Sunday, March 19, 2006

The time of little knitting and Thank you Brooke!

After a furiously productive 6 months of knitting, I am suddenly knitting a row or two a day, if that. I am drawing again, though, so my creative energies are being spread around now instead of all going into knitting. I feel more balanced, though sometimes I miss the quietness that knitting brings. Right now I have lovely merino wool socks on my feet, keeping me warm (because, yeah, they *say* tomorrow is the first day of spring, but "they" haven't been to Michigan now, have they?). There's snow outside, and sunshine, but it's like 25 degrees. When we build a house, I'm insisting upon a sunroom with lots and lots of windows facing the south.

In this time of little knitting comes the most luscious silk/wool blend in caribbean colors, sent to me by my secret pal (7), Brooke. Thank you! I love the little felted purse (and am glad you tackled the zipper!) and the goodies inside. Those are some tiny knitting needles!!! (6" long size 1 dpns!) I suppose I shall have to sit down and do the tiny sock yarn thing, since I have quite a bit of it and now I have the needles I was missing. (I do so love dpns in wood/bamboo - they just feel soooo nice in the hands). The chocolate bunny came during PMS - he didn't make it long once the box was opened. :)

I'll be going Florida in a couple weeks and staying there for a couple months (yay for escaping the winter!!!). I believe the Chelsea yarn will come with me to become Florida socks. I'm so glad you let it come to me. I keep fondling it in a most unseemly fashion. It should make some most lovely socks indeed, and should be nice to knit in the warmth. I shall also be taking some cottons along, and probably the Cotton Ease I bought up when it was discontinued and put on sale at Joann's, back when I had a good Joann's. The one in Cadillac blows. Anyway, Florida bound, non-wooly knitting is a must. Looking forward to our little adventure. It will include some sailing, cutting up a boat with a Sawzall, sewing cushions for a boat, lots of sanding, but also some relaxation and quiet times of reflection, and living in a short bus with my sweetie, two cats, a hyper border collie and a cockatiel. It should be an interesting time indeed.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Note to Secret Pal

As far as what I'd like - I love the possibilities of a new yarn. But I also don't have anyone around me who knits, so if I want knits, I have to make them. It would be rather exciting to receive something already made. And in Michigan, it will be utilized! Alpaca is my personal love, but wool is good too. I have discovered that acrylic just isn't warm enough for outdoors here. It's fine for California and Washington (where I lived before here) but here it just doesn't warm like the fuzzy creature stuff does.

That said, I leave it to you. :)

The secret pal begins!

Good stuff in the mails. A new knitting magazine - no, hadn't even seen that one before, so completely new to me. I'm still trying to figure out why it has crochet patterns in there, though. And why the things I like best are crocheted...

A very cool bag that had lovely notecards in it. The cards were promptly removed and my knitting widgets moved from one bag to the new one. The new one is a see through mesh like bag, so I can see my things in it, instead of digging around blindly. It is, indeed, a fine bag for knitting widgets. Love the cards, too! And I adore stitch markers. Just love them.

Thank you, SP7!

In other knitting news, I have been busily knitting away, just not writing about it, as I should. In January, I knit the following:

The Cheshire Kitty hat, which was a gift.

A Spacious Show n Tell Moebius bag from Second Treasury of Magical Knitting by Cat Bohdri. I knit it in Knitpicks Merino Style, which felted MUCH better than I expected it to (but what a joy to knit with - soft and springy yarn). The bag itself isn't so spacious due to the aggressive felting, and the strap was much too short. After doing some math, I figured out how much more strap to knit and did so, then cut the ends and sewed it all together. I love the bag, but don't consider it giftworthy. So I am keeping it. Tuesday I got some Paton's Classic Wool, another merino, to make another bag, as I still want to give it as a gift. I love the strap on the bag, and how it sits so comfortably on my shoulder. It holds my wallet, phone and iPod perfectly, with room for some knitting, so it's a good size for me.

A black kitty hat for ME

Finished Coronet from I had knit the cabled band in November, I think, but didn't have a set of either #8 DPNs (took care of that Tuesday with a visit to an actual Yarn Store - oh the joy!) nor a 16" circular #8. That got taken care of with Christmas and the acquisition of my Denise interchangeables. I love those needles. I love the hat, too, which I knit in Manos in a blend of browns. Also for me, as wool hats are a necessity here.

2 squares of the afghan I began quite some time ago. Only 20 more to knit. Sigh. This is for David, for the truck.

2 pairs of Lace Up Armwarmers from Alterknit. My last secret pal gifted me with this amazingly lush Artfibers yarn called Kantuta, which is 100% baby alpaca. I had just enough to make both pair of armwarmers. The lacing was to be a bias cut silk ribbon, but at $3 a yard, I chose another route. I found a silky scarf (may be silk, may be polyester - not sure) at the Salvation Army for 50 cents. The colors match perfectly and it has an interesting dotted center with a paisley like border. Cut on the bias, it made lovely ribbon. I tried a regular satiny ribbon, but it was too stiff. It does need the bias cut silkiness to hang correctly. These are very warm and soft, and I love them. I kept one pair and gifted the other.

A pair of thrummed mittens. I was gifted at Christmas with some Cascade 220 in a deep bluish red that matches my winter coat very well. I used alpaca roving for the thrums, making these the warmest ever mittens. I couldn't conceive of wearing such mittens in California, or even in Washington. But here in Michigan, they are PERFECT. After I finished, I still had a bit of yarn so I made a small felted bag to keep my iPod in, along with the FM transmitter I have for it. Both of these are for me. I did so much knitting for others at Christmas, I feel it's my turn. But I am nearing a knitting saturation point.

I also started the Tri-angle Aran wrap from I finished one repeat of the seven required. There are a couple errors I've made (I'm having problems with the purl to knit yarnover, so one side isn't always getting an eyelet) but I don't feel like frogging it for that. It's mainly to wrap around me at home, so I think I'll live with errors at the bottom. It's turning out quite lovely in spite of that - I like cables!

That's it for my knitting creations for January. I will, once I get them uploaded, add some pictures...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Kitty hats!

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This is the gift kitty hat - I call it the Cheshire Cat Kitty Hat - as modeled by the lovely Phoebe, who is very patient. It's going to be mailed soon - should prolly just do it today. I made one for me (finished yesterday) from the same yarn, different color (but no picture). Mine's black with grey and white wisps. The yarn is Angel Hair from Joann Fabrics. 20% wool, 80% acrylic. It's amazingly soft, rather lofty and light. Also quite warm. It knits up to gauge for the kitty hat, which is the important thing, and looks very cute.

Started the strap extension for the Very Well Felted project. Sat down and did maths for it and everything, to make sure it would be long enough. Am figuring out the maths so that when I make this for ME, I won't have to cut and graft the strap. grr.

Haven't been working on the arm warmers. Probably because we actually have some decent enough weather. 15 degrees above normal, which is still about 10 degrees below what I'm used to in Washington. Strangely, I don't miss Washington all that much. Probably because of everything I have here. It's good here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Secret Pal 7 Questionnaire

Because I love the whole Secret Pal thing, here we go again...

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

I am something of a yarn snob, but I don't avoid any yarns...unless they're really squeaky acrylic. Oh, and that free ball of Disco yarn was just icky icky icky to knit with but it did make a very cute hedgehog...I do prefer natural fibers. Cotton in blends preferred. Love silk blends, alpaca, wools.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

One of my goals this year is to learn my spinning wheel. I do not crochet. I have tried. We do not get along, crochet hooks and I.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a few needle rolls and am making a holder for my circs now.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Been knitting for a few years now (actively). I would consider myself high intermediate. Not quite advanced, but figure I may be by the end of the year if I do the things I plan on this year.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I do have an Amazon wishlist and one at Knitpicks.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

I love the smell of cinnamon, linden, citrus (especially lime and grapefruit). EXTREME CAVEAT - I am allergic to artifical scents/perfumes. My neck swells up and they make me dopey and sick. So, while I love these scents, they must be in their natural forms. No artifical scents, please.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I have a huge sweet tooth. However, I once again gave up sugar and do not eat candy, as much as I want to.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

Sheesh, what don't I do. Oh, crochet. What I do: draw, paint, soft sculpture, leatherwork, photography, rubber stamping, sewing, woodworking (to a small extent), etc etc. I don't do many other needlework things, though I have tried them. They were too slow for me at the time, so I gave them up.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I literally love all music. Some extremes (like gangsta rap or really really heavy metal which sounds like screaming and tortured guitars) I don't like so much, but I have a very eclectic collection reaching from Hispanic to opera to thrash metal to classical to celtic to cajun to pop and rock etc. I'm always looking for something new so if you have some obscure little thing you love, I'd love to hear it. My computer and walkman both play MP3s, and I have an iPod now.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

blue/green/purple and orange. I also love rich warm browns. Prefer darker colors to the pale and rich colors to pastel. Being an artist, there isn't a color I don't like, I don't think.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I live with my amazingly wonderful sweetie, two lovely cats, a cockatiel and the amazing wonderdog, Phoebe (acquired in October last).

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

yes, yes, YES! (it's cold in Michigan!) and no...prefer shawls, though I do have a hooded capelet I made.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Alpaca, hands down. Although I did love working with the merino from Knitpicks. Almost as much as alpaca.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

The really squeaky acrylics like Disco. Funfur wasn't bad, but the Disco drove me nuts! (and I still have half a ball...eep)

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Moebius stuff. And I really really want to try lace next with laceweight yarn.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

bags. hats. toys.

17. What are you knitting right now?

the spacious show and tell bag from The Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. A kittyville hat for ME at last. A pair of armwarmers from Alterknit (in luscious alpaca!). I am also STILL on the sleeves of Sonnet. Why won't I finish this???

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Love love love them.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

Depends. I just got a Denise Circular set for Cmas. I'm learning to like them, but I also like DPNs. I guess I don't really have a preference per se - depends on what's needed.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

bamboo or wood preferably. I should've maybe gotten an interchangeable bamboo set, but I forgot they were out there when I requested the Denises.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

No, sadly. I have great need of them, though. :)

22. How did you learn to knit?

Taught myself from a Teach Yourself to Knit book and subsequently perfected things from other books. Learned to purl from a 1912 Book of Knowledge for children. For whatever reason, other books failed me til I saw that.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

Working on a year now. Damn you Sonnet!

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

Love all birds (big birder here) and animals.

25. What is your favorite holiday?

I'd have to say Christmas, though when I ate candy, it was Easter.

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Penguins, I guess. Not much else other than yarn and art supplies.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I just signed up for IK Knits.

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

The pattern for the Peacock Shawl from Fiddlesticks. I haven't seen Sally Melville's 3rd book yet (the one on color) and want to because colorwork is a goal this year.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Colorwork - intarsia and Fair Isle.
Intricate lace - I made Branching Out this year and enjoyed it. I have the fixings to make the Pacific Northwest Shawl and plan to this year.
Machine knitting - got a machine for Cmas.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes, I knit socks. Measurements will follow (they're in an older post (SP6) and I don't have any measuring device handy at the moment...)

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

May 6.

too busy knitting

To come blog about it. And no pictures because either a: forgot to take them before gifting the item or b: it's a gift not given yet (just took pictures of those).

I knit a lot last year. Freaky lot more than I thought! Sat down to write things down as best I could remember. Then promptly started a paper journal where I am keeping track of when I started, what yarn I'm using, when I finished.

Yesterday I discovered that Knitpicks Merino Style felts beautifully. And too well. The sekrit project I am working on now has to be has a strap that's supposed to be about a foot longer on each side than it currently is. As I still have a skein of yarn, I will knit and felt said strap amount, then cut and graft the ends together. For some reason, this bothers me not in the least.

So, I will be endeavoring to keep this a leetle more up to date...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Thank you, not so Secret Pal Gary!

What fun this secret pal experience has been! Today brought a box with a knitting calendar (a pattern a day! joy!), some Cmas crackers from Britain, amazing salad servers from Tanzania - a thing I really needed but did not have! It's really fun to get things from someone else's travels. Gary, you were/are a wonderful pal. I thank you! (and have gone off to sign up for SP7 because this was so much fun)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas knitting

Because I am yarn rich and cash poor at the moment, I am knitting most everyone on my list something. I still have 4 1/2 presents to go. And I'd like to be done by next weekend so I can mail everything. I'm pretty sure I can do it, assuming I sit and do it and not wander off to play on the internet for an extended time or just sit idly watching TV. Generally I knit while watching, so no problem there. Most of the gifts are 6-8 hour knits, based on my speed.

Last year my skills were still newer. This year I have cabled and done lace and some larger projects. I know I knit well. So, Christmas knitting.

Next year I'm starting much earlier though!

Pictures to follow after Christmas, since some who are being gifted may read here...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I have the best secret pal!

I received some amazing yarn from my secret pal recently. Some was so intriguing I simply had to make something, and so I did!

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This is one of the pair of spiral rib wrist warmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The yarn is Naturally Merino and Fur, which is an amazing blend of 70% merino, 30% possum. Now, don't be thinking big ratlike virginia possums here. These are Australian possums, and if this yarn is any indication, they're fuzzy soft creatures. I adore this wool! So now, since I still have a bit over a skein left, and I love the way the spiral rib looks, I'm thinking of a matching hat.

Oh, and this wasn't all! I also got three balls (around 300 yards) of a variegated purples 100% *baby* alpaca from Artfibers, which is one of my favorite places to stop and drool. I'm trying to decide what to make with that cushy soft yarn now. A new clapotis - the one I made already is nice, but will probably be gifted to someone for Christmas. It's too...pale for me, I guess. I love the darker colors. I have some lovely blue yarn (the stuff I made the catbed from) that would also make a lovely clapotis. I want to make it bigger, though, and I think I only have enough yarn for the smaller one...

Anyway, THANK YOU to my wonderful globetrotting secret pal - I do envy your travels!

And in private non-knitting life, we got a dog! Phoebe is a border collie rescued from the shelter. She's the best, most amazing dog I've ever known. She makes my days alone ever so much easier.