the hurrier i go, the behinder i get . . .

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i have not had much time for knitting and spinning this past 9 months. my “day” job has been taking up an enormous part of my evenings and nights, not leaving much time for a lot of frills (such as home-cooked meals, cleaning, sorting junk, working down my stash; although funny thing, my stash is growing at it’s usual rate . . . how does stuff like that happen???). i have put some serious, SERIOUS time in at work lately.

anyway, by some star-crossed concidence (blessings to whatever higher being is behind this; my sympathies to those who are not in the same karma pool at this moment), i’ve actually had two (TWO) very low-key work weeks in a row, RIGHT at the same time as the olympics! unheard of, seriously. i finished my olympic project MUCH earlier than expected, given the estimated time i thought i would have, and started several other projects i dreamed up while knitting the wooster shawl (scroll down to feb 19).

this is a new shawl. it is for a friend, and will be a smaller square; one that could be thrown over her lap or shoulders, but still very lightweight. this is an emergency project, the need for which came up suddenly and without warning, so i have dropped almost everything else to work on it. i want to get it out to her ASAP to cheer her up (please tell me it looks like it might cheer her up).

i made up the little flower-like thingies in each corner as i went (ok, i’m making the whole thing up as a i go, so sue me!). i just hope that touch won’t end up looking dorky.

and this next is a wide lace scarf or stole, which i talked about before, made from my birthday yarn. an example of something that got started last weekend and is exactly where i laft off with it sunday. i LOVE it!, i just don’t have time right this minute to work on it, because of my friend’s gift.

it’s in the japanese feather stitch from barbara walker’s second treasury of knitting patterns (you know, the book in my studio that is in 11 pieces from being used too much?). i’ve been waiting for years to have the right project and yarn to do this stitch! literally it has had a post-it on it for years.

BTW, i do knit other things besides lace, in fact i have a cabled sweater just barely started. i DO love all knitting; i’ve just been on a sort of lace odyssey for the last couple of months. it will be over soon. maybe.

so, ok, i have several new projects, but i also PROMISED myself (and some other nice people) that i would type up some new patterns (for designs i’ve had ready since the summer), get the next class schedule out, get my taxes done, and get my online shop up and running some time soon, and sort through my closet (my clothes are getting on my nerves; my closet needs a serious clearing out. i HATE having more clothes than i really need at one time; it feeds the compulsive indecision i am perpetually plagued by . . .). what’s that? well yes!, it IS a lot to get done, thank you! i am hacking away at it though! i did the following today:

got the class schedule done; it needs to be proofed and correx made, but it will be in Carol’s hands by monday, YAY!!
got my taxes done today; double-YAY! actually, i have a tax man, but i still had to get all the crap together, sort it, and take it over there. (and yes, i AM getting a return! though i do owe the city $9).
i did start typing the patterns, but got sidetracked by numerous other computer chores (like blogging). i promise to get some done by monday. promise, i SWEAR.

i did not create an online store today. see? you didn’t even notice it wasn’t here!
the online store is gonna take some time to achieve. i am so overwhelmed by the software, i don’t know what to do. there, i said it. plus, i really do have to figure out how to get more people here to LOOK at the site. my two fans (as much as i wuv them; and i DO) do not constitute a customer base. i need more of a strategy. every suggestion is welcome . . .

Women’s Cabling Event!

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today we bring you the long-awaited interview with the hermetic debbie j, women’s cabler for the canton LACEPACERS team. debbie does not favor photographs, but we are trying to get her to let us print a rare shot of her work, if not of herself!

me: debbie, tell us about your project in your own words.
debbie: cables are exciting to me and I had an uncontrollable urge to learn how to cable. It was odd because I couldn’t and still can’t, explain my fascination with it, I just knew I HAD to master it. this cabled scarf was my first cable experience and my first attempt at it was a disaster.

me: what made you choose this particular project for your olympic bid?
debbie: am compulsive to say the least; i also HATE to leave something unfinished. this scarf was supposed to be a christmas gift for my mother, and well, after completeing about 3 weeks worth, it was kindly pointed out that i did the ENTIRE cabling in the same direction [even though the pattern had twists going in two different directions]. i was heartbroken and became determined to finish it so I chose this for my [olympic] project; it is a challenge but one i WILL conquer.

me: how long have you been knitting?
debbie: I started knitting a year ago this past January.

me: how long can you sit (or stand) and knit at one time?
debbie: I knit EVERY knit in bed, I normally spend 3 hours a night all in one sitting. I could probably sit longer and knit but I keep dosing (sic) off.

me: hmm, interesting; we should interview your husband about that! what are your preferred needles?
debbie: bamboo

me: what needles are you using on this project and why?
debbie: bamboo because I like them and because they grab the fabric a little better so it doesn’t slip around as much.

me: and what type of cable needle do you like best?
debbie: the bamboo [actually, the brittany birch] ones that look like a short double point…I like them cuz the plastic curvy ones look dorky.

me: so, it all boils down to looks for you when it comes to knitting tools?
debbie: huh?

me: what is your personal inspiration for the gold?
debbie: my son Mason. he is helping me answer these questions right now and he tells me all the time that “i can do, i can do it”.

me: oh, is mason a knitter, too?
debbie: yes!

me: and what is mason working on now?
debbie: he’s making a blanket!

me: WOW, we might have to interview him!
debbie: i’m sure he will have plenty to say about his own knitting; no need for me to speak for him!

me: have you struggled during this olympics?
debbie: I would be lying if I said no.

me: tell us a bit about your training: what did you do to get ready for your olympic challenge?
debbie: i stocked up on Pepsi Big Slams and made sure my comfy sweats were washed and ready to wear, I wear them EVERY time I pick up my Olympic project and I refuse to wash them until I am complete….my husband says that’s good luck and he hasn’t washed his bowling towel in 3 years and his team has been in first place ever since…can’t wash off the good luck I guess,!!!!

me: hmm, makes you wonder what good that towel does him though, doesn’t it?
debbie: hahahahaha

me: exactly; and remind me to remind you not to wear those sweats to class, eh?
debbie: okie dokie, oh my gravy!

me: anyway, what about diet during competition? what kind of soda and chocolate
do you stand by?
debbie: not much of a chocolate lover but i have replenished my stock of cherry licorice and Pepsi of course.

me: close enough! if you could be any olympic athlete in history, who would you be?
debbie: I would be Nancy Kerigan, she takes a beating and comes back for more……literally…..seriously, I admire her because she has overcome alot of obstacles and has held her head high and competed every time like it was the first and only chance she would ever have.

me: oooh, good answer. what are your plans for after the olympics?
debbie: i’m goin’ to Disney Land!!!!

me: please add anything else that might be important for your public to
know about you and your olympic dreams.
debbie: i am obsessed with knitting. i breathe it, i sleep it and i live it. i look at things now and say “hmmm, wonder if you can felt that”. my husband worries that one day our house will be overcome with yarn. I would be rolling around in it daily!!!

me: well, by the looks of your shopping basket on wednesday nights, he’s probably not far off; is he looking at real estate yet?
debbie: hahahahaha, i dunno! probably!

well, debbie, this has been simply delightful (hugs and air kissess all round). please tell your son to call my assistant so we can set up an interview; i am really looking forward to speaking with him!

cable babble

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as a buildup to my next interview with an athlete in the Olympic Women’s Cabling Event, i indulge in a general discussion about the technique. not that this will help anyone with their own cabling necessarily . . .

in our classes, i often find that once new knitters get their groove on and realize that, for each one of us, there IS a knitting sweet spot, a fair majority begin setting their sites on Cable Knitting as their personal vision quest. most are completely stumped about how this myterious texture is made, and, to them, having a shot at Achieving Cable is tantamount to say, mastering the triple/double toe loop combination.

i can really identify with them; a long (ok, looong) ways back, when i was really small, cables were my knitting Holy Grail. i would examine Gram’s knitting in wonder; the overlapping spirals with the little tunnels in them were, hands-down, the most captivating parts. i would examine them for long periods of time, absorbed in their mysterious architecture. how did one make fabric where sections literally rose up out of the surface and then became embedded again after crossing over? i would not be satisfied until i learned to do THAT. boy, was i surprised to find out how laughably simple it is to execute a cable. there HAD to be more to it, right?

well of course there is.

i just hadn’t seen many examples of those very complex cables. simple cables ARE easy, but they are just the tip of the iceberg; there are twists, and twists involving knit/purl combinations, as well as increses ar decreases, and yarnovers. there are ones you can do right on the needles, and ones that really feel better using the third stick.

the third stick (sometimes known as “the devil needle” because of it’s deceptive cuteness) might be the knitter’s first clue that something could go terribly wrong with the decision to go down the Cabled path. knowing HOW to cable is one thing; it is pretty easy to do. never mind that it involves intentionally taking stitches off your needle and putting them somewhere else; one gets over that afte the first few times.

what really hurts, and what no one tells you, is that reading the chart, following the chart, remembering which row you are on, and repeating the chart correctly are the real challenges. add multiple patterns, as in a traditional aran garment, and most people’s eyes glaze over til they are gently steered back toward the felted bags and fun fur.

now, i love charts for cabling, and i learnt to use them fairly easily. the language of symbols made sense to me right away (whatever indicator THAT might be about the state of my brain synapses). so i am a big proponent of chart reading for many types of knitting (lace, NOT; personally, i really like written instructions for lace patterns better, though i’ll use a chart if that’s all i have).

teaching others to use a chart? mmm, not so easy. i am always being reminded (sometimes kindly, sometimes not) that knitting symbology is not necessarily intuitive. and that reading the chart as if you are looking at the right side while you are actually working on the wrong side? again, not so intuitive (and again, no comment about the state of my brain cells that i never even realized i was reading backwards in a chart). let’s just say that explaining these concepts to a group of eight eager knitters is what really kicks my butt. every time. the magic? the magic is the next week when they come back all excited with a good length of cabled fabric. the magic happens when they go home and knit, organizing for themselves an understanding of new and strange ways to manipulate the needles. i don’t get to see the “aha” moments usually, but i DO get to share the thrill and excitement of the result, and the urge to try even more complicated stitches next. that’s what i live for!

tomorrow i’ll profile debbie j, who is knitting a cabled scarf for her olympic project. this is a story of true olympic-level determination; debbie started the scarf in december and was about 24 inches into it when she realized she was making her twists incorrectly. she ripped out the whole thing and restarted it, determined to conquer it as her olympic challenge.

by the way, check out ken’s (fey) cables; he is knitting a Durrow sweater (from magknits.com) for his olympic glory.

feather and fan blowout?

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team LACEPACERS nearly suffered a tragic loss this weekend when team member beth p. threw down her knitting in frustration at having to rip out 8+ rows. later, toeing the work and snuffling through the straw of her (ever present) diet coke, she grudgingly reconsidered when the baby fine alpaca flashed doe eyes and dimples her way (beth is a sucker for that stuff).

here’s beth now; let’s catch up with her and ask a few questions.

me: beth, how long HAVE you been knitting exactly?
beth: about a year.

me: i see, so, ripping out 8 + rows of lace is a pretty big deal then.
beth: well, yes, especially when i can’t blame anyone else! no one else was even home when it happened.

me: oh my—wherever did you get the courage to get going again?
beth: my teammate debbie really helped me out with that; i could not have gone on without her encouragement.

me: well now, back to your project; you have doubled your length since our last talk! how about that?!!

beth: (suddenly bashful) well, yeesss, actually i have.

me: tell me, how long can you sit, or stand, and knit at one time?
beth: i can pretty much sit forever with my knitting and a diet coke!

me: what needles do you prefer, beth?
beth: well, i love my denise needle set, but for this project i am using size 8 bamboo straights; i don’t know why!

me: i hope you don’t feel pressured by your teammates.
beth: well, there is some of that of course, but overall, it’s a healthy amount.

me: and, i understand, you have very inspiring family support. care to share that with our knitting public?
beth: well, my sister-in-law had a kidney transplant on friday, so i am knitting with her in mind.

me: really, that is so thoughtful of you!
beth: yes, we have many ties that “stitch us together”, so i though this would be a good way to channel the right kind of energy toward her recovery.

me: and what about after the olympics, beth? you must have things you’ve been putting off in order to compete. what will you do when you don’t have the shawl to haul about?
beth: i plan to conquer socks next!

me: (knowingly)ooohhhh yes, socks. a true test of one’s patience; tiny needles, tiny yarn, tiny, tiny stitches . . .
beth: er, well, (uncomfortably) yes, i uh, well, i’ll speak to my teacher about what’s best for me to take on next; (brightening) could be something quick ‘n’ chunky!

me: well, beth, whatever is in your future, i’m sure you will do just fine. knit on, woman; make us proud!
beth: thank you; (gushing) thank you all so much!

and that’s all the time we have now. please join us again tomorrow as we spotlight more LACEPACERS in action!