One of the little rules I have for myself is to try to finish two WIPs before I cast on another project—although I ignore the rule often, always for reasons that seem perfectly justified, like the St. Anthony Foundation call for handknit scarves this Christmas.
Now that I've finished my second design assignment for Knitting Today, which will be in the May/June issue, I took a short break and then returned to my personal knitting. My top priority has been to finish the vest for Jane's dad that has been in the works for about 15 months. The last thing I had left to do was finish the back, which felt like miles of plain stockinette (Jane's dad is tall). I finished all the pieces, and it's blocking now. So it's close, but not really finished—there are still button bands and armhole ribbing to knit, as well as seaming the sides.
The next thing I want to finish is my Tuscany shawl, which just had its third birthday... It's kind of frustrating now, because the rows are really long, but it doesn't seem deep enough. Finishing a row takes a lot of time but there's not much to show for it. I would like to wear it to Stitches West next month, though. And it would be fun to finish it before Jane and I head to the real Tuscany—the one in Italy—in mid-March. So really, I'm not even close to finishing this WIP.
But I decided I'd like to have another sweater for myself well under way by the time we get on the plane. Preferably a top-down cardigan that I could finish and wear on the trip. And I went a little nuts. I've been swatching for the Featherweight cardigan, and I just purchased a pretty pattern called Cherry Vanilla (Thea Colman's design skills and productivity kind of make me sick with envy) and I've been swatching for that with some Elann Peruvian Quechua from the stash. And I have a tailored top-down t-shirt started in Aran-weight cotton. Oh, and I've been dinking around with some covers for Ethel's harness, because the nylon straps seem to be giving her bald spots. And that prompted me to pull out Coffee's sweater in progress also.... And I really ought to keep sketching and swatching new designs, so as not to lose momentum.
So instead of following my finish two, start one rule, I have just lost my mind and allowed yarn to explode all over the house. I should be able to settle down in a week or two, I think.
Actually, it's not my smiling face, and it's not the Rolling Stone:
But it is my design on the cover. (And my smiling face actually is inside the magazine...)
I have to confess that I have been haunting my local JoAnn store for most of the week, waiting for the hard copies to arrive, and today I grabbed a handful. And today I've been feeling like this guy:
I just finished a submission for the next issue, and I'm ready to start sketching some more designs.
I just glanced at the ad on the back cover of the Fall 2010 Knitscene, and my gut reaction was, "I have to go get that pattern today." And sure enough, it was a Classic Elite pattern. I wasn't surprised, because I've had that reaction many times before. There's just something about their aesthetic that appeals to me.
The pattern booklet (First Light) isn't listed on CEY's website or in Ravelry yet, so I might have to cool my jets. I think it still merits a trip to K2Tog to check, though.
Knitscene has stepped up its game, too, it seems. Maybe it's partly that it's a fall issue, but the designs are sophisticated, cute, and intriguing.
... but I blogged. Like a real post, where I had to string together more than a few sentences and used photos and everything. Just not here--it's over here.
I visited Kristine and Adrienne and Wondermike at A Verb for Keeping Warm yesterday (they called out the Cupkates truck--how could I not?) and I got all civic boosterish (hence the post on the Berkeleyside blog).
Actually, a couple of months ago I saw via Twitter that some folks were starting up a local blog, and I thought "I'm as nosy and opinionated as the next Berkeleyite, so why not let my neighbors hear from me?" I haven't posted there often, but I'm hoping to do so more frequently.
Here are a few pics from Verb's holiday party yesterday, which I couldn't shoehorn into the Berkeleyside post.
This last image is from the studio of Mirto Golino, around the corner in the same building as Verb. I loved her stuff, and she was a blast to talk to. She showed me a hat she made from Verb yarn that was pretty pretty.
Some knitters seem to think there is no occasion for which a knitted item is an inappropriate gift. I am definitely one of those knitters.
I can't help myself. Sure, I can be snarky about charity knitting--but then I find myself knitting baby things for new parents whom I know only slightly. Is it my fault that my siblings won't breed?
My latest seizure was deciding to make a little lacy something for a young girl I'll be seeing this weekend. I pulled out some yarn that's been waiting in the stash a couple of years for just such an occasion--I bought it with a little girl sweater in mind but without a fixed occasion or certain recipient in mind. As I said, I can't help myself.
So I'm crocheting Tracy Moncrieff's "Shrug It Off, Girl!" with the aim of being done by Saturday morning. I honestly think I can do it. Really.
And while I was digging through the stash at 9:30 last night, I again ran across the tweedy oatmeal wool that would be *perfect* for a man's vest, if only I had 400 more yards of it. I have a twinge of regret every time I look at that yarn, because it is not quite enough to make anything, and it's from a small producer and was purchased several years ago.
But it got me thinking that I would really like to make Jane's dad a vest for his birthday at the end of next month. So I just came home with 10 skeins of O-wool Balance in a nice dark gray. So much for my "finish two, start one" rule--and so much for the desperately needed decluttering.
And I think right now I shouldn't be blogging, I should be crocheting. I have a gift to finish.
It is totally possible to have writer's block for, like, three months, and a lot has happened, so I have lots to catch you up on.
When I was last here Kate and I were getting ready for the benefit knitting party for the Women's Daytime Drop-in Center, which went off successfully.
We launched 11 new knitters, and the Drop-in Center gained some new advocates--notably the women behind Help a Mother Out, who chose to make the WDDC a beneficiary of their May drive for diapers and women's and kids' health and hygiene supplies. They have hit the ground running, and I really admire their advocacy for women and kids who are hit hardest by the recession and our state's upside-down budget priorities.
I donated at handknit lace scarf, which apparently sold after we left.
That's been about the only knitting I've done lately, since it had to be finished on deadline, except that I also helped out with A Verb for Keeping Warm's Keep the Fleece event.
That was the summery-est Saturday we've had all spring, and I had a lovely time meeting new people and hanging out. I had the honor of knitting up Michael's handspun into a scarf block.
There is a lot more to tell you, most of it revolving around pets, but I'll hold that for another post. (Baby steps...)
I have to give props to Cat Bordhi. I'm rather abashed to admit that I do so grudgingly, because that seems snotty, but it's the truth. I really didn't care for "Socks Soar on Two Circs," and I think I wrote a cranky blog post about it at the time. Yet despite my complaints, I managed to learn how to use two circulars and got at least one pair of socks knitted.
Then I saw "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" at Maia's house, and I was intrigued by all the designs, which are much more appealing than the ones in "Socks Soar." Not only that, the "anatomy of a sock" diagram that I wanted in "Socks Soar" was there, along with concise instuctions on techniques critical to sock knitting. Between the intriguing (or unbearably cute) designs and the charts and guides that are key to customizing your own socks, this looked like a very valuable sock-knitting reference.
I bought the book after Christmas a year ago, and it has been a valuable reference, even though I'm not much of a sock knitter. I did knit the first two learning socks, and eventually I will work through some more of the sockitechtures. But mainly I come back to this book for the technique instruction. For example, Bordhi's explanation of how to knit together a stitch and its wrap is in a sidebar titled "A wrap resembles a necklace." To me, the tone of that is insufferably twee, but the explanation is thorough and clear, and the twee mnemonic works (dammit).
I also go back again and again to remind myself of the correct way to make lifted left and right increases (which she gives awkward-sounding nicknames). I should probably just drop my resistance and memorize her silly names and mnemonics for which stitch to lift for which side. The diagrams for these increases are great, but if I got the differences firmly enough in mind, I wouldn't have to go back to the book to refresh my memory.
The description of Judy's Magic Cast-on is crystal-clear and takes up only a quarter-page. And she gives abundant credit every time she explains a best practice developed or popularized by someone else, as with this technique. In fact, I just found the tip, squeezed in on the last page of the index, for finishing bind-offs neatly and invisibly. I wish I had found it last night when I was binding off a mitt. That mitt is what caused me to grab "New Pathways" again.
I'm finally finishing the mitts I started as a Christmas/birthday gift for my boss back in November (she reads the blog, but I'm sure all the boring knitting tech-talk has driven her away by now), and I wanted to make sure the bind-off at the top isn't constricting. I figured I'd try Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind-off, since it is reputed to be so elastic. First I dragged out my trusty old Vogue Knitting, which had, as I remembered, an extremely complex series of instructions (it maintains a k2,p2 ribbing pattern as you sew, so it's a mind-numbing, impossible-to-memorize routine of "Insert purlwise once, then insert knitwise to the back, now switch, now stand up and turn around three times..."). I bailed on that and decided to keep looking. I have just one EZ book, and I skipped that because I find EZ's written instructions to be cryptic very often. "Knitting in Plain English" addressed sewn bind-offs only in passing. "No Sheep for You" and "Knitting Circles Around Socks" and "The Sweater Workshop" and "Custom Knits" had nothin'. "DomiKnitrix" shows a tubular bind-off that looks pretty much like the thing, but I wasn't sure it was exactly right. Finally I checked "New Pathways for Sock Knitters," and I should have started there. A sidebar, titled "Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind-off," with blazingly simple instructions. Eureka.
My first mitt is bound off, and the edge is indeed stretchy and unconstricting (unlike the cast-on, which now looks rather tight). So, honestly, I will never diss the twee little metaphors or titles like "Treasury of Magical Knitting" again. (I almost wrote "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" there.)
I'll photograph the mitts as soon as I've bound off the second one and knitted the thumbs. I swiped the eyelet stitch pattern from the Riverbed sock pattern in "New Pathways," and I did these two at a time on magic loop, following the instructions in Melissa Morgan-Oakes's "2-at-a-Time Socks." That has been another really good reference guide for techniques that are good for more than just socks.
As I was working on the mitt last night I thought about the "Sock Summit" convention that's scheduled for this coming August. I was imagining sessions titled "Grafting Intensive" and "Cast-on Colloquium." That would be kind of a hoot, but as I've said, I'm not a sock knitter.
but actually throwing a party is nerve-racking. Jane and I don't do it very often because we're both pretty neurotically insecure (about different things, but I think the anxiety level comes out about the same).
I certainly had fun planning our wedding reception five years ago—I was happily distracted from the tedium of my job for months. Lately I've been party-planning again, which is much more entertaining than, say, taxes.
On March 15, Boxer Press Kate and I are hosting a Learn-to-Knit party here in Berkeley. It is a benefit for the Women's Daytime Drop-in Center, where I teach knitting once a week. Kate designed the easy cat-toy pattern we will be teaching, and she wrote the how-to-knit booklet and the pattern instructions. And she pulled it all together in an amazingly cute package.
I came up with a menu of Asian-inspired snacks, like fresh spring rolls, satay, and fruit. I think menu planning might be my favorite part. I also scouted locations and settled on Cafe Zeste, on the edge of Strawberry Creek Park in Berkeley. Although we originally thought we would do the catering ourselves, sanity prevailed, and Cafe Zeste will be providing the delicious snacks as well as the scenic locale.
Crystal Palace Yarn donated yarn and needles for us, and K2Tog donated a $25 gift certificate as a door prize. I'm still working on getting a few more door prizes, and we could use a few more guests to make the event a fundraising success for the Drop-in Center. We think a $35 donation is a good amount, considering all that we're providing. I'm asking guests to make their donations directly to the Women's Drop-in Center, so their donations are completely tax-deductible and they are not defraying the costs of the event at all. All the event supplies have been donated, and Jane and I are underwriting the catering costs. We're happy to foot this significant expense, though, to raise money and awareness for a service that is close to home and close to my heart. As a bonus, it's supporting a local small business.
Bay Area buddies, if you know someone who would like to learn to knit in a really fun setting with a lovely group of people, give me a holler.
The backstory on this little project is that the Drop-in Center hosted its own fundraiser last summer, an auction at the Berkeley Yacht Club. Jane and I attended, and it was a lovely evening. I rocked a black minidress, white fishnets, and a very mod hairdo. I looked great, if I do say so myself. If it weren't a bit much for midafternoon, I'd consider reprising the look for our knitting party. (No, I am not in the party shot below. I successfully avoided being photographed, as I try always to do.)
(I bet you didn't know that Berkeley has a yacht club, did you? Well it does, and it's a pretty cool little clubhouse with amazing views.)
Kate and I dreamed up this Learn-to-Knit party as an auction offering, and created a lovely display of instructions, menus, and invitations. (All of which Kate designed and printed. She has mad paper-arts skills.)
We actually swiped the the learn-to-knit party idea from Celia and Pamela, with their blessings and advice.
During the auction I cruised by our display all evening, but no one bid. At all. The only items to receive no bids at all were ours and the $4000 guided trip to Costa Rica. Needless to say, I was rather crestfallen. But I vowed that our work would not go to waste, and I would organize the party as a fundraiser at some later date. Now I have, and I'm determined that it will be a success.
During our March 15 party, I figure I'll be too busy teaching to bite my nails and worry.
In January, most of the knitting I did was making hexagons to be part of a collaborative afghan.
And when it came time to block them, I knew it was going to be hard to pin down the points and avoid having the edges curl up or pull out of shape. So I thought of doing something like using blocking wires.
I don't have any blocking wires, but I do have a set of those little, teeny sock dpns. And I have the little skewers known as "turkey lacers" which are for trussing up turkey cavities. Necessity is the mother of invention, n'est-ce pas?