Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And I'm Worth It

Lizzie led me to this:

My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

There is an explanation on how this value was derived, but it involved tables of numbers and I didn't feel like studying it. I'm guessing most of my blog wealth is due to the links to Amazon that I employ on occasion.

Speaking of which, someone actually clicked through an Amazon link on my blog and purchased a book! This earned me a whole $0.79! Yes, that is right, 79 cents. On the one hand, I am very cynical about how blogging is promoted as the next get-rich-quick scheme. On the other, I AM SO EXCITED! THANK YOU, WHOEVER YOU ARE (and you know who you are)!

Now that the bait has been set, I just might add Google Ads. The only problem is you don't have much control over which ads Google decides are appropriate. On one knitting web site, the ads were for needles - not knitting needles, but hypodermic needles. I'm sure some knitters need both, but geesh.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When the Knitting Gets Tough...

.. tough knitters cast on a new project.

Blocking the Falling Leaves shawl gave me permission to start something new. And since I am still flipflopping about Sitcom Chic, I grabbed the Lily Chin yarn I swatched the other day and cast on the Minimalist Cardigan.

Speaking of Lily Chin, did you know you can go on a knitting cruise down the Yangzte River with Lily Chin? How cool is that?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not Your Mother's Crochet

My mother taught me to crochet, but I didn't do much with that knowledge until I was an adult, when I started making afghan after afghan after afghan. This was back in the day of all acrylic, all the time. Occasionally, I would seek out non-afghan crochet projects, maybe even start one or two, but they always looked too much like, well, crochet, either too country or too counterculture to appeal to even my undeveloped fashion sense.

I still tend to reserve crochet for afghans, but recently I discovered filet crochet. I tried my hand at it, using a sport weight yarn. I liked it. I even bought a giant spool of crochet thread and a set of minuscule crochet hooks, girding my loins for a major project of some sort, but again, most of the filet crochet motifs I found looked horribly dated or too cutesy or just plain dull.

Enter the summer, 2008, issue of Interweave Crochet, specifically the Diamond Sage Wrap. Not only is this filet crochet, it's in sock weight yarn that is weighted down with 800 glass seed beads. Sage yarn and gunmetal beads. This wrap is the kind of project I envision to thwart cabin fever when snowbound or on short term disability (too sick to work, but not too sick to crochet). For the first time ever, I purchased a crochet magazine.

OMG. Just as knitting has benefited from the plethora of new yarns, so has crochet. Plus there are new techniques and fresh ideas. Even the standard crochet vest is born again. Wow. Nobody told me. I guess I've been too busy knitting.

While we are on the subject of Interweave, I received an email from them in response to my crabby complaint about my new subscription. They agreed to start my subscription with the Fall issue. Yay! The squeaky wheel got oiled.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Do You Actually Read Knitting Books?

When I buy a knitting book, I zero in on the patterns. Unless I need some help, most of the rest of the book is pretty much ignored.

Why, then, did I decide to actually read Mason-Dixon Knitting?

But I did, and I am enjoying it. Besides being fun and funny, the authors think outside the yarn box. Need some thick yarn? How about stringing together pot holder loops? Or anything that can be cut up into loops, like the legs of jeans, the bodies of t-shirts, or plastic grocery bags? I'm not on the verge of knitting bedspreads or blankets, but maybe a fat bathmat or some place mats are in my future. I can't wait for the next installment.

And, speaking of potholders and place mats, they are just two of the oddball items on the material lists for the bags in Simply Sublime Bags. You don't even need a sewing machine for many of the projects in this book; clear packing tape and a stapler will do in some cases. Or a hot iron, if you are working with fusible plastic.

On a related note, I am a huge fan of the local library. When I find a knitting book that I particularly like or that has a lot of patterns that interest me, I will buy it. My library also carries the Interweave Knits magazine. Between that and the free Interweave patterns available online, I have not been inclined to subscribe. But they recently snared me with previews of the fall issue, plus a five-issues-for-less than-the-price-of-four deal. I subscribed, but in the confirmation email, they said my subscription would start with the SUMMER issue. The SUMMER issue I have already read. So that's their scam - dump extra copies of the current almost-out-of-date issue onto unsuspecting new subscribers who have been seduced by the new issue. I sent them a crabby email, which elicited an automated response, but a Real Live Person is supposed to respond within two business days. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Knitting Orgy

It was too humid to do much outside work today, so I retreated to the living room, listened to David Sedaris on CD, and knit, knit, knit. I worked mostly on the Tropical Treat baby blanket that somehow fell by the wayside, plus the Go with the Flow socks.

I'm actually farther along that this photo indicates; each leg is halfway done.

My Sitcom Chic continues to sit in the time-out chair while I debate continuing or ripping it out and starting over on smaller needles. Periodically, I pull a sleeve over my arm, but I just can't make up my mind which way to go.

But I learned my lesson regarding swatching, at least for sweaters. The Minimalist Cardigan is in the queue, and I even have the yarn recommended in the pattern, but mine is variegated and I wasn't sure how it would look in the moss stitch.

It looks a bit like boucle, which is okay. The sweater is knit in three pieces (back and two fronts) plus the sleeves. Hope the variegated colors work out.

The photo does not show it, but this yarn has a surprising amount of green in it. I thought I was getting more of a periwinkle. That is the problem with purchasing yarn online in a color designated as 127.

Several knitting bloggers are attacking their WIP piles this summer, so I decided to pull one off my stack. This is the Falling Leaves shawl.

The dressing wires are perfect for blocking rectangular shawls. In the process of blocking, I discovered a hole near the center graft. I pinned it before it could get out of hand.

The yarn is a wool-acrylic blend and I wasn't sure whether it would block well.

So far, so good. We'll see how it holds its shape once dry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Officially Done

The Embossed Leaves socks:

Pattern by Mona Schmidt, printed in Favorite Socks
Yarn Cherry Tree Hill supersock solid 'Bark'
Needles size US1

Now I can't wait for some cooler weather so I can wear these.

The Go with the Flow socks are progressing nicely. I'm not the gushy type, but I love-love-love the Cherry Tree Hill 'Burgundy' yarn I am using. The color is ruby red and seems to glisten. Yum! I haven't knit with all the sock yarns available, but CTH is my current fave. And they are having a contest to name their new supersock solid colors. Go here to enter.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pleasant Surprise

Even though there are a few loose ends and they haven't been blocked, I tried on the Embossed Leaves socks.

They fit me! I'm a little shocked because the whole time I was knitting them, I fretted about them being too small. They are a little shorter than I like, but they will definitely do.

After finishing the Embossed Leaves socks, I tried to cast on Go with the Flow socks (also from Favorite Socks) while riding in the car. (Note to self: if you want a smooth ride while crossing New York, take the Thruway, not the Southern Tier.) After several failed attempts, I gave up. Instead, I played around with the log cabin design from Mason-Dixon Knitting, eventually producing this:

I'm not sure what it will become, but I like the colors.

Last night and today I did manage to get Go with the Flow cast on and knit the cuffs. I don't know why, but cuff #2 was nearly impossible to get beyond the third round without a major mishap. I bet I started that sock a dozen times before finally succeeding.

The yarn for both Embossed Leaves and Go with the Flow is Cherry Tree Hill supersock. A while back, I commented that this yarn's colors were kind of ho-hum, but I officially call a take-back on that opinion. The yarn has a shine to it that works wonderfully with fancy stitchery. I'm loving it now.

Which brings up one of my personal vexations: that I cannot see a project in a yarn. Or, if I do see a project in a yarn, my vision has no relationship to reality. The Sitcom Chic sweater falls into this category. Using pima tencel seemed like a good idea but it is not working out very well.

I don't see the possibilities in patterns, either. Many a time I have viewed a pattern and thought, Nope, not for me, only to see the beautiful results someone else produced with just a few modifications. I'm left to wonder, How did they get this from that?

Maybe my eye for yarn and design will improve with experience, but I am also discouraged by how few projects I have been finishing lately. Some of the knitting bloggers I follow crank stuff out left and right. Even though knitting is not a competition, it's hard not to compare their productivity to mine. In my heart of hearts, I want to become an expert knitter (and spinner and dyer), but I think the best I can hope for is above average.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quilt Trip

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, I took a quilting class. This was not a how-to-use-your-Janome quilt class, but a quilt-by-hand quilt class. We learned various and sundry piecing and quilting techniques by making pillow tops. (Guess what everyone on my xmas list received that year.) I ended the class by purchasing enough calico to make a log cabin quilt. It took years, but I finally got the whole thing pieced together into one huge quilt top. And that's as far as I got. It is one of those "someday" projects - someday it will be finished and spread upon my bed.

Because I know how much work goes into handmade quilts, I have a soft spot in my heart for these works of art. So it was the quilts and other handmade items that caught my eye in Robert Frost's farm in Derry, NH.

I will admit up front that I don't know much about quilt block names other than they are frequently poetic (like the names of colorways). Being rather uncreative, I would call this a fan pattern.

This quilt for the baby's crib had little piecework, but lovely stitching.

How stone walls are built is a mystery to me, and so is how crazy quilts are pieced.

I didn't get a chance to quiz the museum guide about the quilts, as he was short-staffed that day. However, he was full of intimate little stories about "Rob" and probably knew a few about the quilts, or at least where these particular ones came from.

Quilting wasn't the only handcraft in evidence at the farm. This doll's outfit appeared to be crocheted.

Life without running water had to have been rough, but the women of the household still found time to add little artful touches to their everyday items.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stitch and Pitch

There's something for everyone at the Cooperstown National Baseball Hall of Fame, even for knitters.

These are warm up sweaters. Too bad they were behind glass; I would have liked to have inspected them more closely.

They look like they were knit with a bulky yarn, mostly just stockinette, with a shawl collar, button band, cuffs, and pockets.

Apparently, they were not standard issue.

And let's not forget the stockings.

Nor should we forget the ladies.

If you have seen "A League of Their Own," these outfits will look familiar.

Even our fair city boasted a team on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), the Fort Wayne Daisies.

Despite all our gallivanting about the country, not much knitting is going on. Now that we are in Massachusetts, part of the problem is any knitting I might accomplish while a passenger in the car is interrupted by having to provide a second pair of eyes for the driver. One bumper sticker said it all: "MASSHOLE"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On the Road Again

It's funny how when one is driving, the pavement feels perfectly smooth, but just try to slip a US1 needle into a yarn-over while riding in the same car on the same road. Every stitch becomes a little challenge. I'm sure my gauge is suffering. Then add a book-on-tape (Last Picture Show, by Larry McMurtry) and I'm left hoping I am following the lace chart correctly. The Embossed Leaves socks look okay, ready for the toes, but I'm afraid to inspect them too closely.

When not on the road, we are being tourists. Crossing the border into Canada made me oddly anxious. We were doing fine until the customs guy asked "Yah cah?" Excuse me? "YAH CAH?" Blank look on my face. "IS THAT YAH CAH?" Oh! Yes! Yes it is. He let us go, as I am obviously too dumb to be a terrorist.

Then came the search for accommodations. I had a coupon for the Radisson but they had no more two-bed rooms.

I tried the Marriott but could not talk them down to an affordable price. We ended up at the Holiday Inn, with this view from our room.

And that was okay, even though we had to watch the fireworks in the reflection of the windows across the way. After all, you get what you pay for.

The next day, the question was how many more pictures could I take of moving water. The answer is somewhere around 100. Don't worry - I'm not going to force you to view them all. Through the magic of photo stitchery, here are about 14 shots, reduced to two panoramic views.

The top of Horseshoe Falls:

The American Falls on the left, Horseshoe Falls on the right:

After a while, I tired of misty photographs. One of the things I enjoy about being a tourist is watching the other tourists. The variety of dress and Babel of languages and accents just add to the fun.

One woman wore a hat that looked crocheted, but I didn't have the nerve to ask for a photo. Nor did I get a chance to snap a pic of the T-shirt that read "I may be fat, but my cock is huge" or the one that advertised It's a wild, wonderful, strange world out there.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Left Behind

Most people knit a swatch, if they knit a swatch at all, before they start a project. Not me. I get over halfway through a sweater, then start having misgivings about the end result. So, yes, I knit a swatch for Sitcom Chic on US7 and US6 needles, to see if I liked a tighter fabric. Then I soaked and blocked said swatch, and look what happened:

The yarn bled a little, but unevenly. This does not spell ruination for the sweater, but it did give me pause. Also, the gauge did not vary much between the three needles sizes I have used, but the fabric is definitely tighter on the smaller ones. Since I could not decide what to do about all this, I decided to do nothing.

So Sitcom Chic did not get to accompany us to Niagara Falls.

We are in Canada today, to see what we can see from across the border. Then on to Cooperstown!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Second Guessing

While working on a project, any project, do you find yourself thinking, "The next time I knit/crochet/cook/weld this, I will change x, y, and z"? And then do you knit/crochet/cook/weld it again and make those changes? I almost always do the former, but rarely the latter.

The Embossed Leaves socks are coming out smaller than I expected, so I tell myself, Next time I will go up a needle size.

The Sitcom Chic sweater is going to be a bit larger than planned and I don't really like how the yarn is knitting up on US8 needles, so I tell myself, Next time I will drop a needle size.

(This is the Sitcom Chic on top of the red-red-red sweater I knit last winter. They are knit in a similar manner, and I wanted to see how the sizes compare and whether I need to make the sleeves longer. I really like red. Can you tell?)

I know the last time I made the One Skein Baby Sweater, I thought to myself, Next time I will knit both sleeves at the same time. And I did.

This is the third Lion Brand baby blanket, and for once I am following the pattern.

These are the projects I plan to take on vacation. The socks are going because they are in the homestretch and are relatively portable, as long as I don't accidentally pull the needles out. The blanket is my Big But Brainless project. The Sitcom Chic will soon be off those awful INOX US8 DPNs, and I'm looking forward to that. The baby sweater? I doubt I will work on it, but it is close to completion and maybe, just maybe, I'll be done with everything else and need something to do.