February 6, 2003

AAaahh!! It’s been nearly a week since I blogged, and I’m going nuts with all this stuff running through my head that I haven’t had a chance to expel via the net. You did realize that you’re all my fiber therapists, right? Or is that bartenders? Ah, figure it out yourself. I’m more concerned with my knitting.

First of all the Asymetrical Vest (sorry, but I just hate that. Wouldn’t it be Asymetric?) is on temporary hold. I had to work on the Philosopher’s Sweater over the weekend and on Monday night for our Philosopher’s group, and last night was our biweekly trek over to Columbus, Indiana for their knit night. Our friend, Christi Hand, started the group, and we really have enjoyed supporting her and some of the new knitters in that area. Plus, it’s one more night that someone else is in the responsible role, and we get to just roll in and roll out. <sigh> I can’t tell you how nice that can be when you live in your yarn shop.

Anyway, our Sock-It-To-Me sock group is this coming Monday night, and we’re making toe-up socks this month. We’re using Wendy Johnson’s (of Wendyknits! and Knitty fame) "wendy’s toe-up sock pattern" at my suggestion, so guess who’s leading this project. Eek! I started the first toe last night in Columbus in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport in the Aslan colorway. The yarn was a gift from Rob… for our anniversary? my birthday? Valentine’s Day? oh, well—far enough back that I don’t recall. I just hadn’t decided exactly what I wanted to make from the yarn which (despite my lust for color) I really think is subtly gorgeous. You’ll have to watch the progress on this one, folks. It’s going to be a trick for me to get at least one of the socks finished before Monday. It’s Wendy’s pattern, but I can’t match her speed for the life of me.

Yes, Jan. That’s your Koigu on the desk. We’ll get it out asap. 😉 Those are the colors that I’d have chosen for you, too, but I didn’t want to sway you. Oh, I’m going to embarrass you, now. (Don’t you just love how I decide that mid-paragraph.) Friends and neighbors, the two skeins of handpaint in the background of the photo above are for our dearly departed knitting friend, Jan. No, she’s not dead. She just moved back East, and we miss her terribly. Fortunately, we still keep in touch, and she’s about to start Joe’s Koigu Scarf that he made for Wendy in the two colorways pictured. How she has time for the scarf when I’m relatively certain that she hasn’t been knitting on her Philosopher’s sweater, I don’t know, but I suspect I’ll be hearing about it shortly. <evil grin> Love you, Jan. I’ll be looking forward to seeing pics of that sweater soon.

January 30, 2003

Guten morgen, y’all.

Oh, what a wonderful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day. Everything’s coming up roses. Everything’s going my way. Ok. Moment over. Can you tell I’m feeling human again?

Anyway, as I mentioned, I have made some progress on the Philosopher’s Sweater. The pen lying across the fabric is standard size. Those of us in a hurry first thing in the morning can’t waste time rummaging for a tape measure… though now I see that Rob’s left one beside the keyboard. Doh! Ah, well. He’s smacking the snooze button with more force than is necessary two rooms away, and I’m in the office surrounded by yarn. Who do you think is happier at this moment?

This is the Asymetrical Vest that I’ve been claiming I was knitting on. See, it’s real. Knit from side to side, I’m about halfway through the back of the neck. I love this yarn. It’s like knitting with clouds.

Then there is my newest bright, shiny object. Rob has accused me of being a raccoon on more than one occasion for my fascination with such things, but I can’t help it. I like beauty, and it makes me feel good to surround myself with it. It also probably doesn’t hurt that I get a giggle every time I get back around to my marker and think, "oh, my. My sweater has it’s own piercing." How twisted is that?

January 29, 2003

Goodness! It’s been nearly a week since I last posted!

It’s been a ride, but it seems to be leveling out. ThreadBear is definitely becoming a full time job, and my contract web work is filling in the gaps. I’m amazed that I’m still able to work a full time office job to boot. <shudder>

My knitting has been coming along slowly, I’m afraid. I’ve gotten maybe three inches knit on the Philosopher’s Sweater. It’s fun, but it’s gotten cumbersome to transport—in part, because I’m using a sleeve as my color pattern for the body. A sleeve isn’t that big, but it doesn’t exactly fit in a #10 envelope, either. My reward/incentive for working on this project has been one of the new beaded stitch markers that we’re carrying in "the shop" made by our friend, Sarah Peasley. We became friends with Sarah a few years ago while we were living in Lansing and were members of The Mid-Michigan Knitters Guild of which Sarah was then President. She’s a great friend, an incredible knitter, and for quite some time, she’s been teaching Philosopher’s Sweater classes. For now, she’s teaching classes at The Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan and in her home outside Lansing.

Ok. Now, back to me. My other recent work has been on the Asymmetrical Vest from Sally Melville’s The Knitting Experience: Book 1, The Knit Stitch. The concept is pretty slick. There isn’t a purl stitch in any of the patterns in the book (that’ll come in Book 2). I’m strongly recommending the book to new knitters for confidence-building. For now, I’m working on the Asymmetrical Vest as a shop model in a rich dark red Cascade Magnum. I love the yarn, and it’s been a while since I’ve knit anything in super bulky.

<sigh> Unfortunately, time remains of the essence. I must run, but I’ll do my level best to post more often as I settle into my busier schedule.

Oh, and thank you so much to all of you who’ve offered support and kudos on my blog. I have enjoyed this endeavor more than I thought possible when I started about a month ago. Be well, and know that your comments and compliments are deeply, deeply appreciated.

January 24, 2003

Yes, I’ve been slack in blogging for the last week, but the chaos appears to be subsiding… somewhat. For now, let’s review where I am. I’ve gotten a few more inches on the Philosopher’s sweater. I’ve started the Asymmetrical Vest from Sally Melville’s latest book, The Knitting Experience. I wound up ripping the toe-up sock in purple and green Koigu that I started, so I’m back to ground zero on that one. In all, I suppose that I’ve put everything on hold except the Philosopher’s sweater and the Asymmetrical Vest. The sock will have to come back soon, though.

Why the focusing on a few projects? Three jobs. I’ve still got my full time job for benefits. Aside from that, I’ve started a web development business that I’m hoping will take me out of the full time job so that I can focus more time on… tada, the third business, ThreadBear. Before I get flamed (at home, moreso than by readers), that order only describes the sequence of the telling—not importance.

Pending projects

Next on my list, I want to finish up the High Helen sweater. It’s a very simple sweater, and it’s nearly complete, so to leave it on the sidelines this long simply doesn’t make sense. I’m a ba-a-a-a-ad boy.

Second, I want to begin the S.W.A.K. Intarsia Workshop. I started it once before and never finished it, but I really want to do some Intarsia design and think the sampler is a great way to learn some pretty nifty winding techniques for achieving flat Intarsia. (By the way, I’d always seen Intarsia capitalized, but recently I’ve seen it several times without the capitalization. Which is right and why? I’d really like to know.)

Finally, I’ve got to work on a pair of toe-up socks. I suggested a pair for our local sock group, Sock-It-To-Me, and now I’ve set me own aside. Ba-a-a-a-ad boy. Bad-bad boy.

January 19, 2003

Good Lord, have mercy.

Have you ever had one of those days that lasted for three? It’s been like that around here. My old job is drying up, and while I’m not terribly sad to see it go, it does feel like trading the devil you know for the one you don’t. And if that’s not stressful enough, my supervisor thrice removed is being belligerent. More drama.

So you’d think a nice quiet weekend at home is just what I needed, right? You’ve never been in my house, have you?

As I stumble into the kitchen this morning and fumble around to make coffee, Rob decides he’s going to felt. Now, for those of you who haven’t felted, you should be aware that when you felt, depending on the staple of the fiber, you can get a significant amount of flotsam in the water that then has to go somewhere. When I heard Rob doing his best to recall all of George Carlin’s words that can’t be said on television, I knew that the somewhere that the flotsam accumulated today was apparently the pump that clears the washing machine’s tub during the spin cycle.

Yes, it’s happened before, and yes we know what to do. That does not, however mean that it’s an easy task or that it doesn’t make a huge mess in the laundry room floor. What we were not expecting was the wharf rat sized chunk of congealed felted wool that Rob fished out of the pump this time. I think we could have felted Connor and not have come up with much more of a clog.

Dang! She must have heard me. What a puss on that girl! Look at those eyes. You’d think she was beaten twice a day and starved… until you see the rest of her. Then you realize that, while she may yet be the most svelt individual in the house, she isn’t missing many meals.

That said, look at the results of the felting. Look familiar? They should. They’re fuzzy feet, and my baby made them just for me in Cascade 220 Aporto (a green-speckled blue– color #4009– that happens to be one of my absolute favorites of the 220 colors).

My knitting, you ask? Well, I’ve started on the Asymmetrical Vest, and I’ve managed to knit about twenty rows, but that’s about it for the last few days. As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a little hectic.

All in all, though, life is good. I do have contract on some work in San Diego that’s keeping me hopping, and I just garnered a new local client for web work. But most importantly, I’m gathering my will to push full-force into the art and business of fiber. Is it going to happen overnight? Well, that remains to be seen. The mass that the washer passed? Oh, you can see that now.

Be well (or at least better than our appliances), and we’ll talk soon.

January 16, 2003

I’m ready to cry. I’ve gotten to do almost no fiber work all week. ThreadBear’s been updated, and I’ve gotten in some new contract web work, and that’s financially rewarding, but it’s not knots. That’s where the muse lives. Sorry, everyone.

That said, guess what? Tonight is our Third Thursday Dinner and Knit-Night, and I’ll be inundated with fiber and fiber folk! I can’t begin to tell you how much I need it. I’m a little concerned, because we’ve had some snow, but it doesn’t appear to have hurt the roads. If anyone reads this and can make it to our place tonight, please come. I need my soul fix of all of us in one place at one time. Ohmmm… I’m waiting.

January 13, 2003

Oh, what a weekend.

First of all, we had a houseful of folks in attendance for a felted clog workshop Saturday afternoon. My thanks to everyone that was able to make it. We had a great time. We also had an amazing day for sales, so that’s never a bad thing.

The afternoon came to a roaring crescendo when a couple of the non-clog-participating knitters in attendance felted a tote and purse, put them outside to dry, then realized that it was below freezing in Indiana over the weekend. Rob went out to check on the felting, and realized that the bags were frozen! When the laughter (and Viagra jokes) subsided, we hung the bags in the garage for drying. Notice the highly-technical drying rod leaning against the door to the left of the table. I understand that it somehow doubles as a floor-cleaning device, but who knows?

As folks started winding down, a few friends settled in and we sat around knitting and watched Wanda Sykes’ new Comedy Central special. Between guffahs, I managed to get another inch or so knit on the body of the Philosopher’s Sweater, but I failed to get pics taken. Maybe I’ll snap a couple on my lunch break.

Then there was Sunday. Oh, my. Patsy, a coworker of Rob’s and a friend of ours who spins, knits, weaves, and probably has eight to twelve other skills that I’m too tired to recall at the moment, came over and helped me wind a warp for several scarves out of some rayon chenille that she sold me. It’s beautiful stuff, but that’s not the end of the story.

Rob and April, another of their coworkers and the relatively new knitter I mentioned recently who’s now knocking out a gorgeous Alligator Tooth Philosopher’s Sweater, came in and the four of us hit the kitchen for a little hand-dyeing. Patsy dyed a few skeins of rayon, but they dried quickly, and I didn’t get out the camera until everyone left. Fortunately, April, Rob, and I mostly dyed wool, so we all had pretty wet finished products, so I got pics of those.

I believe April dyed a hank of worsted weight wool in fuchsia, orange, and purple or navy… sorry, the photo isn’t great, and I’m too tired to remember. This was April’s very first time dyeing yarn, and the picture really doesn’t do the yarn justice. Rob dyed two and a half skeins of Cascade Bulky Leisure (cotton and llama bouclé) in purple, fuchsia, and blue for the Shape-It Scarf in Sally Melville’s new book, The Knitting Experience. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

As for me, well, I dyed one hank of the worsted weight wool in blue, green, pink, purple, gold, and orange. It looks like a tie-dyed t-shirt. But remember the warp that I wound? Look what I did with it. The wool was just prelude to the symphony. This warp is rayon chenille (16epi for anyone interested) hand-dyed, quite literally, in a rainbow of colors. I tested the colors on the wool, then dyed the warp. I didn’t finish the warp and get it ready to hang to dry until ten o’clock last night. Needless to say, it was a very long day, but I now have a wonderful project underway. There’s enough warp for four scarves, and I dyed enough of the chenille in the same colorway for weft for one of the scarves (that’s the little chain hanging to the left). What will happen to the other three? Who knows? But I’ll post pictures as they come off the loom.

Finally, we need a shop model for an upcoming class. The Asymmetrical Vest that also appears in Sally Melville’s The Knitting Experience will be featured in a ThreadBear class later this winter, and guess who’s knitting the model? You got it. And these are two of the three or four balls of Cascade Magnum that will go into the project. I guess I’ll be updating the WIP list this afternoon!

Be well, folks, and happy knitting… and weaving!

UFOs

Tonight is our local knitters guild meeting (Bloomington Knitters Guild in Bloomington, Indiana if anyone is interested), and our program is UFOs: Why are they languishing and do you intend to finish them? We’re a pretty close bunch, so I don’t mind showing off my unfinished projects at all, but I so hate that designation. I’m one of those people that production knitters love to hate. I enjoy the process, and quite frankly, I almost hate to finish an enjoyable project. It’s almost like losing a friend. I like the WIP designation, myself. And as it happens, I have several.

One that I’ll be taking tonight is a top-down turtleneck. It’s made of one strand of a mossy green cotton chenille and two strands of heavy variegated cotton thread. It’s knitting up at a chunky-weight (Cascade Pastaza or Manos del Uruguay), and I’ve gotten most of the body done. I still need to knit the ribbing and the sleeves, but otherwise, it’s on track.

Unfortunately, it’s languished for about eight months while I worked first on production knitting for ThreadBear (huge mistake– HUGE), then while I was working on the Philosopher’s Sweater and subsequent oh-I-need-to-give-someone-one-of-those and wow-I’d-really-like-to-make-one-of-these projects.

Started at about the same time (maybe even a little earlier) was another double-stranded sweater project that was a little more fiscally adventurous. It’s a top-down cardigan (the pattern is the sister of the top-down pullover used for the chenille sweater) knit in one strand of red-orange Jamieson & Smith jumper weight and one strand of Brown Sheep Original Handpaint in their Sunbaked Earth colorway.

This one got stalled when Brown Sheep changed their dyeing process for Original Handpaint. Let this be a lesson to you. Because the yarn (BSOH) was somewhat expensive and we were struggling to make ends meet, I was buying it one or two skeins at a time. Then, half-way down the sweater, they changed their dyeing process, and it became impossible to find dye lots that matched or even came close to the older skeins. Fortunately, we’ve started ThreadBear and opened a wholesale account with Brown Sheep in the meantime, and they’ve assured us that if we would like to supply a skein of the old yarn, they should be able to match it (or come close) and that we’d just need to purchase the entire dye-lot. Oh, horrors. More yarn. You know we’d hate that. BWA-HEE-HEE-HEE!!

What does concern me is that the newly dyed yarn still may be far enough from the original that it would make more sense to rip the entire sweater and start over with the new dye lot. Eh… as I said. I’m a process person. I’d rather knit it a second time that to have a finished sweater that I didn’t like.

Despite how all of that sounds, I really do have something finished to show you. I knit the cap of Kathy Zimmerman’s "Cap n’ Scarf" set that appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Knitter’s Magazine, but I substituted my own handpainted Lamb’s Pride Bulky for the suggested yarn. I finished the project Christmas Eve at a get-together at the home of our friend, Christy. Christy was kind enough to help us put together shelving and rearrange the house when we had to expand our ThreadBear storage to fill an extra bedroom, and I wanted to do something special for her.

Actually, this hat was the second that I knit from the same yarn, and it has been customized to be knit in the round. The first was knit flat with the colorful yarn on the reverse-stockinette brim and the mottled grey on the seed stitch crown then seamed up the back. Eeeewww… It was terribly unpleasant. The colors were great, and it looked all right sitting on the table, but when worn, the seam up the back was firmer than the surrounding fabric and gave the appearance of a saggy butt on the back of the wearer’s head. That wasn’t exactly the look I was going for. This one, on the other hand showcases the handpaint yarn AND is very flattering on.

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