Tuesday, April 29, 2008
some of the Canadian 10% silk, 50% alpaca, 30% mohair and 10% merino sock yarn
and a couple of batches of roving (2 Finn, 1 Wensleydale and something else I can't remember right now). Update is at 1 p.m. here.
I am nearly finished with a special gift for the dad of a dear friend of mine, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
(The little white part by the logo is the backing of the emblem; I haven't sewn it on yet.)
As you might have guessed, he's a huge Notre Dame fan.
Now I'm back to the dyepots. I'm hoping to get some merino/tencel done today, and some merino/bamboo sock yarn later in the week, for the next update.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
For those of you unfamiliar with T-ball, it's pretty much baseball on a stick. They sit a baseball on a large tee, and let the kids hit the ball off the tee.
The really sad part is that most of the kids STILL MISS THE BALL.
I mean, it's on a STICK! It's not moving! There are no curveballs or sliders, it's never high or low, it's stationary.
And they still miss it.
Now me, I think this means that these six-year-olds just aren't developmentally ready for baseball yet. That's okay; they can wait another year, or two, until they are.
Apparently I'm in the minority on that one. Tom thinks it's harmless enough and teaches the kids the most basic principles of how to play baseball: i.e., you try to hit the ball and if you do, you run; you can't throw the baseball at the runner like a dodgeball; the game is played in a diamond shape.
N.'s game took two and a half hours. It was only three innings long. The game is so damn affirming and positive that each kid on each team gets to bat. They can only do three "innings" of this, since there are about 12 kids on each team, so letting each one bat takes about 45 + minutes when all is said and done. (No one keeps track of outs or runs.) In the meantime, the kids in the field are picking dandelions, picking their underwear, picking their noses, and doing just about anything other than trying to catch the ball. Their parents are cheerfully yelling positive, affirming things, like "Great try, Declan!" and "Good hustle, Chase!" (or do I mean "Good chase, Hustle!"?) while the coaches are teaching the kids waiting to bat to singsong "Let's go, Leighton, let's go!" [clap clap], like apathetic -- and slightly demonic -- monks.
The saving grace on N's team is a kid named Daniel. Daniel is the anti-T-ball player. He packs quite a punch of contrariness, does Daniel. When the kids are singsonging for Leighton to get a hit, Daniel singsongs, "Strike out Leighton, strike out!" [clap clap] When it's Daniel's turn to bat and the coach tells him "You're up, Daniel!", Daniel says, "Nope. I don't feel like batting."
"But Daniel, it's your bat!"
"I don't feel like batting right now."
"C'mon, Daniel, the team needs you!"
Studied pause. "Nope."
Best of all, when the "game" is over and the two teams file by each other you can hear Daniel muttering, "Bad game" "Bad game" to each proffered high five that passes by.
Now that's my kind of T-ball player.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Marilyn. Go on over there and wish her a Happy Birthday (along with Al Pacino, Edward R. Murrow, one of the Erasure guys, Renee
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
It’s All Over
Fox and NBC are both calling it for Hillary. As a result, Obama will go into the remaining primaries with an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, a strong lead in the popular vote, and a huge advantage in fundraising ability. I had hoped that Obama could pull off a win here, and go into the remaining primaries with an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, a strong lead in the popular vote, and a huge advantage in fundraising ability.
I’m still holding out some hope that the results will be close enough that Obama will go into the remaining primaries with an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, a strong lead in the popular vote, and a huge advantage in fundraising ability. I think that if Hillary wins by less than ten points then Obama will go into the remaining primaries with an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, a strong lead in the popular vote, and a huge advantage in fundraising ability. But if Hillary wins by more than ten points, then Obama go[es] into the remaining primaries with an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, a strong lead in the popular vote, and a huge advantage in fundraising ability. It’s white-knuckle time to be sure.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Yesterday was Franklin Habit's 1000 Knitters shoot at Woolgathering, in Kennett Square, PA. I don't even know where to begin. I also don't want to steal Franklin's thunder since this is his baby.
But I am now totally in love with Woolgathering, so today I'll tell you about the LYS which hosted the shoot. Woolgathering looks like this:
It is located on one of the main streets of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which is a charming and historical town in the heart of a charming and historical part of PA, near the Brandywine Museum (think Wyeth) and Wawa University.
The owner of Woolgathering is Jacqui
Jacqui is one of those people who give off a gravitational force field of personality. She draws people into her orbit with her humor, warmth and enthusiasm. (I mean, the French clearly invented the phrase "Joie de vivre" for this lady!) You can tell how much the folks around her love her by the fact that she had so many wonderful people helping out, even at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, and when we kept asking these sweet and kindly worker bees "Do you work at the shop?" they all kept saying "No, we just love Jacqui!"
I can see why.
Jacqui has the most adorable Pom rescue dog named Turbo. (as in Addi Turbo) I can't find my photo of this doggeh which totally bums me out, but he is like a walking pom-pom. Fluffy, with a little wolfy face, and so loving. He sat in an armchair with me and just let me pet him. But Turbo, too, has been sucked into the Jacqui orbit and, understandably, had a hard time letting her out of his sight. (By the end of the day, I kind of felt the same way.)
Because we simply do not have enough yarn in our house (right, Tom?), I indulged in a few choice skeins:
A skein of Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere on the left (Jacqui gave me the most adorable scarf pattern she invented, and I'm hoping to cast on tonight) and a skein of Claudia Handpaints handpainted linen on the right. I want to play with the linen and figure out whether I should start dyeing some myself.
Franklin Habit owns this town.
Coming this week: more on the 1000 Knitters shoot and other Franklin-related festivities...
Friday, April 18, 2008
I apologize for the excess of exclamation points. Yesterday I picked Franklin up at the airport. I was a bit early (okay, I'm a bit excited, can you tell?) but as I came up to the gate, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this woman from the back:
I figured only Dolores would wear hot pink velour sweatpants that read "Boopalicious" across the ass, but, sadly, I was mistaken. Thankfully the Homeland Security folks were very understanding when I tried to explain that I was not a big weirdo accosting the charming Japanese tourist -- I was a big weirdo who thought that she was goosing her friend's slutty talking sheep.
As soon as they let me out of the holding cell, I found darling Franklin. Franklin was then treated to a typical suburban day: lunch at the diner, as you saw yesterday, a cello concert by Elvis, introductory lessons in Wii (he's very good at target practice and won a bronze medal his first time playing), a quick stop at the elementary school to see the "art show"
Fuzzeh Bunnehs courtesy of Miss Thing.
dinner at Chili's, and of course, constant inter-sibling bickering.
Having known Franklin a while, I already knew how fun he is to be around; yet it still amazes me at what a smart, funny, altogether charming man he is and how lucky I am to know him.
So if any of you are within driving distance of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (which is a scenic and historical town close to Longwood Gardens), please stop by tomorrow between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the lovely Wool Gathering and get your photo taken by Franklin for the 1,000 Knitters Project. Details about the shoot and Wool Gathering are here. Me, I am all too eager to sniff around what looks to be a beautiful yarn shop that says right on its website that its specialty is "natural fiber yarns". . . and to meet the owner Jacqui, who has the excellent taste and discerning judgment to have made this photo shoot possible. Yay, Jacqui!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
One nugget of conventional wisdom in book publishing is that publishers (as distinguished from yarn companies producing their own booklets for pattern support) can't publish a book that uses only one or two specific brands of yarn, especially ones that are hard to find. Many knitters stubbornly insist on buying only the yarn shown in the original pattern; plus, publishers try to accommodate as many yarn companies (i.e., advertisers) by using as many different brands as possible. Indigo Knits breaks with that convention by presenting projects that are all knit in the same kind and weight of yarn: worsted/DK weight, indigo-dyed yarn. There are only about three companies that make this exact kind of yarn; Rowan Denim is the most widely available of the three. Elann has Den-M-Nit, but it often sells out, and there is a third brand, Elle, which produces True Blue yarn, but I have never seen this brand of yarn in any of the umpteen yarn shops I've visited in my knitting life.
Why publish a book with such a narrow selection of yarns? Well, indigo yarns are different from other handknitting yarns for several reasons. The dye takes to the fabric inconsistently, it fades, it can rub off on whatever's next to it, it wears off excessively -- sometimes irregularly -- at seams and other friction points. And if you’ve ever put on a pair of jeans that spent a long time in the clothes dryer, you know the critical thing about indigo yarn or fabric: it shrinks. Often quite a lot.
Indigo Knits acknowledges all the idiosyncrasies of indigo-dyed yarn and embraces them. After a brief introduction (describing the authors’ beginnings in the boutique knitwear business), the book contains ten pages of technical material discussing indigo yarn: a brief history, discussion of the characteristics of indigo yarn, how to distress and bleach indigo garments, and how to decorate indigo knitwear. I liked that this section included several clear photos of the distressing and bleaching processes used later in the book.
One aspects of the book that I found particularly charming was the focus on the Cornwall area of the UK, home of the authors. Each chapter is named after a place in Cornwall; includes photos and descriptions of that area; and even recommends methods of transportation, restaurants, and gardens to visit. You get a great sense of the beauty and unique attractions of Cornwall -- a real treat for us Anglophiles.
The remainder of the book is devoted to patterns, so let’s look at the seven chapters containing the patterns:
- Chapter 1 (“Newlyn Blue”) is named after Newlyn, a fishing town and appropriately features traditional ganseys: two pullovers for men (but if you don’t mind the boxy shoulders, they could easily be unisex); a women’s jacket; and a child’s pullover. All are lovely examples of the traditional cabled and textured fishermen’s sweaters, like this men's sweater:
If you made this sweater and washed it, you'd be able to see the indigo dye fade and wear in an interesting way around all the textured stitching and cables.
- Chapter 2 (“Gwithian Blue”) is named after a beach (home to the lighthouse which is the setting for the Woolf novel To the Lighthouse) and all of the projects have a beach theme: a unisex striped hoodie, a fringed off-the-shoulder top; a slouchy beach bag; a beach blanket; and a beaded I-pod carrier.
- Chapter 3 (“Lamorna Blue”) is named for a village that is the site of an artist’s colony, and you can see where this is going, I bet: all the projects loosely relate to the artist theme. There’s a buttoned vest for women (called the Artist’s Waistcoat); a cute women’s sweater with pockets called the Artist’s Smock; and a “satchel” or what Americans might call a messenger bag.
- Chapter 4 (“Frenchman’s White”) is named after Frenchman's Creek – an actual creek as well as the title of a Daphne DuMaurier novel, for those who like their Gothics – and contains designs which relate to the creek: a crocheted skirt, an adorable ruffle-neck top, and crocheted slippers made of granny squares. (Okay, this chapter is reaching a bit for its theme, but I’m not gonna quibble.)
- Chapter 5 is “St. Ives Blue” and refers to the village and bay noted for ties to the Abstract Art movement of the 1950s & 1960s. So we’ve got the Abstract Art Sweater (shown for women; possibly unisex); the Abstract Art cushion; and the men’s Painterly Stripe Sweater.
- Chapter 6 – “Tresco Blue” – is named for one of the islands southwest of Cornwall, renowned for its gardens and beaches. All of these projects are, again, beach-themed: a key-hole front top with thin straps and a flared bottom; a fringed and beaded crochet skirt; a crocheted bikini (the author notes it is “strictly for sunbathing” and designed to “dispel notions of crochet’s sometimes frumpy image”); sequined throw and cushion cover; and embellishment for flip-flops.
- “Penzance Blue,” Chapter 7, refers to a harbor town most famous for the Gilbert & Sullivan opera. The pirate theme is played out in a women’s striped top with Henley-style button front; a large beaded bag; a cropped woman’s jacket with a patchwork motif inspired by ship’s sails; the women’s “Grandad” cardigan, with long slim lines and front pockets; and the women’s Prussian Naval Jacket, with large bead embellishment.
The design is created by application of bleach to the sweater in the pattern shown. (If you think cutting a steek is stressful, try applying bleach to your hand-knit sweater!)
To sum up, you’ll find 3 patterns for men (which could be unisex depending on taste); 1 unisex pattern; 15 designs for women; 1 child’s sweater; 3 bags; and 5 miscellaneous items. The knitting/crochet breakdown falls heavily on the side of knitting, with 22 knitted items, 5 crocheted, and 2 bags that use both knitting and crochet.
If you are interested in the specifics of construction, the book contains a variety: Of the sweaters, the 3 men’s designs are pullover style; the unisex sweater is a hoodie with an open-placket front and ties; 4 women’s button-front sweaters (variously called cardigans or jackets); 2 women’s sweaters with Henley-style button plackets; 2 women’s pullovers with round necks; 3 unconventionally-styled sweaters, for lack of a better word (the flared strap top; the ruffled scoopneck sweater; and the off-the-shoulder top);
one women’s button-front vest; and the child’s pullover gansey.
The No-Bull technical checklist:
- Color photographs – yes, all over the place, with lots of inviting seaside shots.
- Charts – yes, some in black-and-white, some in color.
- Schematics for every sweater – no, only a few have schematics, and they tend to be ones that have some sort of color patterning which is charted; most do not, although most have sketches to give a better sense of the lines
- Size ranges – generally extensive. While some of the sweaters, like the strappy flared top, go from around 35 to just under 38 inches finished bust, many of the more forgiving styles range from 37.75 to 57.5 inch finished chest. Even the bikini is designed for a range from 32 inch finished bust to 51 inch finished bust.
- Yarns used – all are indigo/denim yarns that knit up at around DK or light worsted weight and – this is really important – all feature approximately 20 percent shrinkage in length after washing. The patterns are designed to take this shrinkage into account. For substitution, you’ll have to swatch carefully if you don’t use one of the 3 indigo yarns specified, including knitting a swatch, measuring shrinkage carefully to ensure that it’s comparable, or adapting the vertical lengths of the pattern to compensate for the lack of shrinkage if you use a non-shrinking yarn.
- Book construction – Hardcover with paper dust jacket; high quality, full-color pages; relatively large size; regular index and Project Index featuring photographs of each finished project; list of sources for indigo yarn and notes on substitution; sturdy binding; color photographs in the technical section illustrating some of the distressing techniques.
MSRP is a whopping thirty bucks, but you can score it for under twenty dollars (at the time of this writing) by using the above link.
Overall, this is a nice and creatively-produced book that will entice you both to knit with indigo yarn AND to visit the seaside of Cornwall. The designs are a mix of the traditional-styled gansey – including the boxy fit – and the more trendy (i.e. crocheted skirt and bikini, I-pod cozy), some sexier tops with scoop necks or straps, as well as some simple home dec items. You’ll have to examine the patterns closely to see if the sweaters you like are knit in the style you like; some have set-in sleeves, others don’t; most do not feature any nipping in at the waist and are shown on the models with a generous rather than close fit. Indeed, the variety of styles shown is almost mind-boggling: you can knit a very traditional gansey OR crochet a bikini from the same book? I suppose time will tell whether there are crafters who are interested in knitting both very classically styled garments and very trendy ones.
It bears mentioning that there is at least one other book devoted to denim yarns: Kim Hargreaves' Denim People. This is from 2004, and features only Rowan Denim yarn, but if you are interested in more indigo-yarn patterns, you might want to check it out. There are other Rowan publications, like the biannual Rowan Magazine, that occasionally have featured designs knit in Rowan Denim, too.
Indigo Knits helps you appreciate the unique qualities of this kind of yarn: yes, it shrinks the first time you wash it, but how many knitted items can you throw with abandon into machine washer and dryer, knowing the garment won’t be ruined? And if you’ve ever seen the unique way that indigo yarn fades and weathers, especially if you use textured stitching, you will come to appreciate why some knitters, including the authors of Indigo Knits, are fascinated with this kind of yarn.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Later in the show, he has a costume change (!) and becomes a German Dancer. They did a very cool dance which involved sitting on wooden benches, then jumping on them and rapping the bottom of the benches on the floor in time to the music. My shots of this were mostly blurry. Elvis got to deliver the last line of the play as Immigrant No. 4. Here he is after the show:
Perhaps my enthusiasm for the show will wane once I've attended three more performances, but I'm a proud mama this morning.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
If you would like to enter a raffle, then you need to go here to Hyphenated Carol's blog. She is helping to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a worthy cause indeed. There are fiber-y prizes, including a skein of BBF sock yarn. So help the gal out, willya?
And if you would like to judge a contest, then feast your eyes on the following. Here are the entries for the Midway Contest of the BBF Sock and Fiber Clubs. You get to pick one winner for the Sock Division and one winner for the Fiber Division. The only guideline given to entrants was that the product had to be knit or spun in one of the BBF club monthly shipments -- and everything else was up to the knitter or spinner. Seeing other people's beautiful handiwork is a great thrill for me. I present them to you alphabetically by first name. Polls are over at the right in my sidebar. Voting ends around 6 p.m. April 15th.
Carol presents the Slalom pattern, designed by Polly Outhwaite,
and which pattern is available through Ravelry; it is knit in BBF Bamboo Lite which was the first offering of the sock club.
Diane knit her sock in a colorway she renamed "Orchids" because that's what the colors reminded her of:
The pattern is WendyKnits' Eyelet pattern, available for free here:
Jodi's socks showcase Kate Gilbert's Marina Piccola sock pattern, available here.
Samantha's socks are lovely and maybe she will chime in, telling us the pattern (she said wistfully):
UPDATE: Samantha informs us that these are the Chevrolace Socks from Knitty's Winter 07 issues, available here. Thanks, Samantha!!
SockPr0n (whose real first name starts with "A") spun her Delaine Merino/Kid Mohair blend into a fiberlicious super-energized twisty thingy-ma-diddle kind of yarn, inspired by Lexi Boerger's new book.
She is also going to spin (or has already spun?) the other half into a more traditional 2-ply and will knit the two together, perhaps in a scarf.
Lorena sent pictures of Month 1 AND Month 2. Month 1 is the Delaine Merino/Kid Mohair blend, in a colorway called Emerald City:
Month 2 was the Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester in a colorway called Velvet Rope:
Mindy has spun "Crystal Pool," a batch of the first month's Delaine Merino/Kid Mohair blend.
She thinks we don't know that she hasn't finished the whole batch, but, ha ha Mindy, we do.... (it doesn't matter anyway, though, since the "rules" allow partly-finished projects). She's got that fiber nice and skinny, no?
Okay, go over to the two polls at the right, in the side bar, and vote. The winners get some most excellent sock-ish and fiber-y prizes (including BBF stuff) respectively...