School is Not in Yet

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having grandiose visions of where this blog can go – this puppy is not on a leash!

Unfortunately, I’ve let my “visions” run away with me (no, not to the extent that I need some pyschotropic medication – when I start hearing voices, THEN I’ll worry), and I plunged ahead, and began filming for my video knitting school.

This was a mistake.

It looks so easy when Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney both squeal, “I know! We can put on a show!  Yeah, we can use my dad’s barn!  We can get costumes left over from the school pageant!”  They didn’t have a director, a writer, a production assistant. They struck up the band, there were words and music, and thousands cheered. So easy.


This video knitting school is going to take some planning.  What I filmed yesterday is all over the place. I might need an outline. I might need a script.  A syllabus perhaps?  I might have to stop adlibbing so much. I might want to know where it’s going.

So, it’s back to the drawing board. But, now I see what I have to do.  Storyboard, outline, script, I got it.  I think.

But, while I’m in the planning process, here’s a peek at what’s coming (sort of) –

Finished Object Friday

When Joe and I first started dating, he laid down the law – I can’t continue to date you if you remain this messy. I took a good hard look at my home – clothes scattered on the floor, dishes in the sink, dust an inch thick on the woodwork, I could go on and on . . . and I decided that cleaning up my act would be a good thing, and growing up – picking up my clothes, making my bed – was past due.


So the cleanup process began – we methodically went through the house, from top to bottom, and put a system in place for keeping things clean. If you take something out, put it away – it was like a lightbulb went on – huh, really? that works, excellent! And honestly, I’m so much happier coming home to a clean, fresh smelling house. Its so different, we might as well have bought a new house.


And that organizational bootcamp somehow worked it’s way into my knitting.


I no longer have start-itis or cast on fever – I am cured.  Hallelujuah, I have been saved.


I only knit one project at a time.


Now that doesn’t mean that at this moment, I only have one project on needles – no, I still have remnants of my old knitting life (as well as the occasional dish left in the sink), but they’re old projects, projects that might never get themselves finished. 


So, when Kate Davis, author of my favorite sweater this year, the Owls Sweater, posted a teasing picture of her next pattern, Paper Dollspaperdollside_medium, without the pattern yet being available, I was thrown into a tizzy.  I had just finished Ishbel, and I couldn’t start a big project, because if I started a big project, I would have to finish it before I started Paper Dolls, and I had to start Paper Dolls the second the pattern was available – it was that kind of design, that called to me, that said knit me.


That threatened all that has become good in my knitting life – it was like crack – the waiting, the waiting – must cast on . . .


But, I took it down a notch.  No need for a big project, a little project will do. 

So, I russled through my stash, and found three balls of Kid Classic in Merlot, and cast on a small shawl,at a nice worsted gauge, and that would tide me over until Paper Dolls became available for purchase.  This shawl is from the Textured Shawl Recipe from Ravelry.  And like all good recipes, it’s a little bit of this (stockinette) a little bit of that (textured stitch) and a little something else thrown in (garter).


So, just like when I make a pie or a coffee cake, I tinkered with the recipe, just a little, because I wanted to use up my ingrediants.  I added an extra four rows of textured stitch, and then another block of garter just to use up my yarn.


And, the only problem with a little shawl – it’s a little too little to tie, but I love the way the collar kind of curls (from the stockinette), and while I’m not usually a big fan of the shawl pin, this little Owl (me and the Owls again!) did the trick.

And Paper Dolls? Well, there was a few days between the finishing of Textured Shawl, and the casting, but I didn’t go into shock, I didn’t keel over and die, my fingers didn’t curl into a coma, I took out a languishing project (Bird’s Nest Shawl), and undid the four or five rows that had to come out because of a mistake I made about, oh, 3 years ago, when it got thrown into the misfit toy pile for another day.

So, here is the beginning of Paper Dolls. I’m using O’Wool for the body, Fibre Company’s Fingering Canopy of the lighter contrasting color, and a plum Koigu for the Dancing Dolls.

I’m knitting on 2’s, and between the i-cord cast on and the corrigated rib, it’s going pretty slowly.

But slow is ok, no hurries, no worries – and nothing waiting in the wings.

Whimsical Knits on a Whimsy Day

A snow day! Excellent!  I haven’t had one of those in at least 10 years.  For me to have a snow day, the city must close.  To his credit, and perhaps his only credit, in two terms, Mayor Street never shut down the court system.  And, even though public schools and Catholic schools were called the night before, I was still surprised to get the call at 6:00 a.m.  Frankly, after John Bolaris misfired with the Great Storm of the Century back in 2001, I’m very skeptical whenever there’s even a hint of  a snow day. 


When I was little, a snow day was not a delightful surprise.  It was a right – school kids had a right to have a snow day every few weeks or so – it was as if it were a scheduled vacation, and I would not be denied.  If there was even a possibility of no school, I would get myself so pysched up to stay home and play that if we actually had school, the disappointment manifested in a crazy insane temper tantrum following the failure of a sick out attempt. 


So, in actuality, I have John Bolaris to thank for the return of the thrill of the snow day, because in crushing any faith I had in weather prediction, his sky is falling routine, and the panic that ensued – do you know how many canned goods I ended up with in my pantry!!! –returned the snow day to its rightful position on the calendar – a true surprise and a definite treat. 


You’ll notice, there will be no pictures of snow in this post-snow day wrap up post – because I didn’t venture outside all day, well at least beyond the front step to let Lemon out – who was not thrilled at all about her “bathroom” conditions.  Can you imagine if you had poop/pee on a sheet of ice, and a pile of snow.  Can’t blame her.


No, while Joe  and his son, Joey, played Kill Zone all day,anxiously awaiting today’s release of Halo Wars, I spent the day snuggled with the puppy, alternating between my Kindle, my knitting, and a little nappy nappy.











And, at the end of the day, I had this:

This is Ysolde Teague’s Ishbel from her Whimsical Little Knits Collection.  And, what could more perfect than a whimsical knit on snowy day?


I knit Ishbel with Blue Moon’s Socks That Rock in Rhode Island Red (the last full skein on the right, the sixth skein in from the left).  If you will recall, back in 2006, Knitty D and I went a little bit crazy with our STR purchases – and what have I knit from them – nothing – these six skeins remind me of my hamsters that I had  in college. 


I bought a hamster, thinking I only needed one hamster (when I really wanted a dog, but couldn’t have a dog) – and then I found at the thing was pregnant when squishy bloody thingies started coming out of her.  One baby ended up lame, and needed it’s own cage because the other babies picked on it.  Then, after about a week, Mamma Hamster decided she didn’t want to feed her babies, rather she wanted to eat them – so those five got their own cage.  So, after several months of having three cages of hamsters, those smelly, yucky mice-like creatures were  finally hairy enough to leave my nest.  Two went to sorority sisters, and the rest went back to the store.  When I handed the cage to the store manager, she dropped the cage, the cage collapsed, smooshing and killing the hamsters.  My sorority sisters put both hamsters in a plastic ball, and they got into a fight, killing each other.  So, none of the hamsters survived.  What does this have to do with Socks That Rock – nothing really, except these six skeins got under my skin like those six dead hamsters – what a waste!  Wasted yarn, dead hamsters – my mind does work in mysterious ways.  Anyway, I ended up gifting a couple of them (the yarn, not the dead hamsters), I think, but I still had a drawerful languishing – since I had even more STRs from the Sock Club – from which I didn’t knit any socks.


So, when this pretty little pattern came out – requiring only 360 yards of fingering weight yarn, even though I didn’t really care if I knit it (not that it isn’t a pretty pattern, its just that I don’t really where little scrafy kerchief things)  – it seemed  like a good use of the yarn.  And, voila – unlike my yucky Swallowtail (see below – and by the way, I forgot to mention in that post that another reason why I can’t wear it is not only because it’s ugly, but because washing/blocking did nothing to the texture/feel – it still feels/smells like sheep – dirty), this was the perfect marriage of yarn and pattern – and it’s as lovely as whimsical snowflake.lemonsleeping                                        

Can’t you tell, Lemon thought so too?

If Crap, Then Quit?

swallowtail1 I may have been able to put a fuzzy halo around my Swallowtail with the aid of Photoshop, but there’s nothing angelic or even remotely lovely about this, this . . . uch, I don’t even know what to call it – because I certainly don’t want this icky thing around my neck.

When I went to Rhinebeck last November, I was all about yarny yarn – yarn you could really sink your teeth into – nothing processed, something straight off the farm, something so organic that if you bit into it, it would crunch like an apple, and juice would dribble down your chin. I was over the handpaint, the variegated, the neons, the pastels – all I wanted was natural – browns, greys, blacks. My yarn store employee/yarn snob purist phase was in high gear.

I found this yarn in the very last booth, from a farm that sold mostly Shetland sock yarn. They (this mystery farm I can’t remember) have a large booth every year, with fair isle sock kits (in naturals – greys, brown, black and white), and single skeins, and very warm, sturdy,flora-184 workhorse looking shawls and socks knit up. For whatever reason, I didn’t pick up the Shetland, I picked this up – and I don’t even remember what it is. I walked around with it, trying to decide if I was going to buy it, or if perhaps I was going to buy 2 – thinking big, thinking Irish Diamonds, or Frost Flowers and Leaves. I went back to the bin where I had found it, and this other woman pulled a young (not the aged, traitorous Dawkins that’s going to the Broncos, and who will never last five years) Brian Dawkins move, swooping in front of me, snatching the skein from my tentative, outreaching fingertips, and then, gloating, doing  a little happy dance in front of my face. And, I immediately thought, fine, I’ll show you aggressive woman I will never see again, I do not need thousands of yards.  I only need 400 or so perfect yards.  This will make a lovely lovely Swallowtail. So there.   And, I have a handsome, hot boyfriend, so nya nya.  This is Joe and I at Rhinebeck – just thought I’d throw us in here so that there is a happy, successful, positive part of this post (because happiness in life is so much more important than happiness in knitting).


I took my yarn home, and wound it into a ball that night. So far so good. I cast on, still ok, it was only 3 stitches. And then I began to knit. Well, what can I say, I got what I wanted – this yarn was definitely natural – so natural that I felt like the sheep was sitting next to me while I knit – not only did it feel like I was knitting it off the sheep – as it felt — there’s no other way to put this – down right dirty —  it strangely, smelled like little sheepy was in the room as well. I wanted the yarn to be from a farm – I didn’t want the farm as well. 

And, it just looked like crap.  The twist was wrong – again, as if it were not so much spun, but kind of combed off the sheep straight into a skein.  Yet, I persevered – this is all natural yarn, as natural as Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter, from an honest to G-d farm, combined with a well-established, much knit pattern that has yielded many a beautiful shawl, it’s gotta be awesome, right?  The yarn snob in me said, it must, of course.  

And, I knit on.  The beginning/middle section looked like a fuzzy wuzzy blob, that seemed to be calling “BAAAHHHH!!!”  I got to the nupps.  Not only was it a struggle, but they seemed to be felting as I knit them – butterfly cocoons that resembled shibori balls rather than delicate nupps.  Yet, I thought, blocking, blocking will make it all better.

All of this knitting really calls the question – when does one quit, when one seemed to have had the best laid plans?  Is there ever a right time just to cut your loses?  Or, will you simply be left wondering what would have happened had you finished?

In The Way We Were, Robert Redford says to Barbra Streisand, after they have tried to break up, but because he is such a weak willed, spineless creature, he is going back to her, , “You never give up, do you?”  And she replies, “Not  unless I’m absolutely forced to.”  But, does she say this because she knows she’s already won, she’s getting her way, he’s coming back?  Would she say that if she had the insight to know it was really time to throw in the towel?  

The answer to this question is a simple equation — If pain > potential success ->quit.  Here, while potential success was extremely low, the pain was still less, in fact perservering was almost painless in the face of quitting –  I knit so fast, it certainly wasn’t going to kill me to find out what was going to happen in the last chapter (even though I knew, as if I had flipped to the end of the book – the monster at the end of the book!)  So, for me, following this healthy equation, finishing was logical.  While I in my knitter’s heart of hearts knew this was never going to be a thing of beauty, I would never have been satisified until I had seen it to it’s conclusion. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to figure impatience into the equation – I wasn’t suffering, but I still wanted it over – and I ended up casting off so tightly, that I couldn’t block the points into the thing, nor could I really draw out the pattern – not that it really mattered, because the thing felted in the blocking anyway – a teeny tiny aggitation, and it was like glue.  There’s no way I can take the bind off out.  And, I know I shouldn’t – because a redo would definitely up the pain ante, and this thing – and that’s all it will ever be – a thing – will never amount to a scintilla of success.


And what of my snobbery?  In this case, perhaps the potential for success aspect of the equation was subject to a bit of puffery – I’m a more than proficient knitter, I usually have good taste in yarn, this was a good choice of pattern, but I don’t really have an equation to determine success without the subjectivity of attitude and ego.  Perhaps there should be a little division by humility (if pain > (potential succes/some humility) -> quit).   But, you knit, you learn, and at Maryland Sheep and Wool, I will conquer.


Oh, did I say something about humility?

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