Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shameless Promotion

Malabrigo, Dream in Color, Artsygal, Black Bunny Fibers, Alpaca Yarn Company.  If those mean something to you--you should be at La Crosse Public Library's Knitting in Public Day. That's just some of the raffle prizes so far and there are many more to come.

April 7, 2010, 12-8 p.m.

Carol Anderson, creator of the Wonderful Wallaby Pattern, is speaking at 7 p.m.  If I'm still standing at 8:30 p.m., I can be talked into going out for drinks.

I'm the local hedgehog in charge.  It's gonna be fun. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good Mail Day!

I was really sad to hear that Sonny and Shear was going out of business, though I had to applaud Kris for prioritizing for herself and her family. 

That being said, as I described to one copartner in knitting shopping, I might have made a mad dash over to the website shouting "Save the Yarn Love." Maybe.  Possibly. 

A little over half of what I purchased is for raffle prizes for the LPL Knitting in Public Day.  But here's an idea of what I picked up at the post office today:

Yarn Love, Oceanwind Knits Merino, and Zen Garden (all going home with me--not giving away half a pair of socks)

Also going home with me: ArtsyGal Handpaints.  Ooh, ahh, no clue what I'm making with it yet.

The whole haul.  A fair amount of artsygal....and my coworkers are already squabbling over it.  They'll have to enter the raffles just like everybody else.

I've resisted the last two updates at The Loopy Ewe, including a midweek Bugga update. But there's not been a whole lot of knitting of late.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gypsy Friday: Frankenmousie Picture

Regarding Frankemousie

Frankenmousie with new navy stitches, a full view of Frankenmousie, and my attempt to get a picture on the floor.  Note the gray cat head sneaking into the frame with full intent of stealing the mouse and running. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Mix-Up: Or Why I Don't Have My March Project on the Needles

My plan for March was to knit the Cat's Paw Scarf. However, of late I've gotten the cleaning bug. Nothing like things starting to thaw and seeing some of the snow piles melt down to only a foot or so taller than I am to make one look around and go "Ahh! Too many UFOs! Too many little balls of leftover yarn!"  So in March, instead, I'm tackling the UFO pile.

The Current UFO Pile:

One Multnomah Shawl
3 afghans (one just needs ends woven in)
One cat bed
One scarf (again, ends and blocking)
2 pair fingerless gloves
One pair socks
Various Washcloths
Whatever else is living in the one chair in the living room....

This is a fair amount of stuff to have lying about unfinished. And while I am ambitious, I'm not sure I can get all of it done in the next twenty four days. It took two weeks of dedicated slacking and only knitting to get the socks done as well as to meet the February deadline for the Clapotis.  I haven't even started my Evenstar KAL shawl and the third clue is due out in a week. 

While taking some pictures for my sister the other night, I did some stash culling and organizing. Don't gasp all at once, I only got rid of a half dozen or so skeins.

Gypsy helped with the sorting.

I got out the leftover worsted weight wool from one of the afghans and the various cotton leftovers. I cast on a cat bed with the former and ugly washcloths with the latter.

Ugly washcloths are where I try to pay no attention; I just cast on 30 stitches and knit until the yarn runs out (size 9 needles/5.5 mm). Add another color, work until it's big enough or you run out of yarn. Of the three I've finished so far, only one is an amalgamation of yarns that really don't go. I'm almost through ugly washcloth four and number five will go on the needles right after that.  Then I "should" be out of leftover cotton yarn and just down to the cone that I need to knit up. As I knit I remind myself that I can still wash the kitchen floor with mismatched yarn.  Yes, I wash the kitchen floor with hand knitted items--they work well with the dry sweeper stick. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Olympic Knitting: Getting the Gold

I took on the challenge of Knitting Olympics 2010 and as the clock ticked down, I finished! As the closing ceremonies commenced I was whipping through the final rows of the foot on Sock 2 and getting through the toe. I was sad to see things end, having really enjoyed the furious frenzy of racing home to see a sport I otherwise pay no attention to, to cheer on athletes from various countries, and to see what many considered redemption as they gained their medals.

The figure skating was my favorite but I was cheering for bobsled, downhill skiing, moguls, speed skaters, snowboarders, all kinds...

On to the pictures:

Down the leg of Sock 1

Sock 1 is complete!

Finished the pair during the closing ceremonies--as can be seen on the TV.

Sock 2 with the handoff to Sochi for 2014
Pattern: Rocky Butte by Elli Metz
Yarn: Beyond Basic Knits (Sonoma Colorway)
Needles: Size 2.5 (3mm) --the 4" DPNs from KnitPicks. I'm getting better with them.
Why?:  Because knitting a pair of socks in two weeks is a challenge for me.  A big challenge.  I meander along on projects and this was a hard core deadline.  Also, I'm taking part in the LnV Fitness Challenge during the months of March and April and I wanted these done for the kick off.  To be honest, though, I don't really see myself wearing wool socks to exercise, especially as we've now hit the forties during the day. At night though, warm socks round the apartment are still very much appreciated.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Clapotis

I did, with great help from the small furry gray one, finish my Malabrigo Clapotis while still in the month of February.

Begun early, this was an on again, off again project for about six weeks.  The middle straight rows seemed never ending and I can safely say I'd probably not make it out of Malabrigo again.  The yarn is wonderful, super squishy, a gorgeous color--and it sticks to itself like glue. Which would be great except for the fact that Clapotis has a drop stitch row every 12 rows throughout the entire piece. 

Gypsy was very helpful in the supervising and appropriate application of cat fur to the Clapotis.

And finally, it was done.  All the stitches dropped, the couple of ends woven in. 

And while, no, Gypsy isn't a particularly large cat, you still get a sense of the size.  It's almost 6' in length.  

It then promptly went to work with me so it didn't become a full time cat bed. I'm wearing it a lot at work and expect to even during the summer. Such are the challenges of keeping a building cobbled together over the years cool during 90 degree temps.   

I used 4.5 Skeins of Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Azul Profundo on size 8 (5mm) needles. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

My "First"

There aren't a lot of "firsts" from my knitting past around here. The first sock, a baby sock whose second was never completed, is somewhere unknown. First lace? Not sure what that was. First knitting project? Probably lost over a decade ago.  This is one of taking up knitting as a child. First knitting book owned? I don't remember.

I do remember though the first yarn store I really fell in love with: Smiley's.

Smiley's is in Queens and I'm not sure how I found it. I was living in Forest Hills at the time and one gray and rainy day, I ventured on the J train (it was actually running) over to their stop.

I walked into the small warehouse of yarns in wire crates stacked far above my head. I wandered around the store in some amazement watching as other knitters grabbed entire bags of yarn and piled them up by the cash register. People shopped with laundry baskets--BIG laundry baskets. And the prices were incredible.

This was the height of fun fur mania and when it showed up on their website, I ordered a huge case of it. I still remember the yarn showing up at my office--going through all of the shiny colors. My infatuation with the yarn wouldn't last and most of it went to the kids group I lead. Interestingly, while they all fell on it, many of them were quick to realize, as most of us had, that looking at its coolness and actually knitting with it without screaming were often two different things. 

Smiley's also does a big annual sale in a hotel in Manhattan. The year I went it was at a Holiday Inn on the Upper West Side and I literally honed in on it by seeing where it was that women were coming away with trash bags obviously filled with yarn. Here was a ballroom of yarn and you really did just buy yarn by the bag. I saw customers, again mostly women, creating small mountains of yarn that they were purchasing. Whether they were just getting a great deal or planning for the next year, I didn't think to ask.

I haven't been back to Smiley's since I left New York. I keep meaning to take the Brunette but we've never made it for one reason or another. I hopped over to their internet sale though and was pleased to see there's still a lot of variety: Rowan, Jaeger, Filatura Lanarota (this stuff is amazing and Smiley's is the only place I've ever found it), and Red Heart. Always a variety, and always incredible pricing. They do require a minimum purchase of $50 but for that--you can get quite a lot of yarn.

I hesitate to show it to you, because you might buy the yarn and then there would be less for me, but it's good to share where the good stuff is and I have faith that Smiley's will be around a while yet.   

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Gypsy's life is pretty challenging. She has to figure out exactly what time I've gone to sleep so as to wake me up and start demanding breakfast no less than four but no more than five hours later. She has to bask in the masses of sunshine this apartment gets. She has to chew on all of the spider plants and make me fear for the life of my amaryllis. She has to unwind designated "Gypsy yarn balls" around the apartment in intricate spiderwebs so I then have to crawl around and rewind (to her great amusement). 

But every girl needs her retreat. Gypsy started climbing my storage boxes about a week after she moved in. The box on the top didn't have a lid on it, I'm sure it did once but no longer. There were papers and some other random things in it. Once I got tired of her messing with the papers, etc and removed them, this became her favorite retreat. Quite often I'll go looking for her and all I can see are the tips of her ears peeking over the edge.  I put some fleece from the fabric stash in there to make it more comfortable and from all appearances, notes mostly taken from evenings and weekends off, she spends quite a few naps up there. 

Here's the corner box pile, note the ear tips:

If you can't see my eyes, you can't see me...right?:

Mom, I'm trying to snooze here:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Mousie came to live with us shortly after Gypsy did. Mousie was a gift from my coworker Debbie and looks quite realistic. We got a lot of toys there at the beginning and, what with all of the fun we were having with rattle balls and mini Catnip mice, Mousie stayed for a while in reserve.

Mousie came out to play whilst I was in Egypt--for upon my return Mousie had become Most Favored Toy. Gypsy would fly around the apartment, swinging wildly at Mousie, carrying Mousie around triumphantly, and making sure her kill was truly dead. 

Only, like anything with a seam, this kind of love, play, and abuse is tough on a Mousie.  The center seam, running down Mousie's belly, began to split and now I began to find little tufts of stuffing around the apartment, indicating a rousing bout of chase the Mousie. 

Ultimately, all of Mousie's stuffing was missing.  Mousie was a limp shell of mouse-like shape.  Worse yet, Mousie disappeared.

Now--there are only so many places in this apartment.  Granted, there are apparently enough of them that a half dozen catnip mice can disappear never to be found again but on one momentous evening I went fishing under the fridge with a coat hanger.  And--there was Mousie! Unstuffed, dusty, and rather pathetic looking--but still, Mousie.

Mousie flopped around the apartment for a few days before being relegated to a corner under the kitchen table.  I had Olympic Knitting to do and Gypsy didn't seem quite so interested anymore. 

Until last night.  In a fit of trying to get her to let me focus for five minutes without knocking something off the table or wailing piteously (it's like having a toddler!) I grabbed a bit of stuffing and Mousie and needle and thread.

Now, I'm decent with needle and thread, years of 4-H and other sewing (growing up with a professional seamstress never hurts) and working in costume shops tends to do that to a girl.  This, however, was less about beauty and more about trying to keep the sides of Mousie together for a smidge longer than before.

With a dark blue seam up the stomach--Mousie returned to life as Frankenmousie.  And, as I grabbed the camera, I started gaining interest from Gypsy.

Before I could get two pictures take, Frankenmousie was grabbed out of my hand.  Gypsy began flinging Frankenmousie around the apartment, chasing, chewing and having a marvelous time. I considered putting Frankenmousie in a drawer when at 4 a.m. Frankenmousie got flung onto my neck, followed shortly by all 7 lbs of a very excited cat. 

I did notice, as Frankenmousie was being absconded with last night, that an ear has gone missing.  I don't think I can fix that--I have no idea where the ear has gone and I don't tend to keep spare mouse ears around.  It doesn't seem to be cause for any lack of enjoyment though. 

Embracing a Color of Fall

Being out of Loopy Academy Homework has left a strange deadline hole in my life that SEVERAL pregnant friends are attempting to fill. Yes, ...