June 28, 2014

I am not an expert: lessons in steam

Heat and steam relax the fabric, NOT
pressure. Barely hover over the fabric
with the steam (iron or steamer). 
I used to work at Fred Meyer, a local retail chain here on the west coast of the U.S. My department was apparel, specifically women's RTW--you know, "ready-to-wear." This job consisted mostly of picking up after shoppers: hanging things back up in the dressing rooms; cleaning up kid food spills off the sales floor; tidying the sales rounders; and re-folding (and re-folding and re-folding...and re-fold.....you get the idea) all the shirts, etc. on tables. It was pretty much like being at home with my 6 kids. 40 hours a week.

Except on freight days. I left behind the dirty diapers in the fitting rooms and angry customers at the return counter and headed to the stockroom. There, we had new ladies' clothing, hot off the press, as it were. Boxes and boxes of it. We'd hang it up and then use the elegant, slender, magical floor steamer to make it all lovely. It was a quiet respite from the retail craziness, standing in the quiet stockroom with racks and racks of new smelling fabrics, ready to be smoothed, soothed, by our steamer.



It was a slow, relaxing process, almost hypnotic as the steady steam rose silently, warmly to the high, open ceilings of the large room. It was like a spa for clothes. And once they were dressed and pressed and beautified for the public, the spell was broken and we would once again dive back into the world of merchandising and customer service.

Since right now, my Master Knitter's Level I research centers around blocking and care of hand knits, I decided to try out steam as a blocking tool. I have been reading quite a bit about it and as you might imagine, the reading flooded my memory with those good feelings I experienced with it at the store.


Before
After
Through the magic of internet searching, I did find out that one can purchase one of those floor steamers online. But they come at a cost and my Rowenta iron just had to do for now.

As I began, there was steam rising, to be sure, lots of it. But no clouds parted and no angels sang and I did not feel hypnotized in my very small upstairs laundry room while steaming the once very wrinkled up, unblocked skirt of my newest test knit for Gabrielle Danskknit, Spin Round and Round Tunic Dress.

I was nervous.

The left shoulder got pretty stretched
And apparently I should have been because, true to my nature, I forgot something. Something I intuitively knew, but left behind while driven to distraction about lengthening and smoothing the skirt on the dress: if you hang a garment on a hanger, and pour tons of hot steam on it, there is a pretty good chance the rest of the garment will get steamed too. Not just the intended parts, eg. the skirt.

To make matters worse, I knitted the dress to be quite long. Amy Rose wanted it "to look like Elsa from Frozen." So the skirt made the whole thing pretty heavy, especially when wet. Combine that fact with the slowly dampening shoulder "straps" and voila....recipe for a dress that is way too big.

Once  I noticed what was happening on one of the shoulders as I worked around the skirt, I stopped immediately and hung the dress over the rack at the waistline instead of on a hanger from the shoulders. This removed the tension on the yoke. I should have started out in this position, or used a blocking board to steam only the skirt.

I later ended up washing the whole thing in warm water in a lingerie bag to get some of the
Amy Rose loves her dress
spring back. I reshaped it wet and re-blocked the top.

I learned at least two things this week: it is true that blocking--at least to some degree--indeed makes some things permanent. (Even after washing, my skirt was still nice and smooth) But it is also true that you can get some of the original spring, size and shape back in some cases.

While I made a pretty big error, it was not irreparable, and Amy can certainly wear the dress, which is adorable. (I even threaded some ribbon through the waistband for extra femininity) It is just a bit big in the armpits now, and she just will have to wear a lacy cotton slip underneath it till next winter. Then she can wear a sweater over it, just like Elsa.

Unless she grows. And we all know that's going to happen. Then she can wear a sweater for fun, not to cover her armpits.

I have added a new board to my Pinterest just for info on the things I am learning or plan to learn. There are lots of links to blocking, steaming, and what have you. Hopefully it can help someone else out, too.

What's on my needles now? Another pair of Dr. Who mittens for a friend's son. Hopefully I will remember all the steps this time and not get caught up in the granular minutia.


Random Fact of the Week: 

Rayon fiber is not synthetic. Well, it's man-made, but men make it from cotton lint and wood chips. Really?! I think MacGyver invented that one.


Amy thinks we should bring fancy hats back. I agree. You UK folks already do
this very well. We are jealous of your hats. 


June 19, 2014

Spaz knitting will get you nowhere.



Wadded up, a sad--and expensive--
kidlin shawl

I'm admittedly a total spaz. And my knitting style is no exception to that rule. I'm in a hurry all the time (which makes me prone to making mistakes), I don't like extra steps (I have historically been really, really bad at blocking and caring for some of my hand knits) and I am basically a goober.

One of the things that I must do in the Master Knitter's Program is undo this lifestyle. I must now confess my sins and repent of my wicked deeds. This post is part I of II posts (who knows...I may need III. And a trip to confession...) about how it is a bad idea to live your knitting life this way.

Today, I am undoing an evil. I am going back in time and finally blocking a lace shawl that I knitted late in the first year of my knitting life, which makes the shawl about 5 years old.





This would-be, lovely Monica shawl by designer Trudy Van
I now know that Eucalan Wash is my friend.
Stralen has been tossed in a pile, folded, yet crammed, in drawers (at least they are cedar) for all this time. This is pathetic, considering it took me between eight and nine weeks to finish it as a newish knitter. That's no way to treat what feels practically like one of your first children.

I did try to block it back then but I lacked the tools and know-how to do it and I lacked to patience to find out which tools and know-how were needed. So, I made it sort of wet and laid it out in a dark hall by the upstairs bedrooms. I didn't know anything about stretching out lace or pinning properly, I just let it sit there and dry. It was....just okay. It was still a bit fluffy and, when I wore it, it quickly went back to its scrunched up self.

No more pins in the house!
So, yesterday I washed it in Eucalan and lukewarm water for the recommended ten minutes. Then I carefully rinsed it so as not to stretch it in the same laundry sink. I did not twist, wring, pull or otherwise distort the shawl. I squeezed the water out against the side of the sink and then lifted it out with both hands, transferring it carefully to a large, very absorbent towel. I rolled it up in said towel and, like Elizabeth Zimmerman says you can, I jumped on it. Then I let Amy Rose jump on it.

It was fun and the water was pretty well out of it after that. Just a little left, enough for proper blocking.

The shawl turns out to be bigger than I used to think it was (I know, duh.) and took up nearly the entire length of the dining room table, which is no small feat. It used all of my T-pins and then two more boxes of rust proof sewing pins and both of my sets of blocking mats.



I carefully, dutifully, put the pins in at about one inch intervals, squared my corners straightened
stretched out--FINALLY!
and re-straightened my edges. Then I patiently forced myself to wait overnight to check for dryness.

Once off the blocking pads, I now get it why people are tempted to take photos of shawls in trees. Flowing, soft and pretty against a green background, my purple shawl has finally come to life.


One of those silly tree/shawl poses

























For more information on blocking, here are just a few resources that I found helpful:

1. The Principles of Knitting, June Hemmons Hiatt
2. Vogue Ultimate Knitting Book
3. Knitty  on blocking (they have several stories on that topic)
4. Knitting Tips&Tricks by Lily Chin

Finally! It lays flat. Whew!
Indices are really helpful for topics like this. Check out the back of the book first!




June 16, 2014

I am not an expert: Level I

Hello, all!

My husband and two of the kids on Father's Day
This past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind around our house. Of course, today was Father's Day and I sincerely hope all you fab dads out there had a great and relaxing day full of attentive pampering. At our house, we also have one daughter heading to high school, which means her 8th grade awards ceremony is this week and a 5-year-old who had a pre-school graduation this past week. Adorable beyond words.




Amy Rose at Pre-School graduation. She's a "school-ager
now, mom."
In other news, on June 11th, I turned 45, which means I plan to pretend to be Molly Shannon's 
SNL character for the next five years and go around saying, "I like to kick! And strrrrrreeeeetch, and KICK!" while kicking in the air and stretching in inappropriate postures whenever I feel like it. It's my prerogative and I have to use it or lose it since 50 is only five years away and I intend to act like a dork forEVER!

In honor of my own personal aging, and in addition to my chronic silliness disease (I think I picked it up from touching the floor and not washing my hands after visiting the Ministry of Silly Walks...), I am doing something exciting, something newish...something terrifying.

I signed up for and am already studying madly for The Master Knitter's Program through The National Knitting Guild Association.

I don't know how ready I am for this, but I do know that I do my best learning through structure, especially when I can combine group brainstorming with going off on my own and pondering/analyzing what I have heard. This is the best possible combination for me to move forward, challenging myself as a knitter.

For the group piece, I will be joining the Tigard, Oregon knitting guild (they are thought to be the hard core folks around Portland and I hear there are several people going through the program there) and I have already joined the Ravelry group for Master Knitter students.

For the thinking on my own piece, I am apparently in luck since I went through that earlier period of what seemed like an incurable urge to purchase all sorts of knitting literature (to my husband's chagrin at the time). It turns out, according to the Master Knitter's reading list, I have already accumulated some good study materials.

I have purchased the large, required binder, 250 page protectors and another wave of reading material from the Master Knitter bibliography (mostly on the history of knitting--I can't believe I didn't have them all). Finally, I have also collected over the past few years what will now be some very helpful classes on Craftsy.

I am armed and ready. And I will be using the blog as a journal (as it should be, right?) for my learning experiences.

I will be posting weekly (or more often maybe, depending on how frustrated or excited I get...I'm pretty excitable.) with my progress, what's on my needles, something new I have researched and learned, where you can find certain helpful resources, etc. You may notice that there are a few new blogs under "blogs I love" to the right margin---> Each time I find a new one for learning, I will add it.

I also want to start a random fact of the week addition to the blog.

Let's start that now.

Random Fact of the Week:

Both wool and silk are very poor conductors of heat. This means that your body heat will be trapped inside the fabrics produced by either one of these fibers, sweaters and stockings alike. Your fancy silk thigh highs may not stand alone as winter wear in International Falls, Minnesota, but they may be hotter it more ways than you think.



Now....let's get knitting!


June 7, 2014

Sneak Knitting: The Art of Artful, Productive Trickery

“When you get your paycheck, just cash it first, spend what you want, and then give the money to your husband. That way he’ll never miss any of it.”

This was some unsolicited advice given to me once by a very good friend of mine. It was well-meant, almost entirely a joke--almost--and very revealing of her personality; words like creative, intelligent and mischievous come to mind.


She has an incredible way about her that enables her to accomplish absolutely everything. She works full time, bakes and cooks for her family of four, is very involved with church events, keeps an astonishingly beautiful garden, knits, sews and always has time for her friends. She never misses a step.

It truly is as though she has a time machine in her basement, which I am sure she has carved out beneath her two-story house with a spoon in her spare time (the use of the spoon increases the challenge while saving money on renovation). I am also sure that this fantasy basement is well-decorated.

Sometimes, as I mentioned above, my friend (don’t worry, Joanie, I won’t throw you under the bus by mentioning your name…oops.) drops little pearls of wisdom to us lesser beings. She speaks of methods to eek out money and time through creative thinking and stellar time management. Here is one important example for our purposes today.


Joanie is a great reader. She is voracious in appetite and unsurpassed in speed. Enjoying all sorts of novels, she somehow finds time to finish several each month on top of everything else. Just yesterday she shared with me that she has just finished Jane Eyre (we are reading that one “together” and I am on chapter 20 out of 38) plus two more books. Seriously?


How is this possible?


Sneak reading.


That’s what she calls it. She speaks of sneaking a peek at her story du jour while cooking, while at her kids’ sporting events, and while in the bathroom. Sort of.

She says she locks herself in the bathroom under the guise of actually using it, when in reality she is secretly reading as fast as she can, striving for the completion of more stories in increasingly less time with the same vigor a marathon runner might employ while striving for a faster racing time. (Joanie also runs marathons, but I digress…)

When her husband knocks on the door, she finally comes out of her den of iniquitous deceit. Never before he knocks, but when, and only when, he begins to wonder where she is, does she emerge. This affords her up to several minutes—even 30 to 40—of sprint reading. It is in this way she completes book after book while us mere mortals lag behind.

How does this apply to knitting, you may ask? Or, more likely, you already see where this is going.

Yes, we can consider using this same principle—in theory at first, at least—to complete more knitting projects in less time. Just think of the possibilities for problem solving.

Take your family and friends, for example. Did they line up to “order” projects once they learned you were knitting? As though you could just whip out a sweater for them in an afternoon or an afghan for their Auntie Mavis in just a few days? Perhaps they even attempted to compensate you for your time, saying, “Well, I would pay you, of course,” not realizing the extensive hours a large bedspread or aran sweater would require; even $50 plus materials might only work out to pennies an hour, depending on the project. (Of course, you probably did them for free, because that’s what we seem to do!)

How about the upcoming Sock Summit? A lot of the classes have prerequisites or requirements for preparation in advance. I know that I certainly have a fair share of homework: I need to make several types of heels and toes and knit up several swatches of my choosing from stitch dictionaries before my class. First problem for me of course, will be the choosing of anything—that alone might take me a week or two.

Solution for these problems and more? Let’s explore this idea of “Sneak Knitting.”

As I see it, the foundations of this concept require a Rosie the Riveter approach: We Can DO It!!  A can-do attitude is the basis for any success in Sneak Knitting. You must believe that the idea will work, that you have the creativity, cunning and ingenuity to pull it off. You need to be driven (aren’t you already? You’re a knitter), a little crazy and willing to work hard.

Second, consider your own life situation in order to find Sneak Knitting times. Take me, for example, I work four days a week, have a home with four children still living in it, a husband, too many hobbies (as we have already established), and minimal time to myself most of the time.

In order to write the blog entry for today, I have experimented a bit for myself over the past few weeks. Here are my findings.


I have committed Sneak Knitting while:


  • Gardening

  • Giving the baby a bath (I’m sort of alone—just sit on the toilet or floor, voila!)

  • Cooking (waiting for biscuits? How about a sock on the side?)

  • Mowing the grass (mower noise definitely makes folks believe you are working)

  • Writing this blog, or Sneak Blogging (see days with extra typo’s)

  • At work—need a break? How about knitting instead of/in conjunction with eating? Or try Joanie’s bathroom trick.

  • Watching a guy flick with your husband (he will look at the TV, you check out your cables)

  • At the movies (easy—it’s dark. Knit by Braille will be another lesson)

  • While at Starbucks (Duh. But your coffee gets cold—be careful!!)

  • Painting my daughter’s room (everyone just thought I was slow)


More experimental ones that haven’t been successful for me (or anyone) yet could include:

  • While running or walking

  • While driving

  • While applying makeup

  • While applying makeup and driving

  • While having a fight with your spouse (not recommended)

  • While breastfeeding twins (I have not had the pleasure, but it sounds okay)

  • While skiing, playing volleyball or soccer or other sports—may be a bad idea. Have a whole team of soccer playing knitters? You might get Vlad Dracul’s Forest of the Impaled. Pretty quiet game.

The point of all of this is that with a little creativity and a little Lucille Ball-esque mischief, you can potentially accomplish a lot of work.


Here is my most recent Sneak Knitting project:








It started out small. But after giving Amy a few baths and checking out a few guy movies....













The scarf is calling "Starry Evening" and can be found at http://www.theknittingbee.com/ under the spring 2010 newletter or in free patterns. I used Berroco "Seduce" (oh, la la!) for this one and added some beads that I found on clearance at the fabric store during a Sneak Shopping trip. 


The project is half way done, now. Just need a few doctor's appointments or trips to the park and before I know it, I can move on to those homework heels!


Give Sneak Knitting a shot! Be safe, be sure and know that "You Can DO It!"












My Daughter was a Knitted Improvist

Jo with almost all of her fav things: Dr. Who,
Knitting and Tricoter LYS in Seattle.
Just need some dancing, which she
really is always doing in her head.
Improvist may not be a word, but it explains perfectly the activity my daughter, Jo, engaged in recently at Vogue Knitting Live in Bellevue, Washington, 2014.

My oldest daughter (almost 26 now--yikes!) has been dancing since she was old enough to stand. We have a video (somewhere) of her dancing to INXS' "Need You Tonight" in her underwear at 3 years old. She was always totally unaware of the camera and just got into the moment and the music every chance she got--er, gets....

Now a grown-up, she has a BFA in dance from Cornish College of the Arts and in her younger years attended Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (VSAA) and was part of several dance studios including Columbia Dance here in Vancouver, Washington, too. (She put herself through that last one by cleaning the studio to pay for her classes)

All this made her a natural for the art exhibit at Vogue Knitting Live. She currently teaches pilates in Seattle, Washington and, at one of those studios, she was approached by a fiber artist and asked to perform as an improvisational dancer at the event. She was sooooooo in.

Watch! Jo is on the right.
The artist, Antonia Price, made the entire knitted "set" for her exhibit and the girls were asked to climb inside and do whatever they wanted. Jo loves improv, and she also loves to surprise people. This was pretty easy since no one could see the girls' faces but the girls could see the passers by. She told me she had a great time holding very still and waiting for someone to stop and stare a moment before she suddenly turned to look at them, as if to strike. (At home, we call this face and motion "Velociraptor" after she saw Jurassic Park as a kid and started imitating the dinosaur.)

I hear the reactions to that were pretty amusing.

You can see a video clip of the exhibit here. It's short, but you get the idea.

I ran into a woman at Twisted yarn shop here in Portland while taking a double-knitting class who actually saw the exhibit. She thought it was a bit strange. Jo, my creative child, was happy to hear that as she smiled to herself.

Jo loves kids!
To hear more about Jolene and her philosophy on dance and creativity, you can listen here to her interview recorded last summer for the All Classical Portland show "On Deck with Young Musicians," at the Metro Arts Kid's Camp, where she has worked for 7 years as a camp teacher. It's a creative camp for kids that takes place over two weeks every summer at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

She'll be back there this year, velociraptor, blind folds and all.

She's amazing.

A Cornish performance, after which I punched the air, wishing I could cry out publicly: "That's MY kid! My uterus! MINE!" (Yes,
highly inappropriate, I know. But those were the words in my head and it's important that I am honest.)

Jo at Metro Arts Kids Camp fooling around with the other counselors during a break.

Jo at Cornish in a BFA performance, this photo is mine.


June 5, 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's...in the Suburbs

Me, almost 45, slightly overweight and
posing on my driveway in front of my distant
Ford F250. Yup. That's about right.
But the scarf is KILLER!
I recently caught up with the rest of the world and watched "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with my 14-year-old daughter. I wanted to know what all the hubbub was about, especially as it relates to the infamous "little black dress" and the iconic fashion of Audrey Hepburn.

While the story in the movie is charming (except for the hideous, unnecessary and offensive character played by Mickey Rooney) and I feel as in love with Audrey Hepburn as the rest of the world does, I want to approach an idea. It came to me as Annie and I were attempting to photograph Abby Harris' recently finished Hepburn-esque scarf. I wanted to do a photo shoot downtown but couldn't get to Portland right now. That's when it came to me. We suburbanites are not so mundane as we may seem to be, or even wish we were.

For those of you city dwellers who may think we who live in suburbia do not share in excitement such as a lifestyle in New York may bring, think again. I have come up with some thought provoking parallels between the two universes. You may just change your mind--as you put your tongue in your cheek.

Gold diggers, secret ex-husbands (I think I may have one of those myself...you'll never know...it increases my mystery) and people who are out pretending to be somebody other than themselves? Please....those people are everywhere. The 'burbs are just crawling with women putting on their best faces, colored hair, gel nails and floral pedicures ... they just happen to be driving SUV's and wearing Columbia Sportswear and Silpada. What? Did you think you had to be hailing taxis and actually going to Tiffany's to commit fickle, childish  behaviors? Okay, if you want to be more authentic, you could go to Jared's...er...I guess "he" has to go to Jared's. Maybe you could eat breakfast there.

And as for that party scene in the movie! Don't underestimate the power of the suburbanites to drink too much and misbehave.

Several years ago, I used to live in a more upscale neighborhood outside of Washington D.C. in west Loudoun County with my now ex-husband (not the secret one...that'd spoil all my mystery). Parties? Holy cow.

There may not have been a single screen writer, actress or New Yorker Reporter (there may have been one for the Washington Post...), but there certainly was an equally odd mix of attendees at neighborhood parties. Blended nicely together were housewives (some of them possibly a bit desperate), sales people, one astrophysicist, government contractors, a couple of F.B.I. agents (one a tax accountant and one retired who was not allowed to tell us what he did...CIA? Unkown quantity), a few women who sold Mary Kay on the side, one woman who thought herself above everyone else (as her family was and "old Virginia family, and didn't you know her father was a doctor?"),  one secret service guy, and one family who owned a local box making company whose men were known for their unfaithful husbandly ways.

And then there was this other woman. To many of the female neighbors, she was the other woman. She was a scandalous former neighbor who was still being invited to these parties. No one knew who was telling her about them, but she always showed up. And she always seemed newly single and definitely on the prowl. The gossip was always that she'd had "work done." Liposuction, eyebrow and butt lifts, and God knows what else. All the female eyes were on her as she would slink through the door--no, literally, she had terrible posture--and make her vampish way through the crowd, trying to dance with all the husbands in the room. And you didn't hear this from me, but she may have left with a couple of them on occasion.....

Then there was always the guy--the small, slightly unattractive and slightly out of shape and slightly not-very-interesting man who would become more self-confident and funnier, if only to himself, with every drink. The man who took on this role varied from event to event. But in every case, it was certain that by the end of the night, this guy was the self-proclaimed most interesting man in the world, toasting everyone--and especially the ladies, and usually one by one--with his Costco-purchased Yellowtail Shiraz in either limerick fashion or in his own impromptu Irish blessings.

And don't tell me that New York is the only place where one stupid woman drinks too much and falls
But admittedly, the scarf definitely improves the appearance. And is really IS
original. No Tarjay here.
face down on the floor....oh, no. We have that, too. And in the 'burbs, she probably also vomits all over her Mossimo dress, recently purchased from Target (the indigenous people say "tar-jay"), just so she is not outdone by the New York socialite of the same fame.

No, doubters of suburbia, we too have more than our fair share of weirdness, scandal and inappropriate behaviors.

We just don't look as good doing it.







June 1, 2014

The End of the Year and Three Teacher's Gifts

Annie and I were working on a photo project for school here
for Mrs. Harris. She painted herself .
The end of the school year brings many things. Summer is heading our way, vacations are on the horizon (more camping, please) and the kids are getting out of school.

Two of my daughters have scholastic milestones this year. Amy Rose is heading from pre-school to kindergarten. (She told me yesterday, in her best instructional voice, "...that's what graduation means, mom. It means you are going to kindergarten.") And Annie is leaving junior high behind and entering high school.

Annie's entrance to high school is extra special for us as she has been accepted to the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics for high school. To this end, she has had some very special, influential teachers that I feel have helped her get there. So, naturally, I want to do something for them.

I don't ordinarily make the kids' teachers knitted gifts as there are too many kids and, especially once
they enter junior high and high school, there are also too many teachers. But this time--and for these teachers--I want to make personalized hand knitted gifts to let them know how special they have been for my daughter.
On the blocks 

First, Mrs. Harris, the avant-garde art teacher with a new flair for vintage style. She is an original, seemingly placed here out of time. She is a professional artist in addition to being a teacher and she loves the kids, supports their art and tells it like it is. No word mincing and no holds barred. Lucky them. I love her--and not just because we share the ginger thing.

For her, I have selected the "Movie Star Scarf" from Joelle Hoverson's More Last Minute Knitted Gifts (pg 33, if you're interested). I used a red-orange shade of Ella Rae's Lace merino wool, made in Italy, of course. It has a spring to it, and will hold it's shape very well for a long time. It's blocking right now, or as I like to say, it's "on the blocks." (My husband is a car guy if you're wondering where that one came from)

Next, I want to make a necktie for Mr. Davis, the english teacher. He is one of those gifted teachers
Not Andrew's Best picture--he's really a cutie! And just to clarify:
He is the boyfriend of my 25 year old daughter! 
who can tease, smile and really challenge the kids all at once. He is the teacher you look back on again and again when you want to remind yourself that you can face the next challenge ahead of you. He has also been secretly battling cancer. We don't know what type as he didn't want the kids to know, but when someone misses school for large blocks at a time, people start to talk.

These hats were made (I only pictured one
of two) using the Star Wars Charts on
Ravelry.
I don't want to focus on his illness for his gift, but he does happen to be a lover of Star Wars and a quirky fellow who would probably wear a hat like the ones I made for my husband and my daughter's boyfriend last Christmas. I think that'll do very nicely.

Lastly, there is Mr. Greco. He is a friendly, younger more "mainstream" sort of fellow who loves running and has a young family at home. He is a great encouragement to the kids on how to best use technology in new and upcoming ways. He has the kids do a lot of assignments as videos on their iPads, for example, which the school provides. For him, I think a running hat in his favorite sports team or college colors will be a good gift.

I am waiting to hear back from him on that. I sent him a random email yesterday that said, "What is your favorite sports team? Where did you go to college? What is your favorite color?"

And no, fellow Monty Python lovers, I am not going to throw him off the bridge of death.

It's just knitting.

Pics to come!


Annie has been practicing her photography on me, too. I cut my hair, we took
pics. I think it makes all my hats look better, but now I have to straighten it. : p

May 30, 2014

Pattern Junkie

Okay, who could blame me for this one?
Scholarly, timeless, classic.
Everyone needs this one!!! Right?!


I've done it. Again.

I can't help myself. I see them and I must have them. I tell myself I must rescue them for no one else will appreciate them the way I can. What if they fall into the wrong hands? What if that someone else (the other purchaser) does not know what she has and inevitably does the unthinkable--gasp--donates it to Good Will where it will sit unnoticed amidst unread copies of Sunset Magazine and an also-ran cookbook with a forgettable title and stupid cover art (thought to be kitchy but really was just stupid)?

I excuse myself with well thought out rationales. They are like excuse notes to my teachers:






Dear Mrs. So-n-So,

Please excuse Janelle for buying up all the past issues of Vogue Knitting from 2006 that were on clearance on that obscure website (and it was SUCH a good sale, too!). She rescued them from a fate worse than paper for a hamster cage. She probably risked her identity to accomplish this incredible act and now these publications will live on forever. 

She is truly a hero.

Sincerely,

Janelle's Addiction  Conscience  Mother



I just can't stop. If knitting patterns were cats, I would be on the local 10 o'clock news for keeping 150
An awesome surprise gift from my friend Jessica. A find at
the local library book sale. Whew! She saved it!! Plus, it's really
cool!! I love it! I guess I am hooking other people.
of my closest feline friends in my studio apartment. If knitting patterns were felonies, I would be in for life....or worse.

What is a knitter to do, I ask you?

According to my Ravelry library, I have 4,198 patterns to date. And I know there are really so many more than that--just not yet cataloged. Some things have been given to me by enabling friends (I love you guys!), some I bought from the infamous Amazon, some from those dangerously obscure websites.

I am vaguely aware that I am riding the line between functioning normally as a good citizen and living a junkie's life, holed up for days at a time in some cheap motel, rent-able by the week, covered in knitting magazines and books, unshowered and smelling of god-knows-what, just waiting for my next delivery. My next fix.

Okay, this onewas  sort of a "Whatthe?!" It's
pretty stupid, but hey! would you leave a beloved
pet behind just because they are ugly or
chew your furniture and pee on the couch?
Well, okay, honestly....I might ...but I won't let
an old knitting  publication die.
For now, I am keeping up appearances, mostly. I make it to work, I shower, mostly,  I make meals for my family, mostly. And my excitement remains contained for the most part, only unravelling a bit each time the mailman comes with a new package for me. Then I momentarily turn into Ralphie from A Christmas Story, sprinting home from the mailbox and, instead of a sleazy motel, I hole up in my craft room, door shut, ravaging the newest addition to my library the way Ralphie holed up in his mother's bathroom with his precious Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Pen.

But I am never disappointed the way Ralphie was. No, my message is never so mundane as "Be sure to drink your ovaltine."




Mine is always satisfying. Until the next package comes.

And I think I like it that way.



May 29, 2014

Door Prize! What? For ME?

I tried out blocking rods for the first time. See my
weird little edges? Stretched out stitches. Oh, well, I
will wash it out.
For the past 3 years I have been attending the Rose City Yarn Crawl here in Portland, Oregon. I found out about this event just a couple of years after I started knitting and I was hooked after my first time out. And it turns out I only missed one of the years as it had just really started up! Lucky me. I pledged to be there for all future crawls.

The whole experience feels like being on a vacation to me. I love visiting all the stores and learning the personalities to be found in each one. And there is a permeating feeling during the crawl like you are visiting old friends, or are at a reunion--the type you want to attend. Everyone is feeling friendly, the stores are bustling like it's Christmastime and the employees and store owners are all excitement and smiles, despite their ever so slightly frazzled appearances.

It's all good, all around. But this year mine got better, if that were possible.

Every year there is a passport that you can print out from the RCYC website with all the stores/logos on it. You are supposed to take it around with you over the four day crawl and get it stamped by the people in each store. (You also get a bonus button to pin to your RCYC official bag, which I love. I have a personal goal to make my knitting bag look like Portland's own Ramblin' Rod's cardigan.)
Observe said cardigan. This is the future of my knitting bag.

At the end of the crawl, you turn in this passport to your last store. Some people do that by Thursday night, but I never can turn mine in that early--I'm pretty chatty. Imagine that. It slows my shopping down. Thus, I turn mine in on Sunday afternoon.

Each store that you visit gives you the option of signing up for door prizes and that big passport turn-in puts you in a grand prize basket drawing.

I never win anything, in spite of visiting all the stores. And more than once.

But this year I did. It wasn't a grand prize or even a big basket, but it was a door prize, nevertheless. I'll take it. Close Knit's owner, Sally, emailed me to tell me the great news and I immediately emailed back, then picked up my poncho kit the next day.

Before I left the house, my husband was joking that it was probably going to be "some color they don't want anymore!" He laughed.

When I got to the store, they handed me this cute little project bag that contained.....

...goldenrod yellow yarn--TECHNO-- and a Sasha wrap pattern from Blue Sky Alpaca. Lucky for my I love that color.

And I adorned my wrap with my grandmother's very cool, very old pin.