Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Two Hour (and Four Minutes Felting) Handbag

I like to keep a skein or two on my desk as I am, ahem, working, if only to daydream about or to consider what I am going to knit with it. I bought this skein of Crystal Palace Taos, in Mineral, to make mittens for my mother for Christmas, but she made some comment about not liking mittens, so it got tossed on the desk for further contemplation.

Then I got the book, 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders and as I was leafing through it the other day, I spotted the pattern for the Two Hour Handbag (Ravelry linked). While it calls for a bulky weight yarn, I just doubled up the Taos and sat down Sunday night with Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (Well it purported to be Mansfield Park, for it had little resemblance to dear Jane!). And in less than two hours, I had this:

I really love the way the colors came out, and the Taos is so easy to knit with. Now I intended to make this as a thank you gift for someone. Then I tossed it in the washing machine, felted it, (for only four minutes--thank goodness I checked it as it felted VERY fast) and it came out like this, in these very Monet sort of colors and I was enchanted. I can't get the colors right with my camera, but trust me, it is wonderful. And so perfect for something else I wanted, that I can't give it up. So next up, you'll see what I've turned my Two Hour Handbag into.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A whole new look and a little bit of knitting

So what do you think? I got a makeover. At least my blog did. I can't seem to scare up the time to get my hair even trimmed, but Knit the Stash got a whole new lease on life courtesy of Haven Rich of Enchanted Web Design. She's just getting started skinning blogs and pages for folks and so she did this for me, which I think is so wonderful and perfect for Knit the Stash. If you are looking for someone to give your blog a more personal touch, contact Haven and tell her Elizabeth sent you.

I've made some progress on the Weasley Sweater, but when I went to try it on the kid, the length is just perfect for right now. Which stinks, because I deliberately made it a little extra long for him, and then two weeks later the kid fits into it. I swear he goes to bed at night and just spends the next 9-10 hours stretching. But I'll have some yarn leftover and if it is really too short next winter, I'll just knit a 3 inch waistband down from the current rolled edge. That, or I'll knit the other sweater in Charmed Knits that is really a great "boy" sweater, Harry's Red Cable Sweater. (Ravel linked so you can take a peak at one.)

I've also been knitting on some dishcloths for the Beat the Winter Doldrums swap. I love the yarn I found at Hilltop East. (Or as my husband says when the VISA comes, "The Hill I should have resisted climbing.") It is Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, and it is wonderful to knit with. That's a bit of the skein up there at the top. So soft, that it is hard to give up. I also got another skein of it in the Dyed Cotton for my swap friend, so she could give a spin. I decided to try something a little more challenging, going for something more spa-like since I had this scrumptious yarn, choosing the "Turn Back Time Spa Cloth" from the January 2008 issue of Creative Knitting. I've linked it there to Ravelry, so you can see some different versions. The cloth is knit in the round, first on dpns, then on a circular. It was great fun to watch the pattern emerge and made for interesting knitting, as each row is different.

I've had so much fun knitting these two "spa cloths," I think I am going to knit a few more and use them as hostess gifts at the Rose City Romance Writer's Reader Luncheon, which is April 26th at the Governor Hotel in Portland. If you like books, consider going. It has to be my favorite non-knitting event of the year. They have all these fabulous baskets they raffle off and each table is hosted by various local romance authors. And when I say fabulous baskets--I mean really, really, great baskets--full of goodies and books and fun stuff, all donated by authors and writers. And the proceeds raised go to Oregon Literacy, which is a wonderful organization that helps adults attain their goal of learning to read. I think I should be able to knit 9 dishcloths between now and April. And believe it or not, I've got the yarn stashed . . . Okay, I suppose that wasn't much of a stretch of the imagination.

What do you want to knit before April?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Knitting Forward, Knitting Back, Contemplating Cloths, and Wondering about Swaps

Working on my Weasley almost non-stop and have finished the back,
and nearly the front. I had to make an after dinner emergency run to Seattle Yarn because I thought I had some silvery yarn to make the initial with (having had the request for Ravenclaw colors), but I couldn't find it. Then I tried every yarn I could think of with it, and couldn't come up with a combination I liked. So I begged help from the great gal behind the counter. And in all of five seconds, she cocks her head, looks at it, walks over the racks of Plymouth Encore and pulls out this brown that is just outstanding. I never would have done that, but its perfect. Never hurts to ask for a second opinion.

I am singularly unimpressed with my intarsia, its all poofy and odd shaped stitches. I tend it knit really evenly--I'm not bragging, I just always have knit really evenly, until this intarsia and it looks like hell. But instead of pulling it all out and doing it over (as I have had to do with the neck line) I am going to keep it--it has that Mrs. Weasley homespun look to it. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Besides, it is for a nine year old boy. Like he's going to point out my beginners stitches to one and all.

This entire project is going really quickly, which is good as I have to get knitting on my swap cloths. The topic this week at the swap is should you call it a dish cloth, dish rag, face cloth, or something else. I don't think it matters--it was knit with care and meant to be used, not framed and put in the Smithsonian. For goodness sakes, use it until it looks like a rag and then beg for a new one.

Now onto my final matter. For all of you who have been in swaps, what are some of the things you've received that you really liked, loved, or found puzzling. All suggestions and ideas are welcome!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beat the Winter Doldrums

So I joined the Beat the Winter Doldrums swap. This is my first swap and I am so excited.

1. Do you knit, crochet, or do both?
Mostly knit. But I can crochet, as long as it isn't too complicated.

2. What types of needles do you enjoy using for making dishcloths? Straights.

3. What types of cotton do you enjoy using for making dishcloths? Is there any that you've been wanting to try? Sugar 'N Cream is my usual choice. I've been eyeing the Lion Brand Natural Cottons, thinking they would make some great spa cloths for gifts.

4. What color(s) are your kitchen and bath decorated in (if any)? My bathroom is yellow and navy blue, and my kitchen is a homage to 1980s rose pink and gray with white melaline (sp?) cupboards, all of which I would give my right arm to gut down to the studs. My dream kitchen? Cranberry!

5. What are your favorite colors for yarns? Least favorite? Favorite colors? Blues, bright greens, sea glass colors, love reds, pinks, purples. Not a huge fan of orange, metallics or browns.

6. Do you like Winter, or do you count the days until it ends? Yes and no. I do like it when it snows--though in Seattle that is a rare treat. I DON'T like the dark days, but my house is light, with lots of windows, so even on the grayest days, I don't mind it too much. And besides, with my Christmas Cactus finally blooming over my desk, I can enjoy a little bit of winter joy.

7. What's your favorite way to brighten your day when you're down in the dumps? I generally don't get down in the dumps. Not my way or personality. But a bunch of sunny daffodils or tulips from the grocery store or chocolate will cure just about anything. Or at least that is what I keep telling myself and it seems to work.

8. What is your favorite treat to indulge in and when your down in the dumps? Cookies or chocolate. If they are one and the same, even better. And really, why wait until you feel sad to eat them? If you eat enough, you never get down.

9. Do you drink coffee? Tea? Cocoa? I adore coffee. I have a wonderful espresso machine that grinds the beans at the push of a button and the coffee comes out all hot and fresh. I try new beans all the time--love rich, earthy beans--not the froufrou ones that come drenched in flavor. Just good beans and milk, thank you. I also enjoy herbal teas for the evening. We have a tea here in Seattle that I love--Market Spice tea, all orangey and cinnamon and spice, mmmm! I drink it sometimes because it really perks you up especially on a foggy, gray day. It's the perfect winter tea!

10. If you could take a vacation starting tomorrow and go anywhere for one week and money were no object, where would you go and what would you do? Oh, this is so easy--London. I absolutely adore London--the history, the sights, the people, the museums, the shops, everything. I've been several times and could go once a year for the rest of my life and never be bored. I've been planning my next trip of late (not that I have a date yet or the husband pass to go, but it never hurts to be ready) and this time I want to see the Fan Museum, go back to Sir John Soames House, the Silver Vaults, some extra time at the British Museum, find a good tea shop for afternoon tea, take one or two London Walks, and stay in a B&B in a Georgian built house, catch a couple shows. The V&A costumes, because last time it wasn't open. Just basically revel in Regency London sights and make like I'm Jane Austen for a week. Gads, I am such a geek!

11. Do you have any allergies or aversions your pal should be aware of? Not a huge fan of mohair or fluffy/fuzzy sort of yarns.


I've found myself knitting onesies this week. One glove. Finished one of my Curiously Clever Clogs. And started one Fuzzy Foot--I don't think you can call it Fuzzy Feet until you cast on the second one, but I might be wrong on that. The Clog and Foot may just have to take the back burner for a while, because I've been getting hives on my hands for the past few months, and I personally think it might be a mohair problem. I've knit with a lot of mohair in the last six months, and I think that might be the cause of my woes--having gone all the other usual routes of soaps, lotions, odd foods, vitamins and all the other things derm people like to look at. So I am banishing the mohair from my knitting corner for a month and see if my hands and arms clear up. And if they do, I may have a stash busting sale on a bunch of Brown Sheep, and half finished Brown Sheep projects.

So what then? I am going to knit the Weasley Sweater for oldest little hero for his birthday. He wants one in Ravenclaw colors, so I found this nice tweedy blue/bluegrey blend, that is soft and washable. Then onto some baby sweaters for friends with spring babies due. I picked up some lovely pink and green Swish to make the Peapod, and then perhaps this Drops baby sweater which I spied on another blog and thought was too cute.

What do you have on your needles or in the line up right now? Ever had problems knitting with mohair or hives from a fiber? What helped? And please don't say give up knitting.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

OPP. Do you Have it?

I've come to the stark realization that I suffer from OPP. Now prepare yourself, for you might discover that you suffer from it as well, and quite sadly, I don't think there is a cure for it.

What is OPP, you might ask? Well, let me enlighten you, but be warned, this is not for the faint of heart.

OPP is quite simply a deep abiding lust for Other People's Projects. There is no stopping OPP once it strikes, and quite frankly, my yarn stash is staggering under this folly.

"Oh, there is no such thing as OPP," you may scoff, but I present the evidence:

Just look at my last post, Monkey Shenanigans. I saw that hat at a knitting tea--a nice, lovely afternoon of tea, wonderful food, and a friendly knitting show and tell. I was fine until that hat popped up and then I HAD to knit it. I HAD to. I was in the yarn shop the next day jonesing for a fix of sock/rag yarn.

You can't get it in until tomorrow??? my OPP mind raged silently, while I stoically smiled and thanked the overly helpful store owner, then went outside the shop and took deep calming breaths.

Still cynical? Okay, then why I am currently knitting the Curiously Clever Clogs? Because those crack dealers of OPP, Jenny & Nicole over at Stash & Burn mentioned it in their Felt Me podcast. I could have gone my entire life without knowing about these clogs, until Jenny or Nicole mentioned them and began describing them. They used words like "freaking clever" and went on and on about how challenging they were. Of course, then I had to go look at the pattern over at Stitch Divas, and the next thing I remember is waking up in the middle of my Brown Sheep stash trying to decide whether to make the inner soles lime green or orange.

I would like to blame Stash & Burn for quite a few of my latest bouts of OPP, but I fear that bragging revealing more of the truly cool, no, tempting, no addictive projects they promote on their "knitting podcast" (which really is nothing more than an Methadone stop for OPP addicts like myself) will have you, gentle reader, rushing off the WEBs to order four skeins of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb to make the Clapotis. Not that I would ever do such a thing. No. Never. Now where did I put that dammed Visa card?

No, I really shouldn't put all the blame for my current bout of OPP on Stash & Burn, because Ravelry is just as problematic. Ravelry for OPP victims is like opening a Godiva stand outside your local Weight Watchers meeting.

What? I can surf HOW many Other People's Projects?

Did you know that 15 other people have the Clogs in their queue? And the Clapotis is listed 3798 times? Do I really need to look at all of them before I knit mine? Well, of course I do.

I would like to think there is a cure for OPP. The cynical might say stop listening to podcasts or haunting Ravelry or reading Tiennie Knits, because she always has something cool going on or Brainy Lady because after reading her blog I had to hunt down an old knitting book she shared because again, I HAD to knit one of the hats in there. But that ain't going to happen. These people fuel my creativity, or at least that is what I am going to keep telling myself. I wonder if I could get OPP declared a medical issue, and have my insurance company cover my yarn expenses. Laugh, you might, but come on, if they can cover Viagra, yarn isn't too far to dream.

So fellow sufferers of OPP, there is no reason to lurk about the web, head hung in shame, VISA card propped up in front of the keyboard. Let's unite. Share where your favorite OPP hangouts are. Because truly I don't know about you, but I don't think there are enough ways to taunt my knitting muse.