23 October 2008


I noticed last night that I have not knitted in almost a week. From about the 14th until a couple days ago, things were frenetic at work. I was too tired in the evenings to knit -- at least, that's what I told myself. Last night, however, I had time to sit quietly on the sofa with my knitting bag and reflect. I did not want to pick up my knitting.

Oh, it's not lack of desire to knit -- I want to knit -- and it's not lack of enjoyment -- I love to knit. No, this is no knitting ennui.

As I sipped my ginger beer, I realized that I do not like any of my current projects.

  • Cherie Amour feels like a chore I've left unfinished. It's not entirely flattering, but it is functional. I knitted flutter cap sleeves for it, but as I went to sew them on I re-evaluated my simple bind-off and I'm not sure I like it anymore. And as I held up the sleeves in the mirror, I'm not sure the cap sleeves do anything for it.
  • I took the cardigan for Mom out of hibernation about a month ago. I have been working on it in fits and starts. It's mostly that I dislike working with the yarn. It was fine when I started it over a year ago, but since then I have developed a general dislike for working with novelty yarns. I keep thinking that the colors and herringbone pattern are lovely -- if only it weren't fuzzy. It would be great worked up in an aran-weight wool.
  • A few months ago, I put down a navy basketweave sweater (Sirdar 1521) that I had started for my nephew. The yarn is great, the pattern looks wonderful, but it is S-L-O-W going. I couldn't justify the time I'd spend knitting a sweater that the child -- who, at 18 mos, has a larger wardrobe than I did as a teenager -- may never even wear. The blankets I made for him have been well-loved. When he gets older I'll knit him hats and mittens and things.
  • I cleaned out my in-process knitting bins (those 8x12x6" canvas organizing bins you get at Target) and found: the completed Short Row Ring Wrap, the still-in-process Two Socks on One Circ "Sugar Maple" socks, a nearly-completed Baby Surprise Jacket (which needs only seaming and buttons), the beginnings of a hat I told Bryan I'd knit him about a year ago, sundry balls of leftover yarn in various fibers and sizes, and a sachet of dried lavender.
So, the logical gears started turning... since I knew what I do not enjoy knitting, I needed to figure out what I do enjoy, and focus on that. I thought about the projects that I liked best -- the ones in which I either loved the yarn, the process, and/or the finished product.

My favorite finished objects are the Firmaments Shawl (ravelry link), the Icelandic Yoke Sweater (ravelry link) and the Crinoid Shawl.

The Firmaments shawl is the most beautiful thing I've made, and I actually enjoyed the process.

IMGP2908_1 (firmaments from back)

IMGP2904_1 (firmaments from front)

The Icelandic Yoke sweater was a breeze to knit; careful planning ensured that the colors and shaping turned out just right, and it's nice and warm in the winter. It is what made me love Elizabeth Zimmerman. I'd really like to knit another one like it and steek it so I have a cardigan.

IMGP1743_1 - Fair Isle Yoke (pre-neck fix)

The Crinoid Shawl was possibly the most boring thing I've ever knit. It was a brainless knit the whole time. But the finished object is stunning; I enjoy wearing it and I get a lot of compliments on it.

Based on these criteria, my next project(s) will be: a wrap/shawl, probably involving some kind of lacework. It may also involve a cardigan or jacket that I can throw on around the house to keep warm in winter.

Also, I decided that it's not worth suffering through knitting with a yarn I don't like (I will make an exception for Mom's fuzzy jacket, because that was promised before I had better judgment; the sooner I get that thing finished, the better). I pulled out a skein of Silk Road (50/50 wool/silk) and wound it into a cake. I had so much fun last night sitting there with the beautiful skein around my knees, cranking the ball winder, watching the second part of John Adams.

I don't have pictures of it yet (that's on the agenda for tonight: download pictures from camera!). But to make up for it, here's a good old-fashioned apple pie that I baked for DBF's family last week:
IMGP2972_1 pie (12 oct 2008)
the little blobs are supposed to be acorns, to go with the oak leaves.

Hooray for fall!

12 October 2008

You knew it was going to happen

I made three stops on the Countryside Artisans tour.

I don't even have to tell you, do I?

Story (and photos) to follow.

08 October 2008

Doing My Patriotic Duty

I am trying to single-handedly stimulate the US economy. Oh, sure, many people are cutting back... and what am I doing? SPENDING! BUYING THINGS! PROPPING UP THE FIBER INDUSTRY!

It's not like I'm Warren Buffett or anything; I don't exactly have billions to pump into KnitPicks, Etsy or my LYS. But... in the wake of spending a significant chunk of my savings on my wheel (and getting it here), it somehow made logical sense in my brain that what I needed -- despite the two large, full, 100-gallonliter Rubbermaid containers in the lower level that argue otherwise -- is brand-spanking new roving!

Finn sheep Lambswool.
Photo and roving from matahari spinnery.

"Finnsheep/ Finnish Landrace: Native of Finland;
this wool is semilustrous with long staples
and crisped silky handle (24 micron)"

Wensleydale roving, 4oz.
source: ibid.

longwool, wonderful. I think I have some Wensleydale somewhere
but I can't remember...

And this one is just way cool:

Black Diamond, Carbonized Bamboo fiber, 4oz.
source: ibid.

from matahari's description:
"Black Diamond is a Bamboo carbon fiber. Bamboo fiber is carbonized through baking at high temperatures producing an all-carbon fiber with the exact same shape. Black Diamond is resistant to ultra violet rays and possesses anti-odor properties. It also adjusts well to humidity and dryness. Black Diamond is a dream to spin. The top glides from your hand and the natural gun metal grey color is mesmerizing. Blend it with your favorite grey or black wool for amazing results. this fiber will keep you up late dreaming!"

Black Diamond sounds like a challenge to me. I'm eager to get my hands on this and give it a whorl... (sorry, couldn't help it).

ADDENDUM: Of course, I'm also keeping in mind that in a post-economic-apocalyptic-OMG-PANIC!!!! world, the knitters, spinners and weavers will come out on top. We can barter endlessly with fiber. The farmer-fiberists will trade for something they can't grow (fibers not on their farm, finished goods they don't have time to make); the urban/suburban-fiberists will trade exotic fibers or finished goods for something they can't raise (fleece/meat). We'd all be able, whether through production or trade, to produce sufficient clothing and fleeces to keep warm even if there is no heating. We could live on lamb kebabs and goat's milk.

In a worst-case scenario, the world will go for the fiber-loving community. I'd even open up my own fiber bank. It shall be called the First Bank of Roving. It would not only be awesome, but also probably true. And I would grow rich on fiber! MUAHHAHAHAHA! Yes, the perfect plan. Now all I have to do is wait for the market thingy to drop another 5 gazillion points by lunchtime.

Also, we are now accepting deposits at the First Bank of Roving. Your fiber deposits are insured by the Empress of Knit Goddingdom for protection against moths for up to five years. We will be soon offering a wide range of Fiber Bank services, including moth-protection deposits, stashing, stash-enhancement, and hope to branch out into in-house spinning services. First Bank of Roving: for all your fiber-stashing needs.

06 October 2008

Political Head-Scratching

I will try to make this the ONLY thing I say about the so-called Bailout Bill on this blog. It is relevant because it has to do with fibery goodness.

  1. Sec. 325. Extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products; wool research fund; wool duty refunds
    The tariff relief (duty savings) is intended to benefit U.S. worsted wool fabric producers that use imported fibers and yarns as inputs, as well as U.S. tailored clothing manufacturers that use imported fabrics as inputs. This provision was originally introduced as a bill in December 2007 by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Melissa Bean (D-IL). It extends current law provisions until 12/31/14, and in some cases to12/31/15. The 2010 to 2015 cost is estimated to be $148 million.

My representative voted Nay... which shows that Congresscritters actually listen to their constituents, even when they have little idea what's actually going on in the world outside the Capitol. And you can guess how strongly I felt about the bailout bill when I opposed something that contained a benefit to a segment of the fiber industry. But my opposition to the bailout bill is a subject for another blog.

I posted this because I thought it was a strange, strange project to tack on... if you're interested in finding out more, there's an excellent "Top Ten Pet Projects" list on the taxpayer.net link below.

Source: taxpayer.net, courtesy of stabbycat.

04 October 2008

YouTube Saturday - Whitcoulls and Mason-Dixon Knitting

here's the Whitcoulls ad a Ravelry CPaAG user shared. I think it's for a grocery store chain of bookstores in New Zealand (thanks, Anonymous, for the info!). Whitcoulls Ad, "Don't Take Your Love to Town":

And, the sensation that has been sweeping the For the Love of Ravelry board, from Mason-Dixon Knitting, it's "Pardon Me, I Didn't Knit That For You."

03 October 2008

Additions to the Family

There have been some additions to the family.

First, there was the adoption of the Two Horrid Fluffy Things. I try to stay away because when I'm near them I start sneezing madly and my sinuses set up blockades, but apparently these Horrid Fluffy Things have some sort of mind-control device that makes me want to come near them. It's as though no matter how much I don't want them around, I can't help but check compulsively whether they have sufficient kitten kibble and a full water dish. I'm not sure of the exact nature of this mind-control device, but I suspect that it has its roots in their teensy tiny barely-audible cries of, "meep!" whenever I'm within striking distance. And I somehow find myself within striking distance of their SHARP POINTY TEETH! fairly often.

I present, for your inspection, Thing One and Thing Two:

Thing One, Domestic Longhair, aka "Bella"
Bella enjoys batting around the little green ball with the orange
thing that rolls around inside it, gnawing on my finger and
cuddling up against me. Her life goals include leaving me covered in white cat hair.

Thing Two, Domestic Shorthair, aka "Coco"
Coco has already developed a love-hate relationship with the
fluffy-ball-on-a-long-spring toy and in her spare time enjoys
attempts to groom my hand with her sandpaper tongue.

A few days ago my sister-in-law gave birth to a baby girl, so now I have a niece!

Then, later this evening, a box arrived. I opened it and was engulfed in packing peanuts. Took me half a day to dig my way out; I was forced to subsist on nothing but Ghirardelli
dark chocolate squares with creamy mint filling....

I'm in a much better place, now. More to follow!

02 October 2008

OPEN SEASON on Fall (and/or) Fiber Festivals.

So I'm sitting here having tea and a chocolate biscuit (not a cookie -- the box clearly says that it is a "butter biscuit with pure dark chocolate") and was thinking that I needed to post a SUPER IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE NORTH AMERICAN FIBER COMMUNITY.

It's October, which means it is Festival Season.

I asked my boss if I could have tomorrow off to go to the Waterford country festival (near Lucketts, VA), and he said yes (go super-awesome boss-man!). The 65th annual Waterford Foundation Festival runs October 3, 4 & 5, 2008 from 10 am to 5 pm. I haven't been there before but it has a reputation for bringing some particularly fine craftsmen and their work.

Also this weekend is the Fall Fiber Festival in Montpelier Station, Virginia (aka BFE, VA). It is a fiber festival and sheepdog trials. I went last year and almost came home with some cashgora kids. We'll see what happens this year.

The second week in October is the Countryside Artisans Autumn Studio Tour. You can read my entry about last year's Autumn Tour here.

There's something called Rhinebeck something-or-other, but I'm not going this year, so it's obviously not that big a deal. ;-)

And then there's the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, 25-26 October, 2008, from 10a-5p.

Be prepared for lots of fibery, festivalian goodness coming your way!