Friday, January 28, 2005

A week worth of ….NOTHING

This past week we have all been home all week, schools closed due to inclement weather and work closed to power outage and subsequent bursting of all pipes.

While my husband has won the award of most conscientious shoveler (sp?) of the year, and the children have been building snow fort upon snow fort, fought glorious battle fuelled entirely by snowballs of all shapes and sizes, alternating with TV binges of epic proportions, what have I to report?

Next to nothing! I can’t tell you how frustrating this is for me. A whole week off from work sucked into nothingness, with no possible explanation.

My notable accomplishments of the week can be summarized thus: a) Monday, took a long and luxurious bath, with home-made exfoliating treatment; b) Wednesday, baked a delicious chocolate cake that my children actually eat and like even without tons of frosting on top; c) Thursday, managed to sign up and attend a couple of classes at the local college. This is it, people, just pitiful.
I normally am pretty active. But now I am just restless.

Knitting wise, it’s not much better: I finished my gloves this morning. This actually feels great, not only the gloves are lovely, they are the first result from the Yarn Diet for Charity endevour.

And finished the back of China Clouds a couple of nights ago.

Today I am pondering Mia, from Junior Knits by Debbie Bliss.

As you can see, there are 2 yarn possibilities here, none of which is really right.
The turquoise Two.Two was the yarn I had in mind for this project all along, but it turns out that I would have to adjust the pattern from the required gauge of 4 ½ st/inch to 3 st/inch. That is a pretty big adjustment. However, the pattern has virtually no shaping, so it should not be too difficult to rework. But will Mia then turn out ok? Not sure.

The other yarn from stash, Rowan DK Tweed (discontinued), is closer in gauge (5 st/inch) but I do not know if I want the tweedy look (and feel) for Mia. I might have to dig deeper in the stash and explore other possibilities. In the meantime, I’d appreciate any advice, knitterly and otherwise.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

In the midst of the storm….

….what else there is to do but knitting and spinning?

Well, actually, I have not a lot to report. However, Friday I had some news that totally blew away any amount of concentration I can normally muster, so I went to work, accompanied my current traveling project, Clapotis, accomplished next to nothing all day and came home. In my still blank state of mind, wondering whether I should attempt something on China Cloud or keep going on the mindless Clapotis, I started spinning my little rolags. To my surprise, I found that I could not stop, it was just the perfect place to be for me.

This is the result, far from good, but still very rewarding.

I have no idea how long it took to spin the rolags, but eventually they were all gone, so I headed towards the couch to do a couple of rows of Clapotis before bed. And discovered that Clapotis had stayed at work. Now, this would not be a big deal, except that China Clouds and Clapotis share the same 3 needles. Yes, that’s right I only have a pair and a half of No. 7 bamboo needles, so while two are in active use, one holds the project I am not working on. So I was stuck

What could I do but start something else? Amy’s handspun has been waiting very patiently for a couple of months, my hands have been screaming at me that they are cold and demanding new mittens, the storm was about to start. A day and a half later, here we are.

I love this colorway in all its subtle variations and the yarn is very soft and smells delicious. Thank you Amy! As a pattern I used the guidelines from ‘The knitter’s handy book of patterns’, with a longer straight cuff to warm up my wrist and not let snow in. I am also knitting at a tight gauge, dpns no. 5, hoping that it will make for warmer mittens.

Because, believe me, the storm out there is howling!

Giacomo ventured out, could barely stay on his feet (65mph wind), asked for his mask to protect his face from the horizontal snow, but could not endure more than a few minutes.

I wish I had his sense of adventure, when a big snow storm is exciting and fun, an awesome event to be enjoyed to the full!

PS: Yesterdaty I bought myself another pair of no. 7 needles, so as not to abandon China Clouds. We are connected by a very thin thread, the temptation to leave her aside for easier, quicker project is always there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The wrong side

Thank you all for all the compliments on my China Cloud.

Just to answer a few questions:
the pattern is by Kaffe Fasset, and was published in the Rowan magzine, No. 28.
There is a thumbnail of the magazine picture if you scroll down to one of the previous entries.
The yarn required was Rowan DK Tweed, now discontinued. I had 3 of the original DK tweed colors in my stash, for the rest I subsituted Rowanspun DK, as suggested by the Rowan website. The Rowanspun palette is much more vivid, and I really like the vibrancy on my version. I do not particularly like the feel and hand of Rowanspun, but now it is too late. On the positive side, the garment will be lighter than the original, which will be fine for an open jacket.

For me it is very rewarding to work on something like this, and I love watching the slow emerging of a new completed cloud, while at the same time dreading the fiddling required to start a new one.
It is impossible to get any rhytm going, no two rows are the same, and one needs to pay attention. As for techniques, I am an inconsistent knitter and I may choose a variety of ways of joining a new color, or I may carry some at the back in some spots .

So, since the last post, I managed to do 12 more rows on China Clouds, not worth taking a picture for posting. My Clapotis also does not deserve new pictures, although to be fair she is doing her best to grow. But it just seems the kind of project that does not show well in progress.

However, I do have a picture for you all.

Warning: it has caused knitters to gasp and cover their eyes, just like I would do watching a scary movie...

The wrong side of China Clouds.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Of cables and dropped stitches and clouds

Remember the “Here and There Scarf” with all those lovely cables all over the place?
Wasn’t it too busy? Yeah, I thought so too.
So I played around a bit and finally decided to go for this:

I know, this looks a bit boring, but I trust that it will turn into a beautiful Clapotis soon. I have just reached the dropped-stitches stage and it is beginning to look more interesting.

The finished ones that I see all over the web are all gorgeous, so I hope mine will be too. Plus, the yarn (details in previous post) is soft and luxurious beyond description: the few lucky ones who have touched it instantly assumed a glazed look and I had to please ask them to give it back to me.
It will be a dream to wear, I can’t wait to wrap myself in it!

As for clouds, I thought I’d show you how far along I am with China Cloud.

Just 2/3 up the back, when I abandoned it last spring. Tonight I took it out to photograph and was struck by how much I still like it. So I will start working on it again, as of NOW

And to keep my motivation high, I have put a close up image on the sidebar!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Of dog brushes and carders

Although I have had a spinning wheel for over a year, and learnt to spin about six months ago, my wheel has sat unused for a long timed, due to my inability to prepare fiber in a suitable way. My practice fiber was fine as landscape to a nativity scene, but not for spinning, at least not without some intervention. My books on spinning explained at length the use of carders, then mentioned that they are expensive and that one could start by using a dog brush instead. This coincided with what Emma, the fiber donor suggested. So I went and bought this:

I know, how stupid can I be?

As you can easily imagine, my attempts to card the fiber with this resulted in disaster and I promptly abandoned the whole thing.

Last night finally I overcame my shyness and my feelings of deep inaptitude and showed up at a spinning meeting with my big bag or fiber and asked for help, in particular if somebody could show me how to use carders and where to buy them. Guess what all the nice ladies said to me: My dear, you do not need carders, just use a dog brush!
Only then I was suddenly enlightened: there must be a dog brush that is similar to a carder! Just like these, in fact!

And after last night demo (done on proper carders) from the spinning ladies, and my purchase of the above items today, I can now proudly show you my very first rolags!

Evviva! Evviva!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Yarn Diet for Charity

What a great idea! Thank you Abby!

That was just the incentive I needed to go trough my stash and not buy anymore yarn. If I am smart/hard working enough, I’ll begin to see a dent in the amount of wool that litters my living room.

I have the first 5 projects lined up already:

1) Pick-Up Diamonds Helmet, from the latest Knitters Magazine (I do not have the magazine, but I browsed through it and had a good look the pattern, hopefully I’ll be able to fudge it).

2) Mittens, using Amy’s fabulous handspun, which I won during her fun election contest last November.

3) The cover sweater on this book, in Classic Elite Two.Two, color turquoise, for my goddaughter.

4) China Cloud, by K. Fassett, Rowan Mag 28. I started it about a year ago, but neglected it for a long time, it is time to pick it up again and finish it.

5) My longest WIP, Mayqueen by Jean Moss, which I started over 2 years ago (different colorway). I did the back, then realized that it was way too big for my daughter and put it aside. If I could finish it, it would fit her now.

The last two will take a while to be completed, this diet might well last a good long time!
Why does the sentence
the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions
come to mind?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

All the way from....

Uganda! Yes, this beautiful large basket comes all the way from Uganda, via Italy. My sister Elena always surprises me with wonderful presents. She was recently in Africa on a work/vacation and this is one of the many things she brought back. Miraculously, the basket survived two transcontinental trips and arrived intact to Massachusetts.

And guess what I am using for? No, not yarn! Possibly something even better: yarn to be!

This is the fiber I have at my disposition to practice my very rudimentary spinning skills.
Do not ask me any specifics, as I would not know. But I can tell you someone who probably does: Emma, who wrapped her gently used spinning wheel in practice fiber before sending it to me (another of these transcontinental transactions!).

Want to see another use for practice fiber?
How about this Nativity Scene landscaping?

Well, it looks much better with the candles all lit up, believe me, but it has been deemed an extreme fire hazard, and I am forbidden to light them up even just for the time it takes to take a picture.

Anyway, see the first of the three Wise Men to the far left? They are supposed to arrive tomorrow to bring their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Baby Jesus. In Italy the Epiphany is celebrated also as the arrival of Befana. Will she come tonight? Will she leave sweets or coal?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Maddalena and her knitting board Posted by Hello

Here and There Scarf Posted by Hello

First blog entry....very nervous

Ciao a tutti!
Hello everybody!

I am so excited to enter the community of knitting bloggers which has provided me so much fun, information, inspiration and many friends in the last couple of years. I can only hope to be able to contribute something back, one way or another.

I also plan to use this platform to air out the conversations I currently have with myself regarding my knitting endeavors, just so that I can feel a little less weird.

As for actual knitting, today I’d like to introduce one of my current WIP, the ‘Here and there cables’ scarf from Scarf Style, done in 100% superfine Alpaca and handpainted by Cherry Tree Hill, color Birch.

Normally, I hate knitting scarves, the repetitiveness is just too boring. In this case though, I have several good reasons:
a) my husband gave me this fabulous yarn on condition I made something for myself;
b) there is not enough of it for a bigger garment;
c) I lost my very favorite scarf a week before the arrival of the new yarn;
d) I saw Melanie’s scarf in real life and it was just irresistible;
e) I love doing cables but I have not done any for a long time.

However, I am currently wondering whether I like it as much as I thought I would: the cables and the handpainted yarn make it a bit busier than necessary. I am pondering what to do.

Today we also tried the Kids Knitting Board, for the very first time, and Maddalena kindly agree to post for the very first picture taken with my brand new digital camera (another solicited present from my husband). A lot of firsts today, as due at the beginning of the New Year!

Buon Anno! Happy New Year!