Wednesday, August 31, 2005

French Quarter

If you're wondering what to send, dead presidents would be good!

If you're thinking about gathering stuff to send, please don't! Have a yard sale and sent the dead presidents.

Here are some places that can use them well: America's Second Harvest and The American Red Cross . If neither of them (are you ready for a very tasteless pun?) "floats your boat," check the list on NPR's website.

That is all.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Oddball Hall

The hexagonal oddball blankie is finished:

It's 46" wide or 50" depending on whether you measure flat to flat or point to point. Used 24 ounces of yarn all together.

I held onto the last full ball of Woolease Tartan left from my cardigan and used that for an 8 row garter stitch border.

Recipe is thanks to Tallguy in Alberta. He gave me the idea and noodged me along. I hope he sees the picture! Tallguy claims to have mixed all sorts of fibers in his rendition. I have no reason to doubt him, but I wanted to use up my acrylic scraps.

Here's what we did (don't know where he leaves off and I start!):

Gather a whole mess of yarn in long, short and inbetween lengths and (me) all the same weight, or not (Tallguy). I used size 6 needles with worsted (mostly) weight because I wanted a firm fabric (making a baby blankie, I didn't want extra places for tiny fingers to poke through).

Cast on 6 stitches, divide onto 3 double pointed needles. Join and (you know the drill) don't twist 'em. Knit one round.

2nd round: increase in every stitch (12 stitches). I used a YO increase, but kfb or M1 would work just as well, without the holes. Knit 2 rounds without increasing, place a marker between the 2nd and 3rd stitch on each needle on round 4.

5th round and every 3rd round (i.e. 8, 11, 14, ad infinitum ) until the stitches no longer fit on your dpns: increase at the begining of each needle, before and after each marker, and at the end of each needle (12 increases made).

When you run out of room, switch to a circular needle, add a marker at the spot between each dpn (6 markers, 6 increase points, each with 2 stitches increased, one on each side of the marker). Keep knitting, switching to ever-longer circulars until you run out of yarn or get sick to death of it. Do a garter stitch border (k 1 round, p 1 round) to help the edge lie flat. Bind off loosely. (I had 102 stitches between each pair of markers when I bound off.)

Tallguy suggests (and I concur) that some texture (in the way of a garter stitch round or some YO/ k 2 tog rounds) would add interest. Throw them in when the spirit moves you. Use any yarn piece that's a yard long (or longer). Add fuzzy stuff (I didn't), mix weights. With bigger whacks of yarn, knit a while, then cut and add another yarn.

To join yarns, just start knitting with the new color and tighten up the ends when you weave them in. Tallguy knotted his and said it made no difference in the end. You could also overlap and make 5 or so stitches with both yarns held together, but I think that might get lumpy looking.


I think that I'll be starting another cernter-out, this time, a square. And I'll be throwing some texture into it. I might even use my Elann samples. I have over a year's worth at this point. The colors are cool and the textures would add interest.

I want to start an oddball shawl with a bunch of mohair I've acquired over the last couple years (not counting the big whack I just :ahem, cough: bought from Elann). I may just do a giant hexagon on size 10.5 needles (since I have them in all lengths through 60").

Acrylic countdown: I still have 2 bushel-size laundry baskets full of "good qualtity" charity yarn (Cervinia Sorrento, and some decent baby yarn, Bernat Ragg, and Red Heart Lustersheen). I also have a bunch of Red Heart Supersaver which, while good for charity knitting, isn't what I consider "good quality." I'll be using these for mittens and hats and slippers, then mailing them off.

And I've already knocked off 6 balls (1410 yards). Found an error in my spreadsheet. I had Bernat Aspen listed as all acrylic. It's got some wool!


Monday, August 29, 2005

Anything Goes

Bad day. Sore throat. Came home early. Slept. Guy next door came home. Started deconstructing his patio. WTF?? With power tools. Nap ends.

But last night, I finished putting this together:

from squares-by-others that have been on the pool table for far too long. (And I need the pool table to block the hexagonal blankie, soon!)

It still needs about 6 miles of edging of some sort. I'm thinking some sort of stitched on border. I don't think that i-cord is going to do much for it. In any event, I'll be using the raspberry Red Heart (and hopefully, using it up).

I am hereby pledging in a somewhat public forum to swear off 100% ack-rillic. It hurts my hands. It squeaks. It smells weird. No, really. Sniff some wool. Now sniff some acrylic. Notice the difference? Wool smells natural and sheepy. Acrylic smells, well, chemical. I know I've said it before, but this time I really, really, really mean it. No more poly-Esther. No more Ore-lon. No more Ack-Real-ic (because it isn't)!

As soon as I use up the crap I already own. I just checked and the 100% acrylic yarn in my stash makes up 13% of my total yarn (13,230 yards, or 7.5 miles). Blends don't count! I will buy no more petroleum-based yarn!

I see a lot of hats and slippers in my near future!


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Arsenic and Old Lace

I completed the first repeat on the lace shrug:

Photo against daylight doesn't do it justice!

This sweaterlet is made in two pieces, center back to cuff on a provisional cast on (I used a crochet cast on this time, after doing the "knit 3-4 rows with waste yarn" cast on for the top secret project. I hope it's easier to un-pick!) then pick up the raw stitches and repeat.

So far, for one repeat at the widest point, I've used a little more than 1 ball of yarn. I have 10 (with no opportunity to get more). I am sure that there's enough here!

The Elann alpaca is nice to work with. It's soft, and non-splitty. And the color is yummy.

And since the question: "How much do you buy if you don't have a specific project in mind?" question comes up frequently, let me go on record. My buying habits suck! If I am lookingthe yarn in the eye (so to speak) in person, I will often grab all that's available of a particular brand/type/color/dyelot (yeh, selfish pig), especially if it's a closeout/bargain. When I am buying on-line, I will sometimes get all I can afford at the moment ("afford" being a relative term depending on what else is on the card and how close payday is). I try for "full bag" (10 balls, usually) quantities (10, 20, 30, again, often depending on the price).

This particular yarn was intended for another project to combine with a wonderful hand-painted alpaca that came from Ellen's Half-pint Farm via Stitches East (I'm not saying what year, but it was still being held in King of Prussia). The color match was a bit "off," so both yarns were languishing in my stash waiting forthe right project. The Viennese Shrug calls for 880 yards of Morehouse Farms Merino 2-Strand which is a sport weight (the alpaca is a light worsted. I'm getting close gauge, and a nice fabric (good drape) so whatthe heck!

And now back to reality: I have 600 stitches on the needle (60" Addi Turbo) for the oddball blankie that is my current user-upper, mindless project.

I figure that it's closing in on 44" across, so I've started the border using a ball of the Woolease Tartan that was left from my cardigan. It's a tweedy-looking yarn made up of navy, hunter and purple plied together that ties in some of the other colors without being variegated. I wanted to do a seed stitch border (and may still), but I need to continue the increases, so this will require a bit of planning. Perhaps a small cable with a reverse stockinette panel at the increase points, or just garter stitch wedges there?

Since it takes me 15-20 minutes to do one round, I don't want to have to rip back if I get it wrong!

It's a gray day here in Pennsylvania. Should I knit (and veg) or clean. Knit/clean. Knit/clean. Kni


Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Little Romance

I know that a lot of us looked at the Summer 2005 issue of Interweave Knits and wondered "say, what?" at all the shrugs and wrappy things that were in that issue. Frankly, I have too much shelfage to wear anything that accentuates my bustline quite that way!

But there's always an audience, isn't there? I showed the issue to my now daughter-in-law (she wasn't yet at the time). There were several of those little wraps that she liked quite a lot. Heck, she's tall, she's slender. She's got the body!

So, last night, I checked my stash and cast on the Viennese Shrug (p. 40) in Elann Peruvian Collection Pure Alpaca (color cactus--don't even look. It's all gone!) and started:

The color is a grayish celery, sort of neutral without being black.

I have issues with itty bitty graphs, so I blew that sucker up (original on the right) and highighted (in hot pink--the only marker I could find) the three WS rows that are not just purl across (there are two wonky stitches in each pattern repeat):

I can scribble on this to my heart's content, then file it away withthe magazine in case I ever want to do this lacy leaf stitch again.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

I don't like to crochet. Yes, I know how. And I don't like it.

So it isn't any surprise that a big pile of granny squares, contributed by a member of Native American Support have gone long neglected! A bunch of those squares were among the projects I schlepped along to the wedding, knowing that if I were without benefit of something interesting to work on, I would work on the mindless. And I did:

I added a single crochet edge to 42 squares, then whip stitched them together into a lively and colorful 6X7 square woobie, perfect for a little kid being taken into fosterage.

Of course, the edge looked so nekkid that I just had to add a scalloped border. The joining and edging yarn is Red Heart Supersaver in Raspberry:

And lest you think I did not knit, here's the sock Rabbitch wanted me to knit during the ceremony. Too damned hot to knit, Rabbitch! Sock pattern is sort of my own and the yarn is Bernat Aspen in the Log Cabin colorway (blues, browns, beiges).


Monday, August 22, 2005

And So They Were Married

Risky Business

The are no photos. The reason will become obvious shortly.

The bride was hoping to mix wildflowers with the silk gardenias that she had for her bouquet. So as we each went our merry ways on Saturday (wedding was scheduled for 6) we all kept eyes peeled for suitable bouquet materials.

The Other Half and I were off to some antiqueing (actually, checking prices on things that are similar to our "stuff"--Lord a-mercy, I'd love to be rid of some of this "stuff"). We drove through a section of the Shenandoah National Forest on our way from Sperryville to New Market. There was an abundance of black-eyed Susans along the roadside. Alas, there was no pull-off.

Coming back down the same hill a couple of hours later, the Other Half would slow down at every wide shoulder area, looking for something (anything) suitable, and there it was! Another smallish stand of bright yellow flowers.

So, risking life, limb, and possible imprisonment (national forest, remember?) I hopped over the guiderail, clutching my handy scissors (ready to sacrifice my Dollar Tree throwaways to the cause), and watching for poison ivy, I stepped squarely into a muddy hole, and right on some sort of non-furry animal (can you say "snake, a snake, a s-n-a-k-e?" I was pretty sure you could!)

And the worst part: by the time we got back to the B&B, the pretty yellow flowers were beyond redemption. (Can you say "96 in the shade?")

So, the bride, the bride's mama, the maid of honor and I hopped in the car and trespassed at a "for sale" house down the road a bit and got some Yankee clover, thistles, Queen Anne's lace, some Yarrow and some pretty grasses for the bride and the guys. The maid of honor and I did not commit B&E (we couldn't get the door open).


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Light Ahead

This morning, I stitched the last buttons on the last fair entry.

I'm really pleased with how the buttons echo the cabled rib.

Everything is blocked, all the cat hair is picked off, all the tags are on. Next Thursday, I turn it all in and await the results. The fair opens August 30, Tuesday, but it will be Saturday (September 3) before I can get there. Cross those fingers, fans.

I have been in a bad place for the last week or so, but thanks to good friends (you know who you are) and the Other Half, I am starting to see light again (and I don't think it's a train!).

I will be away from the keyboard until Monday. This is Wedding Weekend. The ladies are nestled in at the Cattery Spa. Clothes are pressed, tuxedos are hanging in the closet.

In 2 days, I will officially be The Evil Mother In Law!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Angels in the Outfield

I was torn between just making any-angel as a Holiday Tree Ornament, Knitted or Crocheted. I have patterns for several very cute ones, saved over the years.

But I was intrigued by the angels in Knitters, starting with the Winter 1997 issue (there were several versions, offered over the course of more than a year, each with its own craft). The first 2 were knitters. There was a spinner, an embroiderer and representatives of other fiber arts as well. All of them came with lovely lace skirts.

So I decided to take the plunge! All I had to lose was a couple of days' effort if things didn't go the way I expected. I could still make a tiny knitted angel from the Jean Greenhowe book. After all, the Santa took next to no time!

So I knitted up the pieces in some Knit Cro-sheen that I purchased years ago (can't remember why) in white with a silver thread. (I have 2 balls of the same thread in the gold colorway. Not.a.Packrat.)

Really bad photo of angel parts

Then I mixed up some starch. The directions called for a tablespoon of cornstarch, dissolved in a tablespoon of cold water, to which you add BOILING water to make 1/2 cup. You are then instructed to nuke (or cook on a stove) until the mixture turns thick and translucent. Here's the thing. The second boiling water hit cold cornstarch solution, I got:

thick, translucent glop

into which I dipped, squeezed, and drained angel-parts (see photo above), then shaped and flattened them (as appropriate) to dry:

Tonight, I struggled to meld the parts into the whole. (It's hard to stitch stiff- angel-parts together!)

But, Voila!

All that remains is to sew 7 buttons onto my freshly blocked sweater and I am done, done, done! And I still have over a week until turn-in day!


Saturday, August 13, 2005


Rabbitch has asked me to list five idiosyncracies.

Like all the other folks who have played, I am completely normal, so I asked my coworkers: "Do you think I have idiosyncracies?" They are still laughing. I'm afraid to ask my family.

Idiosyncrasy Meme id•i•o•syn•cra•sy - a structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group. Write down 5 of your own idiosyncrasies, then if you wish, tag 5 people.

Well, folks, tagging isn't going to happen any time soon, because this one's been going around for a while. Why am I always the last on the list? (Do you think I might be paranoid, or are they actually out to get me?) I think I'll open it up to any reader who hasn't already been tagged, plus Judy! Judy, you can leave your list by clicking on "comments" below and posting anonymously if you want. (Judy is blogless.) We will know who you are! Wayne (also blogless) if you see this, you too!

1. I am always the last to know. Even if I started the rumor.

2. I "save stuff." I am not a packrat. All of the stuff I save will be useful and/or valuable someday. Take, for instance (please, oh please, take it) this July 1, 2005, copy of the Legislative Week in Review (which, folks, is a whole other blog--a really long one) that was the first piece of paper I laid hand on when I turned slightly to my left. Most people would have tossed it immediately. I consider it (on closer inspection) to be blog-fodder! Under it, I found an old Smiley's " wishlist on a scrap of paper. Most of these yarns/colors are long gone from the site. But hey, useful/valuable. The back is still blank. I might use that for future grocery lists or something. I have a whole room full of stuff like that, but I am not a packrat. By the way, small note at the bottom of that scrap indicates that I have 49.5 miles of yarn on 503 balls. See below for an indication of how long that sucker's been buried!

3. I am not in denial. 'nuff said.

4. I hoard books. Books I have read. Books I will never read. Thursday, I dropped an entire trunk-and-backseat load of old books and LPs at the site of a future book sale. Only I can see the dent in the bookcases. I hoard magazines, too, but all of them are crafts-related except the Time and Newsweek issues that are "historic." Not.a.Packrat.

5. I am compulsive about organizing my yarn stash. I have 88.39 pounds of yarn logged into Excel. That's 54.26 miles on 575 separate balls, though there's some green stuff over there [points over left shoulder] that may not yet be logged and some hair of the mo on the way. I have a template for organizing books and 'zines, and I'd like one for needles. If only the rest of my life could be as organized as my yarn collection!

6. No more? What do you mean, no more? This is just the tip of the iceberg!

Okay. Nevermind.

Last night, I finished a very tiny project:

He sure makes Mr. Snow( with buttons!) look huge! But lookie here:

Perspective is everything, isn't it?

And I updated my Yarn Countdown today. erm.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Breathing Lessons

It's been a long week and it isn't over yet. The heat has retuned. The humidity has returned and we are on Official Countdown for the Wedding of the Year. T minus 9 and counting.

I've kept my cool by feverishly working on my fair entries. Snowpeople are nearly done. Two ornaments are selected and will commence this evening. One angel, one Santa, both from Jean Greenhowe's Knitted Toys.

Next year, I will attempt one of the lace angels from Knitters. No time left to do it this year.

So, 15 days to finish for the fair. I have my entry tickets and my parking pass. Nearly everything is finished. Breathe in, breathe out.

9 days to the wedding. Breathe in, breathe out.

Update (8:30 p.m.)

There wasn't much left to do. Here they are, Mr. and Mrs. Snow:

Do they need "buttons?"

And here are the Clauses:


Monday, August 08, 2005

One for the Road

My friend Rabbitch shared this comeback to yesterday's link.

I give you the Badger Song .

More later.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Losin' It

I had bookmarked a whole bunch of interesting sites to post on a day when there was nothing to post. Do you think I can find them now?

Turn on your sound and prepare to be fascinated! (Do not turn your sound on loud) so other people don't know you are listening to Llama song . Yep, I linked to it after reading about it on the Harlot's blog , though I had seen it before (and watched it, oh, 5, maybe 10 run throughs again. Then I made the Other Half (who has seen it before because I made him watch the first time I found it) watch it again.

. . .half a llama, twice a llama, llama, llama, duck!

Go on, admit you were humming along!

Some weekend progress, though not nearly as much as I'd like:

The oddball afghan is 14" from center to edge (28" across), nearly 400 stitches in each round and getting bigger every 3rd round. The good news is I am in no danger of running out of oddballs. The bad news is, I am "planning" (as in "I need to get these exact yarns in these colors") the next one.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Something to Talk About

The lists are all abuzz with a story about a child molestor who was sentenced to crochet. I won't link to any of the stories, because they are readily available.

I was asked by a regular reader for my opinion.

Let me start by saying that I think people who touch little kids, or any other people inappropriately are the scum of the earth and that they should be locked up somewhere that they will never come out of.

Let me further state (despite knowing several fairly well-respected local journalists) that in my opinion, "the media" goes for the sensational (because it's interesting, and it sells), often at the expense of the (often boring) whole truth.

Now, I will go on to say that "community service" is not intended to be imposed as "punishment." It is meant to be restitution to the community at large.

I work a lot with community service volunteers. The tasks that they are assigned are often no more rigorous than the crochet work assigned to the man in question. No one wants to tell their stories because, frankly, they're boring. (Insert visual of grass growing and paint drying.)

The judge who imposed this sentence was privy to a lot more information than was released to the general public. The fact that the victim's family accepted this arrangement should be enough for the rest of us. The media picked up on a "trendy" story. 'nuff said from me. I welcome your comments.

I will now don flameproof undies and stand back.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Brother, is it hot! When I got in my car this afternoon, the temperature registered 103! Too hot!

I stopped on the way home to mail my monthly package to The Ships Project, but the big news is that Gayle, Candy (and Candy's mother, Lois) and I got together for lunch today.

Left to right: Candy, me, Gayle, Lois

We met through the project. All of us have friends or family who are either currently in The Sandbox (Persian Gulf) or have served there. We are planning another Lehigh Valley get-together for a September (or maybe October) Saturday, possibly involving a yarn crawl, definitely involving dessert!

We are having some landscaping work done (big trees, topped, dead tree removed). When I came home this afternoon, The Quince Bush that has been a thorn (literal and figurative) in my side since we bought this house 16 years ago was gone. Cut off right at ground level. Happy, happy, joy, joy! I have done everything but salt the dirt to get rid of that nasty thing! The tree guys had to remove it to get their chipper truck into the back yard. They thought we'd be upset if they suggested cutting it out! Ha!

I really felt sorry for the guys doing the work. Yeh, that hot!

I finished my hat, child, knit for the fair last night:

Kinda cute for acrylic!

Welcome to another new, non-knitting reader! JRK and I were high school classmates. She's helping plan our reunion!


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back to the Future

This came yesterday:

I finally got a chance to look inside and oh, my eyes, my eyes!

Lots of fat yarn! Including Big, that knits at 5 stitches to 4" (Why?)

Lots of variations on a fur theme:Fancy Fur, Festive Fur, Fun Fetti, Fun Fur.

There's a new 100% wool in 12 colors. The good news is it's wool. The bad news is, it's $8.99 for 158 (solids) or 143 (prints) yards. Sure, it will be discounted everywhere, but can it compete with Brown Sheep? I think not!

And these's a new cashmere blend at $9.99 in the 8 usual colors.

File 13!


Monday, August 01, 2005

Sixteen Candles

plus 40.

'nuff said.

Confession time:

It's the first of the month and I dragged out all my WIPs to keep me honest.

Here's the "oddball" afghan, still in progress:

as I expect it will be for a while. It's a pretty simple concept, built on EZ's pi principle, taken to the next step by Tallguy in Alberta. I'll be adding leftovers to it until it's as big as I want. (I'm thinking maybe 40-45" across.)

Next up:

the Christmas doll pairs (for the fair). I've made no progress on the Clauses since I posted the last picture. The snowpeople parts are nearly done (need two more "shoes" knit) and I am (finally) nearly out of the Lion Pound of Love (which is real 100% acraplic). I am eyeing my stash for scarf and hat yarns for them.

The last ones are about as on-the-hoof as they could possibly be:

my child's hat (for the fair), a cute little bucket number with a cabled edge. Pattern here. If you are into spinning and dyeing, noodle around on the site. Lotsa good articles and cute patterns. (Check out the snake! I'm planning it as the encore to last year's alien scarf.)

I need to select patterns and yarn for an ornament, Santa and a Christmas tree ornament. Then my fair entries are done! Good thing, too. I need to turn them in/over in 3 and a half weeks :eep:

This is the only picture you will see of this. It's a secret:

The (discontinued) yarn is merino, silk and cashmere. Yummy and soft.


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