Monday, December 22, 2008


Rudy is no fan of cold weather!

Rudy hates the cold!

He voiced his complaint loudly this afternoon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stickin' with the Plan

My plan for Holiday knitting was to stick with Hats and Cowls. And if at all possible, to use what I can find in my stash. I mean, we are in a bad economy and being one of the vast group of downwardly mobile Americans has made me feel poorer. In better times I was lucky enough to stock up on yarn so now I can hunker down and put it all to good use.

So far, I've been spot on with the approach and I'm knocking off the gifts in record time. Last week's Cowl was so pretty I decided to repeat the adventure. I have an ulterior motive as well.

The Malabrigo Worsted has been in my stash for nearly two years. I made a scarf with two of the skeins, one of my earliest projects.

color jumble scarf

The other two skeins have been sitting around, waiting for a ripe moment. These cowls are a great way to use them up. With the passage of time I am less enamored of the variegated colors. As I've mentioned, my intent is to go with their semi-solid colors from now on. Yea, I say that now. And the next time I walk into a yarn shop (when the cash allows) I will surely spot some gorgeous skein in a million colors and just have to own it immediately.

So this one is a quick repeat and it's just as purdy as the first. And even after knitting this up, I still have 1.5 skeins left! I predict more variations on this theme...

Birthday (Xmas) Cowl II

The next thing up is a hat I've wanted to knit since the pattern came out earlier this summer. Being a huge brooklyntweed fan, I was sure this project would be as much fun as all his other patterns.

The Turn a Square hat is really easy and really fast. This was done in a little over four hours. I have several skeins of Noro Silk Garden in that stash, but I didn't want to break into them since the thrifty me said to use up some scraps of Noro Kureyon left over from the Lizard Ridge Afghan project. And the gray Cascade was a spare skein purchased when I was evaluating yarns. I'm not sure this was the wisest decision.

Turn a Square I

The hat has a decidedly '70's retro look to it, thanks to the colors I pieced together (lots of spit splicing going on last night!). When I look at it, I am reminded of all those appliances done up in that Avocado-Pea green ubiquitous back then. (do you remember?!?...). I haven't decided if I really like the hat. And it definitely needs blocking, as Jared urges in the pattern notes. It's also a tad too big! Which surprises me because I thought I was knitting it rather tight. The whole time I kept thinking, "wow, I'm moving so fast I hope this isn't too tight" -- I was actually worried about the gauge. I ended up using exactly the amount of yarn specified in the pattern.

Turn a Square I

What do you guys think? Are the colors a Should I crack on with another one using different color combinations?

Turn a Square I

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Santa v Grinch: The Ultimate Smack-Down

Well, the Grinch wandering on my block trying to wreak havoc on my holiday spirits failed in his mission. Because in the end, the Grinch took the bad karma from our front doors away with him. (Thanks, Daniel for that insight. Thank you all, for your kind support.)

On Thursday evening the Park Slope Knitting Circle got together for the weekly gathering. This week's event was the Secret Santa gift exchange. My little project was to make Diana's wish come true - some slippers. It was just the push I needed to do something new, something I've never tried before: felting wool.

Secret Santa Felted Slippers

The pattern itself is about the easiest thing I have ever knit in my life! And honestly it could be addicting, because these things knit up in literally a couple of hours. These being the first of what will surely be many more to come, I adorned them with a simple contrast trim. I can imagine taking this further by incorporating stripes, or embroidering on the tops.

The felting was where it got interesting and there's so much to learn. It's subtle because you have to plan ahead as much as you can, but then the process itself (since I have a front loading washer) is a bit more unknown. These slippers were washed in HOT water, COLD rinse three times to get this felted fabric. There are a couple of other settings on the washer and I suppose it would be worthwhile to knit up a bunch of samples and try variations.


Diana seemed quite pleased and I truly hope they fit. She insisted they would. I decided to spruce up the gift by presenting the slippers in a little basket along with a box of sleepytime style tea and a small package of cookies. Sorry I don't have a photo of the whole package, but as usual I put it all together at the last minute!

It was really fun to see all the crafty things that people made for each other. Barbara, a huge D&D fan got a chrocheted dragon. SO cute. And there were lots of neckwarmers, hats, scarves and even a lovely knitted purse.

Naomi made me a wonderful pair of fingerless handwarmers, and just in the nick of time! The weather turned nasty the next day and I've been using them constantly. These are just terrific and I've been lazy about knitting a pair for myself. So warm and cozy. I was thrilled.

Thank you, Naomi!

The Specs
Pattern: Felted Slippers by Robin Smith(ravel it)
Yarn: Cascade 109 LE Bulky; about one skein Aubergine; small bit contrast Gray
Needle: Size US 13
Started and finished: First weekend of December for the knitting, then washed 3 times over the next 2 wks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Worth a read

Someone forwarded this to me today and I felt it was too good to keep to myself. I know it's off knitting topic, but it affects all of us, even the worker bees like you and me. Read it and try not to let your blood boil....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Dear Visitor,

Hey, those wreaths on our front doors? Nah, we didn't really need them, no seriously. I mean, the doors look fine all by themselves; that's how they look all year long anyway. Yea, it was a frivolous idea thinking we could spruce up our front by adding some yule greenery. Silly us.

And hey, I don't mind shopping the local church bazaars to find the wreaths, and then working with the Boy Scout troop to decorate them just so. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, so thanks for the warm memories there.

Best of all, I have plenty of time on my hands now. I won't have to waste time picking out the decorations for next year, tossing the wreaths and sweeping the pine needles off front stoop. You took care of that for me, thanks!

And oh, I'm sure you were just thinking it's all in the spirit of giving, that's why you decided to give yourself two custom decorated wreaths. I mean, why else would you trespass onto our property and just take these decorations off our doors?

Yea, so Merry Christmas, Visitor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Needles on Fire

It was a real knitting streak this weekend. On Thursday we RSVP for an annual cocktail party on Sunday afternoon. Last year I showed up knitless and decided it just could not happen again!


So after work on Friday I got down to business. I needed two knitted gifts and they needed to be fast. Really fast. The first step was to peruse the many pattens I've queued up, printed out haven't tried before. A little stash diving, a little quick comparisons on Ravelry and I cast on for a Birthday Cowl (Christmas cowl?).


The Malabrigo was already wound into a cake. And it's endorsed as a go-to for this particular pattern. By the time I went to bed that evening, it was nearly done. I finished it over breakfast the next morning.


Saturday was a busy day, Mom wanted to buy a new mattress and decided Macy's was the place. How crazy was that - shopping at Macy's two weeks before Christmas for a mattress. When that woman gets a bee in her bonnet....

We plowed through throngs of tourists and holiday shoppers just to reach the elevators. It was a little more sane up in the mattress department (surprise, surprise!), and while she tested beds, I cast on for a hat.

The Marsan Watchcap has been in my queue forever. And I knew it would be a really quick project. It's perfect for a guy and I had some guy-perfect yarn from my recent swatching experiment. The color is called Sparrow, and though it shows as dull beige in this photo, it really reads like lichen on rocks on the top of a mountain.

Jim's Watchcap

By the time we returned to Brooklyn I'd stitched up 3 inches. But I was pooped and ended up falling asleep while knitting and watching Persepolis. So Sunday was crunch time and aside from the weekly Fairway run, and some chores, I was a knitting machine. I finished the hat by 4PM and barely had time to get the one photo before completely losing the light and dashing off to the party!

Whew! Two years ago this could never happen. And this is one of those rare times I actually met my 'knitting deadline'. Yay!

Pattern: Birthday Cowl by Nova Seals (Ravel it)
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted, Stone Chat, less than one skein
Needles: #7 US
Started and finished: about 4 hours

Pattern: Marsan Watchcap by Staceyjoy Elkins (Ravel it)
Yarn: Cascade 220, #4011, Sparrow, less than one skein
Needles: #7 US
Started and finished: about 6 hours
I made some modifications on the hat. The pattern says knit 88 stitches for a large. I knit 96 stitches, in keeping with the 8 stitch sequence. I also knit 10 more rows after the turn. My friend tried it on and it fits, but to me it looked a bit snug. He's a big guy, I suppose 104 stitches would have been better, but it's okay.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Folks, most of the time this blog is all about nicey nicey like my knitting and my dogs. And that's just great. But right now I have something to say, and must vent.

Chrysler goes to Washington with the other car manufacturers asking the government for a bail out. Okay but do you remember, a majority stake in Chrysler was bought by a HEDGE FUND about 18 months ago. That same hedge fund has been circling Daimler in the last few months, and if they are successful, it will mean they own the entire company lock stock and barrel. It's all here.

So people, come on. If the government gives them a dime, I think my head will simply explode. When are we going to stop this insanity?

"Mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges... which are employed altogether for their benefit." Andrew Jackson

Okay, thank you. I think I feel a little better now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking back to find a way forward

"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes." Andrew Jackson

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"She Wore a Raspberry Beret..."

Raspberry Beret

I'm taking a risk by posting this here, since it is a Christmas present. But it's just so cute, I couldn't help myself. And Oh. When I went to name the photos for my Flickr upload, I unwittingly named them after a certain song...but let me say, I hope you don't find this beret in any old second hand store...

Raspberry Beret

This is the same yarn (leftover) I used for the Forest Canopy Shawl. And the same pattern I used for my Turquoise beret made last summer. It was quick, it was easy and it will be appreciated.

Raspberry Beret

The stuffed doggie was the most willing model I could find on Sunday morning.

Project: Portia Beret by Kim Hargreaves (ravel it)
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino, Raspberry, less than 1 skein
Needles: Size 6 and Size 3
Started and finished: Thanksgiving weekend

Monday, December 8, 2008

Canvas for Millionaires

Today I stopped into Bloomingdale's to stock up on opaque tights for the winter weather. It was across the street from an appointment I had with one of my better accounts.

The sales lady asked me if I wanted to open a Bloomingdale's account. "No, I don't want a card, thank you anyway." It was strange because I think I've heard we are in a credit crunch? The credit markets are frozen? People can't get loans to buy houses, cars, bathroom renovations, younameit. So how come I was offered a new card? If I had said yes, would I waste an hour filling out forms only to be denied (and then they would have all my personal information)? Or is there some sort of alternate dimension in reality. A parallel universe?

Well, I shrugged it off at the moment and left with my $27.00 purchase. Then as I was heading out of the store I browsed the handbags. I saw a canvas bag, rather large, but canvas just the same. No reinforcements to speak of, just a rectangle of canvas sewn together. Oh it was dyed green. And it had the designer name splashed all over it. And that bag, which was shaped like a pillowcase with a strap and a drawstring? It was $165. I kid you not.

I felt like an alien in that store.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Cowl for the Revolution

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

About the only thing I can really handle these days is really simple knitted projects. The simpler the better. The smaller the better, too. It's as if the existential anxiety I'm experiencing is seeping so deep into my bones and muscles it renders me incapable of counting, solving simple math problems, overcoming challenges of any sort.

At least it has a name. This thing, this existential anxiety. Putting a name on it makes it real and it also means it's not just me, which is strangely comforting. I was also told that when there is anxiety at this level it often leads to real change. Action. Collective action or progress to a new level. This is also somewhat comforting. Though I suspect the change we really need may take so long to get here the damage will be deep. We need a revolution!!

So while the collective whole gathers the energy it's gonna need for the coming revolution, I knit small things intended as gifts. Here, a little neckwarmer. Very soft, very cozy.

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

The yarn is Malabrigo Silky Merino, a yarn getting alot of play around these parts lately. I picked up two skeins of this color awhile back and it's been percolating in my stash. I've even attempted other projects with it with little success. Until I hit on this small project. A simple tube knitted with some eyelets to keep it interesting. Just knit around in a circle with a few small blips (or eyelets in this case) and stop when it feels like it's long enough.

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

The color is called Bosques, which means woodland in Spanish. I like the idea of woodlands, and in this yarn it translates to some deep greens, leading to black and lighter greens leading to pale pale green/beige/yellow. The one surprise is the little hints of blue which come up when this piece is held up to natural daylight. Not sure you can see it in these shots.

The Spanish name and the translation remind me of some woods I explored when I was a small child, living in Santiago, Chile. These woods were in a seaside resort called Vina del Mar, by Valparaiso. The aroma of pine needles, the tall pines piercing a clear blue sky. I still remember those woods and the vacations we took there, with the sea and the pines.

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

The Details:
Pattern: Stacked Eyelet Cowl, by Amy Madison (used as a guide, I made modifications) ravel it
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino, Bosques, just shy of a full skein
Needles: Size 7
Started: November 28, 2008
Finished: November 29, 2008 - good Thanksgiving weekend knitting

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Counting. It's Elemental.

This is shameful. The blog is turning into a running dialog of my knitting foibles but at least this time I have a few photographs. Having a full time job really sucks because it's dark by the time I get home. And if you know me, then you know my thinking goes "if it's not worth doin' right, then it's not worth doin'".

Ariann Sleeves1

I digress. This is about the sleeves. Oh, those sleeves. Turns out my real problem is.... I cannot count. Nope. I cannot count. Counting is too difficult for me. Or, more to the point, I cannot read directions and count what the directions indicate.

Ariann Sleeves2

How did I learn this little factoid? Well dear reader, I will tell you. I was nearly finished with the second sleeve when I took another look and this time I read the pattern and realized that the increases were actually correct in the first sleeve. The instructions stated to make the first increase and then REPEAT the same increase 5 more times. That counts as a total of 6 increases every 6 rows and then 8 more increases every 8 rows. OH. DUH. So it wasn't 5 increases, it was 6. And all this time I thought I had made one too many in the first sleeve.

Imagine my relief, though it did mean ripping sleeve #2 down about 8 inches and adding that 6th increase. It wasn't so bad, and I was back on track in no time.

Ariann Sleeves3

The challenges don't end there, dear reader. Because now I have NO IDEA how to add the sleeve to the body. Which is where I am now. Stuck. This time I decided to just put it aside, ponder it awhile, and let inspiration guide me. Still waiting.

And while I wait, I will knit the small projects to get me through the Holidays. And maybe I should go back to third grade, because obviously I missed the day they taught us to count!