Archive for February, 2009

a little knitting, a little albany

Friday, February 27th, 2009

we are enjoying our mid-winter visit to albany in a variety of ways this week, including a trip to the movies on wednesday afternoon. my mom and my aunt helen have a standing date to see a movie once a week, something that david and i used to do, but never seem to keep up with at home (maybe we should get back in the habit).

the spectrum theater is one of their favorites—this is the old delaware theater, which was lightly renovated and reopened as the the spectrum, back when i lived in albany in the early 80s. it’s a neighborhood art deco house that my parents went to as kids to spend the whole day watching movies for 10¢.

(you can see in this photo that i come by my gray hair honestly . . .)
when it was renovated and reopened, the theater’s 1930s features were retained as much as possible with a comfortably worn effect. they show mostly foreign films, art films, and indie productions. my mom and aunt often go to another theater that charges just $4, but we “splurged” on the spectrum in order to see slumdog millionaire which we all loved.

when we got out, dusk was falling and i got this beautiful shot of the lit marquee

i love the colors of the darkening sky at this time of evening, on its blue-into-purple journey.

i’m also getting LOTS of knitting done here, yay.

the holidazed sock is growing . . . i work on it at the breakfast table while we drink coffee and listen to talk radio (they have an excellent local program, talk 1300 FM, hosted by paul vandenburgh every morning). albany is very political, so there is plenty of fodder for great radio and news.

in the evenings, i’ve been making great headway on the boxleaf shawl which mostly looks like a big blob

but last night, as i finished up my first skein of yarn (enough for the mini-shawl version), i decided it was time to switch to the longer circular needle, which gave me an opportunity to spread it out and take a photo of the piece lying flat.

and though i had to photograph it by lamplight, i think it gives us a pretty good idea of what the shawl looks like knit up in the variegated cambyx yarn (as opposed to the more nearly-solid fabric of my first sample)

the strong lines of the lace pattern holds up very well with the color changes in the hemlock colorway (which is a lot richer in natural light), and once it’s stretched, the holes will dominate the composition.

i love the feel of the yarn—the camel fiber in the blends lends a softer texture to the silk it’s married to and adds some warmth to the hand. i’m knitting on to at least the petite size shawl, maybe bigger (i might just keep going til the yarn runs out—it gets used up faster and faster toward the hem).

i’ve also worked a lot on my small secret project, but heh, that’s secret, so i can’t show it to you.

maplewing arrived safe and sound at kim’s house yesterday and she emailed to let me know she loves it (i’m alway relieved and happy to that a collaborator likes “our” project). she has been working lots of overtime to get ready for SPA this weekend and has tons of goodies ready to offer there. so if you are headed to freeport, maine, this weekend, please stop by the woolen rabbit booth to say hello to our buddy kim and take a look at her gorgeous yarns.

i’m off to meet my mom for a walk before she goes on to her afternoon commitments; see you next time.
(ooh, she got a delivery of BD flowers; she’s gonna love these)

the vote is in

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

as i read through the voting comments, i thought, “oh no, this is gonna be close”.
but then as day passed into night, maplewing started pulling ahead. and, as of 10 am this morning, maplewing it is!
thanks for all your help and fun comments. there were so many that this one time, since i’m on the road with limited opportunity for hooking up, i won’t answer each one (and really, i’m sorry not to!).

and BTW, we will SO use kaisermantel to name another piece—i really love that one. i also like the suggestion someone made about using it for a purple piece. hmmm.

yesterday we drove east all day in glorious weather (well, glorious and cold). the scenery was amazing as usual

we were maybe two blocks inot our trip when david remembered he hadn’t brought any of his shawls, so he turned around to go back for one (that’s oh! canada he’s wearing).

i worked on a sock when i wasn’t driving

this isn’t really a new sock design, but it’s one that i haven’t shown you yet—holidazed—that i designed for the december 2008 rockin’ sock club. you might have seen a couple of them on gail’s site, hehe. the pattern won’t be available to everyone til next year i guess (or maybe december 2009?) and then only through the BMFA store, but still, i thought it’d be fun to throw one on the needles for car knitting and to show it to you in another yarn.

i wanted to try out this cool newsprint colorway of shalimar yarns zoe that kristi sent me a little while back.

and i love the way it’s knitting up in this pattern.

it’s not as bold an effect as it is in the heavier sock club yarn, but it’s a good use of this busy variegated colorway. it’s so david.
the yarn itself is a dream to work with—it’s a 100% merino 3-ply with a firm twist that’s not overly soft; it has a dense, sturdy feel without being overtwisted. it offers nice, crisp stitch definition and i’m betting that it won’t pill or fuzz up easily.

i worked a little bit on my secret project last night while we watched a tree grows in brooklyn. i thought i had seen this film before (i read the book several times as a kid) but i hadn’t, so i was glad we watched it.

i put another repeat or two on my shawl as well, which is starting to look like a blob

i just love working with the yarn the colors are rich and gorgeous, the fiber is soft with a beautiful gleam. evelyn has posted a listing to pre-order the kit in case anyone is wondering. the kit includes a copy of the pattern and enough cambyx yarn to knit one of the three shawl sizes
i’ll try to get a better photo of my progress on it for the next post.

ooops—word just in that we are headed to the movies with my mom and my aunt. gotta run!

my kingdom for a pocket

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

a quick note before i get started on other topics: deb kessler tells me that this is the last week to sign up for the fearless fibers whisper of spring lace club. one of the wonderful packages in this short-term club will include a reintroduction deb’s beautiful cashmere laceweight yarn (i’ve knit with it a couple of times—it’s gorgeous and very wearable). so if you’ve been thinking about joining, now is the time; signups close at the end of the week.

so yesterday, after i unpinned the shawl and taught my morning class, i sorta had a free afternoon on my hands for the first time in a while. i hauled out david’s christmas sweater to acquaint it with some long-awaited pockets (i know—shameful, right??).

first, i marked out on the flat sweater the approximate size and placement i thought the pockets should be with the yellow pins

there are two pockets on each side front that will be the same width; the top one is not as deep and will have a flap and top entry. the bottom one is much deeper and will have a side entry
once david made an appearance, i had him to try it on to make sure we liked the layout

i originally had it one inch too far from the center and about the same too high, so i adjusted those lines till i was satisfied.

i spent the late afternoon and evening knitting the four pockets and two flaps. i left some edges in live stitches to be grafted on to the jacket. for the outside edges of the lower pockets i worked the slip-stitch edge that i used along the jacket fronts, to add stability.

this afternoon after class i started sewing them on—naturally, i had a couple of false starts, but after a while i got into a rhythm. nancie wiseman’s knitter’s book of finishing techniques is a great resource which outlines the techniques i used to apply these pockets.

i got two pockets and a flap sewn on before my late afternoon class began. i’m pretty happy with how they are going on, though i may go back and tweak that very first one along the left side (or maybe not, heh).

now that i’m on a roll, i would love to finish this project tonight, but i don’t know if it’s possible. i still haven’t packed for our trip tomorrow or decided what knitting i’m taking along. i mean, i DO have a couple of main projects ready to go, including the new boxleaf shawl i started the other day (actually i worked on that in classes today and it’s growing; unfortunately, there was no light left when i finally thought about taking a picture).

but i’ve got no socks, scarf, or emergency projects planned, and leaving home with just two projects during the height of blizzard season in northern NY state seems like sheer idiocy. gotta fix that (in fact, even though david says he’s not ready to start another knitting project yet, i have an overwhelming urge to pack just-in-case yarn for him, too—maybe some nice chunky tweed handspun?).

the shawl is off to new hampshire, but i got a few shots while i had it on the dress form yesterday before packing it up to go (sorry, i wasn’t in the mood to model it myself; we’ll do that when it comes back home).

thank you all for playing the name game again—i have it narrowed down to four that i like.
i wanted to stay away from bird names for a couple of reasons—the main one being that this shawl was truly inspired by fall foliage (particularly the maples of new york state) and is related to the autumn arbor stole. i think of it as a tree shawl.

so i had a short list of tree-related names and once i removed ones that had already been used to name other designs (sugar maple and maple swirl) i had these remaining:

autumn mantle
autumn song (chorus, or symphony)
maplewing

BUT then teli made a suggestion in comments that sorta knocked my socks off. she suggested the german butterfly name,
kaisermantel, which translates to “emperor’s cloak”

and i love that. i’m wavering over maplewing too, though, contributed by barb o. david likes autumn song.
in other words, we cannot come to a consensus.

so let’s vote . . . tell me which one you like best (from just those four, please).

now i really do have to go pack and wind some yarn. we are leaving in the morning and traveling all day, so i won’t be around most of tomorrow. but hopefully, i’ll be back wednesday with news from the north (and, if nothing else, pictures of knitting . . .).

awww, sugar, sugar

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

it’s off the needles—finished up the shawl last night instead of working on the pattern, because i realized i couldn’t finalize things til i knew how the necked worked out.
also, i’ve picked up some kind of sore throat thing and by 7 pm, it was all over between me and the computer; i needed to huddle someplace warm (good luck with that) and knit.

i took this picture this morning while i was measuring it all over pre-blocking. then i put it on for a good soak while i did my bookkeeping and around noon i started pinning it out

the yarn has such wonderful coppery highlights and streaks of dark red that give the fabric a moiré or watered-silk effect.

i pinned out the hem scallops by hand instead of using the wires—they really needed to be able to spread and round out more than the wires would allow, due to their size. i opted for an organic, asymmetrical shaping on those (but you can mold the fabric lots of different ways in the blocking)

the shoulder shaping looks like the windows of a gothic church, heh.

i do like the way they turned out—it was worth the struggle i had, getting that shaping to work out on paper (two days of staring at the screen to make the numbers work, ugh, can you believe that?? ok, i was coming down with something, but still . . .).

the problem was that central column of faggoting—i wanted that to run right up the center of the shoulder, dammit! (btw, if you clicked that link, try this one, too—absolutely fascinating—the things you can learn from knitting . . .)

but it was throwing the section on either side off kilter, so that that they weren’t centered. and, as you can see, the patterned panel is not a symmetrical motif either which threw another monkey wrench into the mix. it was either make a chart that was 110 sts (about 20 inches) wide or think of something else. well, i did finally think of something else, but it took a while.

oh well, there’s got to be a hurdle somewhere, and this was the sole hangup for this pattern, so i can’t complain. now to see if it all works—i’ll pass the baton to the test knitters in the next day or so and let them work their magic while we wait patiently (no worries, i have plenty of other entertainment planned for the interim).

ok, ok, i know—you want the payoff shot, right?? here you go

now. time to name it. i’m really getting strong vibes from it for something like “sugar maple”—is it too weird? i still like “autumn mantle” too but that has a monastic ring to it that bothers me a little.

at any rate, i am greatly relieved and elated that it will, indeed, be winging off on monday to kim and a trip to SPA. if you’ll be there, you can visit, say hi to kim, and get a closer look at the woolen rabbit booth. i wish i could be there, too.

ok,now—i have a pattern to finish up.