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Off jumps jack...

In through the front door, sneak around the back; peek through the window, and off jumps jack. Another blog about knitting and life.

Updated: 2018-03-02T11:56:20.036-05:00


Pepper Sprout


2015 finished object #2: a hat for the soon-come baby of a friend of my wasband, on request. There were initially booties involved, but the first pattern was too fiddly and the second was too clunky and I am a couple of removes from the baby in question so there you have it.

There are a bunch of patterns floating around; I used this one this time. Stashed Woolease from at least 10 years ago, size 7 needles. Amazing how much can get accomplished when you're dozing on the couch feigning an interest in football playoffs.



Let's pretend it hasn't been very long at all, OK?

First finished object of 2015, a cabled bracelet. Pattern can be found here. Nicely written but surprisingly fiddly, as I guess small knitted things tend to be. Yarn is Eden Cottage Titus, a 4 ply fingering weight merino silk, glossy and lovely to work with, a sample skein tucked in my goodie bag at the latest Knitters Review Retreat, the most wonderful time of the year. Size 2 needles.

And just like that, I blogged.

Walking While Black


The first time my son Charlie was profiled, he was nine years old. A city kid, it would be a year before he was allowed to navigate the streets unaccompanied, and even then just to go to the deli next door to our building to pick up a forgotten ingredient for dinner, a snack -- maybe a pack of Skittles -- his father or I hanging out the window and watching him every step of the way.This particular afternoon, well over a decade ago, we were on the way home from school, me and Charlie and Henry and Dinah, making the subway trip from Midtown to Washington Heights, in a city where the neighborhood school can be at the end of a commute in a subway car shared by investment bankers hauling Underwood briefcases and nine year olds toting NY Yankee backpacks.The kids had snacks. Chips, maybe, or Starbursts, or Skittles. Whatever it was, Charlie finished and I sent him down the subway platform to throw away his trash. Maybe 50 feet away? I never was good at distances. I probably gave him his brother and sister’s trash to toss, too … since Charlie is the oldest, the bulk of the chores have always fallen to him. Dinah was still young enough that I would never have let go of her hand on a subway platform, Henry had learned to hover comfortably below the radar, so the responsibility fell to Charlie, and I don’t remember for sure, but I am sure he looked quite grown up when I sent him down the platform.He had just tossed the trash when the train started coming. And Charlie started jogging back towards me, a slow trot. And I saw two cops standing by the newspaper stand spot him. And what they saw was not a fancy private school third grader trotting back to his mother before the train pulled into the station. What they saw was a black youth running. Their faces reflected suspicion, and perhaps something darker. And I … raised by Charlie’s grandmother to never ever make a scene ... I yelled at full lung capacity “CHARLES! STOP RUNNING!!” The cops’ attention diverted to me, their faces relaxed, the spell was broken as I hustled the other kids to Charlie and we boarded, just another family taking the A-Train.Within minutes, Charlie was enthralled in his Gameboy, oblivious. I was still shaking. And that night, Charlie’s father and I had to sit him (and seven year old Henry) down for The Talk. No, you may not run wild like your little white friends. Yes, if a police officer stops you, you keep your hands in sight and and your eyes on the badge. Memorize that number and keep your mouth shut and we’ll deal with your “rights” later, when you are home safe. Charlie and Henry listened the same way they listened to rules about separating the laundry before dumping it into the machine, accepting without question, breaking my heart into a billion pieces.It is a deep, sodden sadness that curled up in my chest and has never left me, stirred by every Sean Bell, by every Ramarley Graham, by every Trayvon Martin. I try to summon feelings of anger, but they’re always overcome by this sadness. I try to muster an argument when people point out that George Zimmermann ... the man who confronted and gunned down a boy carrying Skittles and is walking free on a claim of self-defense ... that George Zimmerman is Hispanic, so he “can’t be racist.” I try to counter that one of the cops who profiled my kid was blacker than Wesley Snipes, but there is this sadness. I try to give a fuck when I read articles by well-meaning people aware of their white privilege, who point out that that they and their sons can wear all the hoodies they want and not get profiled as being anything but casual, that they understand. I’m too sad to care about their sons; this isn’t about them. I read about gun control, about stand and deliver … no, that’s Adam Ant … about “stand your ground,” and I think guns don’t kill people, walking while black kills people. Or maybe it’s Skittles. I just want it to stop.I’m writing this partly because I think it might help the sadness to writ[...]

Learning to Knit (Late February 2003)


Five days after the fire, Sam and I return to our apartment to begin the process of sorting. We had envisioned sorting through ashes, but what we encounter is the apartment that we evacuated last Sunday. The walls are there, the floors, the photos, the rugs, the books, the sofa, the computer, the TV, the potatoes on the stove, the kale in the sink. We tell ourselves we are lucky, that everything is intact. Then it becomes clear that everything is covered in that thick black film of smoke residue, a residue that permeates, a residue that doesn’t come off with dusting or washing or scouring or three cycles at the laundromat. We tell ourselves we are lucky, that our family is intact, and the rest is just stuff. The process of sorting turns into the process of dumping. Once my possessions are depersonalized into stuff, the dumping process is alarmingly easy. I am ruthless: hardcover books are saved; paperbacks, unless they are school books, are dumped. The dining room table and my bed frame are saved; the IKEA sofas are dumped. Photographs, some framed, some in albums, most shoved haphazardly into kitchen drawers – saved. The massive collection of record albums I have been hanging onto without a turntable to play them on – dumped. The closets are swept of every article of clothing except two leather jackets, my wedding dress, and a blue sequined number that belonged to my mother. Everything else goes in big black garbage bags with the uncooked kale and the semi-boiled potatoes from Sunday supper. I am zipping along, almost exhilarated, when I come to my yarn. Bags and Bags of soft wooly string, collected over nearly twenty years of knitting. For me, knitting is more than a hobby – it is my comfort, my bubble bath, my martini, my escape. I feel an enormous sense of satisfaction in taking two pointy sticks and those balls of soft wooly string and tangling up something tangible. As I toss out my yarn stash, the thick black film of smoke residue embedded in the soft wooly string, I forget about how lucky I am, and I weep selfishly over my stuff. * * * When people approach me while I’m knitting in public, they sometimes ask, “Why do you knit?” My stock answer: “What else would I do with these pointy sticks?” More often they approach with a comment: “I could never do that.” I always assure them they can: “If you could learn to read, you can learn to knit.” Many of my friends who knit have warm fuzzy memories of learning at their mother’s knee, of knitting as an art passed lovingly down through generations. My own mother thought knitting was a colossal waste of time, that perfectly good sweaters were easily obtainable from the sales rack at Lord and Taylor’s. I was thirty-three years old when I finally learned how to knit after several abortive attempts to teach myself from incomprehensible diagrams in books. I signed up for an adult education class at the old Stuyvesant High School on 21st Street, where my teacher was Mrs. Jacqueline DuPres. Mrs. DuPres was a tiny, shockingly buxom woman who teetered on 3-inch heels. Warm and fuzzy she was not, but for her day job, Mrs. DuPres taught typing and remedial reading in the NYC public school system, which was part of what made her a perfect knitting teacher. Reading is the purposeful untangling of letters to decipher a pattern; knitting is the purposeful tangling of yarn to make a pattern. For Mrs. DuPres, process was more important than product. The typist in Mrs. DuPres loved the mechanics of knitting. She reminded us again and again that there are only two stitches to master, the knit and the purl, and that once those two stitches are accomplished, they can be combined in an infinite number of ways. In the first classes, Mrs. DuPres scoffed at the magazine patterns we brought to her, hoping to make a recognizable garment. Instead, she had us practice on square aft[...]

Sunday Supper (February 2, 2003)


Mr. Fliegel, my sixth grade teacher, once told me that you can’t write a story where you put a turkey in the oven without taking the turkey out of the oven before the end of the story. This story starts with Sunday supper. The main course in question is not a turkey, but a potato and kale casserole. It is seven o’clock on the evening of February 2, 2003. Sam Decker is in the kitchen preparing dinner for the family. He is grating cheese on a warped wooden cutting board on the counter next to the stove, where the potatoes are boiling. The kale is washed and in a colander in the sink, ready to go. A buttered white casserole sits next to the cutting board.It is a Sunday evening like so many others. Sam Decker is in the kitchen; the other Deckers are spread around the seven room apartment. From front to back, from youngest to oldest: Dinah is doing homework in the dining room, her books and papers strewn across the polished table, headphones over her ears. Henry and Charlie are in their bedroom glued to a video game. I am in my bedroom curled up on the beat-up sofa, half of my attention on the files I am reading for work, the other half listening to the television, waiting for the stop watch tick that signals the start of 60 Minutes. The three cats, Judy and Lola and Betty, are lounging on my bed. Somewhere near the front of the apartment, the dogs, Pink and Miss Joan Rosen, bark a “someone is at the door” warning. And Sam’s voice moves down the hall, calm but pitched a notch too high. “OK,” he says, “Everybody get out. There’s a fire.”We gather shoes and coats and leash the dogs and go out in the hallway. With our neighbors we move towards the stairs. There is smoke coming out of the apartment at the head of the staircase, and the firemen are already there, and they tell us to go back. I am the daughter of a cop; I respect authority. It is not until much later, in the middle of that first night spent on someone’s beat up sofa, that I think about the World Trade Center, about Tower Two, about the people who stayed at their desks while the world collapsed beneath their feet.So we go back to our apartment. We wander, calm but pitched a notch higher. I try to remember what to do in a fire. It seems silly to crawl, so I wet towels; I wait for the firemen. The fire escape is in the front of the apartment, off Dinah’s room. The smoke is stronger there. The firemen said to stay. I wait for the firemen. I wet more towels. We move the kids and the dogs towards the back of the apartment. I go to the closet for the cat carrier, then remember I gave it away. I can’t find the cats. I wet more towels.I move to the front of the apartment to block the door. It’s only been five minutes since the firemen told us to go back but the smoke is so thick I can barely see, I can barely breathe. As I stuff my towels under the door I glance up, and the calm leaves me as I see thick black smoke billowing through the walls like fog rolling down a hill. I cannot see, I cannot breathe. I take a lungful of smoke, thick black and viscous as oil slicked water. The calm returns as I realize I have to keep my children alive, keep them from drowning in smoke.We gather – Sam and me and Charlie and Henry and Dinah and Pink and Joan – in the boys’ bedroom at the very back of the apartment. Sam is on the cell phone. I hear him use the word “trapped.” Dinah is weeping for Betty, her favorite cat. I clutch her hand tightly, afraid she will bolt into the smoke. I am beginning to make choices. I assure her that Judy and Lola and Betty have found a safe spot, that cats are smart, that they will be fine. If I am lying, it is a white lie. To keep calm I have to believe it is the truth.I herd my children to the window, where there is air but no escape. We are on the sixth floor, the top floor. The only fire escape is in the front of the apartment, drowned in smoke. I glance over my shoulder and see the smoke creeping under the b[...]

Out of the Blue


It begins with the bluest sky…I looked up at the sky so many times that day, and each time I was struck by how clear blue it was.I was working in the Admissions Office at the Ethical Culture School on 63rd Street and Central Park West. It was the Tuesday after Labor Day, the second day of school. Our office was closest to the front door. Even before that morning, we used to blackjoke that when the terrorists came (or a disgruntled parent), we would be the first to go. Within days we would be opening the mail wearing latex gloves. A parent came in and said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. By the time the second plane hit, when everything changed, there was a line of parents waiting to use our office phones since cell phone service had crashed along with the planes.We had the most up-to-date student roster and began crosschecking parent work addresses. There was a newly admitted parent working in Tower 2, the single mother of twin boys sitting in Kindergarten classrooms on their second day of school ever. The absurdity of the NYC private school admissions world seeped throughout that morning, before security closed the doors to all but currently enrolled parents, as applicant parents for September 2002 continued to drop off their paperwork, even as the Pentagon was hit, even as a plane was headed for the White House, even as the world was ending.Mid-morning, the twins’ mother stumbled in to pick up her boys. She had decided spontaneously to play hooky from work that day. There would be so many stories like that: hooky played, alarms that didn’t go off, trains missed. In the end, out of our family roster of 1600, we lost two. A smaller school a few blocks north with a large contingent of Cantor Fitzgerald employees lost 17.I am grateful for many things about that morning. One is that I had no visuals of what was happening. The other is that I was busy…as much as I complain about work, I am grateful I had a job to do, helping our Principal--fresh from rural Maine, second day on the job--dismiss children to their parents and caregivers. My daughter was in the same building as me; my two boys some distance away at the high school campus in the Bronx. Since I was busy, I didn’t have much time to panic when I heard that all bridges to Manhattan were being sealed off…I was able to reach their father, my husband at the time, on the other side of that bridge in Westchester, and on his way to get them, so at least two sections of the Decker family would be together.***While memories of that morning are crystal clear, like that blue sky, they come in fragments. A friend, an investment banker, arriving at school on his bicycle and handing me an envelope with $100 in it “just in case.” He was the first to think about the ATM machines maybe going down.Taking Dinah to the supermarket on the corner to buy snacks, just like it was any typical day after school…except there was the panic buying that precedes any potential disaster in NYC (snowstorm hurricane blackout)…bread and milk and water, milk and water and bread…except there was none of the chattycrabby NYer camaraderie that usually accompanies the panic buy…people were silent as they loaded their carts. I also clearly remember the lights being out in that Gristedes, although I cannot imagine why that would have been. The only moment of genuine fear: hearing planes fly low overhead. US fighter planes scrambling, I would learn later; but at that moment, peering into the impossibly blue sky, being genuinely afraid.***I remember a colleague poised in the doorway, announcing that the subways were open. Grabbing Dinah to head home, without a thought of potential danger on the subways, the only goal to get home without having to walk the 120 blocks with a 9 year old whiny in the best of circumstances. On the subway, that same stunned silence as in the supermarket. And for the first time, the sight of ghostly people co[...]

Sarah's Zigzag Cowl--FO


Finished for 2009: a requested cowl for DS's girl, from this lovely pattern available for free download on Ravelry. Love that hemmed picot edge. Yarn: Brooks Farm Four Play, size 5 needle.
Stop me before I cowl again (too late; there's another one on the needles).

Wrapping it Up


A couple of F.O.'s to finish off 2008. First, the Highland Fog, a nice warm cowl hoodie thing, worked in Lyra, a really warm and luxe alpaca, merino and silk blend from Spirit Trail Fiberworks (yarn and pattern available here). Size 7 needles, followed pattern as written but sort of faked my way through the crab stitch crochet edging.
Also done, Am I Blue (The Heartbreak Cowl), based on this lovely pattern by Sandra Park. I modified it for the DK weight Alchemy Silk Purse I used, casting on 99 stitches and using a size 7 needle; could have gone with even fewer stitches since it turned out to be very drapey, more of a wrap and pin rather than a stand-up and hug the neck kind of cowl. Still, it served its purpose; project name is self-explanatory and I don't want to talk about it. Sob.
Simple lace but, as always, markers helped. Notes for placement in pattern...Round 1: Place beginning marker, k2, then place 8 markers at asteriks; remove markers on Round 9 to facilitate K2 togs., replace on Round 1.
This was my New Beginnings Project for the Knitters Review Retreat. Onward to 2009, which I hope to make the Year of the Sweater.

On the Needles; In the Works



Working on a few things: about halfway through the Highland Fog Hoodie from Spirit Trail, about halfway through another cowl, and about halfway through my little 2-at-a-time practice socks, which I seem to be sort of getting the hang of (mind you, I haven't turned the heel yet). In the planning stages: by request, a washcloth for DS modeled on an avatar he sent. This will require (gulp) intarsia. Also by request, a scarf for his girl (cowl is the new scarf, and hopefully there's no attendant curse). And an extra speshul sooperexclusive something for my Rubbernecker swapee on Ravelry. Little things all, but I'ma be a busy bee until the holidaze. Oh, and I forgot to mention I won something: a really nice pattern (another cowl...heh) from ever green knits. Check out her blog; gorgeous stuff!

Knitter's Review Retreat 2008


Here's one of the things I love about knitters: we greet each other not by name, but by garment. So on the line at Port Authority for the bus to Williamstown, the initial salutation was "Clapotis!" "Wavy!". It took some time to identify my bus buddies as Vicki and Jain. 5 hour bus ride from NYC, which to me meant more knitting time. The bus stopped directly in front of the Williams Inn, the very comfy locale of this year's Knitters Review Retreat.This was my very first retreat, and first off I must apologize to all the folks I greeted with hugs and squeals and perhaps a tad too much familiarity, but encountering all my Knitters Review Forum pals in real life was akin to attending a reunion of BFFs I'd never met. If that makes any sense. I also apologize for not taking many pictures, but I pretty much lived in the moment. So I'll write about the important stuff...what I acquired and what I ate. Above, the goody bag: a sweet, soft skein of Valley Yarns Northfield from Webs, a gorgeous skein of chocolate colored Classic Elite Fresco, a pattern for a Lorna's Laces cardigan, notecards and other goodies from the KR Boutique still my heart...a limited edition size 3 Addi Turbo needle. I love presents!I also love being in a place where someone changes my sheets and lets me commandeer the remote control and feeds me. And the Williams Inn fulfilled all of those requirements in a lovely New England setting complete with a dusting of snow on Saturday morning. The food was homey and good: big breakfast buffets with pancakes and waffles and bacon and sausage and corned beef hash (mmmm....hash....garlll) and eggs; dinner the first night was really yum pot roast and the second was a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I was happy and full. And feeling a bit guilty because knitting is not much exercise, ya know?I managed to restrain myself in the jaw-dropping Stash Lounge since I'd lightened my suitcase by bringing stuff to leave, but I couldn't resist four skeins of this purty Aracunia Patagonia Cotton.And the Marketplace gave up this really gorgeous bag from String Theory, Clara's very own LYS.Of course, it's not all about the hugging and the eating and the buying...the weekend's events were wonderful. Friday night's show and tell was truly inspiring, such an amazing gathering of talented, diverse and lovely knitters. Again, I wish I could have taken photos of each and every presentation. For my Saturday morning workshop, I did 2-at-a-time socks with Melissa Morgan-Oakes, some sort of genius she is (and very funny and patient and generous with her time). Good thing she wasn't grading during class because I kind of failed, but a few frogs later I think I'm getting the hang of it:Saturday night was spent eating and drinking (again) and finally kind of collapsing in front of the cable TV in my room. Sunday morning was for saying goodbye and casting on for a new beginning. Then it was the bus and then it was home. I leave you with a slightly blurry photo of something that epitomizes the weekend for me: only a small portion of the tons of wonderful hats the KR Retreaters contributed to Hats with Hugs. Is it next year yet?[...]

Random Stripe Retreat Hats - F.O.(s)



A quick trio of F.O.'s: hats for the upcoming (I leave in two days...yay!!!) Knitter's Review Retreat Hats for Hug program contribution. Based on my Entourage Hat pattern using Woolease leftovers and a size 7 needle, with generous design help of this wonderful Random Stripe Generator. Also helpful was Techknitter's Tutorial for Jogless Stripes.

Thank You



Please Vote



Le Slouch F.O.


Happy Halloween!
No pumpkin, but a seasonally appropriate F.O.: Le Slouch, a tres chic (and free) pattern from Wendy Bernard. Stats: used a little more than half a skein of Dream in Color Classy in Chinatown Apple. Sizes 8 & 10 needles. Slouched for 7 inches, blocked on a dinner plate, and voila!

Stash Enhancement; Happy Birthday to Me


Well, now I have no excuse to acquire yarn for awhile (not that not having an excuse stops me). I did a kind of whirlwind tour of Rhinebeck since the non-knitting friends I was with were poky, and we didn't get there until around 3:00. S'OK; they paid me back with birthday yarn:750 yards of lovely scrumptious Riata from Brooks Farm (it's actually a lipstick red, not the pinkish in the photo). It hasn't decided what it wants to be yet--not enough for a sweater, and I'm kind of overflowing in scarfs--ideas welcome.On the other side of the justifiably crowded Brooks Farm booth, I picked up 4 skeins of this:More Four Play=another Clapotis. I cannot stop.It was packed in the A building and I felt rushed, so I made a quick stop over at the Spirit Trail booth to say hi to some of the folks from Knitters Review: Jen, Lanea (who gave me a birthday hug :=)), Beth and Martha ("how do?"). I was going to hold off from buying anything until the Knitters Review Retreat coming up in November, but this lovely laceweight leapt into my hands:Atropos, 500 yards of silk goodness in the most amazing deep brown color ("Wet Bark").I missed the Ravelry meetups and decided to forgo the party, since it didn't seem very nice to say to my friends "Hey, thanks for hosting me for the weekend but I'm ditching you to go hang out with my other friends". We ended up having my birthday dinner at The Rhinecliff Hotel, a really lovely place on the banks of the mighty Hudson.And to make a nice weekend great, I got home to find I had won MORE YARN from a contest over at Tamara's blog. And all I had to do was post about why I love October. Yay me, and yay Tamara--look what she sent:The most gorgeous handspun singles in a "Rosy Sweet Jade" colorway, and:Amazing hand-dyed fingering weight merino that will be perfect for the two socks on one needle I'm going to learn how to knit at the aforementioned Knitters Review Retreat. Plus, cool swag from a conservation expo she went to earlier in the month. Check out Tamara's etsy shop, Spincerely Yours: wonderful stuff. Thanks, Tamara!All in all, a good haul, and a very happy birthday to me.[...]

A Quartet of F.O.'s


Well, I figured I’d better update the blog before somebody hijacks it. A few finished objects to report since the Ravelympics:Obnoxiously Cheery Ballband, a palate clearer to be housegifted to friends who somehow manage to remain relentlessly cheery without being obnoxious. The colors remind me of those ceramic chickens in granny kitchens. Mason-Dixon Knitting again (by the way, make sure to check out the new book!); pattern modification: cast on 33 stitches for a smaller cloth. Leftover Sugar ‘n Cream cotton, size 6 needle. Clapotis Rerun, my second in what will no doubt be a series since I am kind of obsessed with this pattern (I need one in a black-based yarn, but I also need a black-based yarn with enough color variation that I won’t go insane. Any ideas?). This one in the dreamy Brooks Farm Four Play I got at Maryland Sheep and Wool. Knit to pattern on size 8 needle; used just under 3 skeins. Came out very wrappable: 22” wide x 72” long. Love it. C’mon winter!Claire’s Airy Birthday Scarf, a present for my friend. Pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts, no mods (except I think I skipped a repeat by accident. Doesn’t matter since it’s more of a scarflet: 7” wide x 32” long). Yarn: some stashed Kaalund Expressions (a discontinued laceweight kid mohair); size 10 needle.Grapes of Wrath Lace Ribbon Scarf. Finally. This sucker took forever. Great pattern, though. Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy (fingering weight merino), just under a skein. Size 3 needle. Size: 8” wide x 80” long.Random Notes: Set up: Color code chart for easy reading until you get used to the pattern. I cast on 44 sts. to make it a bit narrower and conserve yarn. Knit two rows before plunging into the lace ribbon chart (not in the pattern, but will make more symmetrical ends and reduce curling). Place markers for each nine-stitch repeat (use different color marker for end sections). Do not check your work until one full pattern repeat is done…it will look wonky and you will be disappointed.Worked 20 repeats of the 24 stitches, still had enough yarn for probably one more round of repeats but couldn’t take it anymore. Smooshy is interesting stuff–FO was only 58” long, but with a wet block (just soaked for a half-hour or so and patted it out without pins) it came out to 80”!On the needles: Wendy Bernard's Le Slouch in Dream in Color Classy. Pix with progress.This weekend: Rhinebeck![...]

Diamonds and Pearls Shawl--Ravelympics FO


The thrill of victory!!! I touched the wall with the Diamonds and Pearls shawl this morning at 10:33 and 1/1000 of a second. Pattern by Shelia January from the lovely Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn. Blue Heron Rayon Metallic, Colorway Flax, size 9 needles. Approximate finished size: 19" long x 45" wide. Nice, relatively simple pattern that took a lot less time than I thought it would, even when getting paid got in the way of knitting. I hate it when that happens.
Notes: Check here for some minor but crucial errata.
Marker placement on the first row made absolutely no sense to me, but the pattern was simple enough seems simple enough to follow without them; I finally figured a system on Row 47 (four markers surrounding repeat sections) so I could watch TV instead of counting like Rain Man.
I added an extra purl row for 78 total rows, and then a crochet bind-off since the one in the pattern looked kind of fiddly and I was pressed for time. Did a BO 3, ch. 6 bind-off; found a very helpful pictorial here. Awaiting medals and endorsements.
EDITED TO ADD: I got medals:
Still waiting for endorsements...

Going for the Gold


Let the games begin: all regularly scheduled knitting has been put on hiatus for the Ravelympics. I can best be described as a leisurely knitter (i.e. s--l--o--w), so I decided to set myself the rather gentle goal of the Diamond and Pearls shawl (shawlette, really) in 17 days. With a couple of days of concentrated knitting, I'm on a good pace and things are going smoothly. Too smoothly (she said, glancing over her shoulder for a glimpse of the Agony of Defeat).




Ravelry is launching an in-house, off-season version of the Knitting Olympics, originated during the 2006 Winter Games by the ever-popular Yarn Harlot. Although I came up lame in my last attempt at knitting as fast as I can, this time I'm casting on with Team Mine!, sponsored by a Ravelry Forum group I can really get behind: Selfish Knitters (plus, it's the best. badge. ever.). (image)

I'll be slogging my way through the lovely Diamonds and Pearl Shawl from the lovely Clara Parkes' lovely Knitter's Book of Yarn, using a lovely skein of Blue Heron Rayon Metallic that followed me home from the lovely Knitty City last Friday (and that I selfishly blew a good portion of the kids' tuition on). There's a Ravelympics Team for everybody, or it's OK to have no Team at all. Basically, the only rules are pick a project that's challenging, cast on when the flame is lit; cast off before they put it out. Details here (if you're not on Ravelry...sign up, already).

On the Needles; Brag Alert


(image) (image)
Slow but steady summer knitting progress, alternating the Lace Ribbon Scarf (Dream in Color Smooshy: wish I could drink it like wine) and Clapotis #2 (Brooks Farm aptly named Four Play...I want to sleep with it). Both hopefully to be finished by the time autumn leaves fall.

(image) Oh, and a little brag: I have my first design up on Ravelry. OK, anyone can be a Designer on Ravelry. And it's "just a scarf". But it's free, people. If you're not on Ravelry, the pattern (Noro Keyhole Scarf) is archived on the blog. If you are on Ravelry, queue it up and feed my ego, yo.

Warning: Partisan Politics (Knit-Related)



While I generally relegate my political views to the sidebar (at least on the blog; in real life I'm obnoxiously opinionated), I did want to share a way cool fundraising opportunity for everyone who believes that Barack Obama should, can and will be the next President of the United States. Fabulous Prizes involved, people! Go over to the Knitters for Obama Fundraiser site and read all about it. And if you're on Ravelry, join the group. Terrorist Fist Jabbers unite with Folks Wielding Pointy Sticks for Change.

Bainbridge FO and Summer Knitting Goals


(image) Last F.O. of the Spring, the Bainbridge Scarf, one of those clever way-easier-than-it-looks patterns that makes you wonder "Why didn't I think of that?" (note to self: work at being more clever). I used some DK weight Morehouse Merino I got a few years ago at Rhinebeck (scheduled for my birthday this year...woo-hoo!), size 5 needles, and am quite pleased with the way it turned out. Next time I might try out the fastening mods suggested by the exceedingly clever Flint Knits.

Another clever knitter, Ali over at Skeins Her Way, is sponsoring a generous and thought-provoking contest, wherein she asks us to define some goals for Summer Knitting. Given that the temp here in NYC is approaching a riot-inciting 100 degrees, I would say my immediate goal is to let wool keep gliding through my sweaty fingers. If I must specify:

Stay tuned.

Block Island Ballbands


I just returned from a lovely Memorial Day Weekend (although I suppose it is a bit of an oxymoron to say Happy Memorial Day) visiting friends on Block Island, a truly beautiful place...sort of like Martha's Vineyard without half the population of the Upper West Side. Too many Red Sox fans, but...whatever. I was chill. I turned to my old standby housegift and whipped out a trio of Ballband Warshrags for my hostess Claire and her daughters Kate and Ann, packaged along with a tube of Boss Lady Body Wash (no affiliation, but I was particularly attracted by the motto "Lather up and hunt 'em down.")

(image) Anne(image) Kate(image) Claire



Clap off. I'd been trying to finish this in time for Maryland Sheep & Wool, but ended up working on it there instead. I've decided it was meant to be a Mother's Day present to myself; I've been dragging it off the shelf and forcing it to hug me all day.
Notes: Knitting to pattern on a US 7 needle, I ended up using six skeins of Grignasco Top Print (sport weight alpaca, Colorway: Berry), about 660 yards. Final dimensions: approx. 19" wide x 66" long--longer than I thought, which is fine.
The end result is worth it, but it's quite a slog. Definitely get a hold of Soul Knitting's Clapotis Spreadsheet; checking off the rows as you go is most encouraging.
When measuring knit side up from the cast-on, the right side is the width, the left side is the length.
Rule of 5 for yarn amounts: you'll use approximately 1/5 of your yarn for the increase section, 3/5 for the straight section, 1/5 for the decrease section.
As you slog along, watch for the following change-ups: Section 3, Row 6 (ssk, place marker, yo, kfb). Row 8 is when you get to make your ladder (yay!). In Section 4, there are ladders at the beginning and end of Row 8 (yay! yay!). Remember you're only working through Row 10 on the 8th repeat. In Section 5, Row 2 should begin with a Purl 1 (a mistake on the version of the spreadsheet I used; it might have been fixed by now).
I chose not to block; I like the curls and squiggles.
Onward to some palate clearing warshrags before I cast on my next one.

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival 2008


I lay here recovering from my inaugural trip to Maryland Sheep & Wool. If you're reading this, I assume you're a knitter (or a close relative), so I don't have to explain the significance of this yearly extravaganza. Anyway, I boarded a bus loaded with sleepy but determined New York City knitters at 7:00am (thanks for organizing, Eve!). The atmosphere on the bus was oddly subdued...I imagine buses coming from places like...oh, Philadelphia...twittering with excitement, but we approached this trip not unlike soldiers deployed into battle with pointy sticks. Or maybe it was the fact that it was 7:00 in the morning. Anyway. Kudos to our ballsy (female!) bus driver who blithely bypassed the line of cars patiently waiting on the entry road and had us in the parking lot by 11:00am.I had a sort of battle plan that I abandoned early on, but my first stop was at Brooks Farm Fiber , where I got four skeins of sinfully sweet Four-Play (50/50 wool/silk) in shades of purple, destined for my next Clapotis (yeah, yeah...I know I haven't finished the first one yet).And then came Ravelmania. Again, if you're a knitter I probably don't have to explain what Ravelry is, but you sort of had to be there to imagine the hysteria that greeted Jess, Casey and Mary-Heather's arrival at the scheduled meet-up...kind of like The Beatles hitting Kennedy Airport. I got my Ravelry ID button and avatar sticker and plunged back into the shopping fray, later ambushing Casey paparazzi-style on the food midway, explaining that posing is the price of fame:. Hard to tell whether Casey disagreed with the lemonade or the lemonade disagreed with him. Mary-Heather was in better spirits:I ran into Jess later while I was in a shopping daze; I didn't get a picture (she is quite beautiful) but managed to thank her for all things Ravelry. I encountered an astonishing number of folks pinned with Ravelry buttons throughout the day, and can only imagine the number unidentified. It truly is a phenomenon, and very odd to recognize people from their Ravatars. I was too fiber-od'd to approach most, but I had to make contact with somebunnyslove, aka The Queen of the Clap (she and her Clapotis were far lovelier than my limited paparazzi skills suggest):Ignoring the irony of consuming the creature that gives me so much fiberly pleasure, I scarfed down a lamb sandwich with a healthy dose of head-clearing horseradish and headed on to the next meet-up, this one a far calmer and restorative sit-down with some homies from Knitter's Review, including the Queen Bee KR founder Clara Parkes.The odd look of distaste on Clara's lovely face might stem from the fact that a faint but unmistakable aroma of sewage emanated from the ground on which we sat. Or maybe it's my bad paparazzi skills again. Anyway, she graciously signed my copy of The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and after basking in her etherealness for awhile I heading back to stash enhancement.I have never been a good shopper. Faced with too many choices I freeze; armed with a list of specifics I panic-buy if an envisioned item isn't there (in this case, one perfect skein of worsted weight cashmere). But I did pretty good this time, coming upon a gorgeous skein of Lyra, an alpaca, merino and silk blend from Spirit Trail Fiberworks, along with a pattern to make a hood:The perfect bronze of a skein of mohair/wool from Persimmon Tree Farm more than made up for the lack of cashmere:One last bud[...]