Thursday, December 30, 2010

Icelandic love

Omigod, it's here! Apparently it had quite a journey. I got the shipping notification Monday and I checked on USPS's website yesterday to see if it was on the truck for delivery. It usually takes 2 days for packages from Blue Moon Fiber Arts to get to me. To my horror, I saw that it had a status of "Missent." It had been sent to the post office in KIRKLAND, WA instead of Maple Valley! Noooooooooo! I was so pissed. Thankfully Kirkland is only 30 miles away, so I figured it would arrive today, and after I stalked the mailbox all morning, it did.



Sigh... Swoon! Blue Moon Fiber Arts Icelandic in the "Quinault Canopy" colorway. It's gorgeous! It's perfect, it's exactly what I wanted, and I can't wait to wind it later and swatch for the Wavy Lace Capelet. I hope to crank it out this weekend, since it's such a chunky knit. I am dying to knit it and dying to wear it.

The yarn inside was thankfully perfect, but the envelope that it came to me in... hoooweee. It looked like it had been kicked down a hill. I had a moment of concern for my beloved yarn when I saw this envelope:





Holy crap, right? It's the color of baby poop but has no smell. My last shipment from Blue Moon Fiber Arts looked like this as well. Gorgeous, perfect yarn inside a jacked up envelope. I wonder... did someone knock a bottle of (unfortunately brown) dye over onto a stack of these envelopes? Are they being plopped on a dye-stained table before they go out? Does our mail lady hate me, and she's kicking my most precious shipments down a hill before delivering them to me?

Ah, well. Either way, the yarn inside both times has been perfect, so who cares if the shipping materials look like hell for whatever mysterious reason?

I'll undoubtedly blog some more this weekend about the Wavy Lace Capelet, that is, if I can stop knitting it long enough to blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Old friends

Well, by some sort of postal miracle, my Dad's hat and sister's mittens were delivered to them yesterday... on Christmas day! The lady at the post office told me they'd arrive Monday and I was happy enough with that. But lo and behold, they arrived yesterday. They were received as well as a knitter could hope for... Dad loves his hat and my sister loves her mittens. Hooray!

One of my New Year's resolutions (yes, the list continues to grow) is to clean up our third bedroom, which is currently the computer room, and make it look like a room where people live. We bought this house about 15 months ago, and that third bedroom is the final frontier. It's where the last boxes are to be unpacked, it's a hodgepodge of furniture that didn't really fit anywhere else when we moved in, that chaotic time when I was 7 months pregnant with my second child and still worked full-time. In cleaning it out, I unpacked a box that I thought contained my first two hand-knit sweaters, but they weren't there! A bug thoroughly up my butt to find them, I went out to the garage and went spelunking in a box labeled "master bedroom closet." About halfway down, there they were! Behold, my first hand-knit sweater, about my 4th or 5th finished object ever, made about 6 years ago:



Jeebus. I'd ask, "What the hell was I thinking?" but I know what I was thinking. I was a brand new knitter who didn't know any better. I didn't know that a shell knitted out of THREE STRANDS of worsted weight mercerized cotton held together in three bright shades of pink would look horrifying when actually worn by anyone, particularly someone as busty as me.

It fits, but it's never been worn for obvious reasons. I tried it on today and had a good laugh. I have been looking for this thing, because I have about 3/4 of a ball of each color left and I wanted to find and frog this monstrosity so I could put the yarn to a much better use: a crocheted tablecloth. This yarn, the timeless Tahki Cotton Classic, will make a very pretty tablecloth, and surely I'll blog about it when I get around to it. It would probably make a nice sweater, too, if not held triple-stranded and if not in three such loud colors all together at once.

Along with it was another sweater I'd been looking for, the second sweater I ever made, knitted about 6 years ago as well. This one was more successful, and given that I'd only been knitting for about 5 months when I made it, I'm rather impressed with myself.



I wore it for a while today, and it was like being reunited with an old friend. It's knit in Brown Sheep Company Lamb's Pride Worsted one of my hands-down all-time favorite yarns. It's so warm and cozy, and I love the color, Kiwi.

This sweater taught me many things as well: that I adore Lamb's Pride Worsted, that I hate drop-shoulders and they are NOT flattering on a broad-shouldered, busty woman such as myself, and that I hate seaming. Nonetheless, this sweater is among my favorites and I'm so happy to be reunited with it, especially in December, with several months of cold weather ahead.

Both patterns are from Hip To Knit, a book full of good patterns for someone who has just learned to knit. It was my first pattern book after Stitch n' Bitch, the book that taught me how to knit.

Finding these sweaters has been a really nice trip down memory lane. It's nice to have liberated them after they spent over a year in a box in the garage to find good uses: one as a cuddly, warm, much-loved sweater and one as a second incarnation as a tablecloth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lemongrass

It's here, it's breathtakingly beautiful, and it's exactly, EXACTLY what I wanted for my shawl design.



It's going to be gorgeous, and I know I'll feel like I can hardly take credit for it, since the yarn will be doing most of the work.

As soon as my husband gets home and can distract my three-year-old, I'm going to get out the swift and ballwinder and wind it into two beautiful balls (giggity!). Then, let the swatching begin.

Receiving this yarn today has prompted me to add another New Year's resolution to my growing list of resolutions (lose 10 more pounds, keep the breakfast bar from being the family dumping ground, etc.). I have 5 or 6 hanks of Socks That Rock aside from this, waiting to be turned into luscious, gorgeous socks. That is an embarrassment of riches. As I mentioned, I belonged to the Rockin' Sock Club in 2009, when I still worked full-time at a very demanding job, already had one kid, was pregnant with my second and we were looking for months for the house that we have now. It was a crazy year, and I only got one pair of socks knit of the 6 sock yarns and patterns that I got in the Rockin' Sock Club. I already had one other hank of STR Mediumweight waiting in the wings before starting the Rockin' Sock Club. So yeah, that's a lot of sock yarn (and I have about 4 pairs worth of KnitPicks sock yarn aside from that... quite a backlog!).

These lovely hanks of yarn need to be liberated from the drawer, made into socks, and put on my feet. Seeing this obscene backlog, I now know that I'm not joining the Rockin' Sock Club this year, but instead will do what YarnHarlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee did this year and have a self-imposed sock-of-the-month club until all that sock yarn is socks. Then I'll be all ready for 2011's Rockin' Sock Club.

It's a plan.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday knitting done and blocking!

And it's only the 22nd. Dad's hat and sister's mittens are soaking in the sink, to be blocked and dried tonight and shipped out tomorrow. They'll arrive a day or two after Xmas, but who cares?! That's close enough for me. It's such a relief to have them done. I have been knitting like a madwoman (even more than usual) to make it happen.

Now back to my regularly scheduled knitting, crocheting and designing. I'm working on the crocheted shawl and tomorrow, once my two gorgeous hanks of Socks That Rock Mediumweight in Lemongrass arrive, I'll begin my knit shawl design. Ahhh, I can't wait to dive in!

Aside from my own designs, there's more knitting planned. My parents sent me some money for the holidays, and I ordered two hanks of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Icelandic in the stunning, breathtaking colorway "Quinault Canopy." Quinault as in Washington. A gorgeous colorway, and it has a Washington tie... gotta love that! It's to make this unbelievably gorgeous Wavy Lace Capelet from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2010. I think Quinault Canopy is subtle enough to work with this chunky lace pattern. I can't wait to knit it and most of all wear it!

I'm a huge fan of Blue Moon Fiber Arts and have done the Rockin' Sock Club before. I did it in 2009, but couldn't justify the cost this year and I knew I'd never be able to keep up with it with a newborn and a toddler. I might join in next year, now that I have a tad more time, I'm not sure yet.

Aside from being a source of gorgeous, brilliantly-dyed, top-quality yarn, I also love that Blue Moon Fiber Arts is semi-local, being based near Portland. I hope to one day attend a Sock Summit or one of the other retreats Tina Newton and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee host when my kids are a little bit older. I want to meet Tina Newton and thank her for enriching my life with her amazing dyeing skills. Seriously.

She and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who I am also dying to meet someday) are two of the women in the knitting world that I look up to the most. They are like the knitting world's Oprah and Gail. I hope to one day have a friend like they are to each other. Reading their Twitter posts back and forth to each other is hilarious, it's like they're sisters!

Now, back to my crocheted shawl. Creativity at a somewhat more sane pace... this will be relaxing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

You just have to want it that badly

If someone wants to do something badly enough, they'll find the time, even if they have to get really creative to make the time to do it.

My 1-year-old hates her crib. She will not sleep there. The second we put her in it, she cries. She is a "high need" baby... the kind that needs to be held all the time and flips out if mommy leaves the room. The "cry it out" method, which we personally can't stand to do, does not work on her (we tried twice out of desperation) because she does not give up. So she sleeps and naps in our bed.

This royally cuts down on my free time, as you can imagine, since I have to stay on the bed with her while she sleeps. Thankfully most of the things I want to do and love to do can be done quietly, on the bed (hey now, not that!). Blogging, reading, writing, knitting, crocheting, drawing, designing... I do them all next to her while she sleeps.

This can get kind of complicated, particularly for knitting and crochet, because it's dark at night and about half of her naptime. But where there's a will, there's a way.

One night I really wanted to knit, and no one was going to stop me. I thought maybe I'll sit close to a night light... nope, not bright enough. Maybe I could knit by the light of my laptop. Eh, cumbersome and also not quite bright enough. The book light! Close but no cigar, it doesn't really work except for reading.

Then I remembered that we have a few of these bad boys:



It's PERFECT. I plop it in the center of my chest, recline on some pillows and knit or crochet away. Baby's happy and safe, mommy's happy and sane. Everybody wins!

One night, my husband walked into the bedroom and saw me doing this. As proof that he's the best husband ever, he laughed and said, "Cute." That's right, he found it "cute" and not "batshit crazy" that his wife had rigged up a way to knit in the dark. He's the best. Even if he calls all of my knitting shows "The Delicious Dish" after the Saturday Night Live sketch that spoofs NPR. He's sort of right, they do all kind of resemble that sketch, what with the awkward knitting humor, tiny budget and minimal set.

And with that, here's my favorite episode of "The Delicious Dish," "Schweddy Balls."

Knitting giveth and knitting taketh away

Yesterday afternoon during my children's nap I was happily knitting away on the cuff of the second mitten that I'm making for my sister. I was flying, making so much progress! So much that I thought I'd be able to give her mittens to her before she left. I cast on, started the k2p2 ribbing, and I was in the zone. I was so relaxed, so happy. The yarn was just flying off the needles and it looked great. I felt like I was on top of the world.

And then I thought, "Hmmm. This ribbing looks a little different than the first mitten. I don't recall starting any of the DPNs with purls. I have the right number of stitches, 40, just like the first mitten. They're cast on evenly, 10 on each needle, just like the first mitten. What the hell is different?"

"Oh, f***."

The pattern calls for k1p1 ribbing, NOT k2p2. All my progress was lost. I had to rip it out and totally start over.

Knitting took the progress away, but there was one thing that it could not take away: the sheer bliss, the total relaxation, the absolute, calm happiness I felt while knitting totally the wrong kind of ribbing.

So I ripped, I cast on anew, and I started the mitten over. Knitting really is a metaphor for living, a microcosm of life in general. If I can be this calm, have this good of a sense of humor in all areas of my life and apply this same perseverance in all areas of my life, I'm set!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fair Islein' and profilin'

There's nothing but feverish holiday knitting going on around here. I finished what I'm calling the Caveman Hat, a hat I designed for my husband and dad. That is, I finished my husband's. I still have to knit my dad's, but since it's a hat and it's worsted weight yarn, it's a quick project.



It's Cascade 220 Superwash in color 900 (charcoal) for the main color and color 862 (walnut heather) for the contrast color. I love the result, and so did my husband. Hopefully my dad will love his, too!

As soon as I finish my dad's hat, I'll publish this as a free pattern on Ravelry. The yarn is fantastic... super soft, without any wooly scratchiness, and it's beautiful. It's mostly plain Stockinette, and even the small colorwork section is easy and meditative. It's a very simple 4-stitch repeat, so it would be a great first Fair Isle project.

Also on the needles for the holidays is a pair of mittens for my sister, who is allergic to wool (the poor thing! I would die if I were allergic to wool, I love it so much.)



I'm knitting them in my beloved Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, in the colorways nut and bone. (Giggity!) I have one mitten done (I've been flying on it since taking the above picture) and hope to have them done and blocked by Friday morning. She's here visiting now, and I want to send her home with a cozy pair of handmade mittens!

I'm also still crocheting away on my self-designed shawl that I hope to submit for publication. I hope to have that done by the first week of January. Wish me luck!