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September 2005

On to Other Things

So. I was working on the blue aran sweater that was supposed to be available for the knitting cruise. Unfortunately, it won't be. It needs a lot more time, because it needs a re-design right from the start, and then the time to knit it over from the beginning. The sleeves are too wide, but that I could have worked around and still had time to knit the sweater for the cruise. The larger problem is that the seed stitch "fill" on the sides has way more rows per inch than the center cable panel does, so the center panel buckles and ripples and dips down on the front ribbing, but the seed stitch lies flat. To make it work, one would need to incorporate short rows only in the seed stitch sections, about every 20 rows or so, to make the difference in rows per inch correlate. Which is not only a pain to write as a pattern, but is a pain to knit (I've done it in one other project I knit from an Interweave Knits pattern; very pretty, but abandoned.) Plus, doing that brings the level of knitting experience needed to knit the sweater up to an advanced knitting level, and the whole point was to design a simple, easy to knit garment. The other solution, which I will ultimately do, is to redesign the pattern entirely so that the patterns chosen work well with each other. I want to keep the center panel, so I will need to swatch a few times to find the right "filler" texture that will work harmoniously in both look and behavior with the center cable panel.

Oh, well, back to the drawing board. I am going to set this whole project aside for a while and work on other things, in some small attempt to rediscover the fun in knitting. After a setback like this, all creative pursuits lose their luster, if you know what I mean. The first step will be to organize what I've got piled up here, and put everything in some sort of order. Then, I can choose what I really want to work on, and who knows what that will be.

So Pretty

Snowdrift held court at knitting last night, receiving many compliments.

Often, snowdrifts of a different kind grace this spot in front of Unique One; but this morning a very pretty Snowdrift sprawled across the bench in front of the store.



Some of you might have been wondering lately, where's Beth? There's certainly been little blog posting, hasn't there?

This has been the culprit. The new, NEW Unique One Online Store is now LIVE. Yes, you too can buy online: Sweaters, Gifts, Yarn, Kits, Needles, Patterns, and Tools! All ready to buy!

Okay, enough with the commercial. Here's the long story.

A lonnnng time ago in a yarn shop far, far away (well, unless you're in Camden, Maine, in which case it's right on the corner) a shop manager wrote a simple web site to promote Unique One. But that wasn't enough. The greedy shop owner and manager wanted to fix it so people could BUY directly from the web site. So the shop manager researched it and they came up with a cunning shopping cart software and a cheap hosting service. And it was good. The software was wonderful, and the store looked good and worked well. But then, the web site was down. For six weeks. Right during prime Christmas shopping season. Did I mention the hosting service was cheap? C-H-E-A-P? It was so cheap, that the yarn shop owner and the manager decided to just live with it. Then next year the site went down again. For eight weeks. Again, right during Christmas shopping season. Then later, it went down again, this time maybe permanently.

So the yarn shop manager (who had also become the yarn shop owner, through a very unfortunate event) arranged to have the web site hosted elsewhere. This hosting service was very, very GOOD (Maine Hosting Solutions; I highly recommend them) but they weren't as cheap. But the website is now up, ALL THE TIME! Unfortunately, they weren't able to use the Very Good Software that the site had used before. So, the site was up all the time -- but the online shop was hard to use, and not as simple to understand or maintain.

Then the yarn shop owner wished very very very hard for the Good Hosting Service to implement the software that she really really really wanted and lo! they did (possibly just to shut her up; for which she loves them). So, the yarn shop owner has been busy busy busy re-doing the online shopping site (that now uses the Wonderful Software) so it would look like the original good-but-down-all-the-freaking-time online shopping site. It took a long, long time, but now it is done! And the yarn shop owner is happy. And she has more time to knit. And she apologizes to online shoppers who have had to deal with the Unique One shopping site being down; and then up, but wonky; and hopes you all love it now -- because she does. :)

Knit on what, you may ask? On the aran she is madly trying to get done for the knitting cruise. (Pssst, there are 4 cabins left for the cruise, if ya wanna go!).

Snowdrift Picture

Snowdrift is blocking:
Notice the unevenness of the right side. That's me, blocking in a hurry. Straight? Ha! We don't need no steenking straight lines.... I'll post a glamour shot of Snowdrift when I take it into the store.

It blocked out bigger than I thought it would. That's why it's on the floor rather than the blocking board. And the fact that it's on the floor contributes to the unevenness of the blocking. I'm not so good at scootching as I used to be. Right now, with the pins still in it, it's 33" X 59". But it will shrink back some when I unpin it.

The back of the aran sweater is done and I'm on to the sleeve. :)

That's Weird.

I noticed this morning that somehow the language preference on my blog's author profile had gotten changed to Arabic. So I set it back. If my language has seemed a little Middle Eastern lately, I guess that's why! Don't know how long it was set that way, and I certainly didn't intentionally do it. Did anybody notice my blog was suddenly in Arabic?

Drifting along...

... only 198 rows left on the Snowdrift Stole edging! And now I'm starting to feel that bittersweet End of Project thing. Happy to be nearly done, because I want to block it and see how beautful it is in its finished state, and sad because, it will be done, and I have had a lot of fun knitting this edging.

But there's always the Next Project, to carry me through. I've decided to do Fiddlesticks' "Flirty Ruffles" with my newly-dyed lace weight alpaca. I know, it isn't a Faroese Shawl. I did some research and decided to knit a Faroese Shawl later, in Shetland wool. But the Flirty Ruffles uses the "Print 'o the Wave" lace pattern, appropriate for the yarn's ocean color, and the ruffles remind me of foam that remains on the rocks after a wave has crashed on them. I plan to get everything ready & start FR on the knitting cruise. I started Snowdrift there last year, and maybe I can make it a tradition: new knitting cruise, new shawl start. :)

Oh, and all those other projects I have to finish before I start another lace shawl? Oh well. I'm fickle.

The Result

Here's the result of yesterday's dyeing:

It came out a little greener than I was shooting for, but it still very much captures the oceany feeling I wanted. I like it very much! It will be fun to knit with.

Blue spaghetti

Here's what I'm doing today, in between other things:

It's 2400 yards of absolutely wonderful laceweight alpaca that I got from Lisa Souza a few days ago. There is no doubt that she would be horrified to see what I am doing to it. :) But, I wanted to try dyeing it a blue/green oceany kind of color. I was inspired by Sarah's dye job on the yarn she's making the Legends of the Shetland Seas shawl from. Using very precise scientific measurements (stop rolling your eyes! I thought about measuring, before I didn't...), I threw it in my dye pot with some water, and sprinkled Gaywool dye crystals in "Musk" and "Cedar" across the top, Musk on the left, Cedar on the right. I poked it with a dye spoon a little, and set it to cook. It's pretty scary in the picture above, because I *might* have been just a little heavy-handed with the sprinkling, and it looked pretty dark at first. To the point that the color name was leaning to something like "Frightening", rather than "Pretty Ocean Color". But now it's been simmering for a while and it looks a little better. I am shooting for a very unevenly-dyed yarn that varies from a darkish green to a teal blue, very dark in some places, a lot lighter in other. We'll see what happens.

I am not entirely sure what I plan to knit with it. Well, lace, of course. But exactly what lace, I don't know. I'd kind of like to do a Faroese shawl, but I haven't really looked at any patterns, though I do remember thinking Myrna Stahman's designs looked beautiful. I'd actually like to design my own, but before I design a Faroese shawl, I'd like to knit one of somebody else's design first, to get a better feel for it. There is, however, a very good explanation here for anyone thinking about designing a Faroese shawl.

And, it will be a long time before I knit anything with this yarn, anyway; I have the Snowdrift Stole and my aran sweater to complete. Then a couple handfuls of small partially-done projects. Then Osterdalen, a Dale of Norway sweater that I started in December. Finally, a Vivian Hoxbro kit that I did the gauge swatch for a long time ago. It's the Rainbow Jacket, and I love it and I want to knit it. I might be able to work on an oceany-colored Faroese shawl while I finish the Dale and the Rainbow Jacket. Fun, fun, fun, eh? heh heh.

Osterdalen (Dale of Norway): Rainbow Jacket (Vivian Hoxbro):
Dg2004_2la Rainbow01

Entrelac Close-up

Some people on the Legends-Snowdrift group are concerned about how their picked-up edges look, on the entrelac squares that make up the center of the Snowdrift Stole. Here's a close-up of mine:

(click for big)

My edges look a little messy in the stole's current unblocked state; however, I do believe that when it is blocked, all will be sweetness and light.

I *think* (and it's been a while since I knit the entrelac center, so I could be wrong, here) that along the edge, I picked up the little "bumps" between the stitches rather than one of the strands of the stitch itself. I'd say, if you're knitting Snowdrift and are concerned, just try different ways and see which one you like.

And no, it doesn't bother me that the edges look different on different sides of the entrelac squares. :)

Snowdrifts and Arans

I know, I know, long time, no pictures. Let me rectify that.

Here's the Snowdrift Stole I'm trying to get done by September:

Here's the aran sweater I'm designing for this year's knitting cruise (hope I get it done in time!):



So that's what I've been up to.

I also was reminded recently that people who got picture-less patterns on the knitting cruise would like to see pictures of what their patterns will look like when they knit them, so here are some of those pictures as well (the gansey glove pattern is here on my blog, and I added the picture to the pattern there.)

The aran sweater I designed from the knitting cruise last year (it was inspired by a garment choice availabe to the avatar in the computer game, URU by Cyanworlds.)



Clover Lace Scarf:


Reversible Cable & Lace Scarf:


The Penobscot Bay Pullover, designed for the very first knitting cruise I did on the Evans:


Gansey Gloves:


Okay, that's enough eye-candy for the day. I have to get back to my knitting.

Wool in History

Okay, some of this is just stupid. Lame. But, some of it is quite clever:

Ian McMillan's Wool In History

1. God threw a ball in the air. 3-ply.
2. Eve tempted Adam with the ball of wool, rammed the needle down the serpent's throat.
3. 'My wool pyramid will last ten thousand years!' said the Pharaoh.
4. The Three Kings brought wool, wool, and wool.
5. 'Is this The Renaissance?' they asked, as needles were invented.
6. 'Watch out for the woolberg!' cried the Captain of the Titanic.
7. Sign this. Just here. It's 12.15, it's Runnymede, the needles are dipped in the best ink.
8. The Wright Brothers knitted furiously in mid-air.
9. 'Mass produced patterns, Now!' yelled William Caxton.
10. 'I may be some time' said Captain Oates, 'I've left my needles in the glacier.'
11. Columbus turned back, excited, pulling out the continent as he went.
12. Hold this wool, said Eva Braun, as Hitler and Goebbels did the salute together.
13. That's one small stitch for man, one giant stitch for mankind.
14. Evolution advanced as the caveperson invented the wool.
15. 'Come in here a minute' said Alexander Graham Bell down his wool phone. 'Pardon?' said his assistant from the next room.
16. The dinosaurs died out slowly, failing to knit thermals fast enough as the ice age approached.
17. Isaac Newton felt nothing as the wool apple bounced off his head. Gravity remained undiscovered for another two hundred years and people flew around like seagulls.
18. They found Custer and all his men wrapped in wool. Dead, but cosy.
19. Henry VIII knitted wives seven and eight. It gave him a feeling of power.
20. Noah's wool ark floated. No, I tell a lie.
21. Kitchener was waiting to pose for his poster. 'Hurry up with that moustache' he shouted to his wife.
22. Jesus turned the water into wool. 'I'm new at this' he said.
23. The Mona Lisa was just about to laugh. Those wool vests really tickled.
24. The Sixth Beatle: the one made of wool who didn't get to the first reahearsal because, being made of wool, he couldn't open the door to get out of the house.
25. The scientists nodded in triumph. This was the sound of The Big Bang: needles clicking.

("Wool in History" taken from this page. There's more interesting stuff on the site, too; look around.)

Knitting Time

"Is recognizing and accepting our talents as gifts, not curses, a task we must master to live a successful life? To not panic and run away from our abilities, especially if they prove different than we imagined?"

I ran across this article when I was looking for something else. It starts with an interesting little vignette describing a very strange knitting-needle event, natural or supernatural, and goes on to explore the story's meaning.

Then I read the above quote and it really struck me. How often I've turned my back on abilities, and run away. How often I've seen other people do the same. Sometimes it seems so hard to recognize our own strengths. Why can't we see our own abilities? Why do we run away from them?

When I took those personality/IQ/aptitude test batteries in high school, one result that came back was that I was a leader. Lemme tell ya, the last thing in the world I ever wanted to be, especially back then, was a leader. But here I am, leading. People look to me for guidance. And looking back over my life, I can see I've been leading, everywhere I go. But I never wanted to, and still don't, to some extent. It just seems to happen. It's an ability, and I'm still running from it. Maybe I'd better go back and read Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" again. :)

And another ability: writing. Apparently, I write. People read it. No one has thrown tomatoes [yet]. But, I am a little afraid of it, tend to shy away from it a little. Why, I don't know, but I'll keep exlporing.

I also see it in the shop. People learn to knit, or they come in knowing how to knit, and they are wonderful, even super-talented knitters. But they won't admit it. It sometimes takes a long time to get a person to see what a great knitter she/he is, to become confident in her/his abilities.

So everyone, today: embrace your abilities! Don't run from them! Do like the knitting article above says -- take your needles, and start knitting!

(Thanks to Mary Hamilton, of Frankfort, Kentucky, supreme storyteller, who provided fodder for today's thought!)


Today is Monday, which is the first day of my "weekend". Which means, on Monday and Tuesday I work at home as opposed to the store. Wednesday I run errands, make phone calls and end up at the store for knitting circle at 6 pm (always free! always fun! bring your friends!). But the good thing about Mondays and Tuesdays are the mornings; I can sleep in (never mind the fact I was up at 5:30 this morning), and get up looking forward to a leisurely breakfast because I don't have to be anywhere, I'm just staying home. This morning, even as I type, the bacon is frying, the coffee is perking and I'm going to make ployes, and Joe & I can have a nice breakfast together.

Saturday morning I was walking to the store, and I passed a gaggle of teenage girls slinking along morosely in the crosswalk, which is actually a pretty unusual sight at 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday in Camden. As I passed, one girl was saying, "...she's the one who'll take you to every museum, if there's any museum within miles...." and the girl next to her muttered, with feeling, "I hate museums."

It reminded me of travels with my sister when I was a teenager. I think we visited nearly every museum and historic site in Maine and most of New Brunswick. But, I had fun! I loved museums, loved history and art, probably more than most 14-year-olds. I remember one in particular, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Frederickton, NB. When we were there they had Salvador Dali's "Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus". I remember I spent hours just looking at it. I think it was the first time I ever really saw a painting, really saw it as having meaning, beyond just being a pretty wall decoration. Next to the painting, the museum displayed quite a lengthy explanation of all the elements in the picture, their symbolism, why Dali put them in, and technical details about the painting. I found it utterly fascinating. It was the first time I'd seen a picture that was so large (nearly 14 feet tall!), or an original work by an artist of such magnitude. I had seen Salvador Dali on TV, a PBS documentary, so I knew he was famous. It was like a little art history & appreciation class, just for me.

My love of history is probably why at family reunions and celebratory family gatherings, instead of being outside playing kickball with all the cousins, I was the one sitting quietly (so as not to be noticed and therefore made to leave) in the corner, ostensibly reading a book, but really listening to the stories -- both the fascinating and the mundane. Stories of great aunt Belinda who ran off with that foreign man, or Howard Bean's donkey that always used to steal Mrs. Gibbs' clothes off the line, or the day my father at the age of 7 took mustard and peanut butter sandwiches as a prank to the men cutting wood in the woodlot and was disappointed when they ate the sandwiches up and said how delicious they were. I was a collector. A story collector.

Maybe that's why people like coming to Unique One. I like to listen to people, to collect their stories. Everybody has a story to tell. You just have to get them to tell it.