Monday, February 28, 2005

So, what did I do all last week?

Well, I do not really want to go into details, it would be boring. But the picture is an accurate representation of how incoherent and scattered I felt most of the time, trying to attend a million tasks simultaneously.

Unfortunately, the yarn brain* is not representative of the amount of knitting I did, just the sorry (but colorful) state of my mind.

This week should be a bit better, since one major source of stress last week was a one-time type of event, and it’s gone.

Knitting did occur, but results are unexciting, the Red Scarf is past midpoint (just), the back and half the front of Kiri are done, few paltry rows of China Cloud managed to creep on the needles

Spinning, however, worked best for when I was feeling overwhelmed, and I have managed to produce the off-white ball of yarn you see on the left, so that I can rise to the challenge for the HHHC, my spinning guild, and knit the historically accurate little Pilgrim purse all out of my handspun yarn. The dark yarn is actually a reddish purple that I spun a few months ago.

Please do not ask technical questions, all I know is that probably all fiber was Merino, and I made it into 2-ply yarn. I will knit the purse tightly, partly because the pattern requires it, partly to hide some of the yarn many imperfections. Maggie has already finished hers, following a different, more historically accurate pattern, and it’s so pretty!

I am going to leave you with this:

Our Family Totem

Can you spot all the fiber projects on it?

* "yarn brain" is a copyright of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably: according to what Brandon told us at a workshop, they leave all the ends from their various project in a big basket, and then pull out strands for inspirations for other projects. I am trying to learn from my betters, but can’t say it works for me yet!

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Look at these! 14 inches long DPNs, a nearly complete set!

Since I knit with one needle under my arm, I find using circular needles very awkward and even short DPNs slow me down a lot. But there are so many nice patterns knitted in the round out there that I want to try, I desperately wanted to put my hands on something like this. Two S&B ago, when I saw Michelle innocently wielding some knitting around on one of these beauties, I pounced on her. I tell you, she positively looked alarmed! Next time I saw her, she had pulled her 'Asian connection' strings and her friend Lin appeared with all of the above needles at the Harlow House Heritage Crafters Guild monthly meeting and was ready to part with them for a very, very reasonable price!

And I also scored some lovely handmade soap.

Both Maggie (top) and Michelle (bottom) make their own soap and brought some for me to try. It's great, all natural and with just the most lovely scents! Go see them if you'd like to try some!

As for knitting, not much to report, my knitting time has been severely curtailed and this coming week will be very intensive on many fronts, so I do not expect to be able to do much. I am less than half-way on the Red Scarf Project (I had to frog and restart it, making the scarf 1/3 narrower, because I was running out of yarn) and about half-way up the back of Kiri. Also, I will be unlikely to post for the next week or so, due to all my other current commitments.

Last but not least, thank you all so much for all the compliments about Maddalena and her jackets. She was very proud of turning 5 and appearing on the blog. As many of you pointed out, the fur jacket is made with 'vintage' fur, that has lasted 4 generations, so it is a bit more tolerable. I am at peace with it (just!).

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Maddalena and her new jackets

As promised, here is Maddalena, on the day of her fifth birthday, modeling Mia with flower of her choice for you. I am glad to report that she wore it happily for most of the morning and seems to like it.

But the real winner was the jacket that Nonna sent her, all the way from Italy!

This was made from some leftovers from a fur coat my grandmother had, and insisted on donating to me when I was in my early twenties. I was (and still am) strongly opposed to the killing of animals for the sake of fashion/status statements, so I never accepted the gift. My mother (a.k.a. Nonna) turned it into a lining for one of her coats and kept all the little bits. At Christmas time she showed them to Maddalena and the girl just could not resist. A fur jacket with knitted sleeves, collar and button-band was very swiftly and skillfully concocted by Nonna and sent over just in time for her birthday.

I wish you could have heard the squeals of delight when Maddalena opened the package and ran her hands over the furry bits. Even my animal-loving soul could not help but smile.

And finally, a rainbow jacket, as asked for. I did not have the time or the inclination to knit one, so I bought this one in the sales. But I have a question: can anybody tell me how this jacket was knitted? I can’t figure out how the wrong side is stripy and the right side is a sort of Fair-Isle. I know is machine knitted, so I am wondering if this effect can only be achieved by machine knitting. The fabric feels thick and heavy, but I do not think this is double knitting. What is it?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Prendere due piccioni con una fava

Apparently in Italy you do not kill two birds with a stone, you gently capture two pigeons with a fava bean.

That’s how I do it: first I sign up for a class that requires considerable amount of reading through fairly boring early American literature (and I do not mean to be disrespectful, but the diaries of the Pilgrims are not that riveting, even if you happen to live in Plymouth, MA); then I realize that the only time I have for the reading coincides with prime knitting time, after all else is done, between 9 and 11pm.

Luckily I can read and knit simultaneously, but only stocking stitch. Fava bean No.1: Kiri, from Rowan Mag. 28 (sorry, not the much more exciting Kiri shawl designed by Polly). I even have the yarn in stash, Rowan Kid Classic, color Galaxy.

This is as far as I got while reading Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine.

I bought this yarn on sale probably a year ago and never even opened the bag. But now that I am knitting it, I discovered how wonderful it feels, so soft and drapey. If I had any spare time, it would be difficult to restrict Kiri it to study time.

And then, my other fava bean is the Red Scarf Project, which has me knitting from stash for one of my 20 Yarn Diet for Charity projects and is itself a charity project (thank you Scottish Lamb, Abby, Kay and Polly for highlighting it for me). This is my portable project to work on when attending children attending gym lessons and similar activities.

The yarn is unknown, from a thrift store, the pattern is Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style, although you could not know it from this picture. This is the view from the garden at work (remember this, Lis?)
The seals were cavorting underneath, but they were too far for my little camera to make any sense of them.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Look at my new flowers in the sidebar!

Given that they are all resting on the same sweater in the same spot, isn't the difference in colors between pictures amazing?

No.1 was taken in natural light yesterday morning, the other two were taken this morning using the flash.

No.2 shows the truest colors.

Technology consistently baffles me.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Empty handed

That's how I feel today. Empty handed. I have no project following me around, no project to knit mindlessly when I am reading blogs, no project waiting at home for me. Well, that is not entirely true, China Cloud is still there, but I do not want to talk about that (she can't follow me, she's not mindless and she's well used to be denied any attention).

But I do have something for show and tell:

Clapotis is done! As shown, resting gracefully on the couch.

Here is another picture, because I think it's the type of item that shows much better on an actual person (me!).

I love the way it turned out, and I hope to use it a lot. Because it's made of Baby Alpaca, it's also very soft and warm. And I especially like that I can wrap it around my head as shown, and still the back of my neck is covered and no chilly wind can find its way down my backside. However, Clapotis' pastel palette does not coordinate with any of my other winter garments, all in much stronger colors. I guess that means I am entitled to go shopping to accessorize this delicate beauty.....

Mia is also done but I will not post a picture until I can give her to Maddalena for her birthday and she can model it for you. The yarn flower on my side bar will be attached to a pin and used for Mia's closure. I will also make some other flowers in different colors and shapes, so Maddalena can choose a flower according to her complex 5 year-old universe.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed making the flower. Maddalena wanted a rainbow flower, so I started by looking at various patterns here and there, then I messed about trying to make my own one (a la' Heather, only she did not mess about, her flower is lovely) and eventually landed on this one. I did not have in stash bright rainbow colors, so it is a bit subdued. Actually the real colors are nicer than in the photo: the gray is a lovely purple and the teal background is turquoise.

What can be better than filling my empty hands with more pretty yarn flowers?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

S&B: how much fun did we have?

The lovely Melanie wrestling with 2 circular needles while knitting a sleeve.

The beauty of bulky yarn knitting

As you can see, Mia is close to completion. I followed my readers’ recommendations and went with the Two.Two, reducing number of stitches required by a third. Since Mia is all knitted in one piece, with an attached collar, it was really easy and fast. I only had one hiccup, when I convinced myself that I would not have enough yarn to follow the pattern’s given measurements, made the first sleeve way too narrow and had to rip the whole sleeve off. But now it looks good, I only have half a ball left to finish the collar, I’ll stop when the yarn stops. Then I will make a yarn flower of some sort in different colors to attach to the pin that will keep it closed. Hopefully Maddalena will like it for her upcoming birthday.

I rarely knit with bulky yarns, but I enjoyed this quick knit very much, and it was really useful for lifting me out of my previous unmotivated funk. I was also lucky that my new classes require a fair amount of reading, and I can read and knit stocking stitch at the same time. Otherwise, I tend to suffer from the same syndrome as Phyillis does, and knit only at night, when everything else is done.

What next? Not Sure. Today I rescued Clapotis from work, so there is that to finish. And the ever present China Clouds. Other contenders are: a little buttonhole bag, or a teddy bear (from this book) in pink chenille for one of my little friends, or maybe a pair of socks (not my favorite type of knitting, but I can be persuaded). Or maybe a sweater with large amount of stocking stitch, to go with my reading.

I’ll keep you posted.