Monday, April 30, 2007

Postal bag pt. 2

Behold postal bag part 2- for those who don't get quite so much mail. The picture doesn't show it, but it's about 9"x14". The strap is 26". The button isn't attached yet. I'm hoping to block out some of the curl in the part that you can't see in the picture. (inside top of the bag) It will definitely need some lining. The strap may need reinforcement as well. Anyone with previous experience in such things is welcome to advise. Remember there is nothing too obvious for me.

Thanks to two more shoulder spider bites, I'm staying home today in a benadryl haze. When I get my hands on that spider, I'm gonna....

Saturday, April 28, 2007

where it all began

In 2003, my friend Anna came to visit and we accidentally stumbled upon the first Sheep and Fiber Fest. Not knowing what the effects would be, we purchased size 10 Fiddlesticks needles and some ladder novelty yarn. That evening we had a lovely time on the back porch remembering how to knit, frogging periodically because there were gaping holes that we didn't know how to fix (as if they could be fixed in that gauge with that yarn) and enjoying each others company. As far as I know, Anna hasn't moved beyond scarves, but they served her well. Watching Anna knit relaxed and comforted her mother as she (her mother) spent her last days on the planet.

It's so easy to look backwards in life at the mistakes and regrets one has. Anna and the Sheep and Fiber Festival are reminders of looking back at some good growing parts of life. We were traveling companions together in the summer of 2002 as we both went to Kimberely South Africa to teach music in the township of Galashewe. We were knitting companions on the courthouse square as we were still trying to decompress from our respective changes a year after that adventure. Anna was recovering from double knee and gastric bypass surgery and I was working my way through how to be married. At the time I had no idea that I would love knitting and my husband so much. For the record, it wasn't the love of knitting that was the surprise.

I was out of town during the fiber festival last year. Like myself, it has probably grown. Who knows what this year will bring? One thing is certain, it won't be ladder yarn!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Why I Love my Blog Friends

They make me laugh.

They make me think.

They make me feel better about less than perfect projects.

When the phone rings, I know it's not them. (I hate the telephone mostly)

I don't have to follow a schedule in order to be a good blog friend. When I'm there, I'm there. When I'm not, I'm not. Same for them.

When there aren't very many clever, quick, talented people around me, I know they're out there and that they exist.

They give me new ideas, books to read, and inspire me to try new things.

When I first began blogging I wondered how it all happened. Now I see that in some ways it's easier than real life. You find pages that resonate with you and more often than not, your page resonates with them. You exchange a few comments and suddenly there's a little community of friends resonating in cyberspace. That is so cool.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thank you Mrs. Obvious

So, the socks are finished and in-between working on them, I've been playing with the postal bag Noro.

Realization #39- bigger yarn makes bigger things and it's faster.

Clearly in my life there is no knitting observation that is so obvious it need not be recorded for future reference.

If any of you can think of any other Mrs. Obvious statements that might enlighten my world just a little bit more, feel free to share them. I may be slow on the obvious, but once it's pointed out, it usually sticks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

She's Stylin'

The socks were a big hit. The tops seemed a little big bulky but in a good way. The feet were a perfect fit. When I pick up stitches after I've turned the heel, I usually use a crochet hook and then transfer the stitches to a needle. When it was time to do this, the crochet hook that I had was larger than the #2 dpns. Thus, if you look closely you'll see larger stitches where the two connect. I noticed this of course, after the first one was finished. Rather than taking it apart (given the deadline) I decided that if I just did the same thing on the other one, it would be like ankle-air-conditioning. No one even noticed. This was the first knitted gift that wasn't requested and didn't feel like an obligation. It felt really nice and they were fun to make.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy Administrative Professional's Day!

The socks are done but I'll wait to see if I can't snag a picture of them in use-

the card?

-you are worth every stitch and then some.

-if they're a little big, it's because it would take big feet to fill your shoes.

-if they happen to fall apart (no warranties), it's just what we would do without you!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mystery Solved

Remember this disaster? A giant postal bag that felted only minimally?

It could possibly be explained by this image. Contrary to my assumption (Noro is always all wool) made up only in my head with no basis in fact, this Noro was 75% wool and 25% silk. Think that had anything to do with the felting process? Another OBVIOUS lesson learned- always read the label. I have some leftover fiber from this project (which I once thought was going to be a sweater.) Now that I have created a 20" x 20" two sided swatch, I may try to make a little bag out of the leftovers and forgo the felting.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Hey- thanks for the inspiration ART junk GIRL!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

adassock #1

One Down- One to go!

National Award Winner

... and we're not talking knitting. Husband had lunch in "headquarters" in Norfolk VA yesterday and spent the hour chatting up the CEO of Norfolk Southern about various ways to address safety issues on the railroad. He was the leader of one of the three groups recognized as a recipient of NS's "Thoroughbred Award" (a Tiffany statue to follow) for his contribution to the company. The other 2 groups were from corporate and headquarters. Bob and his gang (minus the trainmaster who never did figure out what a significant effort it was) were honored at the luncheon and were the only ones who didn't have an official company manager leading them to work for the award. He just had a good idea and they did it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Round and Round and Round it Goes

Like sock knitting, my mind easily falls into a pattern of going round and round in circles. My reactions to the day’s events, if left unchecked, can spiral into a tornado of circular thinking.

Lately I’ve noticed that the time I spend considering what I may or may not post on this blog lessens the amount of time I have to perseverate on events of the hour/day/week and actually gives me a reason to pause and wonder what I really think.

An elementary school guidance counselor once told me that a common response to students who perseverate (engage in the same behavior or thought in a repeated fashion) is to ask them a question that catches them off guard such as, “Do you have any cheese in your pocket?”

I think that knitting lets me keep my circles and blogging is a way to ask myself if I have any cheese in my pocket.


Next week is Administrative Professional's Week. (adprof) not Administrative Assistant's Week (adass). I think I'll still refer to these as adassocks. It's kind of catchy. I have until Wednesday to complete these if I want to seem really efficient and appreciative. I've never had such a deadline before with socks. It will be interesting to see if I make it. I know I would if we had a train to ride this weekend. That's my favorite place to "sock." If not- I'll just give her one sock and tell her the other one is on the way. Yes, I changed the color. I liked the other but had to redo it so many times that I wondered if maybe it had a little hex on it that I could break by switching yarns. Do you suppose yarns come "pre-hexed" or do we hex them ourselves?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Backseat Gaming and Why I love it.

The plot to Sly Cooper moves much more slowly and is even less interesting than any repeat of Law and Order. Much more focused knitting time.

When you hear a big noise, you look up and quickly know whether to say "oh no honey" or "good one honey."

It's like going on adventures and missions in the comfort of your living room. Especially handy when it's cold or dark outside.

When the "heroes" die, they come back to life.

Every now and then you find yourself yelling "R2! R2! R2!" and someone is really glad about it.

The background "music" is not something you'll hang on to- it's sort of underlying repeated soothing spacey music- even better than the weather channel.

You don't have to watch the same news on tv over and over and over again.

It's like visiting another planet.

Time and socks fly.

They're easy to step away from at bedtime.

You are happy knitting knowing how happy the player is playing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring Flair Recognized

Wendy's design for the Flair was based on an earlier design for a children's Swing Coat. Being the not so much fashionista that I am, I didn't realize that this was a "style" of coat and thought it was a coat for Wendy's little girlfriend to wear on the swing. Today I wore it over a like-colored green springish sweater. The principal not only recognized it AS a SWING COAT, she also noticed the neat and tidy raglan sleeves thanks to the circular knitting. The final product may not have been everything I'd hoped for BUT it was recognized for it's redeeming qualities (a good design and an effort at better sleeves) I'm calling that a success today as I frog and redo the "adass" socks. Those metal dpns are just too slippery for knitting while backseat gaming. Will the adass socks get done in time for adass day? Stay tuned...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Two cool projects- one itchy hand

I found a "homespun" recipe that called for aspirin "paste" applied directly to the bite. It took a little sting and swelling away. This is much better than it was on Saturday. At school today the kids asked if I was going to become Spiderman. If the amount of aggravation this has caused is any indication, I'm going to be Amazon Spidey Woman.

The purple project is the top down raglan jersey I swatched over the weekend. I am quietly excited- though I am guessing something will happen and I'll have to take it all out for one reason or another. The sock is Tofutsi yarn (I feel like such a yarn snob- I never really know what anyone means so much when they put the kind of yarn out there- I don't get to browse much) and while I don't love knitting for other people so much, Administrative Assistant's Day is just around the corner and I bet I could have these finished by then. I'm leaving the standard sock pattern and going for a 4-stitch pattern in Schurch's "Sensational Knitted Socks."

Knitting is like an algebra problem with an infinite number of variables. I think I've been a little more realistic in putting these two problems together. Perhaps the last few flops had too many unknown variables... yeah, that's it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Knitting Adages OR where the mind goes when you're waiting for the swatch to block

A watched swatch never boils.
A Swatch watch never boils.
A blocked swatch never coils.
She who knits first, laughs loudest.
Don't count your swatches before they've blocked.
Swatches like visitors stink after 3 days.
Blessed are the swatchmakers for they shall inherit the earth.
All swatch and no knit makes Jack a dull boy.

I'm certain I have not explored these adages to their fullest potentials. Please feel free to add your own.

Real Life Blogging

For the second time in as many weeks I have a large (tangerine sized) and a small (grape sized) welt on myself. This week it's on the top of my hand. Last week it was on my elbow. I've been bitten by spiders before but the reaction has never been this bad. Thoughts that have crossed my mind while waiting for the pain and swelling to subside:

The partner of the spider bob killed last week came back for revenge

The children of said spider came back for revenge

It's not really a spider bite but instead we have a snake living in the bedroom

My immune system is weakening and the next spider that comes around will bite my neck and I will swell up and die.

They say everyone eats a certain number of spiders in their lifetime while sleeping. This is one instance where I really hope this is true because I'm tired of being their late-night snack.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

and so it goes.

A 30 minute journey to the south of the Not-So-Big City proved fruitless. The internet suggested that I would find a not so local yarn store as my final destination. Such was not the case unless it's in the basement of a middle class residential house. Perhaps I will recheck the mapquest directions but not any time soon. On the way home, I stopped in the not-so big-city and found Plymouth Cascades in the colors above. Following the color, texture, and budget rules brought these skeins into my life. The superchunky baby alpaca was second in line but those readers who often look at yarn will know which of the three guidelines it didn't fit into. Only time will tell, but after an hour of owning the yarn, I think I like the way the rules work.

Equipped with colored pencils, Barbara Walkers book, "Knitting Around," a measuring tape, some graph paper and the internal fortitude that such a cool colorway can provide, I'm going to try to make a something something from scratch. Some people call it designing. I think it can only be called that once there is an actual product. It's sort of "if a tree falls in the forest..." thing. In my mind I have a short-sleeved t-shirt type sweater following the colors along the top right. As indicated in previous posts, I will be swatching. In fact I'll also be blocking the swatch. I recently blocked the brown baby-poop colored sweater from a previous post and felt the difference. It was still too small but for the first time I was a little sad about it. A warning to regular readers- actual knitting content may be a thin for a while. I just don't want to plow full speed ahead without thoughtful contemplation of each stitch and it's contribution to the finished product. I might have to blog about real life or something.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Somethings gotta give-

The Yarn Harlot says this in "Casts Off"

Knitting, like music and art, challenges us to see how parts become a whole, and in doing so, it provides many of the same incredible benefits for your brain. The ability to think creatively, contiguously, and linearly... knitting challenges our brains and makes us better thinkers.

Here is my own dissection- Math Brain-what is math but a collection of increasingly complex patterns: Visual Art Brain- where else is color play so accessible: Nonvberbal Brain that has to envision the 3-dimensionality of one piece of string: Sensory Brain that enjoys the feel of the fiber and the transformations made. The Utilitarian Product-focused Brain- as an elementary teacher, where else do I get to see the end of a finished product?

The product of late has been less than superior. The sweater was saggy. Unposted socks had a dropped stitch halfway down the top of the foot. They were supposed to make me feel better after the saggy sweater. The urge to knit continues based on all of the reasons stated above. But, feeling defeated by product, my brain appears to be in the "freeze mode" of Fight Flight or Freeze. Not surprising given that in all of the quizzes that determine a person's motivation for knitting (product or process) I end up solely in the middle. What next... that's what I'm wondering.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

No Way!

The magic Knitting Fairy GodMama sent this email-

"I am sending you a package from Joann Fabrics. Be on the lookout!!!!!! Love, Mama"

Thanks Mama! My first "blogger-prize" I'm so excited.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Making assumptions...

The nuggets of contemplation and knowledge discovered during the course of knitting are personal ones that can only be acquired through experience and then confirmed by the stories of others..

With a limitless budget, there is no dichotomy in choosing yarn based on color or texture. A really good LYS would also likely prove this struggle to be moot .

Right now in the stash there are several (purchased on sale) really great feeling fibers in colors I may or may not have ever purchased if they weren’t such a “good deal.”

There are an equal number of beautiful colors that leave me wondering why I didn’t just go to a haystack and work that “natural fiber.”

Visits to really good YS’s are few and far between and accompanied by convincing clerks/owners whose opinions aren’t necessarily my own or who agree with every ridiculous thought I may have in order to sell their merchandise.

Nugget Number One: When spending money on yarn, it should both feel good and look good. Seems obvious- but when caught up in the heady experience of a yarn shop, it’s not often the first thing on my mind. I have a friend who also believes that in addition to the nugget above, there must be a project in mind in order to commit to the yarn. I can’t go that far. If it feels right and looks right, the project will come.

Nugget Number Two: Wood (bamboo) or Metal- One is not better than the other.

Early on I filled my needle holders with every size of bamboo. I love the way they feel in my hand. I thought I was a really cool “sophisticated” knitter.

I read some from the Yarn Harlot and realized metal might be clicky and not a favorite texture BUT they GO FASTER!

I experimented with this nugget- I took some fabulously textured silk (in a completely not me color) and put it on some metal needles. It was all a fabulous whirring clicking blur. No more digging in for stitches.

Having purchased the Denise interchangeable circular needles set (plastic) for $70 I am now wondering why I didn’t just get the metal ones. (oh… for the airplane- that’s it) but I’m now setting aside dollar bills for the metal circular interchangeable needles.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I’ve not tried metal dpns-I’m not sure I want socks sliding off the needles BUT would that I could make those socks go faster…

From this point on I will follow Miguel Ruiz’s Agreement Number Three (is it Two?) Don’t Make Assumptions. The trick is that making an assumption often comes so naturally, it takes a little time to realize that you’re doing it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Lessons Learned

Things I have learned from my Spring Flair

1. I know why I've read so much about knitters not loving button holes

2. A row or two makes a difference in buttonhole placement.

3. Blocking makes things better.

4. I know why I have not knit anything for my husband yet. (After the first presentation with buttons slightly askew-even more than pictured- the first thing he said was "you're missing a button." NEVERMIND the 1/2 million stitches I made out of one strand of yarn.)

5. I know that when I finally knit something absolutely fabulous I will know it thanks to my husbands committment to the truth.

Just a warning

This is just a warning as we wait for Flair to dry and acquire buttons. If you should happen to get an on-sale post-Easter chocolate bunny that looks like this, and you go to break the ears off as any experienced chocolate bunny eater will do- be warned that this is one of those HOLLOW chocolate bunnies that will crumble into nothingness after you do that.

Also- I'd like to invite anyone who'd care to, to leave the story of their "first love" (see April 7 post)- I promise I won't turn it into a book but they might be nice to read.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This is the Cat on Drugs

Poor Sophalina. I'm not sure which leads to more anxiety- her natural state or the anti-anxiety medication. Maybe she is worried about penguins and oil spills. Or maybe she looks so dumbstruck because the Spring Flair is off the needles and waiting to be blocked.

I believe that I will follow dircetions for blocking as per my new resolution to follow the rules. It's pretty rough right now but once again, where but in the blog of the intermediate/novice knitter can there be such hope. I believe I've proven my intermediate status by not throwing on the buttons and wearing it "as is" to school tomorrow.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Another Diversion

I guess the only way this relates to knitting is that it was inspired while listening to a podcast while on my way to meet my knitting friend. I was listening to the weekly podcast of NPR Books and heard a book discussed that was written in honor of the well-loved bears, bunnies, and blankets that adults have hung on to long after their usefulness. They were referred to as "First Loves." The authors actually had a photo shoot for the first loves in the book and many stories for each. I'm a little cloudy on the stories of these two first loves (comments are welcome for those who are old enough to remember) but after hearing the podcast I thought the least I could do for them was give them a photo shoot.

When you're a teacher, former students are going to die unexpectedly. It doesn't matter how many times it happens, you just get full of sad for a day or a thousand. I'm glad for the chain of events that led to this photo op. Poopsy Woopsy can still give a little comfort.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dare I speak it?

Knitting is not the only art. There. I've said it out loud. It's the first step. The rest of my art experience has become unmanageable by my knitting obsession. While I'm not ready to toss in the yarn for scissors and glue, I must admit, I miss the other stuff. Time was when scissors, glue, some felt and some glitter were all I really needed in the world to keep me happy. Add a little colored tissue paper and I was home free. There are several excellent blogs promoting art for art's sake that I sneak a peek at every now and then. I have occasionally been known to check in on one blog where the blogger sews something almost once a week- as if it weren't really a major life altering project.

I post this now, along with a picture of my vast "stash" of supplies of art stuff for art's sake in the hopes that I will revisit this post and remember that when my hand is cramping and I wake up with crinkled arthritic fingers, I do have other options.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

After some blog cruising of late, I've seen many many daffy-dils. None however had any sock yarn growing in them. Yes, as reward for some housecleaning (including the evil ladybugs) and in mourning for the pricey bag (which the LYS owner says to keep shrinking/washing until you can't see the stitches anymore) I purchased a sure winner in 2 skeins of sock yarn- this particular brand includes soy and shrimp shells. It was slightly pricier than if I had ordered on line but you can't get instant gratification on-line.

And, true to the title of this blog, where but in the heart of an intermediate novice knitter can you find such hope in the next finished piece? I spotted some perfectly matching buttons for the Spring Flair. I have about 20 more REALLY LONG rows until I think the body will be done. The sleeves are much like knitting socks, so if the body fits, we're home free. If it doesn't there will be a whole lot of frogging going on to the point where it's too small and then I'll try again. Unless of course this occurs a few rows after the collar in which case I will proceed to make some socks.

An update on the visit to the vet- all is well, however Sophie has been prescribed an antidepressant for anxiety- I told you it was a psych visit!

Monday, April 02, 2007

not so much

The title refers to the felting/shrinkage factor in the giant postal bag. It's still pretty ginormous and any knitter who accidentally stops by this site is more than welcome to offer a remedy to this pricey felting nightmare. The strap's too long, the bag's too big. I promise, on my honor from this moment forward (after reading the Yarn Harlot's "Knitting Rules") I will ALWAYS CHECK FOR GAUGE. Even if it's an accessory when I don't think it matters. Even if it's a dishcloth. Really.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Knitting for Peace Postal Bag- before. I just have a hard time believing that this will actually shrink in size. It's spinning right now. I skipped the rinse in cold water anticipating another round of hot water shrinkage. I'm a nervous wreck!

The bag will replace the Bob's Fifty Cent travel bag that he got several years ago at a yard sale. This favorite bag broke and was replaced by a Big Apple NYC bag but he's really never been the same since. After suggesting the possibility of the postal bag belonging to him last night, he woke up this morning asking "Is my bag done yet?"

I'll actually get to see it more if he's carrying it anyway.