Thursday, August 31, 2006

The sock that brought me back

See what happens with some no. 5s and a little Project Runway ... almost a sock! I almost forgot that I love to knit. What's up with that?

Project Pepe, Part 2

It is the last day of August, so of course, it is the perfect time for me to post my final Project Spectrum Project. I know those TBS socks (note: I posted a much better picture to the Flickr account on the sidebar. Check it out if you care) would have satisfied my August neutral knit, but my Project Pepe is my true Project Spectrum August project.

Readers will remember that most of my Project Spectrum projects have been about using the month's color in a way that was new to me. I tried stranded knitting for the first time, made some charity hats for Dulaan for the first time, finished a long standing UFO...My goal was also to try to use stash yarn if at all possible.

For the final month of PS, I decided to do something rather drastic. Knowing that PS was also the final month of the SoSKAL, I knew I would have to get creative if I was to make something neutral. I don't have a lot of neutral yarns in the stash, and certainly nothing that would have been appropriate for my Pepe.

Can you believe I have, like, no neutral yarns in my stash?

Those who know me know that I hate waste in a terribly Puritan kind of way. I have a bazillion little baggies in my freezer filled with 1/4 cups of wine left undrunk and egg yolks saved from merengues. I have shrimp shells, brown bananas, and herb butters from herbs about to turn. And I use all of these things in cooking and baking, to varying degrees of success, sure, but at least nothing was wasted.

Readers also know that I am terribly bugged by wasted yarn, the oddballs and leftovers. So what about finished objects made with beautiful yarns that you never wear? Like my Silky Wool poncho (oh, shut up, you know you all made ponchos). I wore it, loved it, but now will not wear it. Sorry. Too 2001, thank you very much. But look at all that beautiful charcoal gray yarn! Wouldn't it be beautiful as a Backyard Leaves scarf?

How about Tempting? Mo can tell you, this sweater was love at first sight. I can remember standing next to our cars in the carpool line, raving about Tempting when that Knitty came out. That would be my first sweater for myself. I made it out of Maggi's Merino Aran bought on sale at Garden of Yarn, and I loved it. Great pattern, lovely soft yarn.

And it looked like crap. I tried, too, to get it to look right across the bust. Cinching the ribbon tightly. Now looser. How about a strapless bra? Or maybe a cami underneath?

Nothing. Nothing could make the girls look good in this sweater. The combination of the ribbing stretched across the bust and the slight silvery sheen to the yarn just made the girls look like an innertube just above the waist. It was not a good look, especially for a a mother who nursed two children.

So remember when Aileen came over with the apple martinis? That's the night we ripped out Tempting and reclaimed all that yarn for Project Pepe's sweater.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Stole is Finished

Well, it was a lovely project. What began as a way to grieve my dear friend's terrible loss ended as an ode to her strength and courage. She is truly a beautiful person and I hope this stole wraps her in love and protection.

Pattern: Nora's Stole by Lisa Knits. Profits are donated to an organization to raise awareness and education about ovarian cancer.
Yarn: Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton, Currant
Needles: Addi Turbo US6s and Aero Bernat US5s (more on those later)
Notes: This was a great first big lace project for me. (Thanks for the advice from Melanie at The Yarn Lounge!) The pattern was easy and the DK weight cotton with the Addis was a dream.

Although I thought I was going to be a skein short, it worked out great and blocked to measurements (21" x 60", actually the pattern suggested 20"). I had no problems blocking thanks to the great suggestions from Liz, Jane, and Martha. I pinned it to my bed and lightly ironed it over a sheet.

Unfortunately, I attempted to steam it at first, but ended up showering the stole with dried, white flakes -- I'm assuming mineral deposits. It took a bit, but I brushed those off. I was timid with the blocking, but I'm feeling better about it in general and will go back and maybe block some older items.

When I got to the end and switched to my US5s, I thought, hmm, I don't remember knitting with these needles at the beginning. Oh well, nevermind. When I finished binding off I saw that indeed, I hadn't used those needles at the beginning. I had just started with my US6s. DOH! So one border is beautiful -- the other, a bit looser. Oh well, the blocking definitely helped!

I contemplated undoing the end and knitting in 6s so they would match, but the stole seemed to be about how imperfect life is and how really that's what make each of us such unique jewels -- our imperfection.

My meditation for my friend:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be peaceful. May you be joyful.

A Final Note

The brilliant and inspiring Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz died today. If you have never read his books please do. He will be missed.

Monday, August 28, 2006

TBS Report

Please forgive the blurry photo. Rainy day pics are not good. Carrie, the Tiffany Box Blue walls are for you, although here, they look awfully gray and blah.

Just about everything had been said about these socks, and I refuse to hash out the details again, so here are the TBS (Trekking Blah Sock) Final Stats:

Pattern: Slipped Stitch Rib (from Sensational Knitted Socks) on foot, simple K3, P3 on leg

Yarn and needles: Trekking XXL, US0s, Susan Bates Silvalumes

Impressions of the above: Trekking is a little scratchy, a little splitty. Ambivalent. The Silvalumes were OK, but I have since switched to Magic Loop on Addis.

Knitterly Details: Wendy's Toe-Up, short row heels and toes, EZ's Sewn Cast Off

Yarn Purchase Date: September 2005, the Knitting Studio, Phoenixville, PA

Sock Combinations Previously Unsuccessfully Attempted: 2 (Retro Ribs and Jaywalkers)

KALs Satisfied: Project Spectrum August (neutrals), Trek Along With Me, Summer of Stash

Miles Traveled: 1857miles

States Visited: 7 total (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhose Island,
Delaware, Maryland)

Modes of Transportation used while knitting: (4 total) car, train, boat, taxi

UFO Status Report: TBS were final UFO in queue, and took all summer to knit.

Intended Recipient: Little Sister. These will be her first pair of handknit socks. I wish they were something more luxurious, like Lorna's Laces or Koigu, but this yarn just screamed "Masters in Environmental Studies."

Duly Noted: Regular XRK readers will remember the discussion LS and I had regarding the wearing of socks with sandals. So, despite the "Hiking Sock" vibe, these socks will not be worn with hiking sandals, but exclusively with hiking boot. Here's hoping the L.S. will at some point guest-blog her impressions on hiking in the handknits.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Project Pepe

My Pepe has been given short shrift 'round here at XRK, on the blog and in the knitting department in general. It is so easy to make little knits for Rosebud with my leftovers. And the yarns that I find myself attracted to are usually desperately girly colors. And Pepe seemed to grow an inch a month for the last year. So he was not the recipient of the knitterly love. I have, at this point, made a few knitted items for him: the occasional baby hat, the cabled sweater (that he didn't wear home from the hospital as it was too big, and a wonderfully warm day in May), an intarsia sweater or two, but all of these items pre-date the blog.

But that is all about to change. It is time to institute Project Pepe!

First, let me begin by following Mama-E's lead by telling you 10 things about my incredible little boy:

1. He wakes up laughing every day happy. He is the single happiest human being I have ever had the pleasure of being around.

2. He was the easiest baby in the entire world. Slept all the time. In fact, when he was about 6 weeks old, someone asked me who he favored, me or his father. I told them that I didn't know, as I had never seen him with his eyes open.

3. The best way to get a kiss from Pepe is to tell him how gross and disgusting his kisses are. "Please please please whatever you do, DON'T. KISS. ME."

4. This is how much he loves his Softie.
5. His first word was "burp."

6. He loves music, and often comments, "Mom, this song is great," whether its the Buzzcocks, the Clash, or Jack Johnson. He once told me his favorite part of "Young Americans" was the part where they say, "All night! I love dat part!"

7. He has a special theme song for just the two of us, when we have Mother-Son adventures. He came up with this all on his own.

8. He prefers guys over women, and is decidedly not a Mama's boy. When he cries, he wants Mr. S. He prefers fathers, grandfathers and uncles over moms, grandmas and aunts, but his best friend in the world is his big sister.

9. When he appears to be having a full-on tantrum, it takes three words to get him out of it instantly. "I'll race ya!"

10. He loves dinosaurs. Playing with them, reading about them, thinking and learning about them. If you ask him if he likes anything besides dinosaurs, he thinks and says, "No. Just dinosaurs."

So here is his newest dinosaur:

This is Leptologist (Pepe's name) Bronty, which was knitted using leftover Plymouth Encore from the previously mentioned intarsia sweater I made Pepe when he was a baby. You will see more from that blue Encore later in the week, when I finish seaming a Trellis for a friend's newborn baby boy, and likely more of these knitted dinosaurs as well. More marinating stash busted for this last week of Summer of Stash!

Pepe is also getting a sweater this Fall. It is in process as we speak. More on Project Pepe later in the week.

Friday, August 25, 2006


My dearest Liz and Mo and my fellow knitters, I have a confession to make.

I have a fear of blocking. I rarely do it. When I have blocked, I never believe that I'm doing it the right way. I can felt without fear because that is what happens when water meets wool. It makes sense to me. But blocking? It's terrifying.

So I'm nearing the end of the stole (one skein left) ... it will not be done by Saturday, but maybe Sunday. And I will have to block it. I think I may have subconsciously slowed my knitting to forestall the inevitable.

So help me out with the steps. It's a cotton yarn, so do I need one of the no-rinse soaps? Do I really need soap at all? Do I just get it damp and then stretch it out? Do I pin it and then spritz? I'm even more unsure after reading this knitty article about how cotton has no memory and is inelastic ... how do I steam the whole stole? I'm not usually so flustered!

I read the Knitter's Review articles on the no-rinse soaps and I really want to be one of those experienced knitter's who can handle washing handknits. Someone who actually talks about it casually without trembling with panic (Sure I'll go out for a drink tonight, let me just throw my Aran sweater that took me a year to finish in the wash ... ) . People do this all the time. All the time. It will be okay, right?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Well-Edited Stash

I have knitted quite a bit this summer: a few pairs of socks, a couple of sweaters, some baby stuff, even a beach bag, a few ballband dishtowels, among other things. It represents close to 30 balls, skeins, or oddments of yarn that have been knitted into finished objects. I wish that I could have knitted some more of the stash, but this summer restored some sanity to my knitting, as my "to-knit" queue stopped growing exponentially, and some long-desired projects were finally tackled. Without the constant infusion of new yarns, I have been able to actually accomplish some knitting!

However, the most satisfying aspects of the Summer of Stash for me has been the "stash release." You may remember the big bag of acrylic-ness that I released to my kids' preschool at the beginning of the summer. I knew I would never knit with it. I also released some purple novelty yarns, purchased on sale when I first began knitting seriously 5 years ago. I had no idea what to do with it then, and now, 5 years later, I still didn't know what to do with it. I gave it to my friend, who loves purple, and is an extremely creative crochet-er, an expert at blending yarns.

I even re-purposed a long-languishing UFO, making a pillow from a cardigan. This cardigan was a knitter's failure, a loser of a project, as the sleeves did not fit around my arms. Keeping the yarn around was making me feel wasteful, and like a quitter. Now the pillow I made from the same yarn makes me feel creative and resourceful!

Sorry the pic is blurry. There may have been some apple martinis involved...

So last night, I released the last of the taunting yarns, the Plymouth Outback Mohair that has been lurking in the stash for three years. It had been knitted into a big fuzzy cowl-neck sweater, then immediately frogged, as it looked horrible on me. The pattern was for a lightweight mohair, a confection of a sweater, intended to float ethereally about the wearer. The Outback is bulky, the wrong yarn for the project, and it showed. My shoulders looked like a linebacker, and the cowl neck was so heavy it practically dragged on the ground. And so a sweater's worth of mohair, a knitting failure-in-a-bag was there in my stash. But last night, I released all of it to a fellow (blogless) SoS-er, Aileen. It is the perfect yarn for the Portland Pullover in the new IK, and this yarn is not emotionally loaded for her. For Aileen, the yarn is a potentially great project. For me, it represented a host of mistakes and bad choices, all typical beginning knitter mistakes, but ones I am still apt to make from time to time. The yarn will be loved with her.

My stash isn't significantly smaller than when I began this summer (remember my epic fall off the wagon a week or so ago?), but it has now been edited carefully, purging the guilt and failures and the useless, leaving only the loved and useful yarns behind. I now have a stash packed with potential and anticipation! What else can one ask of a Summer of Stash?

x-posted to Summer of Stash

Monday, August 21, 2006

As the stole sits ...

... I cook. And cook. And cook. I can't help it. My kitchen is done* and she is a thing of beauty. My friend will understand about the unfinished stole as she tastes my garlicky slow-roasted garden tomatoes on the BackBou's sourdough bread with a dab of yummy, tangy goat cheese on top.

Some of you might have missed my tale of why we needed the new kitchen (read it here), but just look:




Details: Bamboo cabinets, cork floors, concrete countertops, Elkay faucet, John Boos butcher block, Bosch convection oven, Asko dishwasher (not the portable, roll across the kitchen and hook it up to the sink one we had for six years), and (although you can't see them), one of my favorite features, Bose speakers recessed in the ceiling so I can jam all through food prep. This kitchen rocks! (Can you tell, I'm just a bit psyched, just a little bit.)

Many thanks to Chris Arias (hubby to Brandon and contractor extraordinaire), Rob Staropoli (cabinet making guru), and Faith Dickerson (electrical wiz).

Now, I shall go knit like the wind ...

*When I say "done," I mean everything but the tiling which will be done at a later date since we kind of ran out of money ...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Still Thinking About...

The Thinker, The Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, PA

...the simple knits. This is my first ever just plain-ole stockinette sock. It has practically knit itself this week. This week has been difficult for we former residents of Woodland Heights.

Woodland Heights is an incredible neighborhood about 5 minutes from downtown Richmond, a place where Mr. S and I had the pleasure to live for our last 5 years there. It is a streetcar suburb, with old houses, front porches, sidewalks and grandly beautiful trees. It is right along the James River, so there were nesting hawks, eagles, and amazing seabirds in the air. You could carry your kayak to the river and shoot the rapids, or lug your tube home after a three-mile float.

This is the neighborhood where our children came home from the hospital. I walked here daily, pushing strollers and trailing toddlers. In Woodland Heights, there are young families, lifelong residents, gay, straight, white, black, professional, tradespeople, artists, students, yuppies, hippies, fiddlers, harpists, arborists and entymologists.

It was a neighborhood where the bread baker delivered, where Friday night cocktail parties rotated, where a snowstorm meant a blizzard party, and a hurricane meant grilling sides of salmon by candlelight with your neighbors in the backyard. It's a neighborhood with a coffeeshop, a gourmet take-out, a barber shop, two playgrounds, quarterly fundraising spaghetti dinners, a Holiday House Tour and a babysitting co-op.

It is also where the Bryan and Kathryn Harvey lived with their daughters, Stella and Ruby, and on January 1, 2006, their brick Woodland Heights home is where the Harvey family died. This week's trial of one of their murderers has at times brought me to my knees with grief and horror.

I apologize for the non-knitting nature of this post, but this has been at the forefront of my mind, and weighed heavily on my heart this week and this year. On this, a personal journal I share with my friends, Ann and Mo, and with you, our readers, I need to reclaim Woodland Heights in my memory, and remember it here as, for the time that we lived there, truly, the best place I've ever lived.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tick Tock Goes the Clock

The clock is running. My friend who will be the recipient of the Nora's Stole is visiting in 9 days. I am finishing up skein 6 of 9. I have nothing else on the needles but this stole. It will be done. And blocked. And packaged beautifully. I am trying not to panic here since we also need to have a kitchen. Yikes! Better start knitting ...

On the previous subject of knitting simply and not knitting simply, I know that the act of blogging and blog-reading has elevated my level of knitting -- due to excellent advice, fantastic support and feedback, and pure inspiration. I see crazy colorwork and cables and lace and can't wait to try it! I remember Mr. Weasley's wonderful line from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire upon seeing the elaborate and extreme wizard tents at the Quidditch World Cup:
"Always the same," said Mr. Weasley, smiling. "We can't resist showing off when we get together..."

I just love all the eye candy!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Embracing the Garter

The person with the world's most extensive collection of Crossroad Knits is Sadie, and she is now three weeks old. Her first handknitted XRK yumminess was this:

Cascade Fixation socks, knitted after her moms gushed over the kneesocks
I was knitting for Rosebud during our visit.

Then, upon her birth, Ann arrived with this, remember?

a Cashmerino Baby Bolero and Hat.

Yesterday, I put this set in the mail.

Sadie's Sweater & Such:
Yarn: Blue Sky Cotton, #628 orchid, 3 skeins
Pattern: Garter Stitch Jacket from The Baby Knits Book, Debbie Bliss
Mods: None. Hat was done on the fly, as were the socks (using Knit Picks Sock Garden)

I almost ripped out Sadie's sweater. I mean, when was the last time you did a garter-stitch sweater? Have you ever? I mean, I know the garter stitch is all trendy and it's virtues are extolled all over the blogosphere. But I felt like it was just too simple to give to Sadie. Sadie's Mama Katie knits a little bit, and she is an amazing quilter. You should see the quilt she made Rosebud when she was born. This was after she made the curtains for Rosebud's nursery. Katie is the person who showed up at my door 10 minutes after getting the "I think my Dad just died and I don't know what to do," phone call from me.

Right, so her much-anticipated baby deserved a pretty special handknit, and all I come up with is a garter stitch jacket? I contemplated ribbons, flowers, embroidery, all sorts of potential razz-a-matazz to foof up the sweater.

Luckily, I knitted this sweater while having a weekend with the family down the shore, all non-knitters. And did they gush! The loved the color, the texture, the squishiness of it all. My sister-in-law admired that "cool ridge-y stitch." My other sister-in-law rubbed the sweater against her cheek, loving the softness of the wonderful cotton on her skin. You see, to the non-knitter, they just see something lovingly handmade. They don't know the difference between the simplest garter stitch or the most complicated brioche or lace.

And then Wendy wrote this post, about the simple. In it, she questions whether or not we knit bloggers have gotten a little precious, even a little classist about the simple knits, looking down our noses at simple in favor of the stranded or the lace or the clever.
And I realized that I had made a lovely, simple little jacket, a garment where Sadie will be the star of the show. And isn't a baby beautiful enough on her own?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back Home in Richmond

Here we go again ... the first time I tried posting this, the electricians who are busily trying to finish up in the kitchen cut off the power to the computer ... doh ... goodbye pictures, goodbye text ... Then the pictures wouldn't upload. And wouldn't upload. And wouldn't upload. So forgive the random placement of the photos.

A Very Vermont Vacation
We had a wonderful time with the BackBou's folks in Vermont. Hiking part of the Long Trail, eating lots of good food here and here, and spending a day putzing around Middlebury listening to all the various languages during their summer language institute. It was cool and clear. The opposite of Richmond in August (although yesterday was a good attempt at some Vermont weather). And the yarn ... yarn is not scarce in the Green Mountain State and it was all I could do not to spend hundreds of dollars a day on my SosKAL exception. (As the BackBou often remarked, "Summer of Stash, my ass.")

First I hit Vermont Beads and Fiber in Middlebury. I emerged with some Cherry Tree Hill roving for needle felting, some Laughing Tree Farm 2 ply (60% Mohair, 40% Merino), and some Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. The Laughing Tree Farm yarn is so incredible ... hand dyed and as they say on the label, "with a luxurious, soft hand." Yummy.

I resisted many other yarn opportunities until I happened upon the booth for Sterling Brook Farm at the Waterbury Farmer's Market. The owner sells Lamb Meat (deep vegetarian sigh) and what she calls "byproducts" -- yarn, composted sheep manure, etc. I decided to honor the spirit of her departed sheep by buying 3 skeins of her worsted weight -- a blend of wool from her sheep and the merino goats of her neighbor.

I was then safe until ... cue the Jaws style music ... I hit Yarnings with Liz.

Yearnings Fulfilled
I confess, I confess, I confess. This was too much to resist. And there was no way I was going down alone, I took Liz with me. Big time. You've seen the picture, you know about the sale ... I mean really, 40% off. Puhleeze. You think we weren't buying? Oh we were buying. I lay claim to the Mission Falls and 2 hanks of the Claudia's. I do need to say what a fantastic yarn shop Yarnings is. It's in a beautiful house and I felt like the rooms filled with yarn just never ended. The walls of yarn ... it was a dream.

In addition to the stash listed in Liz's post, I also bought a needle felting kit. I cannot wait to try some needle felting. I am not sure how hard it will be and do not know anyone who has done it before, but I'm game. I think I'll hold off until school starts, I don't trust myself with all the construction chaos and the kid chaos to keep track of those little barbed needles.

BTW, this is what our living room looked like upon our return, almost done with the painting but not quite yet. Next week I hope to post some prettier pictures of our house!

Warning: Socks and Sandals Ahead
I did manage to finish this pair of socks (gifted to my MIL) and I made much progress on the stole (now on the 6th skein out of 9).

Yarn: Trekking XXL (color 28)
Needles: US 2s
Pattern: Baby Cable Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks
Notes: I would not use this yarn for this pattern. The colors of the yarn make the cables disappear. After talking with Liz, I think I'll try using reverse stockinette on the heel for a bit more cushion.

And please note how very Vermont they look with the Sandals ...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

We Fell. Hard.


"Is Summer over already?"*

This weekend was among one of the best I've had in a long time, because I spent most of it in the presence of my dear Ann and her incredible family. We had meals prepared by the Back Bou himself, and got to watch our children play together, the oldest pair and youngest pair being perfect playmates, all the while knitting and talking and enjoying the most glorious weather in these soulless Philadelphia suburbs where I now make my home.

And we encountered a yarn sale.

And we fell off the Summer of Stash wagon very very hard.

On Saturday, after going to the Lancaster County Farmer's Market in Wayne, PA in search of provisions for our meal and blog-fodder for the BB, Ann and I went to lunch in Skippack, PA, the location of my LYS, Yarnings. I have not been to Yarnings since before the Summer of Stash began, since it is the source of much temptation. But the cafe was right across the street, and the Yarnings parking lot had many just happened.

I was considering perhaps just one lone ball of Cashmerino Aran for those Fetching things, just one little purchase to get me through until Labor Day.

Yarnings was having a yarn-by-the-bag sale. And Ann was on vacation which was her exception. And since I was with Ann, I was on HER vacation, so I get an exception for that, right?

Oh, friends, it was ugly.

This is both Ann's and Liz's yarn. There's a bag of Mission Falls 1824 wool, a bag of KFI Cashmereno, 4 hanks of Claudia's Handpaint, a bag of Noro Lily multi, two skeins Artful Yarns Jazz, and the ball of Cashmerino Aran I intended to buy. Let me assure you, Ann has more to confess from her travels in Vermont.

Or beautiful, if you really like yarn shopping with your dear friend who you miss terribly. The only thing missing was Mo. And didn't I hear something about a sale in your LYS, Lettuce Knit in Richmond? Do you have some confessing to do, too, my dear?

* Mr. S's exact quote upon seeing the shopping bags and our sheepish expressions.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Big Failure Reaps Small Victory

A summery top for Rosebud that began as a baby dress, once designated on this very blog as a "design project." Said design project, a simple baby dress was begun with much enthusiasm after finding this stretchy cotton yarn, Gedifra California Color. I wanted to knit a simple sundress for a baby girl, and not finding a suitable pattern, I figured I could make something up, something simple. I made a schematic based on these measurements, and imagined the sweet little sundress with little crocheted scallops I had just learned how to do (and have since totally forgotten.)

Baby dress was knitted, edgings were crocheted. The dress was tried on my fit-model (friend's baby) and looked horrid. The shape was wrong, the length too short, the bodice too wide. I had to reknit and re-figure the bodice of the dress. Rip and try again, right? Maybe consult some books, some other designs. Let me tell you, knitters, there are not a lot of patterns for simple baby sundresses out there. Lots of foofy dresses and cap sleeve thingies with eyelets and lacy confections, but not a lot of simple baby dresses.

We knitters need a simple baby sundress pattern, and I was going to do it, create a perfectly simply baby sundress. All I had to do was figure out the top.

This was when I ran out of steam, my design project deflated. And for two months, this dress languished undone.

This is so typical of me, scrapping something when at first it doesn't work. I was the kind of kid who didn't do anything unless I was instantly good, and hopefully, the best. I missed out on a lot of fun that way, I know. I didn't play sports or keep at a musical instrument. And worse, this is when I feel like a total faker as a knitter. See, in the back of my mind, I felt like if I could not figure out the simplest of knits, a sleeveless, square (or maybe scoop) neck dress, then I should just put the needles away. Or at least call myself a knitter-with-a-lower-case K, not a Knitter, capital K. Just a pattern executer.

This project played right into my human failings and my deepest insecurities about being a simple journeyman, an intellectual and creative pretender. Talking the talk, not walking the walk. Oh, and my issues with math too.

But never one to wallow in failure, except in this self-indulgent, narcissistic blogosphere, I decided to turn yet another symbol of failure (see Labrador cardigan, now sweater) into a small victory.

The skirt of the dress fit Rosebud's tummy perfectly. And as I was cleaning up the yarn room in anticipation of the big visit from my XRK co-blogger Ann and the BackBou, I ran across a pattern in the the Knitting Pattern A Day calendar that served as inspiration to turn the dress into a summery top for my girl.

So, here's the specs:

Pattern: Bodice shaping instructions for the Rachel Top provided guidance and inspiration, but it would be a stretch to say that I followed the pattern. I had a tube of knitting, the Rachel pattern guided the top, but then I added my favorite edging, an applied i-cord, to finish the top and make the shoulder ties.

Yarn: Gedifra California Color, 3 balls. I did quite like knitting with this yarn. The colors are sherbet-y and the yarn is stretchy and takes frogging well.

Things Rosebud likes about it:
"I like all the rainbow colors, and I like this stripey thing in the middle, and I like that its real rolly at the bottom"

The thing I like about it, is that no matter how much I feel like I've failed, she makes me feel like I've knitted the greatest top in the neighborhood.

And with her in my corner, I'm pretty sure I can figure out that baby sundress pattern the next time. Or at least make her another cute top.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bloggers and Podcasters

Here are some links from around the blogosphere:

Julia, with an excellent review of Cast-On, which if you still need an inducement to listen, read her review and start downloading, even if you don't have an iPod!

Wendy, on Joe Queenan's article about starting books (and Wendy, incidentally has an entertaining podcast as well.

Sally, my real-life friend and member of the Montco Sit & Knit, has just started her own blog. She is a talented crocheter, but has just begun to knit. Go stop by her blog and say hello, and be sure to check out her photos on her flickr site. She is a great photographer, and a great friend to boot.

This week's Montco Sip&Knit was at my place. Sally and I look so very happy because Maria gave everyone yarn. We got even happier when Aileen arrived with a huge pitcher of mojitos.

Saun, a fellow Summer of Stash-er (and very talented designer, has declared that she is now a stash-slasher, trying to reduce her stash by half. Add that to Nona, who declared this summer the Summer of the Dabble, and Colleen too, I will be focusing the last month of my Summer of Stash on knitting small projects designed to use up more of the stash before September's yarn purchasing can commence. I have some baby items to knit, socks, hats, Dulaan projects, warshrags, a top for Rosebud and maybe some of those Fetching gloves.

Obviously, I've been blog-surfing more than I've been knitting lately.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Packing ... and yet, not ...

So today should have been a day of furious packing for our week in Vermont. I was supposed to have gotten the house ready for the painter (who will be working during this week), run all the errands, gassed up the car, shopped for car-trip food, and packed all the essentials. What did I do instead? I knit this hat ...

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted -- all from stash!
Needles: US 8s (straight), US 7s (circular, 24")
Pattern: It's from Mission Falls, Just Kidding: the chullo cap. I quite liked knitting it, that is until I had to weave in 42 ends. And then I had to crochet those durn thingies. And then put those freaking french knots everywhere around them. Besides that, it was a blast to knit. The knitting group at the Richmond Waldorf School is knitting up a bunch to sell at our Fall Bazaar. This one is the smaller size (4-6?). I will knit it in the round the next time.

And I did finish these socks the other day:

Yarn: Fortissima Colori (I lost the ball band, so that's all the information for that!)
Needles: US 2s
Pattern: 2x2 rib, top down, with heel flap -- I extended the ribbing down the heel flap, I'm finding that's more comfortable.

I'm trying to be more like Liz with all the particulars of the knitting -- yarn, pattern, and such. I'm off to pack now ... we leave at 3am so we can battle 95 while the kids are asleep. And then on the way home, I get to see Liz, Mr. Science, Rosebud, and Pepe!!!! Huzzah!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Passing

Let's all have a moment of silence.

You Knit What? is no more.

Thanks, PRK and KnittyKitty for your dedicated bringing of the fugly knits.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Knits for the Home

Some of you might have seen this as an almost-FO on the Summer of Stash site, but here is the pillow-that-used-to-be-a-sweater all finished. This was my Project Spectrum project for July.

Project Specs:
Yarn: Crystal Palace Labrador
Notes: This was an incredibly quick knit, because I deliberately chose the pillow by finding one that matched the size of the back of the sweater that was already knitted. So I ripped both sleeves and cardigan fronts, ripped the armscye shaping out of the back, and knit from there on US11s furiously for about two days. I seamed using a single crochet, and it creates a sort of rustic welt on the side.

Finally, the 5 buttons were sewn on yesterday with the help of my Rosebud.

All in all, a very satisfying knit, mostly because I have finally released a over two-year old UFO and turned it into a thing of comfort and beauty for my soon-to-be-painted guest room, which will soon see my co-blogger, Ann, who is coming next week for a short but sweet visit with the always witty BackBou and her lovely girls.

And the winner of the Hollywood Knits book is Brandy! E-mail me with your snail-mail address so I can get it to you!

A Bit of Knitting Humor

So the BackBou has been listening to me about knitting ... Check out his latest post. Hysterical. He can't knit, but he sure is picking up the attitude ...

Doesn't the Mammoth yarn sound devine? And I wonder about that pattern ...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dreaming of Fall

Last night at 10:30pm it was 85 degrees outside. It's just not cooling off at night and then the heat just builds during the day. Each day gaining more ground on the thermometer. We hit 97 here in the yard yesterday. Today should see 99 or 100. I was out gardening before 7. Trying to keep up with the deadheading, weeding, and watering. That's about all I can do right now until we get some wet and cool weather (when will that be?).

So we're spending much of the day inside or at the pool. (Avoiding the unfinished kitchen -- we're three months into this now and only missing the counter and the sink that goes with it.) I am knitting the stole and socks. I whipped out another baby hat for a little baby girl, Ella. Once again in the cashmerino aran. That stuff is so luxurious ...

Most of what I am doing lately is drooling over the new Interweave Knits Mag. I can't wait to do Fall knitting! (the SoSKAL will be over soon!) The Spartan Pullover is one of the nicest, simplest man-sweaters I've seen in a while. The Lace information is spectacular (I want to be Eunny Jang in my next life). And that Gatsby Girl Pullover is just incredible. The design is elegant, it's sexy without being in your face, and those buttons on the shoulder are wonderful. I want to knit it. But it's not my style -- what's my style? Think Dead shows, garden clothes, grubby, loose-fitting, comfortable ... the Gilda Radner quote: "I base my fashion taste on what doesn't itch."

But I may step out of my box and try this elegant, form-fitting, gorgeous sweater. And then if I don't like wearing it, it will make a fabulous present! I can totally see you wearing this Liz -- it would look stunning on you!