Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Finally some green...

Snow has melted and grass is tentatively greening, with some interspersed crocuses. Daffodils are about to burst out in color. Every year spring seems to start so very slowly; yes, the sun is out more and the days are longer, but almost everything is still brown and gray. Until some pre-ordained, but undisclosed day sometime in late April, when I wake up and spring has literally sprung overnight, and everything is green, exhuberant, lovely and bright new!
I did not know the meaning of seasons until I moved to New England, trite but true. In Italy, there were seasons, but much less extreme. In Scotland, there were no seasonal landmarks, apart from the great variation in day lenghth; it was constantly windy and wet, and always green ( I apologize to my Scottish friends, and fully realize that my perception is/was heavily distorted by having being brought up on the Mediterranean shores, but still!)
Now that I have learned to appreciate the seasonal changes, and somewhat to resign to the inevitability of it all, my ideal world would feature a Fall lasting about 4 weeks, Winter 2 weeks (snow optional), Spring and Summer for the rest of the year.

Anyway, in my current quest for easy (read stocking stitch) knitting to accompany me in my study/reading enforced binges, when I saw the new Rowan Magazine, my eye landed on Humbug. Easy, fun, and I already had some Summer Tweed in stash.

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And yes, it's green! New grass green, Salad green in fact! That can't hurt in the current climate, now, can it?

PS: the Salad color of Summer Tweed has been discontinued, in case you wondered.
PPS: I have not put Kiri together yet, hopefully this weekend I'll make a chunk of time for it, and then there will be photos.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sing with me

Stitch by stitch
row by row
I am going to make this jacket grow
All it takes is a pair of needles and some yarn
and a bit of available time..

to the tune of "The Garden Song".

Just to let you know that I have not given up on China Clouds.

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Go check Sam's blog for some real progress on intarsia projects, her knitting is fantastic!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Deceitful Ruffle

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Would you believe that this ruffle along the V-neck of Kiri took me 2 1/2 hours to knit?
I innocently started around 10 pm, thinking I'd be in bed by 11, a late but reasonable week-day bedtime.
I mean, it was only 4 rows, after picking up the stitches.

By 11 pm, I was only done with the first half of the first row of increases! But I could not put it down then, right?

I tell you, casting off 435 stitches of blue yarn at midnight makes for a very sleepy knitter today!

BTW, this is a much truer color for this yarn. Now onwards to lightly block and seam.

Monday, March 21, 2005

San Benedetto, la rondine sotto il tetto!

St. Benedict, swallows under the eaves!

Oggi e’ il mio onomastico! Tanti Auguri a me!

Today I celebrate my name day (for lack of a better denomination for this day): it is the day that the saint I am named after is celebrated in the calendar. Since this tradition does not seem to exist anywhere else, I always have a hard time explaining this to non-Italians. While I was not named Benedetta because my parents were particularly religious or fond of San Benedetto, only because they loved the name, I do like this scholarly saint, whose motto was “Ora et Labora”. And he is a pretty cool saint, the patron of all of Europe, no less!

This day also happens to coincide with the first day of Primavera, aka spring (I know, Italian spring is one day later than US spring), hence the saying about the arrival of the swallows building their nests under the eaves of the roof.

I love celebrating my name day, it’s like an extra birthday, with lots of wishes, presents, a special meal, and when I was a kid, a big party. And because of the saying that goes with it, most people knew to wish me “Buon Onomastico” on March 21, even mere acquaintances and teachers.

Since I got married, I have instructed my husband in the tradition of name days, so we all enjoy one extra day of celebration each.

I received some lovely presents, but none knitting related, as my family does not believe in encouraging any form of addiction. While I disagree on regarding my knitting any more an addiction than, say, my reading (and it just happens that I can borrow books from the library, so my reading does not affect my budget, while that can’t be said for knitting), I respect their thoughts on this and have stopped asking. Just like my mother stopped asking me to buy her duty-free cigarettes….

Anyway, I am nearly finished on my Kiri, I just need to seam it and make the frilly edge on the V-neck edges.

The sweater is very plain, all blue stocking stitch, with shaping. This is just the detail at the cuff, a double edge of frills. Pretty, no?

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The color here is very “wrong”; in reality the blue is much darker. Hopefully I’ll be able to take a truer picture once is completed.

Buona Primavera a tutti!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Eliza and her new bear

A little while ago, when Eliza lived across the street and we visited daily, she asked me to knit her a teddy bear. I love Eliza, she is beautiful, not afraid to stand for herself, with definite likes and dislikes, and treats me like one of her friends. She also loves beautiful things, has an eye for handmade stuff and loves crafts.

So when she asked for a teddy bear, I said yes. I remember that day, all the children in the neighborhood were in the house and each one of them asked for a teddy bear, rioting among the odd balls of yarn and picking their favorite colors. But Eliza is the only one that has held me up to my promise, reminding every few months.

Since teddy bears are not my favorite kind of knitting, I postponed for a long time. But today I am proud to introduce you to Eliza and her brand new bear Kessie.

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Kessie, knitted in pink Crystal Palace cotton chenille, took me just a few hours here and there, including the poncho (kitchen cotton) and a pair of blue overall that were not ready yet at the time of the photo shoot, but went home with them by pick up time. Eliza loved it and I am glad to be teddy- bear-commitment free, at least for now.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Knitting in the 17th Century

If you ever visit Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, MA, you will notice all the Pilgrim impersonators wearing beautiful, entirely handmade costumes, with all the age-appropriate details. Few of the garments are hand-knit, most noticeably the long, heavy stockings. I was lucky enough to participate in a workshop at the Plantation a few months ago, where a very knowledgeable lady, in charge of the Pilgrims wardrobe, told us all about knitting in the 17th century, and taught us how to turn the heel on those long stockings in a couple of different ways.

While the knitting itself was very simple, the history lesson was fascinating. And it made me think, not for the first time, how knitting used to be a daily necessity, probably a burden to some, just like, say, vacuuming is to me. Still, many people embellished even the most humble items, like undershirts, in order to transform something ordinary into something special and beautiful. I find that humbling and inspirational.

So the first time I visited the Plantation, I bought a copy of a booklet 17th Century Knitting Patterns as adapted for Plimoth Plantation, published by the Weavers Guild of Boston, 1990, which makes the textiles for the Plantation.

The knitting patterns comprise several caps, gloves, mittens, stockings, an undershirt and two purses. Since I do not walk around dressed like a Pilgrim, I never attempted to knit any of these, until a member of my spinning guild, the HHHC, issued a challenge: to spin all the necessary to knit the Oval Purse from the booklet, so that at some of the guilds event, when the members dress in costume for spinning demonstrations, we could all have an appropriate little bag.

Let me introduce you to my interpretations of the Oval Purse.

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I apologize for the awful photographs*, when I manage to get a decent one I’ll put it in the sidebar. Although my handspun yarn is very uneven and all that, the purse is still pretty, isn’t it?
I felt very Polly-ish while knitting, the purse seems the kind of thing she loves to knit, even though she would have never put up with inferior quality yarn.

To distract you from the bad knitting photos*, look at this:
fresh snow falling in a New England forest.

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I do not like winter and cold weather, but this sure beats the grayness that I usually see on my way to and from work.

* Update: I managed to get a better phot, that shows the purse nicely and uploaded it in the text instead that the sidebar.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Meglio tardi che mai…

Better late than never

Apologies for being so late about posting on the fabulous Boston Afghanalong Sew-Up Bee.
Yes, Maddalena and I were there, as has been amply documented, and yes, we had a wonderful time!
It was so nice to meet all these talented knitters and bloggers, I regret only that I did not manage to chat with all of them. It was very special to meet in person so many blogland celebrities.
Julia had organized everything spendidly, Kristin and Roseann, hosted us in their beautiful place, Kay kept us all very busy with endless lovely squares, Maddalena and Joseph decided eventually they could maybe be silly together. However, when Maddalena discovered that Wendy the bookish girl, was Melanie’s friend, Wendy was adopted as her preferred playmate, and that was it (much as Joseph adopted Amy and Tunket).
I am forever indebted to Wendy for being so agreeable and playful with the little one!
I even come away with some lovely door-prize goodies: two colorful skeins of Classic Elite Flash mercerized cotton, from Ann, I believe; and a bunch of luxurious knitting accessories, donated by our lovely hostesses: bamboo needles, a sheep measuring tape and needle case, both by Lantern Moon, and a very cool handmade row counter! I feel very privileged!

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The blanket under my goodies is the child-size Afghan that Maddalena art-directed. When I saw the initial spread of squares, I quickly identified some bright in-your-face kind of squares (yes, Thomas, yours, to be precise), and, with Kay’s approval, Maddalena and I decided to produce a blanket with all the square that would not fit anywhere else. With Wendy’s help, it turned out beautiful, and very bright!
I took it home to finish the seaming and now it’s ready to be shipped! But not today, the girl needs to snuggle with it one more day!

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I also finished the infamous red scarf! Pearl the cat supervised the photo shoot, in an uncharacteristic cooperative mode.

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Only 17 more projects to do to complete the Yarn Diet for Charity challenge.


Friday, March 04, 2005


I am a spectacularly untidy person, useless at long-term planning (or any other planning for that matter), utterly disorganized, generally forgetful, usually late and mostly disheveled in appearance.

But when I make a commitment, I will honor it. This sounds like a good thing, right?
Especially when I am married, with children, a job and trying to get into graduate school.

But it can get a bit annoying when applied indiscriminately across the board, even to small things:

when I cook something, I’ll eat it even if it’s unpalatable;
when I start a book, I will finish it even if I hate it;
when I go to a movie, I’ll watch it to the end;
when I start a knitting project, I will finish it, even if I do not enjoy working on it!

Knitting wise, this happens every once in a while. This time the culprit is the Red Scarf. I still like the pattern (Midwest Moolight in Scarf Style), and the color. The yarn feels a bit dry, but I am happy to have found a good use for it, in light of my earlier commitment to knit 20 projects from stash before buying new yarn. Yesterday I picked it up again, after neglecting it for a week or so, chanting “2 repeats a day will keep the doctor away” to myself, and working on it while playing with children and reading blogs. I swear I did at least 2 repeats, it felt more like 4 actually, so can anybody tell me why this stubborn thing persists in showing only just 11 repeats total? Just like 2 weeks ago?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What, no pictures?

No, no pictures, I left my camera at home and I am writing for work.

Also, I just realized that besides a pretty picture of a FO every once in a while, or a progress report, other knitters might also be interested in the actual knitting process (now, there is a surprise!).

Last night, during my never-ending reading for my American Literature class, I was also finishing up the right side of the V-neck shaping for Kiri, following the notorious instructions that tell you to reverse all shaping you did for the right side (yes, it is a Rowan pattern, after all). Now, that was ok, but once I finished the neck and shoulder shaping, I paired the front to the back, only to find that the front, from armhole to shoulder, is 10 rows higher that the back in the same section.

I do not know why that happened, I am guessing I just was not paying attention to row gauge, as Wendy would tell you. Not that I ever did in any of my past projects, especially when following a pattern and using the yarn said pattern specifies. Never mind, I’ll know better next time.

Now, as for fixing it: I could not change the front without messing up all the decreases for the armhole and the V-neck shaping, so no, I was not touching that. But I could add 10 rows to the back. Simple, right?

So ripped off the shoulder shaping that I’d done in short rows, (so that I could then pick up live stitches to do a 3 needle bind-off and attach the neck) without even stopping to think. And started knitting the 10 extra rows. So far, so good.

However, when I arrived at the point of shaping the shoulder and back neck again I drew a complete blank: you know when the pattern instructs you to shape the shoulders sloping up and the back neck sloping down, at the same time? Well, I just could not possibly figure out a way to do this, in short rows, which made sense. I used up several sheets of paper trying to draw a diagram and attempted to knit it at least 4 times, before it finally came out the way it was supposed to (at least, I think so, but I’m having second thoughts). And if I wanted to explain it to you, I would not know where to start (here is where photographs would be helpful, but I get too engrossed in my knitting to stop and reach for the camera sitting about 20 cm away from my hand; need to change that).

What really bugs me is: why something that I did easily the first time around turned out so ridiculously difficult the next time, just a few days later? Can somebody please give me back my brain?

Next post, there will be pictures!