26 November 2007

Spinning, Holiday Cheer (Outdoors Edition)

I spent this weekend spinning. I must be getting better at spinning because this weekend I spun about 5 ounces of a luscious 70/30 merino/tencel blend top from Stony Mountain (purchased at MD Sheep & Wool '07). I tried to spin it sometime around June or July and failed utterly. Bits of it kept breaking off and I ended up with more slightly-twisted strands on the floor than yarn on the bobbin. This weekend I had success. I hadn't spun in a few months, so I eased myself into it with a few ounces of Corriedale from the same company. Their Corriedale (or perhaps it's Corriedale in general) is a dream to spin into a sock-weight single. When I had almost a full bobbin of that, I broke out the merino/tencel and had a go. I'm currently spinning a laceweight single. I have two braids of this, so the plan is to spin one on to its own bobbin and then do an easy 2-ply from those. The yarn is so soft and yummy that it needs to be in a slightly looser ply.

Next week I'm taking a class at my LYS on spinning specialty fibers: alpaca, llama, angora, etc. That is the primary impetus for spinning this weekend: I need to make sure my regular spinning is up to snuff before I try to tackle the more difficult things. Although I have a feeling that perhaps spinning other fibers isn't necessarily more difficult, as different. Spinning sheep's wool is difficult until you get the hang of it--and then it seems so easy.

I found this in a mail-order catalog. Their product description, however, needs help. So I helped.

Let snowmen know their kind aren't wanted by displaying
Frosty's Head on a Pike.

Easy to install!
Use your own lamppost for
authentic medieval warning action!

Plus, unlike those heads which simply rot and attract maggots, you can reuse this one year after year.

19 November 2007

Charity Knitting Roundup (updated 12 September 2008)

We interrupt your regularly scheduled snark for a Warm Fuzzy Action Alert. It's the holidays, and while you are insanely harried busy knitting gifts for friends and family, please consider whipping up a quick FO for someone you don't know. I mean that in all seriousness--there's an immense power in doing good for someone you don't know and may never meet. Random acts of kindness are not forgotten.

UPDATED 12 September 2008:

Knit Your Bit: The National WWII Museum
" a simple, but cozy, scarf to be donated to a veteran in a Veterans Center somewhere in the United States."

Special Olympics Scarves
Yes, I know, many of us find Red Heart kinda squicky. But this is for a good cause. Suck it up and knit a scarf to show your support for the Winter 2009 Special Olympians.
Please note that while ONLY Red Heart delft blue (885) and white (311) can be used, creative colorwork/patterns are encouraged.

The Ships Project.
"The Ships Project now sends handmade hats, slippers, cool-ties and cool-heads to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed across the world"

Helmet Liners. from loopette's discussion thread on ravelry:
"In their infinite wisdom, the Pentagon does not issue liners for the metal helmets the troops are issued to wear in war zones. Think about it: Metal gets bone-chillingly cold, and in areas that get below freezing, that is a tremendous thermal loss and major discomfort for the soldier wearing it. It's up to us to provide these vital liners to our troops since the government will not.

During the holiday season, many of us do what we can for others to brighten their holiday. I am asking anyone who reads this, regardless of the time of year, to please knit or crochet helmetliners for our troops."

Small Comforts. ongoing effort from Knit and Play with Fire to comfort patients at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
"The oncology ward and the surgical ward are next to each other on the same floor in the hospital. Bethesda handles the bulk of the neurological cases coming in from combat zones. So there is always a need on one ward or the other for knitted hats and other small items for the patients coming in from combat zones."
There are many opportunities for charitable knitting. Check with your local civic groups, hospital auxiliaries and LYS.

Since I am all for donating things that you'd be proud to wear yourself, also take note of these cool hat patterns (updated as I find/remember them):

14 November 2007

New Needles--Good for Drug Users, Good for Knitters

I was waiting to post this until I had pictures, but until I get around to taking pictures, you guys can exercise your imaginations.

I bought myself some US2 32" circs from Jenkins Woodworking. These babies are beautiful... the joins are smooth, the points are sharp, the cable has much less memory than Addi Turbos (I'm knitting SotS on Addi Lace circs and their cable is driving me nuts) and the wood is beautiful and pleasing in hand. I thought about switching them into SotS, but think I'll stick it out with the Addis and use my Jenkins needles for Mystic Waters.

The only reason I haven't cast on to these gorgeous needles is that I need to wind my Mystic Waters yarn. Yes, one of these days I will break down and buy a swift. I actually like hand-winding; I like to feel the yarn as I wind it--it gives me a good idea of its elasticity and temperament before I start knitting with it. The best analogy I can think of is that hand-winding is (in a very low-key analogy) to knitting what foreplay is to sex--you can do it without it, but it gives you a good idea of what's to come and makes the whole experience a bit more fulfilling. The thing I don't like about hand-winding is the skein getting all tangled; a swift would (mostly) remedy this.

Changing subjects:
the feathers for my Boléro Anastase finally arrived--well over a month late--from Aashlok. I'm pissed about this on a number of levels. I called them a couple times and found out that the feathers had been back-ordered--and didn't bother to tell me--after they told me they were available to ship immediately, and after I paid to have them 2-day air shipped. Well, I should say that some feathers finally arrived--they sent me the wrong ones (5" long plumes instead of 2" curled). To add insult to injury, they sent me not the three continuous yards of feather trim which I had ordered, but a total of three yards of various cut-up remnants. I'd call and ask for the item I ordered, in a continuous length, but I'm afraid with a company that screwed up that I'd never see them. So I feel like that was $70 wasted.

The plan right now is to take the scissors to the ostrich feathers (as much as it sounds like a crime) and trim them to the correct length. That way I'll still have an ostrich-feather trim even if it isn't in the way I envisioned. From a designer's standpoint, it's just pissy that I can't get it just the way I want it when it matters. Here ends the bitching. I know there are bigger worries in life, but those niggling ones--such as paper cuts or hangnails--can be so damn annoying.

Happier topic: SotS is moving right along. At the end of Hint #4, I was worried that mine was getting too long (especially since I am known to block things within an inch of their fibrous lives) so I edited out about 2/3 of Hint #5 and started there. This is cheering for several reasons: actually, just one: I'm almost finished Hint #5 and will start Hint #6 soon!

I haven't been knitting anything other than SotS lately, so as much as I'm enjoying knitting it, I'm also looking forward to finishing it so I can pick up some other things on the needles.

Unrelated: I bought a new pair of jeans a couple weeks ago, and finally got around to picking them up from Nordstrom (who does free alterations on stuff you buy there). I LOVE THEM. They are my favorite jeans ever and I think I might have to buy another pair because I'm probably going to wear these every day until they get holes in places that makes them unfit for wearing in public. They're the Dojo jean by 7... I love the design on the pockets. I love the way they fit. I love that they are low-rise without the dangers of plumber's butt or muffin tops. They are--in a word--perfect. I used to swear by Citizens... no longer. I'm a convert.

08 November 2007

And Now, This Week's Posting Forecast

I'm immersed in a painting until Saturday... blog post when I resurface.


UPDATE 10 November 2007: Finished the painting. I'm so fond of it, I almost said something along the lines of "here's a little piccy-poo," except if I said that, Caesar might come back from the dead just to strike me down for that remark. Nobody ever used sappy diminutives for G.J. Caesar. Well, Cleopatra may have... but we all know she was a lying, two-timing little bitch who was so totally messing around with Antony while she was in Rome, ostensibly visiting Caesar. How do I know this? Everybody knows it. And I read it somewhere on the Internet.

Now might be a good time to note that
if you use my picture(s) without crediting me,
I will send gremlins, demons and lawyers with halitosis after you.
Yuh-huh. I so totally will.

03 November 2007

Secret of the Stole Progress and Theme Guess


I'm almost finished Hint 3 of Secret of the Stole, so I thought I'd pin it out and see how it looks so far. The errors I made won't be noticeable to anyone other than those who know the pattern. No one will notice the gigantic hole made by two dropped stitches. Anyway, here it is:

I already have a pretty good idea of the theme. No, I haven't been working on the theme clues as released, but given this pre-blocked sample, I'd have thought it would be obvious. There are two possibilities right now:



"XxoXOoooXoOoOXooX, Aunt Muriel."


all the hip tribal rugs of the 1980s featured Space Invaders.

Knitters Tea Swap 4!

My box from Lindy, my Australian KTS4 swap pal, arrived on Thursday. I was so excited, I could hardly wait until I got home to open it.

First was a beautiful greeting card and two postcards from her town (wish I had thought of that!):

And tea from a local company:

I've already broken into the Bailey's -- it's black tea with a hint of chocolate and irish cream--delicious!

This is cool: chrysanthemum buds and white tea that bloom when you put them in hot water. Beautiful tea--now there's an idea! Plus, a cup-sized tea infuser--how did she know I needed one? :-)

But the part you were waiting for--look at all this awesome stuff! The periwinkle blue is a wonderfully soft, squeezable wool and the aqua yarn is a 50/50 silk/merino handpainted at The Knittery. There's some yummy dark chocolate... er... there was some yummy dark chocolate, which was last seen in this photo--stop looking at me like that, I do not look guilty. ;-) There are two great FiberTrends patterns--one for a cabled hat and another for a lace shawl I can't wait to get on the needles. Plus, she included a pair of her favorite knitting needles, by Pony. They're short so you can take them with you wherever you go, just pack and go.

To top it off, she included an adorable koala ornament, which will have a special place on my tree this Christmas. :-)