Change

Legends of the Shetland Seas

I've been thinking about changing my blog's look. It's pretty basic, black and orange and green, plain white background, and a picture of my purple "Legends of the Shetland Seas" shawl. I get emails asking what shawl that is in my picture all the time. I sold quite a few kits for it when I had the store. People were somewhat dismayed that it only came in off-white; I dyed the yarn purple before knitting it.

Anyway, my blog hasn't been changed since I first made it, back in January 2004 -- almost nine years ago. I bet templates have changed a lot since then, hehe. I was on my old tangerine iMac then, I think. That was when iPods only came in white with a clicky wheel, there were no iPhones or iPads, Internet Explorer ruled the internet, and I think Yahoo! was the go-to search engine. Times change.

So, I think I'm gonna change my blog, too. I'm no longer the same person I was when I started this. I'm certainly not a yarn shop owner, I'm handicapped now, and I've got more time on my hands than I know what to do with. Having a lot of time sucks, really. But I've got my blog to fiddle around with. Everything will still be here, but it will just look different!

What would you like to see in a blog? Suggestions are always helpful! 


Stripping the Yarn Stash

It's coming towards the end of another year of knitting and I'm pleased to say I have reduced my stash considerably -- but then, considering how large my stash is and what a small dent I have made in it, that isn't saying much! I'm pretty happy with my spinning stash, however. My spinning stash is only one bin, and I can see the difference there. Next year, if I keep spinning and don't buy much more fiber, I might clear it out! That doesn't really help the knitting stash, though, hehe. Less fiber for handspinning means more handspun yarn for knitting ... hmmm, or gift giving...

I have about twelve more projects planned for the ol' stash-busting mania, and I'm gonna pull a few old UFO's (unfinished objects) out of the stash, too. Reduction is key. If my stash was gone, we would have an entire room upstairs for something else! Maybe I'd be better off trying to reduce just one bin; it's less scary that way.

How big is your stash? Is it full of the extra-good yarn that you just want to fondle but never use, or is it good, usable stuff that you got on sale, or is it remnants of icky yarn that you have in your stash that you just don't like? Mine is mostly good, usable stuff that I hope to use, the sooner the better. But I need to go through it and weed out the yarns I know I'll never use.

Stripping the yarn stash


Toot Your Own Horn

Every now and then I really miss not being able to play a musical instrument. It's actually a regret I have because I only have one hand that works (so far!); if I had both hands working, would I play? Or would I just go on saying someday I'll play again, someday I'll pick up a sax or a recorder, someday I'll get serious on that piano, someday I'll learn to play guitar. I really, really wish I'd learned to play guitar, but if I had, that's just one more thing I'd regret. 

I've tried to think of what you can play for music with only one hand. There's the harmonica, and a good blues harmonica is a wonderful thing. I don't really know anything about it, but there's probably tons of YouTube videos about it. They say that you can play piano with one hand, but really ... wouldn't that be kind of simple? Doesn't seem like you'd get the full effect. I'd rather play a wind instrument.

So I googled it. Turns out I can play the saxophone if I want to -- someone has devised a way to make one-handed saxes!  Who knew. And, one-handed piano abounds, there are tons of pages on the internet about how to play the piano with one hand. There's a guy out there who has tips on using the guitar with physical handicaps, too, and that's just one of many.

 I may or may not decide to play an instrument again, but it's good to know it's there if I ever want to. For now, I'll just play the radio :)

 music
(artwork courtesy Gabriella Fabbri)


What Makes a Good Hat for a Man?

I'm pondering the thought. I asked my husband, but it was such an open-ended question that he just said, "I dunno." I asked him if he liked cables and he answered "No" right away, but then quickly said "Maybe" upon further consideration.

Men don't usually wear hats, except non-knit caps, like the John Deere variety. Knit hats are considered a slam to their desire to brave the elements, be tough, be manly. Knit hats -- and gloves and mittens, for that matter -- are for people not manly enough to go without. 

That being said, when it's really cold and they have to go out and do manly things like shovel the driveway when the danger of having parts freeze off is more real, that's when the need for a warm hat and gloves or mittens is welcomed. 

That's where I come in. What makes a good hat for a man, in that situation? An earflap hat? A ribbed hat? Something with a cuff? Cables? Plain knitting or fancy? Colorwork? If the pattern doesn't show a man wearing it, forget it -- you are better off having him just not see the pattern at all, I don't care how much it professes to be a unisex hat. 

Unisex hat 1
Unisex hat on a snowman -- GOOD.

Unisex hat on a woman model -- HE'LL NEVER WEAR IT.

Maybe I'll just make wool socks.


September

Ah September, the first month of fall.  It's getting colder, there's a little nip in the air in the morning; not a lot, just a reminder that fall is here, that winter is coming. It's just enough to make me put a sweater on. There's plenty of summer left, though. 

September means football! I signed up for a fantasy football thing for knitters, and the excitement is growing! I'd take part in the trash-talking, but I don't really know enough about it to trash-talk football, so I'll call this a learning year.  I'm all about the Patriots, though -- Go Patriots!! Woohoooo! (Sounds convincing, doesn't it?) 

September means back to school for the poor folk that have to go back this time of year, whether it's students or teachers, administration or lunch ladies and bus drivers. I feel for ya. Mostly I just grin a lot in September, remembering what it used to be like. 

Asters


To Thee I Do Wed

Today is my niece's wedding day, so I thought I would showcase some knit and crocheted wedding dresses in honor of her nuptials. 

Ravelry, of course, has lots to give any bride who knits something to think about, and I've picked out four of them. 

First of all, there's this knit wedding dress from Nicky Epstein:

1_VKF12_Pearl_003_medium

I love the skirt on this one.

This crocodile stitch wedding dress  by Bonita Patterns is amazing, and she only took three weeks to make it!

Gown_2_medium2

I love the skirt on this Wedding Gown by Linda Daniels and Jill Montgomery; it looks like it floats!

2154513966_3ca68a72c8_z

This Knit Wedding Gown Dream by Fashion Martina looks like a fairy tale princess gown, very enchanting:

O_1303202452_medium2

Then, if you didn't want to knit or crochet your wedding dress yourself, you could have it done for you. Here are some pictures of designs presented in fashion magazines and showcased by designers.

And lastly, you could have one knit by a company called Makepiece. "Beautiful clothes with ethics. Natural yarns from sustainable farming. Undyed and natural dyed options. Low impact manufacture. Fair employment. Working to be carbon neutral." They make beautiful wedding gowns, among other things.

And now, you may kiss the bride!

Congratulations Hillary and Wayne! ::smooches::

 

 


Mrs. Weasley's Knitting Inventions

(I totally made this up.)

I wish Mrs. Weasley had some of these knitting inventions on the market! It would make knitting so much easier and fun:

Knitting Needles:

1. Needles that are self-measuring needles (both in the length of you knitting as well as side to side).

2. Needles that automatically count your stitches and set off an alarm bell when the incorrect number of stitches is on them.

3. Needles with charmed points that worm their way into multiple or tight stitches (like in a 7-stitch nupp) and then snap back into a rigid state when you finish the stitch.

4. Needles that continue knitting your harder-to-knit project correctly at knitting group while you work on plain stockinette stitch and gab and eat and drink.

5. Needles that you can pick up for mindful knitting, that don't really make anything, just rows and rows of stockinette stitch, which then unravels itself and winds up the ball when you are done thinking about the problem and put it down.

Other things:

1. A finder to run and go find your pattern, find that one ball of yarn you need from your stash, find your tape measure/scissors/pins, or find the glasses you left on your head.

2. A little being like the Quidditch ball that can go to whomever you need the measurements of, takes the measurement, and reports back to you. Also operates in stealth mode, for Christmas presents.

3. A special yarn additive that can make sleeves or body or fingers longer or shorter, body  wider or skinnier in the right places, and also sends the information back to the self-counting-stitches needles.

4. A clock that lets you stop time for an hour so you can just knit or crochet. Works over and over and over again.

5. A special page illuminator that makes perfect sense out of a pattern instantly.

6. The pattern for this fantastic top (I couldn't find it on Ravelry, go figure):

Mrs weasley

I could go on, but those are fresh off the top. What inventions would you like to see from Mrs. Weasly?

 


Pattern Referrals

One of my biggest referring websites is Knitting Pattern Central. They have my Gansey Gloves, Net Shopping Bag, Rainy Day Scarf (also known as the Wavy Scarf), and the Bobble Hat listed in their free pattern directory. I get about 100 hits a day from them.

Bobblehat-full

I wonder how many hits a day I would get if the Penobscot Bay Pullover, the Catnip Mouse, and the Lacy Scarf were on there, too. The Penobscot Bay Pullover was always popular when I had the store. especially since it was great for men and kids. So was the Lacy Scarf, for that matter.

Pbgphoto

I also get significant numbers from Tipnut.com and Curbly.com, for my Net Shopping Bag pattern. Who knew such a little thing would be so popular! AllFreeKnitting.com has also got the Net Shopping Bag, and there's a link to it on KnittingHelp.com. Yarnover.net has a link to my Ribbed Leaves Lace Scarf pattern.

Netbag-full

I designed nearly all of these patterns for the knitting cruises or the knitting weekends that Unique One used to hold at the Lord Camden Inn. Since my stroke, I have designed only three things. And, I have a few things that I have designed that aren't up anywhere.

How many of my designs have you knit? I'm curious.

Ganseyglove_1-full


Roses

I got to thinking about roses. They are so pretty. 

Pink rose

(Photo Credit: George Bosela)

There are tons of roses on Ravelry and on the internet in general -- knitted and crocheted and felted flowers, sweaters with roses, afghans, mittens and gloves, everything. However, nothing struck my fancy til I saw the Travelling Roses scarf from Leanna Cooper.

I originally found it photographed in pink, and it was lovely; you can see it here. It was a lovely little piece of lace. Upon futher exploration I found it on Ravelry and, to my surprise, downloaded the pattern for free! Yay! 

I think I have some red, lightweight yarn that is going to be a perfect match. What could be better than knitting roses this winter!

Roses

(Photo credit: Ivan Marecic)

 


"Für Elise" Fanaticism

A long time ago, in May 2005, I designed a scarf with odd yarn -- I actually told Becky to pick five yarns that she thought looked horrid together -- because I wanted to try out the theory that the ugliest of yarns will look fine if you stripe them in a random order. The experiment worked, and you can read about it here.

While I knit on it, I started to think of other ways you could use stripes, stripes as secret messages, say. Stripes as famous quotes. Stripes as music!!

Music is just a series of math that we can hear. It all depends on math. I began to play with ideas in my head ... first, I needed some sheet music. I searched the internet and found "Für Elise" by Beethoven. Hmmmm. It all started to come together in my mind.

It had to lie flat, and somehow the notes and the rests had to make sense. There were a lot of notes; I counted 15 or so in the first few bars alone. I figured that in Unique One, only Jamieson & Smith would have enough colors to do it. I could knit it in rounds!  All I had to do was figure out how many times I'd have to repeat a round for the smallest duration of a rest or a note to get the right length .... or I could knit 1 round for the shortest note, two rounds for the next-longest note, and so on, and knit until it was long enough ... I could use the same thing in black for the rests, yellow for the sharps ...

That's about when I said, "Stop it, you're a fanatic", and I quit thinking about it. 

But it's still there in my mind.

FurElise


Tricoter Machine

I used to hate my knitting machine, until I saw this:

 (The embedded video might not work for you; click the link below to watch it if it doesn't work.)

"Les Peaux des Lievres" by Tricoter Machine 

"Les Peaux des Lievres" translates into "The Skins of Hares" in Google Translator, but I don't think that's right. Wouldn't "Rabbit Furs" be more poetic? ::: shrug :::

Tricoter Machine is a Quebecois group from Trois Riviers, Quebec (about halfway between Montreal and Quebec).


Knitting Acronyms You've Never Seen (Clean Version)*

1) BBB - Blah Blah Blah - You're not going to read the pattern anyway, especially not that gauge part, so when it's written, it's just as easy to abbreviate it this way.

2) EHP - Extra Hole Part - For lace: "That? Oh. It's an EHP for the thumb."

3) CCT - Creative Cable Twist - For Aran knitting : "Mary's CCT made the back look quite different from the front."

4) OMADWIC - Order Me Another Drink While I'm Counting

5) OMAFDWIFF - Order Me Another Foolish Drink While I'm Frantically Frogging

6) GDS - What some projects are fondly referred to as, when the knitting slows: "Gosh Darned Sock! (Scarf!, Sweater! Shawl!)

7) H(S)WMNRHG - He (She) Who Must Not Receive Handknit Gifts

8) NS - Never-ending Stockinette - for those boring bits that we all knit

9) RIFLIMS - Rolling in the Fiber, Luxuriating in My Stash

10) DUCK - Drives Unperturbed, Constantly Knitting (see also "Flies")

*I leave the explicit version to your imaginations!


Childhood Literature

The first book I remember reading was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. I read that book over and over, not because I particularly loved it, but because I could. It sat on the bookshelf in my Kindergarten/First Grade classroom with all the other books, and there was such a feeling of power:  when I could read that book, I knew I could read all of them.

My sister, who was my kindergarten and first grade teacher too, set my reading for the summer on a bookshelf in my room. I never thought to say 'No' or 'Why'; I was just happy to have something to read. I could read anything I wanted in between my summer reading, but I tried to finish it those books on my bookshelf  before school went back into session. This was how I came to read most of the classics -- Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, lots of Charles Dickens, the Arabian Nights, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, and there was a multitude more. We didn't have a bookstore close to us, and no library, but luckily my family had been readers for a hundred years it seemed, so there were a lot of old books. The Robinson Crusoe I read had a lot more religion in it, let me tell you. No Walt Disney books for me!

Those books gave my young imagination something to work on, gave me storylines and characters and settings galore. I was not an only child, but my next oldest sibling was ten years ahead of me, and the characters were my friends.

When I had my stroke, before I could knit, I read a lot, A LOT. It's what got me through. It gave me something to talk about with the speech therapist. The characters were my friends again in a world where I was surprisingly alone -- family and friends came to visit, don't get me wrong; they were wonderful -- but in a world that I couldn't talk right in, or walk at all, or even go to the bathroom alone, I had my head full of friends from my books.


10 Knitting Things That Are True About Me

1. I really, really, really, miss knitting with circular needles.

2. I do not miss my knitting machine.

3. While it is fine to knit with, alpaca makes me itch.

4. So does mohair a little, but oh, it's so delightful to knit with.

5. I truly hate intarsia knitting, hate it forever.

6. I crave more knitting needles that I can't afford, like the Autumn Hollow beauteous ones which have the little gems on the end caps.

7. I love knitting with wool. 

8. Patterns that are a little challenging for me are the best kind. Easy patterns are just boring.

9. I love to knit lace and other textural things.

10. I like to sew seams and do finishing work.

What ten things about knitting are true for you?

GraceInBag


Sunshine

People are funny. They'll post heartily about having too much rain or too much heat, but when it's a beautiful, sunny day, they don't say much about it. Very odd. I think it's part of that negativity thing that Sally Melville was talking about.

Well, I'm here to tell you that the sun is shining brightly on Tuesday afternoon, and the weather thing on the computer says it's going to be sunny and not too hot for the next five days -- in other words, perfect weather! Perfect for knitting, perfect for spinning, perfect for getting things done!

"Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."  

-- Hans Christian Anderson

Crocheted flowers


Knitting an Opera

"[The Queen} sat at the hearth with several waiting-women,

Spinning yarn on a spindle, lustous sea-blue wool"

 

-- The Odyssey, Homer

 

Julian Grant had a chance conversation at the Scottish opera that led to a marriage of traditional crafts of  the Shetlands with opera. He was working on an opera involving Odysseus, called Odysseus Unwound, and became fascinated with the lace in the Shetland islands: 

"It was the lace knitting, rather than the more colourful and traditional Fair Isle patterning, that exercised my musical imagination. Here, only when the knitting is finished and pulled into its final tension is the intricate and subtle patterning which creates the lace effect finally revealed. I found this to be an intriguing way of developing basic musical material, and it operates dramatically too; a passage in the opening scene where Odysseus taunts. Hecuba recurs in ever fuller versions throughout the opera as various powerful ladies fling the taunts back at him, culminating in a full blown curse just before the end." (Julian Grant, www.juliangrant.net, "Spinning a New Yarn Knitting the Odssey")

He unbelievably, within days, got a whole troupe of performers knitting and the result was unbelievable. "... the singing and acting talents of the spinners, weavers and knitters will be in evidence, as will the knitting abilities of the singers."

The Oddyseus Unwound  went on stage in 2006, and I can't find any sign of the music anywhere, but then, operas are not usually on my music sites.

It's a cool idea.


It's Raining

It's a steady, solid rain that will water the flowers and make the lawn green. Remember the summer that rained almost every day? I designed a scarf and called it "Rainy Day Scarf" because of that. Man, that was a wet month. Today, however, is supposed to be sunny later. We will see.

I've been thinking about what Sally Melville said in her blog post about negativity. We are perceived to be more negative than positive, because our articulate left brains do a good job about telling us how miserable we are, but our inarticulate right brains -- the optimistic, hopeful, seat of imagination -- is no good at speaking. The left brain speaks; the right brain acts. 

Sally said we should all learn to knit, and make the world a better place. I think she's right. I can create with my knitting, and that feels good. And I think knitting helps everyone feel good!

Melenascarf-full


Sheep Counter

A number of years ago, I made a little sheep counter that I put on my computer desktop, and it was so cool.

Sheep counter image

It advanced when you clicked on it; when you clicked "-1" it went backwards (for frogging), and to start over you simply clicked "RESET". It was a floating window, so it stayed on top of everything. It was an app before there were apps, before even widgets, I think. I thought it was cool. Then I got busy and promptly forgot it. I left a link up for people to download it,  but somewhere along the way the link was lost. 

So, I just started to learn Python (a programming language) all over again and even though my sheep counter was made using RunRev in hypertext, it made me think of it all over again. I'm putting the link over at the list of "Beth's Free Patterns" even though it isn't a pattern, and you can download it if you like.

I'm learning Python at Udacitycom, which has free online courses. Very cool :)

Happy Fourth of July everyone!


Shawl of Doom

No, it's not my Cardioid Shawl, that's coming along slowly (takes almost half an hour to knit one row, sooooo many stitches). The Shawl of Doom is a real pattern that was pulled from Ravelry -- lots of controversy why -- but ultimately, a group was formed (I'm in it) and now a bunch of people are knitting the said shawl.

My HipstaPrint 852079297
I guess they added the pattern back in the database about 24 hours ago. Ravelry link is here.

It started out as a joke really, and then the pattern was pulled, so people like me said Censorship! Censorship! and our first response was to take action.

I'm not knitting the shawl of doom myself, though it seems like I have a few times in my life, but I made a "doom" tag on Ravelry and a few things have been tagged with "doom", like the Mouses of Doom, and the Scrap Sock Yarn Afghan of Doom, both named for how long it'll take me to finish them. There's a Shawl of Doom knitalong now; it was even at #1 in Hot Right Now on Ravelry.

What projects would you put the "doom" tag on, and why?


Old Books

I started buying up copies of Alice Starmore's books just about the time they started going out of print. I looked on line, in little out-of-the-way yarn shops everywhere we went, and I think I found all the ones I cared about. I lost my copy of Stillwater, though. I am so bummed. But, I have all the others. 

I was going through my books the other day and found these:

AS books

American Portraits, and A Scottish Garland, by Alice Starmore. I forgot I had them. Jade Starmore is the model in American Portraits; she looks so young! These are booklets more than books, I think. American Portraits had seven designs, and A Scottish Garland had eight. Included was the sales slip for them, from the New Hampshire shop I got them from, for $23.50 each. That was a lot to pay for a booklet, but I could see the way things were going, and I paid it. 

I looked the books up on Ravelry. A Scottish Garland said nothing about the price, only that it was out of print; but on the other one it said, "American Portraits, published 1994, out of print, used prices $175 - $200."

Wow.

Then I looked on Amazon, and they had 4 copies of Scottish Garland from $135 - $220. Huh. I guess I got a good deal. 

So then I felt like knitting something from them, because I got such a great deal, and decided that the pink Fleur de Laine that has been in my stash since the 90's (around when these booklets were published) would be great in Columbia:

Columbia

Fleur De Laine is long discontinued too. I  will get some satisfaction knitting a discontinued pattern with a discontinued yarn. But that's a ways in the future; however, it is good to make plans.


Thinking Out Loud (Ignore at Will)

I think I'm going to make another A Little Bit Bohemian scarf out of my red and black handspun. I counted the yarn as it hung on its peg, multiplied by the number of inches around my swift, divided by 36, and I think I have 264 yards of it, more than enough for a Bohemian scarf. The yarn is kind of wonky in places, but that will just make it that much more Bohemian. 

RedYarn_medium       Beginning2_medium

The fact that it's wonky in some places is why I don't think it's smart to make socks out of it. It's more a scarf kind of yarn. I hope my next batch of yarn, and the plying of it, will be better. I must remember to go slow, and not rush through as fast as I can. I think it will turn out to be better than the red and black yarn, but still not sock worthy. 

It's pretty hard to go from spinning like this:

Sun socks spinning      Sun socks

.... to spinning the wonky crap I've been spinning. It's like an artist losing his right arm (assuming he's right-handed). I have to learn the whole damn thing all over again. Actually, it's harder; try drafting the fiber with only one hand ... you'll end up using your mouth and really, that's not the kind of fiber you should be swallowing. 

I miss spinning the way it used to be, and I miss my circular needles, and I know my knitting and spinning are great and most people can't believe how good it is, but to me, it's never going to be good enough.

I know. Must change attitude. Be positive. Believe. I'm trying...


All in a Good Cause

I ordered a Cardioid Shawl kit last week, and it came recently. It's going right to the top of my queue!

Cardioid Shawl kit

It contains the pattern, a skein of Sock-aholic Serene in Blueberry Pie, and a charming little stitch marker with a heart motif. This is going to be cool, and it's a great cause, too.

Speaking of causes, Lisa Souza has a thing on her blog about the Grace Foundation. She's donating the proceeds from sales of her "Appaloosa" colorway until June 30 to the Grace Foundation, which is having trouble due to the Susanville 70 -- a group of horses that have been rescued, and have been tied up in a legal battle ever since, and now the pregnant horses have had foals, and the months of eating sand and debris has had long term liver problems for the horses, and medical bills for the Grace Foundation. I've made my purchase to help! Those poor horses...

Lisa Souza Appaloosa


What A Difference A Day Makes

Here's my lilac bush day before yesterday:

Lilacs1

There's little buds there! I was excited to see them opening so early. Then yesterday, I looked out my window to see this:

Lilacs 2

They are much bigger. It was so rainy here, I guess I just figured that the lilacs would take a day off, but no, they are the postmasters of the world, never taking a day off despite the rainy weather, always trudging forward through the rain or hail or sleet or snow to make their appointed rounds. Once they start blooming, there's no stopping them, like nature everywhere. 


Bunch of lilacs
 

I am constantly amazed by things at this time every year. Everything grows so fast! It is wonderful.

NickyPonders

Nicky is amazed too.