Ewe & I – Picking Up Where We Left Off


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This last year has been interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. It’s been tough. There has been far too much death and illness, including the passing of a few close family friends and Alex’s father.  (Alex and I are fine, health-wise. Don’t worry.) We’re getting through it. As usual, knitting has been helping.

In July, we had to go back to a little town in Washington to go to one friend’s funeral. I spent a good deal of my early childhood there, and I had a pretty happy childhood.  But it was…oddly uncomfortable. Alex and I were there early so that we could get lunch and walk around a little bit beforehand. Just as I was getting the Unreasoning Heebie-Jeebies, there it was – a yarn store.

It’s amazing how certain places are there right when you need them. My anxiety melted the moment I walked through the doorway. I was in a familiar place, even though I’d never been there before. Just being inside, thinking and talking about things that had nothing to do with death and mourning, calmed my soul. It was strange to think about later, but I was so grateful in that moment.  I don’t think the nice ladies in the shop realized how much I needed to just be around beautiful wool.  I don’t think I realized how much I needed to be in that place until I was there.

Knitting is incredibly comforting for me.  I think it has something to do with the rhythm of knitting itself.  Sometimes, I just need something simple – garter stitch or a pair of plain socks.  At other times, I need something that requires all of my attention, like a complicated lace shawl with lots of charts.  Simple knitting can be soothing, but sometimes it allows too many other thoughts to occupy my mind.

No matter what, knitting has definitely been my friend over these past few months.  It’s been there during long waiting times in hospitals and quiet times at home, as well as those fun moments with friends (and there have been plenty of those, as well)!

Do you use knitting to get you through the tough times?  Let me know in the comments.


A Swatch For Heather


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Egads, folks.  It’s been a long, long time since I blogged here.  It’s not that I don’t love you; it’s just that I’ve had a lot of Life (with a capital L) lately.  So, instead of regretting the past (which I don’t, and everything is fine, and nothing that’s been happening is in any way anything that is affecting the bedrock of my life), let’s look forward!

(Seriously.  Everything is fine.  Alex is fine, I’m fine, the cats are fine.  All of our very minor woes are homeowner-related.  Those are resolving.  Everything is fine.)

It’s storytime!

As you may or may not know, I often forget to swatch. It’s not that I hate it or anything; it’s just that I very seldom knit things that actually need to be fitted. I knit a good many shawls. I also knit socks, but the vast majority of those are for me, and I know pretty much instinctively at this point how many stitches on what size needles I will need to fit my foot. Plus, my foot is really convenient for trying socks-in-progress on if I have any doubts.

My very dear friend, Heather, had a baby recently.  (I was going to say “a wee baby,” but he isn’t.  He’s HUGE.)  Naturally, as soon as I learned that she was pregnant, I started knitting a baby blanket.  I always knit baby blankets for people to whom I am particularly close. (Also, there is really no need to swatch for a baby blanket, unless it is lace, which mine are not.)

Sadly, Heather is one of those people who is actually allergic to wool.  (We think it’s the chemical processing, but her hand turns bright red when she touches wool, so we’ll just go with that.)  I knitted the blanket out of Berroco Weekend, which is a yarn that I have since learned to detest for its splittiness and lack of give.  (It’s not the yarn’s fault — it’s a cotton/acrylic blend.  It’s just spun that way.)  I finished the blanket, and I’m very, very happy with it.  (I’m also very, very happy that it’s finished.)

Doesn’t he look adorable there? The blanket is the Chevron Baby Blanket from Purl Bee. It’s nice and easy, and I’m making a big one for me. I didn’t double the yarn, because that particular yarn would drive me even crazier if I doubled it.

Somehow, this particular baby has finally inspired the Knitting For Babies Urge about which so many other knitters have warned me. I want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS for this child. I want to COVER HIM IN KNITTED LOVE. The problem with this is that I hate knitting with cotton. Also, hats really don’t work well in 100% cotton (at least, not the cotton I was using). The attempt was droopy, drapey, and not at all nice. What’s a knitter to do?

Well, this knitter had a brainstorm. I remembered that Heather had once admired a project I was working on in Malabrigo Rios. I had her clutch the skein, and there was no negative reaction. And Malabrigo Rios is WOOL. Perhaps the dyeing process is different in Uruguay? Perhaps they have Magical Merino Sheep?

Being a Responsible Knitter, I decided to ask Heather to participate in an Experiment. I knitted up a swatch — just a swatch — and mailed it to her with a note asking her to see if Malabrigo Rios was still OK for her to touch/cuddle/wrap her sweet baby in.

It worked. Heather says that all systems are go for covering this baby in Malabrigo Rios. I am SO EXCITED, seeing as this is probably one of my favorite yarns EVER to work with.

I guess there are times when swatching makes sense. And I have a feeling there are many, many baby/child sweaters in my future. Those have to fit, right?

On Being Bistitchual


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I taught myself to crochet a few days ago, on February first. I had lots of other things that I should be doing, but I decided to do that instead. I had already learned to “single crochet” (though I had no idea that was what it was called) and had done that on the borders of my garter stitch blankets (which I will photograph at some point). I had lots of leftover Malabrigo Rios, so I decided to make a crocheted blanket out of the leftovers. (I don’t think they count as “scraps” if you have over a skein of several colors left over.) I made a single granny square and decided that it looked too open, but it still taught me the basics. I’ve learned to do a more solid granny square, and the blanket is coming along fine.

There is a story behind this blanket. I have this cat. Exhibit A:

He looooooooooooves the Rios garter stitch blankets that provided the aforementioned leftovers. Loves them. Wants to be on them constantly, especially if said blankets are also on my lap. Unfortunately, he loves them with his claws. This leads to snags, and snags make me sad. The reason why he’s on a towel in the above photograph is because the blankets are under the towel. The towel was my last-ditch effort to protect the blankets until I could take them somewhere out of his reach. He decided that nesting on the towel was fine, obviously, but I wanted a blanket that Hiro and I could cuddle with together.

Enter the blanket (which I’m calling, “I’m In Shock! Look! I Have A Blanket!”).

The weather has been insane lately and looks like this:

This allows me to take pictures like this:

That’s one square in each of the colors I’m using for the blanket. Here’s an indoor shot:

From top to bottom, the colors are Candombe, Solis, Purpuras, Ivy, Sunset, Jupiter, and Pearl Ten. I also have some Lettuce hanging around, but it’s so close to the Ivy that I’m not sure if I’ll use it. On the other hand, the whole idea is to Use The Stash this year (did I mention that I’ve gone Cold Sheep?), so I might throw it in if I don’t have enough of the other colors. The idea is to crochet 108 squares and then put them together with Natural somehow. I’m not sure how; I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m loving the project so far, and it’s certainly going to make a blanket faster than the Hexis on which I am still plugging away (when I remember). The jewel tones are a welcome bright note in a winter that seems determined to hang on for at least a little while longer.

I am seriously crocheting this blanket because I like to learn new things and crocheting is fun, not because my cat is a spoiled beast who totally deserves a Rios blanket to snuggle with. Honest.

A Good Example


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I am not usually one to follow trends, do things because others are doing them, go with the crowd, however you want to put that. I like to do my own thing. I like to be different. I like to stand out.

That said, I know a good thing when I see it, and I can be a convinced of a good idea. Some ideas require very little convincing, especially when they come from a person whose opinions and taste I trust. I also tend to be pretty late to the party. I discover niftiness long after others have discovered and incorporated that niftiness into their daily lives.

Knitting is no different. I discovered the Noro Striped Scarf ages after a whole bunch of other people had done it. I knit Ishbel at least a year after it came out. And now, I’m knitting my very first pair of Jaywalkers.

Pattern: Jaywalkers
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, “Pink Lemonade”

(They look so big to me! But they fit nicely so far. Next time, I think I’ll go down a needle size for the ribbing.)

I really started these because of Glenna C. and her Jaywalkers here: Digging Deep: Gorgeous Jaywalker Photos Here. They are glorious and beautiful and look so sophisticated. A while ago, Glenna decided she was going to knit a week’s worth of Jaywalkers, and I thought that sounded like a good idea. It’s taken me this long to cast on my first pair.

Glenna is also the reason I discovered the joys of 3×1 ribbed socks, and I’ve got a sweater she designed on the needles. (More on that later.) She is one of those amazingly talented (and funny!) people whose blog I look forward to. (If you don’t already read her, you should. She’s lovely.) She’s also one of those people whose projects I don’t mind following and whose ideas I don’t mind adopting (sometimes). She’s got her head on straight, and her knitting philosophy often agrees with mine.

Whose examples do you follow? What are your criteria?

A Little Light Music



I just got back from a fun trip to San Diego, California, where I did fun things like go to the zoo and visit the museums and eat WAY too much excellent food. I have a suntan, a lot of dirty laundry, and (almost) a new pair of knitted socks.

These are my version of Glenna C.’s “A Nice Ribbed Sock” (scroll down on that page to “Socks”), in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, colorway “Stephen Loves Tosh.”

As I’m catching up on things, I wandered through Metaquotes, which is an archive of funny or deep things that people say on Livejournal. Most of the quotes are funny, some make me think, and some just make me shake my head at the Wackiness of the Internet. But this, this, had me rolling on the floor, despite the seriousness of its subject to knitters. (Note: If you’ve never seen Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, this will make less sense.)

Bad Moths! by Musedmoose

(Uses the tune of “Bad Horse” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.)

They’ll fly into your closet, they’ll eat up all your clothes,
You’ll open up that door and you will scream OH NOES!
And so extermination is what we must propose…
A flamethrower, a fire hose?
(Some bug spray would be nice, you knows)

But we have got a method, no need to be afraid.
A single simple order that must be obeyed!
Just open up your closet, douse everything in Raid…

Exterminate! Must save your cloths!
It’s “Goodbye, bugs!” to those bad moths!

With apologies to Joss Whedon and thanks to RhymeZone.

Happy Saturday!

Something Cheerful



Yarn is a lovely, lovely thing. When a package of it arrives in the mail, it cheers me right up. The colors, the textures, the happy smell of wool make things seem a wee bit better. It’s a little thing, but, as I pointed out yesterday, little things matter.

And this is a lot of little things:

Look at all those little skeins. This is a Squidlet Kit from Cephalopod Yarns. That’s 20 1-oz skeins of Bugga, an adorable little rainbow of squishy color. They’re all probably going to become Hexis.

Today, I am grateful for Little Things.

All The Little Lights


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This is a non-knitting post. I had every intention of writing about yarn and fun things, but then the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. This is what I have instead. The fun stuff will continue tomorrow.

Yesterday was a rough day for all of us, to put it mildly. It is difficult to fathom how humans can be so horrible to one another. On the other hand, there have also been many, many examples of humans standing up and being wonderful to one another–and I think there are far more wonderful humans than there are horrible humans.

There were many big deeds done yesterday–lives saved, bombs defused, further tragedy averted. But it’s been the small things that have stood out to me, all the way over here on the West Coast. I’ve seen the Internet band together to help, to provide shelter for stranded marathon runners, to donate blood, to just offer love and support from across the world. One little Tweet, one little e-mail, and the world is suddenly a brighter place. Someone on Twitter said that it was like the night sky–dark, but with thousands of points of light.

Many of us are asking: What can we do? How can we help? If you feel helpless, if you feel like you can’t do anything, remember that your presence as a good person in the world is doing something. Reach out to those around you. Write a letter. Send an e-mail. Donate to a cause you believe in. Make the world a better place, one word or deed at a time. You can do this. We can do this.

Shine your light; push back the darkness. It may seem like a tiny light, but all those lights together make a galaxy of good.

(Image is courtesy of Space.com.)

Ripping Out and Moving On


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Knitting is often a metaphor for life. (Trust me on this.) There are projects where you just have to keep trucking, because you know the reward for all of your hard work is going to be brilliant. There are projects when you say, “Whoops, this isn’t going to work out–better rip that out and start over.”

And then there are the times when you stubbornly keep on trucking regardless, even though you know it’s just not going to work out, simply because you’ve already put so much work and time into it and you don’t want to waste that work and time.

Eventually, though, you have to look at that (metaphorical or actual) project, admit to yourself that it’s really not going to work out, and start over.

This is the wonderful thing about knitting. With knitting, you can start over. You can rip out that project, and (usually) all you’ve lost is some time. You can reuse all of that yarn for something else! You can try that other pattern in a different yarn! You have options! Nothing is permanent until you say it is!

In celebration of this, I ripped out a project that just wasn’t working out. It had been sitting for ages, holding up a set of my Signature double-points and just generally hanging around being Not Very Good At All. (It doesn’t help that I accidentally buried it in a box of projects and couldn’t find it for months.)

The yarn in question (Berocco Vintage, I think Color 5175–I lost the label), along with the needles I plan to use with it (size 3):

This yarn is going to be some very cozy socks that will be given away as a prize for someone very hard-working. They should take me about five days, I’m guessing.

What have you ripped out lately? Have you moved on?

About Cookies


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And now, from the “I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Already Blogged About This!” category:

Guess what these are?

Correct. Those are Hexis, knitted for my Beekeepers Quilt (Ravelry Link). I’ve drunk the Kool-aid, gone off the deep end, whatever you want to call it. But it’s fun.

I’m not stuffing my Hexis, so they’ll be “Hexiflats” as opposed to “Hexipuffs.” I’m working two sets now: one in Bugga! and one in Skinny Bugga!. I have a lot of both, and I’ve already used both for many, many projects. I have a good deal of leftovers to play with.

The secondary advantage of this project is that each Hexi is a kind of swatch–not a gauge swatch, but a color swatch. I plan to keep and label one of each color for future reference, as well.

This is a long term project. The Hexis are like cookies–I keep wanting to make just one more. I’ve also been using them as a reward–finish that chore, get a cookie! Yes, it’ll take a long time for me to make enough to make a blanket, but stacking them up is very satisfying.

This is really one of those projects that is not about the finished object for me–it’s about the process. While patience is not one of my primary virtues, I feel that the Beekeepers Quilt is an excellent compromise between patience and instant gratification.

Signs of Spring

It’s not here yet, but it’s definitely coming.


Look at those lovely crocuses (croci?), heralds of brighter days to come. They’re sprouting in my yard, which is a hopeful sign in itself. (It means that the deer and ground squirrels have not managed to completely destroy the few bulbs we have left.)

Of course, since I live in Oregon, we’re not out of the woods yet. It can still get darned cold here, which is why I’m still pushing the woolies and continuing to prepare for continuing low temperatures. For instance, here is the first of a pair of worsted-weight stockings I’m making to wear to SCA (medieval recreation) events:

Full disclosure: I finished that one this morning and have started the second one. The thing I love about worsted weight yarn is that socks and stockings finish up so FAST! The first one took me a total of five days, and that’s not working on those exclusively.

I’m also working on another Moderne Log Cabin Blanket. Here’s the color palette.

Sorry about the lighting; this was at the LYS and the walls got in the way of the sunshine. I am totally and utterly in love with this blanket. That’s Malabrigo Rios in Lettuce, Candombe, Pearl Ten, and Solis. Malabrigo Rios and garter stitch are truly a match made in heaven. (That said, I only have a teeny tiny bit left to go on a Malabrigo Rios sweater, and the yarn is delightful for that, too.)

I’m also planning ahead! When this blanket is finished, I’ve already got the yarn picked out for the next one!

Malabrigo Rios again, but in Jupiter, Ivy, Sunset, and Purpuras. Miriam calls the combination “spicy.” (No, I haven’t bought the yarn yet! Don’t be silly! Of course I’m going to finish the first blanket before I buy yarn for the second!)

I’m looking forward to the longer days and more sunshine, but I’m not kidding myself. (HA!) What are you doing to prepare for spring?