15 December 2011

Christmas Sneak Peek

How silly of me to start updating my blog again just before Christmas!  I really should have known better, because I've switched to that point where all my knitting is secret-knitting!  It's awfully hard to write posts about the things I'm knitting when they're all secret.  Still... I will post a sneak peek of the secret-knitting item that most excites me right now.  Seriously, I'm enjoying this item so much that I might make it for myself sometime, too.  And it's something I've previously not enjoyed knitting, so this is a surprise to me, too!

Someday, all shall be revealed.  [insert Mr. Burns-like laughter here, Smithers.]

10 December 2011

On Getting It Right

Husband's sweater is officially on hold.  Hopefully just for a little while.  At Thanksgiving, I held what I had done up to one of his favorite store-bought sweaters and discovered that the sleeves I have made (which I have done FOUR TIMES already) are about 2 inches narrower than the sleeves of the sweater he likes.  Meaning... he thinks they will probably be too tight, and he won't wear the sweater.  No amount of explaining to Husband that he chose a tight skinny sweater pattern and the sleeves are supposed to be like that will convince him that this sweater is actually turning out the way it should.  So more fitting is needed.  I may have to do the sleeves over again.  I may have to make him choose an entirely different pattern and start over completely.  We'll see when he comes home for Christmas and tries on the sleeves I've knit so far.

Seriously, at this rate, I'm just going to go to J. Crew and buy him more damn sweaters.  Sigh.  Can this marriage be saved?*

Not just regarding the sweater, I've been doing a lot of thinking about mistakes lately.  Specifically, about making mistakes when knitting.  I am the kind of knitter who will rip out inches and inches and inches of knitting -- hours and hours of work -- if I realize I've made even a tiny mistake somewhere down the line.  Some of my knitting friends give me a good-natured hard time for my insistence on perfection in knitting.  I don't mind their teasing, of course.  I have always believed the old adage that "a thing worth doing is worth doing well."

The Amish will purposefully knit a mistake into their sweaters (usually a twisted stitch in an underarm right next to a seam so no one can see it anyway, ahem) because only God can make a truly perfect thing.  So they deliberately put a mistake in their work.  The Persians do this with their rugs, too.  Surely there are other groups that do this as well.  And I guess I understand where they're coming from -- they consider it an act of reverence/deference to the Creator, in a way.  A kind of humility, to acknowledge and accept our own place in the created order.

I appreciate the devotion intended behind this practice, but I also find it a bit presumptuous to assume in the first place that one's work would be perfect without deliberately adding a "mistake."  And is it really a mistake if you put it there on purpose?

I generally assume, particularly with knitting, but also in life in general, that nothing I do will be perfect.  Maybe I absorbed just enough Wesleyan theology at that Methodist seminary I attended -- I like the idea of "striving toward perfection," even though we know we will never get there on our own.  God's grace both brings us closer to the perfection for which we strive and makes it okay that we never achieve said perfection. Still, the striving is ours.  That's what we do.  In knitting and in life.  So I do the best I can.  If there's something to do over -- particularly something as easy as fixing a knitting error -- I should do it.  A thing worth doing is worth doing well.  Perfect doesn't even enter into it.  Meticulous, maybe.  But never perfect.

*In case you were wondering, yes, I am turning in to my mother.  She used to say this all the time.  It's the title of a real-live column from one of those 70s homemaker magazines that used to pile up next to the couch.  McCall's or Family Circle or something.  They were "gruesome" stories of minor marriage disputes, and it was left to the reader to decide "Can this marriage be saved?"  I think the desired implication was that yes, a marriage can always be saved.  I'm not sure this is true in every case.  In my case, however, the answer is yes.  It was always yes in my mother's case, as well.  My parents have been married for something like 45 years.  I suspect they'll be fine.

07 December 2011


I don't know how many hats I've made for Husband over the years. He is like the Goldilocks of hats, I swear. This one's too tight, that one's too loose. This "weave" (he means gauge, but doesn't know it) is too big, this "weave" is too small. This brim's too wide, this brim's not wide enough. This color's too light, this color's too dark... I swear, I cannot get it right. It's a hat. But something in me (pride, probably) refuses to let him just go buy a stinkin' hat already. I mean, come on. He's married to a knitter! I will resent any hat he brings into our house that I didn't knit for him. He's a good and patient and kind and understanding man, so he puts up with me and my peccadilloes. Thank God.

Anyway, it seems I have finally gotten it right. This most recent attempt was sparked by desperation: my own. I was at this conference in Boston, seaming up the baby sweater for Meowkat, and finished the seaming sooner than I expected. A whole day sooner, in fact. I was faced with sitting in a conference with no knitting for an entire day. NOT AN OPTION.

This is one of those times that I'm grateful I come from an Iowan family. We're really nice folks, we Iowans. We don't know how to be otherwise. My wonderful sister drove me to the Boston neighborhood where the conference was taking place, and on the walk from her parking space to the church where we were meeting, with only 2 minutes to spare, I popped into Newbury Yarns. They have just moved to a new space and didn't have their hours posted on the door yet -- I walked in and asked, and I was there a half-hour early. But Aldrich (sp?) let me browse anyway. And by "browse," I mean "ask her for yarn to make a hat." She pointed me toward some lovely dark-gray Karabella Aurora, I grabbed some size 6 needles, and said "You might not recognize me. I'm Anne's sister. She'll probably be in a bit later." And Aldrich practically jumped over her counter to give me a hug. "How is Anne? She is such a nice lady. Please give her my best. Are you ready to check out now? Just let me sign in..."

And that, my friends, is how I bought yarn a half-hour before the shop is open. Aldrich is, herself, a very nice person and probably would have rung me up anyway without name-dropping my sister, but I'm sure it didn't hurt.

Anyway, I slipped in to the conference only a few minutes late, sat down, and cast on 72 stitches, joined in the round. Knitted a 1x1 rib for longer enough that I was ready to poke my eyes out with the needles, then switched to stockinette. Got most of the hat done during the day, then went back to my sister's house and knit more after dinner, let myself be talked into staying the night and driving back to Vermont in the morning. In the morning, I let myself be talked into staying pretty much until lunch... and I finished the hat. (Six k2tog decreases, evenly spaced on the round -- first every-other-row for a few sets, then switched to every row for the remainder.) My sister grabbed a ball of fluorescent-hunter-orange from her stash and suggested I add a tassel on the top, so I did. It looks hilarious and wonderful.

Husband loves the hat. He thinks it's just right. Now if it would only get cold in New Haven so he can actually wear it! And then I can take a picture of him wearing it.

(Just kidding. I would not wish winter on anyone. Even someone I don't like. Because I'm nice.)

04 December 2011


Due to a hilarious (well, maybe not "hilarious," but it's either that or "frustrating," so I'll take the former) series of events, both of our guest beds have been unusable for ... six months or so? Maybe only four. Whatever, long enough that I haven't been able to block anything sizeable for a very long time.

All that has changed now, and I've now got both guest beds functional again. Come visit! But probably not in the winter, as there's no heat in this room, and I want to rent out the one that has a radiator. But meanwhile, I can block things again!

This is the long-languishing lizard ridge. Soon, friends, I will be able to sew together those long strips and add the border (I'm just going to do a garter stitch border, not crochet the silly scalloppy one in the pattern) and then it will be done! This is a very exciting thing, you know. Warm is good, up here in Vermont. Particularly in guest bedrooms that don't have heat.

30 November 2011

Action Shot

This is KnittingQueen's baby. Out for a walk on a fine October day (okay, so I've been sitting on this photo for a while), wrapped in the blanket I knit for her. Is she adorable, or what?

24 November 2011

More babies on the way!

I'm at that stage in life where freakin' everyone I know is having a baby. Everyone. It's a baby-splosion up in here. Most recently, Meowkat has been the lucky mom-to-be. I offered to throw the Burlington-area knitters shower way back in the summer when I didn't know that this fall was going to be craaaaazy-busy, and we finally made it happen at the beginning of November.

The fall has been so busy, though, that I didn't quite have my gift for her finished for the shower. Eh, it happens. At some point, I just realized that I could either throw a baby shower or finish the baby sweater I was knitting her, but not both. So I threw the shower and gave her an unfinished sweater (which I immediately took back so I could finish it, of course). Well now it's done! I did the final seam at a conference in Boston the week after the shower. I think I was also knitting this sweater in Cleveland. And in New Haven, CT. So it's a well-traveled baby sweater, and there's not even a baby yet! He's due this week.

I figure as long as I got the sweater done before he's born, I'm still okay.

I'd been having a hankering to knit an aran sweater as fall came upon us and the pull toward cozy knits grew strong. I even went out and bought some beautiful and perfect yarn for just such a sweater. But seeing as how I'm still plugging away on Husband's monotonous stockinette sweater and it's taking me FOREVER (I've started the sleeves four times now! Argh!), and I've also got multiple almost-but-not-quite finished sweaters for myself, I just didn't feel right starting yet another sweater for myself yet. But given the baby-splosion...

I promptly went out and bought some gorgeous Malabrigo Rios (okay, okay, I was checking out The Knitting Studio's new location and gave in to temptation), and flipped through StrungUp's pattern library (mine doesn't have much baby stuff) until I found the Heirloom Aran Sweater (Rav link). Perfect! I cast on pretty much right away, and knit whenever I had a chance. It made for good travel-knitting on my Cleveland trip, but all my other trips this fall have been driving trips, so I didn't get as much done as I'd have liked.

A couple of nights before the shower, this is where I was, progress-wise:

The sleeves on this sweater are loooooong. Too long. But most baby sweater patterns have sleeves that are too short, so whatever. It just took a while to knit the sleeves. But it's a baby sweater, so that's totally relative.

Anyway, I plugged away and had the sleeves done for the shower, and finished the neckband during the shower itself. I got to the seams eventually and finished them during a conference-slash-visit with my sister in Boston.

And here's the finished product!

See, the sleeves were so long that I ended up folding up the cuffs. If I knit this sweater again, and I may very well some day, despite other Ravellers' complaints that it's a poorly-written pattern (I didn't think it was great, but it wasn't so bad I would bother to complain about it), I will shorten the sleeves about 3 inches.

Now I just have to find a time to get it to Meowkat, who's supposed to be having this baby...today. So, um. Yeah.

I cannot wait to see this on Baby Whatshisname someday. He'll be adorable! Congratulations, Meowkat and Meow-husband.

The obligatory Jared Flood-inspired artsy knitting photo. Although I'm not so sure my light is as nice as his.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It's my favorite day of the year. I'm going to go hang out with the Most Awesome Nephew in the World now.

21 November 2011

Catching up

Wow, I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted on this blog! That seems to be the situation this fall: I seem to think it's late September. How in the world is Thanksgiving this week? I am so not ready. I just cannot wrap my brain around the fact that Advent starts Sunday. Rather than being in a calm centered place of waiting, I am constantly hurrying to catch up.

I've been traveling a ton this fall, but haven't gotten as much knitting done as I'd like. I do have a few things to share, though. I'm on my fourth iteration of sleeves for Husband's sweater. I made a sweater for a friends' baby who is due any minute. I.... okay, I haven't done much else. But I think about it a lot! The closing of Borders, while sad, was good for the expansion of my knitting book library. And therefore my dreams.

I'm going to stretch my posting as much as possible over the next few weeks, so here's a sneak peek of coming attractions.

Malabrigo Rios has changed my life. Seriously. Not as much as my iPhone, but it's still it's own kind of quiet revolution.

24 August 2011

Side Note

Remember how I bragged that Ty didn't mess with my knitting projects and I could sit with him asleep on my lap while knitting and he would ignore the yarn? That isn't true anymore.

He was particularly obsessed with the Emily Capelet. I had to take to hiding it. He couldn't even leave it alone while I was doing my Finished Object photo shoot. Sigh.

22 August 2011

Now for Something Completely Different

I had to frog the sleeves of Husband's sweater. They fit me, but not him, and that's not so useful. I was frustrated, so I took a break from the sweater.

I was visiting Nido a couple of weeks ago, and Fiona asked my opinion about a pattern she'd picked for a sample. The next day, she called me and said that the woman who was supposed to knit the sample had backed out -- would I be interested in knitting it? Sure!

The pattern is Ysolda Teague's Emily Capelet. The yarn is Tidal Yarns DKish weight. It's kind of a light DK. I got gauge with a size 7 needle. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn -- an alpaca/wool blend, and still very lanolin-y, and just pleasant under the fingers. And I like that it's local and natural and all that good stuff, too. It's got good drape, and isn't saggy.

I don't love the pattern. If I had been knitting it for myself and not as a shop sample, I'd have made a number of modifications. First, I'd do stockinette instead of garter stitch. (The yarn lends itself well to garter, I guess, but aesthetically I prefer stockinette, and I think the yarn would do well.) Also, the instructions specifically say not to pick up the wraps at the end of the short rows, which bugs me to no end. It just seems wrong. Those are the two big ones. I wasn't thrilled with the way the pattern was written, but that's more technical than aesthetic. I just knitted it as fast as I could. And grumped a bunch along the way. I did fourteen repeats of the pattern, and bound off. It took me two weeks to knit the whole thing, and then I put the buttons on last night.

(It must be said that I could not have survived this pattern if it weren't for the handy row keeper-tracker thingy that my friend Aubrey made and gave to me. You can see it in the top photo, that colorful piece of ribbon. Someday she will have her Etsy store up and running, and you should all get one. It's a lifesaver when it comes to patterns where every row is different and there's a lot to keep track of. Thank you, Aubrey!)

Now I can take it to the shop. Fiona is going to block it for me -- normally I'd be happy to do it, but I'm going out of town for a week and would rather give her the unblocked FO than make her wait until I get back to block it and get it to her.

And now I am eager to get back to Husband's sweater. Whew! I guess, much as I didn't enjoy the knitting of it, the Emily Capelet was exactly the kind of project I needed to get me back to being excited about... sleeves!

27 July 2011

Adventures in Blocking on the Road

My friend LiturgyGeek had a baby. A daughter. BabyLG, we can call her. She was born a few months ago now, but I didn't rush to make her something because I knew I wanted to make a baby sweater for her -- and, well, she was born at Easter. She lives in Iowa and won't need a baby sweater until the fall. A six-month size sweater will be perfect for her. And I knew I would see her Mama in July. Sooooo I didn't rush to get anything done and in the mail.

Anyway, July is here. Seeing LiturgyGeek (and meeting BabyLG) involved a trip to Tampa, Florida (not because they live there, but because the United Church of Christ national meeting was there, and LG and I both had to attend). About a week before take-off, I put down the sweater I'm making for Husband, found a pattern I liked, and bought some yarn.

Side note: can I just take a moment to say how excited I am that Malabrigo is making a superwash worsted now? I'm surely the last person on the planet to have discovered this, but DUDE. Rios is an amazing yarn. I am totally smitten. I would use it for non-baby projects! I would make big-person-sized sweaters out of it! Hooray for gorgeous kettle-dyed superwash wool!

Okay. So I bought the Malabrigo Rios -- two skeins, just in case, but it turns out that I only needed one -- and cast on and had the body, like, a third of the way done by that evening. I knitted on the plane to Florida, I knitted in meetings whenever I could... At one point, LG said to me, "by the way, I haven't seen you knitting here! Are you working on anything? What are you making?" And I got a little cagey. I think I said something like, "Yeah, I'm working on something. I'll, uh, show you later." She got it, and did not push. This is the sign of a good friend-of-a-knitter.

Anyway, I finally finished the sweater about 3 or 4 days in to the meeting. And it totally needed to be blocked. Fortunately, I was staying in a fabulous Embassy Suites suite, and was therefore well-supplied with both space and tools. I pulled out the ironing board and iron, grabbed a washcloth, and went to town with a bit of washcloth-steam blocking. It's a sweet little sweater, but those leaves on the front don't stay flat on their own! (LG, now that the sweater is blocked, you shouldn't have to worry about this again.)

Also, I accidentally dyed the washcloth purple. Sorry, Embassy Suites!

It all worked out in the end. The blocking part, that is. I honestly have no idea if the hotel got the dye out of the washcloth, but I would assume they did. Hotels are generally pros at bleaching the towels.

And the finished product came out nicely. The Cascade pattern is really cute, and very simple to make. I didn't make any modifications this time, but if I were to do it again (and I might some day) I'd make a sixth leaf at the bottom of the placket instead of cutting it off at 5 for the seed-stitch band. It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to add, although I understand why the author wrote the pattern the way she did.

I added on the buttons during the business meetings on the next-to-last day of the event. We introduced electronic voting this year, and it took a bit of experimentation to get the hang of sewing on a button and pressing the clicker-thingy at the same time (in the past we just had cards to hold up, which isn't as hard because it doesn't involve the same set of fine motor skills that sewing on buttons requires). It all worked fine, and the buttons looked good AND I voted for important stuff like LGBT human rights.

Most importantly, LG and her husband Backbencher loved the sweater. And I'm sure that BabyLG will look adorable in it this fall, when it actually fits her. LG has promised to send a photo of BabyLG in the finished product when it does fit. For now, just enjoy this Jared-Flood-esque photo of the button band.

26 June 2011

Enter Tiberius

I know I said I didn't want to be one of those women who posts a picture of her cat every single time she updates. But I said that before Tiberius the Kitten entered our lives. He's been around for a whole, like, three days now.

If it bugs you that I might be one of those secretly-not-a-knit-blogger-but-a-cat-blogger-instead types, just focus on the fact that this is also a progress shot of the labyrinth rug. Also, there's a sneak peek of another project in here, but it's not at all obvious what it is. It's mysterious. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

(Seriously, Tiberius has stolen my heart. He has the loudest purr I've ever heard. Also, he'll immediately grab your finger with his little kitten-paws and start licking it the moment he meets you. He slept in my lap while I knitted this afternoon -- it only took two or three times to disentangle him from the needles before he got the picture. Now that's one awesome kitten!)

16 June 2011

It's About Darn Time!

I've been married for four years, this coming August. Before that, we were "together" for about three years. All told, Husband and I have been basically inseparable for nearly seven years. In that time, I've knit him hats and mittens and scarves and who knows what else... but I've never knit him a sweater.

I tried once. I bought some awesome local yarn, and we even went to the farm together and met the sheepies who grew the wool. He picked out a pattern and I cast on... and knit maybe 2 rows? This yarn did not want to be this pattern, and it was just wrong. Wrong! So I stopped. I haven't even bothered to frog those two rows. The yarn and needles are still in the box on a shelf, waiting for me to do something with them. Anything. That shelf is like a big void in that room. I can't even look at it.

But recently, Husband actually started making noises about wanting me to knit him a sweater. How many dang sweaters have I knit for myself? How many babies have I knit for? And then one day, of his own volition, he picked up my copy of Son of Stitch n' Bitch and found two different sweaters he liked. "You could maybe knit me one of these," he said "Which one do you like better?" Because he is subtle like that.

Ohhhhhh that Husband of mine, he is a smooth operator.

So I picked the one I thought would look better on him: Biker Boy (Rav link). This is a basic zippered cardigan. I've never done anything big with a zipper before, so even though it's a pretty simple pattern, there is still a challenge built in to this experience. The pattern has a dumb skull inset and some other silly color detailing, but we're just keeping it solid gray, no frippery. Skulls aren't really Husband's style, but he's excited that the double-layer neck will give him some extra insulation in the winter. We went to Northeast Fiber Arts to choose some yarn together (setting myself up for success this time), and I cast-on on Easter, after I took a looooong nap.

Here's the beginning. Most of the body -- I did some while he was away traveling, so stopped at a point where I thought I should measure it on him but he wasn't around -- and the cuffs of the sleeves, started when the body got too big to carry in my purse. Thanks to the awesome Knitpicks Options needles that Husband gave me for Christmas, I have that... uh, option.

The yarn is Cascade Rustic -- a 79% wool/21% linen single-ply blend. He wanted something tweedy, but NEFAC has trouble getting tweed to sell so they don't stock much. We went with this interesting not-quite-tweed instead. It's soft, and not as splitty as I was afraid it would be (given 220 Superwash's proclivities, I steer clear of most Cascade yarns now), and I've been pretty happy with it. Not a yarn I expect to want to knit with again in the future, but not one I'd turn down if the situation called for it.

Husband is happy with the sweater so far. Occasionally he looks over and says, "Oh, that's really niiiice" when he sees me working on it. Like I said, smooth operator.

And I guess he has to be, if he's ever going to get a handknit sweater from me. Seven years is a long wait.

11 June 2011

Lizard Ridge Update #4

Or, "I'm getting really creative with these blog post titles, aren't I?"

Been a little while, huh? Thanks for those of you who've prodded me to get back to blogging. First there was Easter, which is kind of a big deal. And then there was recovery from Easter (known as "May" to most of you). And then I had a bicycling accident in mid-May, just as I was getting back in the saddle, pun intended. (My first ride of the year! It was going to be a seven-miler! Instead, it was a four-miler, a head-over-handlebars flight, and a trip to the ER!) (I'm okay, just had lots of big bruises, but I went to the doc to get checked just in case.) And now I'm recovered for real.

And I had a spare Saturday, because I'm not preaching tomorrow, and it's a rainy day. Would have gone to the WWKIP gathering in City Hall Park today, but between some work-work I had to catch up on and the rain, I decided that I would just K-BIP (Knit-Blog in Public) instead.

So! Without further ado...

It's the Lizard Ridge blanket. The knitting is all finished. I have to block it and seam it, then do the edging. I bought a nice light gray, much to the dismay of my good old Finnish friend who has just learned about this blog. I think it will make all the colors stand out equally -- my fear with the forest green is that it will bring out the dark patches, especially the greens, but the light bits will get lost and the reds will look out of place. But the gray will offset all the colors nicely.

The blocking is on hold for the moment -- meaning that the entire project is on hold -- because we are in the process of fixing up one of our upstairs bedrooms at the moment. That means that (1) all the stuff from Bedroom A is now in Bedrooms B and C, and both spare beds are covered in the stuff from Bedroom A, and (2) there is a ton of plaster dust up there and I don't want it to get all over my lovely handiwork. So blocking will have to wait until that room is painted and cleaned, so that both the stuff and the dust are in their proper places, and I get at least one spare bed back.

But you have some idea of what Lizard Ridge is going to look like now. And that's fun. Happy Hiatus-is-over!

17 April 2011

Lizard Ridge Update #3

Here's another progress shot of Lizard Ridge. SOOOO CLOSE!!!!! 3 strips done, one more well on its way.

I'm starting to think about what color to use as a border. The downside of using as many different skeins of Kureyon as I could get is that there's not one single color that makes the most sense for a border. But it definitely needs a solid-color border to ground it. I'm kind of thinking that a dark green would be good -- there's a surprisingly large amount of green in this blanket -- but I could also see arguments for a medium-aqua. Or a medium/light gray, not so heavy?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Is there another color I should be considering? Help me, loyal readers! You're my only hope!

14 April 2011

Things That Will Look Better When Blocked

That last post about the Sunflower Tam was originally titled "Things That Will Look Better When Blocked" because... well, really, that hat looks a little bit terrible right now, and could definitely use some time drying on a soup bowl.

The other item I've knitted -- and, I'm not ashamed to say, I've been wearing -- that desperately needs blocking is this shawl. I made it a year ago (literally! According to my Ravelry notebook, I worked on it April 10-16, 2010) and just haven't gotten around to blocking it. It's pretty like this, but I do know that the blocking will really make a positive difference, too.

Anyway, this is the Trinity Shawlette, made with a gorgeous locally-made yarn from the Fuzzy Bunny, creatively called "Wool 2-ply yarn," which I bought at Nido. The colorway is a bit crazy -- mustard yellow, apple green, and aqua -- and totally not something I would normally buy (or something you would probably think of as a colorway I'd like at all), but I LOVE IT. And it turns out it works with so much of my wardrobe. And this shawl is perfect in spring and fall, with its wacky bright colors. It makes me very happy.

Seriously, click on that last link for an amazing photo of the yarn in skein form. It's GORGEOUS enough that I need to use all caps to describe it.

Maybe one of these days I'll get around to blocking it properly, so that when I wear this shawl I will be doing justice to the amazing yarn.

11 April 2011

Where DID I See Myself in Five Years?

I did need to take a break from Lizard Ridge. Just to knit something else. And I'm glad I did, because I quickly found that I've been short-row-ing for so long that it was actually a challenge to get my hands to knit plain again. Weird!

Anyway, I decided that I needed a new hat. I have been wearing the same Sunflower Tam (Rav link) for a zillion years now (I knitted it back when we lived in Atlanta -- living in the South, knitting a hat was an act of faith!) and I love it but it's not holding up in the New England winters as well as I'd like. The problem is that it's 100% alpaca (again, act of faith! Alpaca is 4x warmer than wool!), and the ribbing "relaxed" enough that it's no longer tight around the ears. Although the hat itself is very warm, the wind comes right in and defeats the purpose of wearing a hat at all. So I decided that I need a wool one. Voila:

Knitting up a new Sunflower Tam was a really good exercise, not just for getting past short rows, but also because it gave me a chance to reflect on how far I've come in the five-ish years since I knitted the last one. There's "far" in the literal sense, moving from Atlanta to Burlington, but there's also "far" in the knitting-skill sense. Five years ago, the Sunflower Tam was a really challenging pattern for me. The fact that every single row was different was intimidating. The funny crossed stitches that stood out over the rest of the pattern were difficult to understand. I learned so much from this pattern, and I was so proud of myself when I'd finished. Five years ago, the Sunflower Tam was hard to make.

Now, not so much. It took me two evenings to finish. The crossed stitches took a moment for me to figure out, but I didn't have to read the instructions for them every single time I encountered the direction to do one. I watched TV while knitting, because I didn't have to concentrate so hard on the row-by-row pattern. The Sunflower Tam pattern was FAR more intuitive the second time around.

What a difference five years makes, eh?

Makes me think back to my life five years ago -- and that classic interview question, "where do you see yourself in five years?" Most of what I expected for myself has come true. By now I figured I'd be married to Husband (check!), working in a church (check! -- although 5 years ago I didn't think I was going to be a solo pastor, and now I have a hard time imagining anything else), a homeowner (check!), and a mother (ummmm, not-check). The other details, like where I'd be living, were less important at the time -- although 5 years ago I don't know if I'd dreamed I could be fortunate enough to live in Burlington, Vermont, a place I adore. It's really wonderful to look back on where I've been over the past five years and know that I'm far more satisfied with my life (aside from the no-kids thing) than I really expected I would be five years ago.

Knitting a new Sunflower Tam made me reflect on how truly blessed I am. I guess knitting will do that sometimes.

Details: Yarn is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran (now discontinued) in Merlot, ~1.5 skeins (two different dye lots but you'd never know), on size 9 needles (size 8 for ribbing -- I might take out the ribbing and redo it on 7s). It will look much better when blocked.

03 April 2011

Lizard Ridge Update #2

Another plane ride, another Lizard Ridge strip begun.

I worked pretty furiously to get the second strip finished before I went on my Great Midwestern Tour 2011 (Des Moines, Grinnell, Iowa City, Madison, AND Milwaukee! With a drive through Dubuque for good measure! Wooo! Again with the exciting life!), but it just didn't happen. And I wasn't going to cart around that whole strip for just those final rows.

So I started a new strip on the plane leaving Burlington (cast on during take-off!), and knitted my way through the Midwest. (I did not knit while driving through the Iowa or Wisconsin countrysides, Mom. I was too busy looking out the window.) And after a week in the Midwest and another week home (where I mostly worked, and did very little knitting except when I saw some knitting gals one evening), I'm about 2/3 of the way through the third strip.

I am really digging how this is turning out. It doesn't look nearly as garish in person as it does on the computer, for one thing. But also, I am totally fascinated with the way the colors are changing in the Noro as it progresses. So cool! It's like every row is a new discovery. I know I've said that before, but it still feels true. I am starting to itch to work on something else (don't know what, but just to be done with the darn short-rows for a while), but I fear that if I take a break I won't pick it up again for a long time, and then I'll have 3/4 of a Lizard Ridge blanket sitting on the UFO pile. Dumb dumb dumb. Gotta push on. My fascination with the ever-changing colors will have to carry me through.

Doc really seems to think this blanket is for him. He's certainly making himself comfortable.

(Please tell me I'm not turning into that lady who posts a picture of her cat at the end of every freakin' post. I don't want to be that lady. I stopped reading her blog altogether because the cat pictures were that annoying. Nobody cares about your fancy-pants purebred whatsit cat as much as you do. This will have to be the last Doc picture for a while, because OMG you don't care about the upside-down kitty, and I should be able to keep it to myself.)

31 March 2011

BSJ Received

Baby Surprise Jacket #6 is finished.
(I know I packed the buttons when I went on vacation, but I couldn't find them when I got to the house and was ready to sew them on. Buttonless BSJ it is!

New Mama is very happy with her gift. "It's a California Hippie Baby Jacket!" she exclaimed. I think this one will get some good use, buttons or no.

28 March 2011

Momentous Occasion

Stop the presses! Something big has happened!

Remember these mittens? They were my first experiment in stranded knitting wayyyy back two years ago. I thought they'd be difficult and a big ol' mess, but it turns out I'm a quick study with the Fair Isle work, and I churned out a bunch more pairs over the next year.

But these were my first pair, and that's something special. So I wore them as my primary mittens in cold weather. And there's a lot of cold weather. Still, you get used to a thing when you do it a lot, so imagine my surprise the other day when I put on these mittens, hopped in my car, and felt the steering wheel strangely cold against my thumb!

That's right! I have worn my way through the thumb of my accidental mittens! It's the first time I've ever worn a hole in anything I've knit myself.

In my world, this is something I'd call "Very Exciting."

Now you know what a thrilling life I lead. A hole! Wooo!

I am undecided as to whether I will knit myself a new thumb in these mittens, or just wear a different pair. It's not like I don't have plenty of others to pull out of the mitten pile.

I'm sure you're all on the edge of your seats to find out what I choose.

17 March 2011

Baby Surprise (it's yet another) Jacket!

Okay, so my friend I've been knitting a baby gift for is currently on an airplane, headed in my direction (well, actually, we're meeting up in Madison, WI. But I'm already there, and she's in a plane). So I can finally show you photos of what I've been making for her, since she'll be receiving her gift soon.

Surely you knew I'd be making her a BSJ, right? RIGHT? I mean, come on.

Here is BSJ #5, also known as "green is a unisex color for babies!" I'm all about gender-neutral clothing for babies anyway, and it seems like the only way you can get them these days is to make them yourself. Also, when I started knitting the sweater, we didn't know if the baby is supposed to be a boy or a girl anyway, and I don't know if they're going to find out or not. Also-also, I had some green superwash left from another baby project I was doing at the same time. And some navy blue. And seriously, what's cuter than a navy blue stripe on a baby sweater?

So the question is, can you spot the error in this sweater? Can you tell why I had to rip and redo a few inches of BSJ?

It's right there. One side of picked-up stitches came out on the wrong side. Whoops.

Also, it turns out I ran out of green yarn before the end of the sweater, so I had to get creative with my striping. Still, though. Seriously cute!

(FO photo to follow, after the Proud Mama has actually received it.)

Also yes, those are the Knitpicks Harmony Options needles. My darling Husband gave them to me for Christmas. He's the best.

13 March 2011

Lizard Ridge is SO COOL!

Okay, seriously? I knew that the Lizard Ridge blanket was going to be cool. But I had no way to conceive of how it was all going to come together. It's way awesome.

This progress shot is at about 40%, I'd say. There are five skeins of Kureyon per strip, and the ones shown in this photo are #3 and #4 on the second strip. Instead of knitting blocks of a single skein and then seaming them together (hello, I hate seaming, we know this about me), I'm just knitting with two skeins at a time and seeing what happens, until skein #5. That one gets doubled onto itself.

Anyway, it's super-cool, and constant discovery of the "what's the next stripe going to look like?" has me totally engaged and knitting like a madwoman. So much fun!

Also, there's been more travel lately, and it was very easy to throw the two starter skeins in my carry-on and cast on in the plane. Who knew a blanket could be good travel knitting? But it was. For a 3-day jaunt to Cleveland last week, it was just right.

Doc likes the blanket, too. He can't wait to see how it turns out.

(And yes, I'm doing the garter ridges modification. I knew you would ask.)

10 March 2011

Not Just Any Baby Gift

When your really awesome knitting friend -- the one who got you back into knitting in the first place -- the one who reminded you of everything about knitting that your mom taught you when you were eight and you had since forgotten -- the one who would teach you how to do new knitting techniques while you were both waiting backstage before the choir concert -- the one whose now-defunct knitting blog first inspired your own still-going knitting blog -- the one who still, 10+ years after it all started, insists that you take turns flying across the country just so you can knit together every four months or so -- when that knitting friend gets pregnant, what the heck do you knit her?

Not just any baby gift.

You go to Northeast Fiber Arts. You buy 20 skeins of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (you hope you can return whatever you don't use, but it turns out you can't return it after 30 days, and you've picked a project that you will spend more than 30 days doing, if only because you are a pastor and you were dumb enough to buy the yarn before Christmas and then leave it sitting in a bag for a month before casting on in the first place). You grab your Mason-Dixon Knitting book (the first one). And you cast on for the Moderne Baby Blanket. For this particular knitting friend, you will Log-Cabin your little heart out.

And then you make yourself write a blog post about it so that you are forced to block the darn thing and put it in the actual mail.

I can't wait to welcome you to the world, Baby Knitting Queen! I love you already!

04 March 2011

Startitis Strikes Again

Someday, this orderly-yet-haphazard collection of Kureyon is going to be the Lizard Ridge Blanket.

As of this writing, I've got 10% done. That's two skeins of 20. My hands already hurt.

(It may be the new Harmony Options needles that are making my hands hurt. I'm in denial, though, as Husband gave them to me for Christmas. To be fair, I picked them out in the first place. Also: they're PRETTY.)

Anyway, this is the order of how I'm going to knit these skeins. The finished product is, miraculously, not going to look anything like this photo. That is the amazing thing about Noro. I swear, those people are geniuses.

01 March 2011

More Photographic Evidence

This is the current state of my Labyrinth Rug. I have started sewing the fabric around the filler cord. And I've started sewing the coil to itself (you can see it on the left, I swear). But now it's kind of a tangled mess in the middle of my living room floor. And it may be like this indefinitely, as I can't figure out how I was making the seam before, and it's not as nice-looking on my later attempts.

"But, Holyknitter," you say, "won't the seam be sewn up in such a way that you can't see it anyway? Why does it matter if it doesn't look consistent or even particularly nice?"

BECAUSE. I say. JUST BECAUSE. I will know, and I will care, and it will drive me crazy if I know it's not done right. So there.

Maybe I could just move this giant blob of yarn and filler cord to the bedroom where the rug is supposed to go? Husband would be okay with that, don't you think?

26 February 2011

I Promised You Pictures

This, my friends, is the new skein of Bulldog Blue needed for my Minimalist Cardigan. It appears to match the other dye lot, so I think we're good to go. I don't even think I'm going to have to do the stripey-knitting-to-get-the-sleeves-to-match thing.

This is totally going to work. It's going to be awesome.

Now I just have to pick up the sweater and start working on it again. Easier said than done.

24 February 2011

Adventures with Aubrey

My friend Aubrey and I have a winter CSA share that we split from Lewis Creek Farm, where our friends Hank and Mango live. Mango, being a knitter herself, encourages us to come in and knit by the woodstove in the cozy farmhouse kitchen when we go pick up our monthly bags-O-food, and so CSA day has become kind of a "thing" for us. It's not just a matter of popping down to the farm and then coming back home. It's a day-long (or at least afternoon-long) prospect.

But this weekend, both Mango and Hank were out of town, and it was still a CSA pick-up day. So Aubrey and I threw caution to the wind and hopped in the car for a little adventure. First we stopped by the farm and picked up our food. Aubrey's dog Cisco threw up in the car on the way there (poor puppy gets carsick -- who knew?) so I took him on a little walk around the barn while Aubrey cleaned her backseat in the farm parking area.

Then we hopped back in the car and headed south, which we've never done on that road before. What fun, to see a new part of the state! We stopped in Bristol and got coffee and pastries, next went to Knits and Bolts in New Haven for a little yarn indulgence (very nice store; friendly owners/employees, good selection, good sale room! I don't head south very often with extra time to shop , but I like to support them when I can.).

Then we went down to Middlebury and walked around -- our original plan was to hit the yarn stores there, too, but one is closed-for-business and the other was closed-for-the-day by the time we got there. But we wandered into a few shops (complicated to do with a dog, but one of us stayed with the puppy while the other went in and browsed, and then we switched) and yet another bakery for more pastry goodness, and then hit the road. Next time we do a Vermont yarn adventure, we'll be sure to check store hours before we go. But still--SO FUN! Thanks, Aubrey and Cisco, for a great day!

22 February 2011

Fun with Stats!

There are very few subjects I didn't enjoy studying in school. And, if I'm being frank, there were very few subjects that I wasn't good at when I studied them. I'm pretty sure there's a correlation -- I like doing things I'm good at doing, or I'm good at doing things I like doing, either way. But there was one subject in middle school that I hated so much--and I was so bad at doing--that I actively avoided taking it in high school, and then avoided all subjects that required it as a prerequisite in college: statistics. I was terrible at statistics. Probability, really. I get flipping a coin. I get rolling dice. But that's about it. And I don't even understand those very well: add in margins of error, and I'm confused all over again. Calculating that stuff is just beyond me.

But if someone gives me numbers to look at -- like, polling numbers on election day, something like that -- I do find them fascinating. The real-life application helps.

So when I tell you that Blogger is now showing me a Stats tab, you can maybe anticipate the progression of thoughts that went through my head. First was "OH GOD NO." What can I say? The reptilian fight-or-flight part of my brain is pretty quick. Then I remembered that I would not be tested on these stats, and I thought "well, it might be interesting to see what kind of things Blogger is measuring." It's number of pageviews, what kinds of browser my readers are using, where these readers live in the world, and where they came from to link to my page. I can look at stats broken down by time: stats are listed in terms of "today," "this week," "this month," "this year," and "all time." This is geeky-cool.

So now I know that people are connecting to my blog from Ravelry (which is not really a surprise), but that more people are connecting from my friend Elizabeth's blog than they are from Ravelry. Crazy! And the most-viewed page is my Snail Hat post -- so something I said there was apparently very helpful, and maybe the word has gotten out? In the last week, there have been as many as 10 people reading my blog at the same time. Ten! Who knew I even had ten readers total, much less ten at the same time?

And, not entirely surprisingly, most of my readers are from the United States... but the second-highest population of my readers are in the Netherlands. Not what I'd have thought. At all. If you'd asked me if I thought anyone from the Netherlands was reading my blog, I'd have laughed and said no. Canada, sure. UK, maybe. But the Netherlands? Not likely. (See? I have trouble with probability.)

So I'd like to give a shout out to my Dutch readers. Welcome! I'm glad to have you checking in from time to time! Also, my readers in China, and Australia, and Russia, and Brazil, and Germany, and India, and the United Arab Emirates (!?!?!??!!!!)... y'all, I had no idea you were out there. I'm grateful and humbled, and it makes me want to be a better blogger. I've got to be honest and tell you that it's not likely I'm going to get my blogging act together anytime soon (again with the probabilities... I could be wrong!), but knowing you're actually out there is pretty nice. So thanks for reading.

And if you're a reader from some non-USA country, please drop a line in the comments. I may or may not be able to respond in a timely manner, but I will appreciate knowing where you're from! And I'll try to respond eventually. I have done a bit of world travel (mostly Europe, several times) and it's great fun to learn about new places and new people. So say hello! Bonjour! Dobra dyen!

...And, um, if you are from the Netherlands, can you please tell me how to say "hello" in Dutch? This is apparently a hole in my education.

(Yes, Mom, I'll be sure to show you the stats stuff when I'm home. I know you want to see it.)

19 February 2011

Making Progress

Okay. It's been a while since I posted. I have been knitting, but I have been knitting baby gift things for friends, many of which are surprises. In the interest of not blowing the surprise, I haven't been posting.

Also, I am again stuck by my inability to transfer photos from my Blackberry to my computer. Apparently there is this thing called a "cable" that "plugs in" to connect the two, but... well, it's all the way over in my desk drawer, and that's in a whole 'nother room. Too difficult.

*I have started sewing the labyrinth rug around the filler cord. It's taking for-freaking-ever. It's also been sitting on my living room floor for four months now. Every morning, as I'm getting dressed and standing on my cold bedroom floor in bare feet, I think "man, I wish that rug were finished so I could have something warm to stand on." Motivation. I got it. But apparently not enough.
*Baby Gift #1 is finished, I just have to block and cut ends (which are already woven in, thankyouverymuch.
*Baby Gift #2 is almost finished. There is one seam and a little bit of end-weaving, and then it's done too. A one-seam baby gift? You should know what this is. Mama may or may not read my blog. I see her in 5 weeks, so this will get finished up relatively soon.
*I purchased that one final skein of yarn I needed for my Minimalist Cardigan today! HUZZAH! I was (a) in a store that sells LPW in Bulldog Blue and (b) remembered to buy it! At the same time! Tomorrow I will look at the yarn in the daylight and make sure it actually matches. This is a huge step in finally finishing the darn thing. A year ago I wrote a post in which I admitted to working on the darn thing for "a shamefully long time." A year ago. And since then? No progress. Until today!
*I also purchased the one last skein of yarn I needed for the Lizard Ridge Blanket I've been wanting to do for a while. I shall cast on for this soon. I know, I know, I could have started it without that one last skein, but I want to look at everything I have and do a bit of strategizing with the colors before I cast on. It's a getting-the-big-picture thing, because I know I won't like the finished product if I don't plan it right from the beginning.

Here. A photo from the "archives" because I can't give you anything new. This is Doc deciding he likes the Kiki Mariko rug. And looking kind of undignified at the same time. Poor sweet kitty.

06 February 2011

5?th Blogiversary

Holy knit! I can't believe I've had a knitting blog for 5 years. How in the world can this be? 5 years? 2006 to 2011? Anyway, whatever the number is, happy blogiversary. Thanks for reading. I'm terrible at responding to comments, but I appreciate them anyway!