropped stitches on stitch holders, take two Tylenol, and wait until morning.

And when I finally got to work on it, I spent a good 3 or 4 hours knitting and unknitting that sucker until I finally decided to be happy with a wee bit of imperfection. You know, I’m told that Persian rug makers always put an imperfection in the rug because it helps keep the Devil out. Well, that old Mr. Devil isn’t going anywhere near this shawl.

Cats and straight pins do not mix well.

Cats and straight pins do not mix well.

Exhibit C:

Always close the guest room door to keep the cats out when you are blocking anything. Especially when the thing you are blocking requires the use of around 130 straight pins. Enough said.

Anyway, lessons learned for this project. On to my next challenge.

What are you guys working on? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Check out my Stash! August 28, 2014

Pssst–c’mere! I got somethin’ to show ya…

IMG_1845So last time, I posted, I got a wonderful suggestion from one of my BFFITW to share what I snagged at The Fold. Unfortunately it was just days before the Bug went back to school (lordy, she’s a sophomore!), and with all the back to school shopping extras and parents’s back to school night to meet the teachers, giving the house a really good cleaning, and finishing my novel “Lore” (insert insane, happy dance here), I haven’t had a chance. So here it is: my wooly goodness from The Fold!

IMG_1936First up–2 heart-stoppingly soft skeins of an indie brand: Rovings, fingering weight in Polwarth and silk. This is slated for a shawl I’ve been craving for ages: Quill, which is a lovely square shawl by Jared Flood with feather and fan edges.IMG_1937

I’m not absolutely certain, however, that I will actually ever make this shawl, as my past experiences with Mr. Flood’s patterns have left me feeling dazed and confused, as well as incapable. I might instead create my own circular shawl pattern using skills I learned last spring at Stitches West and Myra Wood’s way cool class “Crazy as Pi.”

Whatever I do must do it justice, though, as Toni Neil tells me the lady who makes this yarn is not going to be doing so for much longer…sigh.

 

Second–So, I’ve jumped on the “gradient” bandwagon with this purchase, I suppose. IMG_1940Wonderland Yarns “Mad Hatter” (quite apropos colorway name for moi, I must say…)

But I truly couldn’t resist this package of my favorite shades…gorgeous lipstick and bloody magenta to bordeaux and rich cocoa. I think these There and back again socks might be interesting, or perhaps these lovely mitts. I love them except for the ribbed bottom. I generally despise ribbing. I think changing the ribs to seed stitch or a picot edge would have to be done. Anyone have any other suggestions?IMG_1941

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1932Next bit of yarn love is this fuzzy, softy, heavenly blue Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering in an amazing color blue–“The Winter Blues.” It told me it wanted to be Henslowe, and so it shall be.

The final two skeins of my stash pig out are quite simply Malabrigo Finito, which is the most fabulous, buttered kittens superfine merino I’ve ever touched. If you’ve ever rubbed this against your face, you understand. This color is “Mostaza,” and frankly I’ve been searching for it so I can shamelessly copy this: Heart of the Lotus–the “delicate” version. I know the color is unusual, however like the designer, this acid green is a neutral for me.IMG_1934

I think my knitting needles of mine will be busy this winter…;)

If anyone has any other ideas, or would like to share what they’re working on, please share…I’d love to know!

 

Have you any wool July 13, 2014

Lovely little piles of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, Miss Babs Yummy, Cosmic, and Yet, Handmaiden Silk Sock, Sea Sock, and Posh Hannah

Lovely little piles of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, Miss Babs Yummy, Cosmic, and Yet, Handmaiden Silk Sock, Sea Sock, and Posh Hannah

To me, there is little that is more satisfying than a stack of small cakes of merino (or if I’m very lucky, merino and silk blend, too) just waiting to become a shawl, or some mitts, or a pair of colorful socks. Sort of the equivalent of having a well-stocked pantry. So today, after the house was all tidy, I pulled out a bunch of skeins (some of which have been in my storage tubs for years), my yarn swift and ball winder (now, now), checked out what shows have been languishing on the DVR, and started winding.

After about two and a half hours I was finished; I had 15 lovely skeins of fingering weight and lace weight yarn all neatly wound with, miraculously, not a single tangling disaster. Even with the all the silk I was winding.

Anyway, here’s the result of my little party. Rather an embarrassment of riches, with an obvious penchant for pink. Especially Handmaiden’s Sangria, which I have in nearly every single fingering weight base they dye because I love the color so much. Well, I’ve never hidden the fact I have SABLE (StashAccumulationBeyondLifeExpectancy) issues. But now that these goodies are all wound, it’ll be easy to open a ziploc or a tub and pull one out to make something fabulous.

 

 

 
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