Big Brave Knitter

Yes, I know, I missed yesterday.  The second day of my pledge to blog every day this month.   But I don’t care, because this morning Lucy Neatby told me that I can do whatever I want with my yarn, ’cause I’m a big, brave knitter. She told everyone else in the room the same thing, and so much more that my brain is nicely full.  She’s a wonderful teacher, and we were fortunate to have her in Sacramento for a weekend of classes.  She even brought the rain with her, to help us out of our drought (I hope she takes it with her when she leaves, actually).  I’m tired, but inspired.  Honestly, she packs so much teaching into her classes that I need a nap.  But what I want more than that is to cast on some socks, so I can use this as a sock cuff!  It’s called a Latvian Twist! Sad to say, my photography skills have not improved over time.  If you look closely, you can see that I twisted up  my knitting and I totally did it on purpose, unlike how I usually do it, which is to ignore the warning to be Very Careful Before Joining My Knitting Into The Round.

I’m also going to see about adding in some Puntas (the wavy edging on the bottom) and some stranded GARTER STITCH areas to a sweater bottom some day (I’m pretty sure it’s not called a bottom, but I know it’s not a cuff, right?  It’s called something else). Ignore the fact that I’ve never managed to actually knit a sweater, although I have started 3.  I’ve never done much stranded knitting, but apparently, most people don’t think it can be done in garter stitch.  But now, thanks to Lucy, I know how to do something that I didn’t even know I was supposed to think I couldn’t do. Is that great teaching, or what?

There were lots of us in the class, and Lucy wandered around encouraging and coaching:

Elizabeth got to be a happy stitch!

All in all, it was a great weekend!  Now, about those socks…

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Long Time Gone

And…here we go! I promised myself I’d resurrect this blog, starting today. There’s a woman who puts together a “Friday Fill in” every week, so I’ll ease my way back to blogging with that.

1. The first rule of working in an office and getting along is” respect everybody else’s space”. Don’t barge into their office/cubicle when they’re working, and don’t stink the place up with burned microwave popcorn. I’m actually very glad I don’t work in a typical office setting. My office is tucked away down a little corridor; easy enough for my students to find me if they need to, but not on the “main drag.” I love my little office!

2. I love steamed clams, especially if the broth has coconut milk and hot peppers in it.

3. When I think of carnivals I think of cotton candy and riding on the scary ride that’s sort of a ferris wheel, but they put you in an enclosed little boxy thing and whirl you around and the boxy thing flips over and your change falls out of your pocket, and you think that maybe the cotton candy wasn’t such a god idea.

4. Tulips and irises are my favorite spring flower(s).

5. Things on my desk include a ruler with all the U.S. presidents on it, a tea mug (Heather Fargo for Mayor), and a picture frame with pictures of my family. Oh, and that huge stack of exams I’m supposed to be grading.

6. My dog Lucy makes me wanna play.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to relaxing after a day of grading (see above), tomorrow my plans include a day-long class with the amazing Lucy Neatby!!! and a Rotary fundraiser/dinner with the Jones’s and Sunday, I want to enjoy the second day of classes with Lucy.

That was funnish. But this is a knitting blog, and I do knit. In the past couple of months I’ve actually finished a few things. And, of course, I’ve started more than I’ve finsihed!

I’m in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry, and much of my knitting over the past couple of months was to earn points for Hufflepuff house.

I wrecked my wrist making a felted carpet bag for my Transfiguration OWL. Double-stranded worsted weight yarn and size 15 needles are the spawn of Satan were not my friends, but I love the bag. The yarn (Plymouth Boku) is self-striping, so matching up the striping sequence on two skeins at a time was a bit of a bother, but not too bad.

Felted Carpet bag

Felted Carpet bag

I also earned a Charms OWL with a shawl I knit using motifs from Evelyn Clark’s Knitting Triangular Shawls. Soft sage green Zephyr wool/silk. One of my favorite lace weight yarns. I’ve actually worn this shawl. Twice!

And finally, here are a couple of  pictures of a little bag I knit/felted/needle-felted to practice Judy’s Magic Cast-on. I miscalculated the stitches necessary for the triangular flap, so I just trimmed away the excess.

OK, that’s enough. Time to make another cup of tea and start moving mountains of exams from the ungraded side of the desk to the graded side.

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I’m creating a monster

It all started so innocently.  My friend Betsy showed up at our Sunday knitting group in early May with the beginning of a baby blanket she was making out of leftover sock yarn.  I remembered the one Shelly Kang made out of the mountain of yarn she was sent after the Yarn Harlot found out about it and suggested her readers bury Shelly in sock yarn scraps.  Cute, I thought, and went back to my shawl.

When I got home, I decided to go through my sock yarn stash and wind off some wee balls for Betsy, then decided to just knit one little square for myself.  Just to, you know, see what all the fuss was about.  Fast forward a few months, and voila, my monster!

Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  I was like a knitter in a Lays potato chip factory. I’ve been a mitered square knitting maniac ever since!  Ravelry has a Blankiemania group, which of course I’ve joined, and there are lots of swaps going on, so I’ve got a little box of sock yarn scraps to keep me busy for a while.  So far, my blanket has yarn from several states and a number of countries, including Malaysia, England, Ireland, Canada and Sweden!  Lots of friends have sent or geven me yarn, too, so my blanket has “Beth, Betsy, Lorna, Shiela, Jude, Christina, Amy, Lisa, Michele, Kimberly….” squares.  I love it muchly, and in a year or so it should be finished.

In an effort to spread the blanket virus to others, I offered to teach a mitered squares class at Babetta’s, my favorite local yarn shop, and it filled in a couple of hours!  Apparently, the lure of the wee square is universal.  We had a blast, and now several Sacramento knitters are busily working on blankets of their own.  I feel a bit like Dr. Frakenstein, but in a good way.

That’s me in the black top, teaching a few of the “students” how to join their squares.  It was so much fun teaching a class people actually want to take.  Introduction to American Government is not exactly everyone’s favorite class!  Everyone was asked to bring balls of yarn to swap, and that part was really fun, too.

Speaking of monsters, this is Lucy.

She’s bigger than this now, and I adore every inch of her.  She’s a yellow lab, and we got her about 3 months ago.  I need to take a newer picture of her, which I’ll do just as soon as she stops running around for three seconds straight.  Her presence in our lives has made it easier to cope with the loss of Cooper, who died over the summer.  She was 16, and we got her right after we got married.  I loved her every day of her life, and still miss her a lot.

So, what’s new with you?

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EGAD, it’s Egeblad!

I wanted to knit a lap blanket after I saw all those lovely Hemlock Ring blankets all over the place.  But you can’t fool me, I know Feather and Fan when I see it, and I didn’t want to engage in another endless F&F festival of knitting.  I’ve already done the F&F shawl from A Gathering of Lace, and that’s quite enough for me, thanks.  So I chose another doily pattern, called Egeblad.  It’s from the Yarnover website, and I have to admit, I chose this pattern because it’s charted.  The pattern is easy, but not boring, which made it perfect for my purposes.  I did an extra repeat of part of it, and it turned out just the right size, about 48″ across.  There was one error in the chart, but, hey, it’s free, so no complaints here.

Here’s a closer look at the pattern.

Best of all, it’s made with stash yarn. I’m on a crusade to knit only from my stash until the Sea Socks cruise in May, at which time I will buy yarn at every port, with wild and reckless abandon.  There is absolutely no possibility that I will succeed, but I shall try.  The yarn for Egeblad is Rowan Chunky Tweed, given to me by my dear friend Emmy.  I have 3 skeins left, which I will use for a felted hat.

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Thanks, Kathleen!!!

I’m a sucker for swaps.  I tend to join them with gusto and high hopes for a fun experience.  And sometimes they’re great.  Other times, I’ve received things that I wouldn’t have picked out for myself, but I expect that.  After all, who knows me better than me? The Virtual Vacation Swap started off badly, or should I say, ended badly, at first.  I had gotten a couple of emails from my swap partner telling me how excited she was about the swap, then zilch. No contact, no package.  Fortunately, Kathleen came to my rescue as an “angel”.  And what an angel she is, too!  She spolied me rotten with a mug, book, recipe book, notepad, darling stitch markers, etc. (for some reason the computer does not like the picture of these things. It absolutely refuses to upload it. But trust me, it’s great stuff. It includes The Knitting Heretic by Annie Modesitt, so ‘nuf said).
 
Lots of foody things from Chesapeake Bay, where she lives (there are no potato chips in the picture; they were devoured before I got the camera out).

vacationfood1.jpg

And yarn. Oh, my, the yarn! A skein of the softest, most beautiful light blue laceweight, and 2 skeins of absolutely gorgeous sock yarn. The dark blue is a semi-solid, has already been wound, and is destined to become (I think) the New England socks from Knitting on the Road.
vacationyarn1.jpg

Kathleen also sent an album filled with pictures from the Chesapeake Bay area. I’ve never been to this part of the country, but now it’s on my list of places to visit someday. Thank you, Kathleen, for restoring my fairh in swaps. Dave won’t thank you; he thinks I’m insane for joining swaps after being disappointed a few times, but he’s a muggle, and we must pity him. Now, where was that link to the Tea swap on Ravelry……

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Local Color

There are a lot of places I’d like to live.  Scotland comes to mind, as do Paris and Tuscany. But for now, Sacramento is home, and it’s actually a pretty great place, considering some of the alternatives. Bakersfield, for example, or prison.  Last weekend, I took advantage of some local events. Saturday was Lambtown, U.S.A.  It’s a sort of smallish but enthusiastic fiber festival in Dixon, which is about 30 minutes from Sacramento. There were several yarn vendors, but I held firm to my “no new yarn” pledge and just got some hand lotion.  I met up with Lizette, who was spinning yarn for the Sheep to Shawl contest. 

She’s an amazing spinner; the yarn she was creating was laceweight, and she did it while holding onto a puppy on a leash!

There was also a sheep shearing demonstration, which was really interesting.  The shearer holds them in a particular way, and they go into a sort of trance. They just lay there while he shears away. I guess sheep are supposed to be pretty stupid, so that probably helps.

They sure are cute when they’re naked!

Sunday, I went to our weekly farmers market. It’s such a cool place; every seasonal fruit and veg you can think of, fish, honey, flowers, etc.  The diversity of people gives new meaning to the phrase “melting pot”, and I love it!  I had a lot to choose from: 

berries and peppers and tomatoes

and flowers galore!

Boy, did we have a great veggie pasta dinner!

All in all, a nice weekend!

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Dreaming of Lace

People who know me know I love knitting lace. Shetland lace specifically. I love the geometry of Shetland patterns. I’m fascinated by the endless combinations of patterns that make up the most complex Shetland shawls, each created by a very few simple stitches, really. I read everything I can about the women who made the old lace shawls, and I love knowing I’m carrying on a tradition steeped in history.

So you can imagine how I felt when I entered Lacis, a lace museum in Berkeley, CA.  Berkeley is a couple of hours from Sacramento, and my knitting guild sponsored a trip there last weekend. 38 of us went to Article Pract (a v. cool yarn shop) and Lacis. As they say a picture, even one taken by me, is worth 1000 words, here’s what left me breathless and a bit giddy.

Shetland shawls of awesome beauty
shetland shawl at lacis
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There is much to see at Lacis. They have hundreds of books and patterns, lace gowns, snippets of old, old lace edgings, lace making tools for tatting and shuttling and who knows what. Me, I kept coming back to these glorious shawls. I felt inspired to knit such a masterpiece myself one day. Perhaps the Unst Bridal Shawl from Heirloom Knitting, or a Wedding Ring Shawl. I’m already working on a couple of pieces; a fairly straightforward one called the Sheelagh Shawl, designed by Gladys Amedro, and a more complex piece, the Shetland Sampler stole from A Gathering of Lace, but I know I will never have enough time in my life to knit all of the beautiful patterns out there for our pleasure.  Not to mention the designs I’ve been creating in my head.   As I said, it makes me giddy. And so with my Heirloom Knitting book in my hand and dreams of designing lace in my head, I’m off.

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