Monday, November 27, 2006

No more-ah angora



The angora scarf is finished! Of course, as soon as I decided to whine about knitting and knitting and knitting... all of a sudden it flew off the needles! I finished it the very evening after my I posted my rant. If this whining somehow increases my knitting speed, maybe I should whine about every project! (But, you know - in cute Lucille Ball kind of way? "Waah! Ricky! This scarf won't EVER get done!")

I'm finding it increasingly frustrating not being able to blog about my x-mas knitting. Are others experiencing this problem? I just can't risk the wrong (or would that be right?) person seeing what I'm up to. After all, they're supposed to think Santa knit it for them, right? On the upside, I'll have oodles of blogging material in January! Smiling friends and family members holding their perfect, beautiful, hand-knit goodies ... at least, they had better be smiling (and perfect and beautiful)!

The only "bloggable" project on the needles right now is my cashmere sweater. Unfortunately, I haven't spent a lot of time on it:



Fascinating, isn't it? I'm sure you're all very impressed with my wee stripe of orange fluff. I guess this just means I'll have to cast on something else... you know, for the sake of the blog!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

K.U.I. : Knitting under the influence

I suppose I should know by now that when knitting something even remotely complex, one should not a) engage in stimulating conversation or b) imbibe alcoholic beverages. This knowledge somehow escaped memory when I packed a nice shiraz and a lace scarf in my knitting kit to bring to last night's S'n'B.




I am growing weary of constantly knitting/unknitting/knitting this thing. I feel like I'm on a some sort of horrific knitting treadmill: I run and I run, but alas, am still in the same place. It reminds me of this:



Thank goodness I took this picture on the weekend which documents my progress:

(New Interweave - Yay!)


It has indeed grown since Saturday. I would not have believed it without the proof .

My Clapotis would probably still be on the needles if I hadn't given myself a deadline, so perhaps it's time to give myself a little incentive:

I shalt not casteth on a new knitting project until this scarf is complete..eth.

Hmm...Why do I get the sense this will be a short scarf?

Monday, November 20, 2006

The devil wears 3-ply cashmere

They say neccessity is the mother of invention. Allow me to introduce you to my magical mystery un-plying machine:



You can build your own! All you'll need is:

- one microphone stand
- one long cardboard tube
- one able-bodied set of hands
- the patience of a saint

Allow me to explain the need for such a contraption:
I recently got a great deal on some cashmere yarn at School Products. I had been looking for a yarn to substitute for the mohair used in this pattern from Vogue (Fall 2006):



I love the look of mohair, but considering my skin is so sensitive even band-aids give me a rash - the thought of an itchy mohair sweater was far from appealing. While in the yarn store, I casually asked if they had a yarn that looked like mohair, but wasn't mohair (much to the amusement of the staff - I think they thought I was trying to tell a riddle). They steered me to a big 'ole ball of fuzzy stuff that indeed looked like mohair, but ooh! Wait! It was brushed cashmere! Bulk, discounted cashmere. Check and mate!

I had originally thought to knit the sweater in a totally different colour. (Orange? I can't wear orange! Red-heads don't DO orange!) But the model was rocking the orange and she was red-headed and pasty just like me. (Please refrain from reminding me that she is a Vogue model, and therefore capable of pulling off just about anything). So orange it is. Besides, I've decided it's not actually orange per se. It's rust. Copper. Ummm...yam.

I just had one problem. Though the yarn was a perfect weight to substitute for mohair, the store had wound it triple to sell as a worsted weight. I guess they thought no one would want something so fine and fuzzy . (They obviously had not taken into account me and my needs). I had three options: 1) Leave the discount cashmere at the store (Yeah, right!) 2) Buy 3 times the yarn and fiddle with the guage, (Not only would that involve one of my least favourite pastimes; solving mathematical equations, but this was the only ball the store hand) or 3) Separate the plys.

I did a little research and asked some opinions. The general concensus? I was bat-shit crazy to consider un-plying over 400 yards of yarn! Not only that, but there didn't seem to be any easy way to do it other than getting 3 pairs of hands winding away at the same time. Sarah kindly offered to help me unwind it at our S 'n' B, but I conveniently forgot to bring it with me. (Sure, I could have waited until the next one, but enh? That would have been sensible!) I only live with one other person, and the last time he tried to "help" me with something yarn related it ended in near disaster (I secretly think he sabotaged the operation to avoid becoming my human ball-winder). I was short a set of hands and though the cats expressed interest, eight paws does not a hand make.

Thus, the birth of my 'un-plying' machine. It was awkward, temperamental, and slow, but now I have this:



1411 yards of Italian Cashmere. For $27.36. Wheee!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dear Santa:The Knitlist

Ah, the holidays! The month of December never fails to whiz by in a frantic blur of booze, sweets and retail madness. For a knitter ( or ''passionitter', yes, I'm coining a term) it can mean one of two things: a time to find oneself entangled in a sea of overly-ambtitious gift-knitting insanity, OR a time to compile a comprehensive wish list of knitting stuffs to pass on to those unfamiliar with the knitting lexicon.

I am attempting to find the delicate balance between the two.

I have begun my Christmas knitting (or 'non-denominational winter holiday' whatever floats your boat). I'm attempting to be smart about it. I have a 'priority' list, and a 'bench' or 'second-string' list. The priority list consists of people that will EXPECT knitted gifts from me this year. These are the people who will appreciate whatever mis-shapen, hap-hazzard, lumpy masses of yarn I may take to gift wrap and place under a tree. These are the poor non-knitting souls who have to sit through blab after blab about knitting. You know who you are. It's okay dearies - you will benefit in the end, I promise. I may have gifted you with knit-goods in the past, but hold on to your hats folks - I'm a much better knitter this year!

The 'second string' list consists of those 'if I have the time' people. Do not confuse them with second class citizens - I love them just the same, but I have done my research. I understand that you cannot just knit for anyone and expect kudos. There are many delusional souls out there who cannot fully understand the socio-economic importance of a knitted gift! These people are on my gift list, but not on my knit list. These wooly items are not obligatory. These items can be easily substituted with Blockbuster gift cards or pre-made gift-baskets from the Body Shop (or "last-minute-thoughtless-gift-emporium" according to Todd Barry). The people on this list will be just as happy receiving hemp hand lotion as they would a hand knit scarf. I could go on and on about my feelings toward gift giving and thoughtfulness and the commercial ridiculousness of the holiday season... but I won't. I'll cut to the 'meat and potatoes: ie: what to buy ME!


Miss Muffy's Shameless "buy-me-this-and-I-will-build-a-temple-in-your-honour" List:



NEEDLES:

- DENISE INTERCHANGEABLE knitting needle set (the special pink set for Breast Cancer would be awesome!)



I need to upgrade the sticks. For the record , all of my knitting needles are either A) ancient duplicates my mother has given me or B) thrift store finds. My needles have serviced me adequately thus far, but alas, I am no longer satisfied with just 'adequate'. I have champagne taste, what can I say?
Good alternatives to the set: Knitpics Options, Addi Turbos (the only size I have is 6mm any other size would be lovely), Lantern Moon needles

GADGETS:

- A ball winder!



Winding yarn by hand is for suckers.

BOOKS:

- A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker (Schoolhouse Press, June 1998)
- VOGUE knitting or INTERWEAVE Knits magazine subsciptions



These would keep me busy/happy for months. Seriously.

YARN:

If it's a natural fibre, I'll probably like it: wool, alpaca, cashmere, angora, mohair, silk, soy, cotton, hemp... the list goes on.
Colours I like: Anything that would be considered a 'jewel-tone' : cranberry, deep teal, olive, emerald, raisin, deep purple...and I always love natural 'oatmeal' type shades, as well as grey, brown and black

WHERE TO GET THE GOODS:

I prefer supporting local yarn shops over ordering from the internet, but that isn't always possible. The bonus for you, gift giver, when shopping at a local yarn store, is personal service. If you walk into a store with a list and a bewildered look on your face, a friendly knowledgeable staff person will be there to hold your hand and guide you through the colourful mountains of yarn and pointy sticks. Be not afraid.

- LETTUCE KNIT
- ROMNI WOOLS
- KNITPICKS



So what are you waiting for? Go play Santa!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

New York, New Yarn

Last Friday I boarded a (tiny) plane to New York city to attend my 3rd anual WFMU record fair. (Yes dearies, I do obsess about other things other than knitting - my record collection outweighs my yarn stash...for now.) WFMU is a fantastic freeform radio station in New Jersey. Check the link on my sidebar to access their site where you can stream a live feed, or (even better!) peruse their extensive archives. There really is a show for every musical taste, several of which are podcast - great to knit by! But I digress...

When I wasn't nerding out at the record fair or dragging the bf to clothing stores, I went in search of yarn. Amy gave me some great tips! The first place she recommended was Kinokuniya, a huge Japanese book store. Now, they don't sell yarn, but they do carry a large selection of Japanese craft books. COOL! I picked up a great knitting magazine, as well as a little book with patterns for adorable crocheted toys:





I am SO making one of those little stuffed dogs! They're so sweet just looking at them gives me cavities! Of course this will require wading through the Japanese instructions, but they're mainly diagram-based so I shouldn't have too much trouble. ( In a pinch, I know a girl who could translate for me. I'll bribe her with cutesy crocheted toys!)

After Kinokuniya, I headed to School Products. I was told if I only had time to visit one yarn shop, this was the one to hit. Unfortunately, I hit it on Sunday. It was closed. Boo! What a let down! Later that day I found myself in Soho, and decided to ease the pain a bit at Purl:



Too bad the photo says 'hurry up and take my picture' instead of 'thank god I found yarn'. (It does however prove I finished my Clapotis in time to wear in NY). Purl is a great little store which I'm convinced is the Manhattan equivalent of Lettuce Knit. They had a small, but beautiful selection of yarn, great service and a really nice welcoming atmosphere. I was doomed - I was not leaving empty-handed. Here's the haul:



The top skeins are Farmhouse Yarns Andy's Merino in a fabulous ultra-deep burgundy colour called 'Boysenberry'. (Bonus: When I inevitably spill wine on it, none will be the wiser!) I Luv-Luv-Luv the picture of the sheep the wool came from on the label; thanks for the fleece, Andy! The fluffy white stuff is Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri (67% baby suri/22%merino/11%bamboo). Mmm...fluffy. Me thinks she will become a jaunty beret! The last is a skein of Koigu KPPPM. I know, I know! It's Canadian yarn! But now it's special Canadian yarn because I brought it back home, right? ( If you don't buy that excuse I've got a whole string of ways to justify it, so just shush!)

Monday I finally made it to School Products. Believe it or not, I actually had to be pursuaded by my (fabulous, patient) bf to make the second trip. (I didn't want to drag him to any more stores he had no interest in - let alone drag him to the same place twice!) That being said, he didn't exactly have to twist my arm:



Spools of Italian cashmere confuse me:


I had never bought yarn by the pound before. It required mathematics:


Perhaps my haul here isn't as schmancy as what I got from Purl, but hey - it wasn't from lack of choice. Besides, I got deals!



The top is 5 skeins are a very soft 'mystery' black yarn I found in a bargain bin. I was told it is 90% wool 10% acrylic. (I know I've recently professed 'snootyness' toward acrylic, but 10%? C'mon! I'm not that much of an elitist!) The colourful skein in the middle is hand-dyed 20% cashmere/30% silk/50% merino. Yeah, I know. Can you say luxurious? I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but it will certainly class up the stash until I figure it out. The fuzzy stuff at the lower left is my best deal: just over 1/3 of a lb of brushed cashmere. (It's actually a nice rust colour, I'm not sure what's up with the photo). It should be enough to knit a sweater with once I separate the plys - but that's a whole other story. All told, School Products was a great store. They had lots of deals and the place was dripping with cashmere. What more do you want?

Whew! Well, that's New York in three stores! I owe the bf big time for being so patient and understanding (I must remember this every time I'm forced to sit through an episode of 'Cops'). Also, big thanks to Amy for pointing me in the right direction. (Navigating my way to a closed store: entirely my fault)

Happy Knitting!
luv;
Miss.Muffy

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Herbal tea, Clapotis

I'm back! After a whirlwind long weekend in NYC and company upon return, I'm finally free to catch up in blogland. So much to report... I'll start with a victory. Ladies and gentlemen, Clapotis...tout finit:



I love the way it fall into all sorts of nice shapes and waves:



I finished it at midnight the night before I left. Whew! Deadline met! I only ended up using just over 3 balls of Rowan Tapestry. Nice! I bought 5, with the intention of making a smaller Clapotis, and now I'm thinking I may have had enough yarn to make it full size. Darn! Oh well, the extra yarn has been exchanged for my first pair of Addi Turbo Circulars (LUV them). If I knit another Clapotis someday, I'll use the tip Laura gave me: Note how much yarn you use in the increase rows of the pattern, then knit the straight rows until you have just that amount of yarn left. You'll have just enough yarn to finish the decrease rows with no leftovers. Genius! Why didn't I think of that?

I have a lot to share about my adventures in Manhattan (not to mention musings on the giant list of Christmas knitting looming overhead), so I'll break it up for future posts. I promise they will be more frequent!

Happy knitting, and beware of the beastie-germies! (the cold I believed I had fought off last week came back with avengeance yesterday!) I'm off to consume copious amounts of herbal tea, and park myself in front of the tv with (copious) amounts of knitting. Hello Oprah, good-bye germies!

toodles;
Miss.Muffy

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh dear

With my Clapotis deadline looming like a dark cloud overhead, I'm beginning to fear the worst. Not only might I miss the deadline, but I might be coming down with a cold. Aghhh! The whole purpose of the deadline was to wear my beautiful new Clapotis during my mini-vacation in NYC this upcoming weekend. Now, not only is the probability of wearing said scarf rapidly diminishing, I may have to traipse around Manhattan with the sniffles! Last night I had the following early warning signs:

1) uncontrollable sneezing combined with nose running like racehorse
2) Strong urge to take long bath (keeping in mind I only take baths when a: under the weather or b: a shower is unavailable)
3) No desire for second glass of wine (those that know me well understand this is a serious indicator that something is amiss)
4) No desire to knit (!!!)

I loathe being sick. As appealing as it may be to stay home from work, wear pajamas all day and watch Oprah, I would rather have my health. Illness is a waste of my time. So... I fought back. I pushed away the wine glass, put down the knitting and got in the bath. Echinacea and vitamin C was chased with water by the gallon. Bedtime was early.

This morning I awoke late, but... okay. Superstition prevents me from saying I've won the battle, but at the very least, I believe I'll get some knitting done tonight. I've just completed the first round of decreases on Clapotis. I have one full evening of knitting before I leave. The heat is on!