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Archive for September, 2007

Morning light
Valley Yarns Alpaca/Silk laceweight (Stitches Midwest 2006) and KnitPicks classic circulars, size US 3)

It’s Icarus. Well, it’s Icarus in its larval stage no, musn’t use that word around the wool — infancy. It’s the eight setup rows that you do before you actually start to knit lace. I got this far and I got all scared. Because I’m twenty-seven and tiny yarn freaks me out.

No, to be fair to myself, life got extra busy in the past few weeks. Big projects at work, minor melt-downs, and that beautiful Kureyon quilt have really eaten my brain lately. Concentration (necessary for lace knitting) is thin on the ground around here.

Plus nature went and got all autumnal, and I’m busy soaking that in.

Autumn approaches

Walnut

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Something to Show

Finally, I have got my hands on a camera! (Not mine, of course, but a loan from a friend. Thanks Beth!)

The state of the log cabin blanket

Connected

Could be scarves

The blocks are all put together in four strips of five blocks, with Cascade Eco Wool (color 8095) doing the sashing between. The sashing is the same width/depth/whatever as the strips of the Noro blocks — 12 rows or 6 garter ridges.

This is the first time I’ve worked with Kureyon, and after seeing Renee’s post about the growth factor of this yarn, I’m wondering if I should have blocked my blocks (HA!) before joining them. That’s a theoretical wondering at this point, of course, because I’m not about to undo all that Eco Wool.

Sashing

This is the sashing all close up, from the wrong side. I’m knitting 3 ridges/6 rows on one block, then pick up and knit 3 ridges/6 rows on the other block, then 3-needle-bind-off them together.

Point

I’m doing the same thing on the long sides of the strips, and this is the part where things have slowed down just a bit. It’s the devil to do work a 3-needle-bindoff down a billion stitches (or thereabouts), and I find myself putting it down a lot. I just need to watch a good long movie that I’ve already seen… Lord of the Rings trilogy, perhaps. Anyone with suggestions please let me know!

Join

I love every detail of this project, even though I thought I hated garter stitch. I don’t know what I was thinking — it’s beautiful and cushy and the stitches ripple around each other, and it kind of looks like a hug. A little bit. To me. The crazy lady.

At rest

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You may remember that my camera became posessed by demons, that I had to send it away for an exorcism, and that I’ve been borrowing digital cameras both from cheerfully helpful people and from people who don’t even know about it. Because blogging is amazingly dull when one doesn’t have a digital camera.

I called the camera repair place the other day, and it turns out my camera is still “in the repair process” and isn’t likely to be done until next Friday or the Friday after that (Sep. 21st or 28th). No matter how hard I beg, and despite the fact that they’ve had it for a month already. I even offered them mohair in an offhand, under-the-table way (“Hey buddy, if you move me up in the queue I’ll send some great yarn your way”), but they remained unmoved. I know, I’m baffled too.

With that in mind, I’m going to show you pictures of old WIPs (and yes, they are still WIPs) that have been neglected in favor of more exciting projects, or less exciting projects, or abandoned by my capricious and small span of knitting attention. My hope is this will shame me into picking them back up (I’m not going to hold my breath, though). (Click the pictures for stats on yarn and needles, and for bigger images.)

First Example
Jack-in-the-pulpit
The ultimate WIP — the first sock I ever started. It’s still in this state. The heel flap is done, the turn is made, but I didn’t have the guts to pick up the gusset stitches and fled to the realm of toe-up socks (of which I have still only made one and one-half pairs, more on that below). Why are gusset stitches intimidating? I have no idea. Well, I do, but I don’t want to go into it now. If I ever finish these, they’ll make great house socks.

Second Example
Sock
I know I’ve posted this picture on this blog before, but remember the lack of camera and indulge me a bit. Thank you. This is one of the second pair of socks, which I abandoned in June when they just weren’t speaking to me anymore. These might get picked up pretty soon, as the weather is getting chilly (it’s supposed to frost tonight! Wow!) and the colors sing a lot more now in autumn than they did in spring.

Third Example
Stripey swatch
Back and front
Back
These are bits of a toddler-sized cardigan which I started when the intended recipient was mere months old. She is now approaching her 2nd birthday and the cardigan is rapidly becoming obsolete. I might finish this one and give it to another deserving baby, or I might repurpose the yarn for a baby blanket. The pattern is not interesting at all, so I find myself leaning toward the repurpose-to-blanket scenario.

Fourth Example
Cuff
Twisty
This is the cuff of the second sock I ever started and never finished. I only started one, as if that makes me less of an awful knitter. I did get pretty far (farther than the top picture indicates), but when the deer hit Nick’s car and he (Nick, not the deer) had to go to the emergency room, this was the only knitting I had with me and I couldn’t remember the pattern. Full story in that link there. This is one sock I really don’t think I’ll be keeping. I’m going to rip it out and maybe make a scarf of it, or wristies. Some projects have too much weird juju about them and they just won’t work.

Fifth (and final) Example
Like a spider web
small point
Point
Scallop
This is the big one. When I was planning my wedding and reading knit blogs while I was supposed to be choosing invitations or flatware, I read lots about wedding shawls. “That’s exactly what I need,” I exclaimed in a flurry of knitterly passion, “a shawl for my wedding! In July! And I’ll make the pattern up as I go! And do wedding planning at the same time!” Right. Well, I had just started knitting and didn’t really get it (when trying to make a lace pattern: “Why do I keep getting these huge HOLES in my knitting?!”) so I switched to crochet pretty early on. And I did make up the pattern entirely on my own. One problem with this oh-so-well-thought-out plan was that I got married in July and didn’t really need a shawl because July in Northern Illinois is a sweaty bastard. Another problem was that I got to a sort-of finishing point on the shawl before it was big enough to go over my shoulders. Now it’s languishing somewhere in my knitting corner. It might become a table-topper for the holidays, what with the silver-sparkly and all. Or I might keep going on it and just see how damn big it can get. Either way, I’m sure I’ll share the pattern so you too can enjoy your own white elephant of a crochet project. I know you want to.

And if you’re wondering what’s going on with my actual WIPs, I will tell you. The Log Cabin blocks have all been knit together (4 strips of 5 blocks each), and I’m sorting out how I’m going to pick up stitches on the long edge. Tomato top is coming along slowly, and more slowly now that the weather has cooled off and I’m thinking more about woolen long-sleeved pullovers and less about cotton-blend short-sleeved tops. I did cast on for Icarus and got all of 8 rows done before life got completely insane and I couldn’t concentrate (and the tiny tiny laceweight yarn scared the hell out of me). And yesterday I made a warshrag for a friend.

It only looks like I’ve been slacking.

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Really stretching it

Today I put gas in my car.

This isn’t normally something I’d write about. It usually falls under the category of Stuff That’s Too Mundane To Mention, like brushing my teeth or waking up in the middle of the night to pee.

Today is different though, because the last time I put gas in my car was …

June 27th. Yes, seriously. I filled up the tank on June Twenty-seventh and haven’t needed to put gas in until today. (I don’t drive my car very much — just to the gym and the grocery store — because I live 1.5 blocks from work, 2 blocks from the bar where my knitting group meets, and 1 block from my favorite take-out place.) I haven’t put gas in my car for 10 weeks. HELL YES.

Take that, jerky price-gouging oil companies.

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My Bread and Butter

When I was growing up I was sometimes a foolish child. I ran around the outdoors, played in the forests and fields and creeks, and helped my Dad chop down trees. Tomboy. Everything that was outside was awesome, and everything that was inside the house (cooking, sewing, sitting still) was boring and silly.

Foolish child.

My sister Laura became the baker, the stitcher, the inside daughter. She sent some of her cross stitch work to the county fair, astonished family and friends with her kitcheny skills, and is an all around domestic goddess. I was the one who mowed the lawn, hauled branches, and ran fast. If you saw my childhood pictures you might doubt my Swedish-German-English-Dutch heritage, so brown was I from being outside all the time.

Only in the past five or six years have I developed any kind of respect for indoor activities and traditional women’s work. I’m not going to treat this blog post like a therapist’s couch and try to figure out why I hated that kind of work; I like it now, and I’m proud to say that. I think being able to make your own food, make your own clothes, and be self-sufficient is a great skill and in many cases has been turned into great art (quilts, master knitters, etc).

I’m not making great art here, but I did recently learn how to preserve my own pickles. And I’m so freaking proud of myself!

On the last Sunday in August my Mom (who’s been doing this since she was probably 5 years old) showed me (age 27) how to make bread and butter pickles (in her house, not mine).

First you slice up the cucumbers and onions, then soak them in ice water and salt for THREE WHOLE ENTIRE HOURS.

soak

Go for a walk while you wait. Talk about life stuff with your mom. Learn about wild plums, elderberries, wild grapes, and crabapples as you walk past them, and the best way to preserve them all. Also, prepare your spices.

Spicy

When you get back from your walk, boil some jar lids (this sanitizes them).

Lids a-boiling

Stand at the sink and be a little embarassed and a little proud that your mom is taking pictures.

At the sink

Have ready your great-grandmother’s pressure cooker, in which you will boil the jars. Admire the winking design.

Wink

Fill up a pot with some sugar and some apple cider vinegar, making sure you know how much to use. Remark several times that it looks like pee. Get disapproving looks from your mother.

Unappetizing

After the entire THREE HOURS has elapsed, rinse the cucumbers & onions, then add them to the sugar-vinegar-spicy mix.

Cukes & Onions

Meanwhile, have your jars waiting in superhot water. Pull them out nowish. Again, feel the embarassment and pride when your mother takes a picture of you pulling a jar out of a sinkful of water.

Jar, Sink, Hand

Your cucumbers are starting to look more like pickles. Get hungry.

yellow-green

Fill up your jars with the veggie-spice mixture. Use a 40-year-old wide mouth funnel for help. Try not to spill on the clean counters, but fail.

We Who Are About To Be Boiled...

And after you lid the jars and boil them for 15 minutes, you have pickles that you have made yourself.

Canned

They are all home with me, and they taste delicious because I made them. And because they are delicious.

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I loved my Labor Day weekend, visiting friends who are newly returned to the Midwest and who live nearby.

I don’t love being covered in mosquito bites.

When it rains as much as it has, it floods. When it floods, you get lots of puddles and marshy bits of standing water. When you have standing water, you have the mosquito equivalent of baby-making music. When those mosquitos get their spawn on, you have swarms and swarms of new huge mutant mosquitos. And when those fuckers get out, you have very annoyed and itchy people.

I do have more to talk about, including my first foray into the world of canning food, but I’m too busy scratching my arms, shoulders, neck, ears (what the damn hell?), forehead, legs, ankles, feet and toes to formulate an actual post today. I hope everyone had a great weekend and is not as itchy as I am right now.

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