lord, i was born a ramblin’ man

Posted on 38 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Trying to make a living and doing the best I can
When it’s time for leaving, I hope you’ll understand
That I was born a rambling man

—forrest richard betts, 1972

the few days just before leaving for a trip are always rather chaotic around here. much as i try to start preparing days ahead, i always end up rushing to get out the door.

we’re leaving thursday morning for a 10-day trip east. this weekend i’m excited to be teaching at the knitter’s review fall retreat in williamstown, MA. david will travel to long island to visit his family for a few days while i party on with our tribe.
we’ll reconvene in albany to spend a week with my mom for thanksgiving.

on saturday, november 28th, i’ll be at trumpet hill yarn shop in albany with a trunk show of goodies to help celebrate the shop’s 3rd anniversary. the event is open to all and robena will be thrilled to see you there if you can make it.

so that’s a lotta traveling in the next couple of weeks. i started to pack my knitting on sunday while i was still feeling calm so as not to forget a ribbing needle or leave an important sheet of pattern notes at home (i probably will anyway).

i’ll admit it right now: i’ve got a lot more projects on the needles than i’m normally comfortable with—like ten or twelve—which is about five or six too many for my sanity (that’s not all of them) and my actual available knitting time. i indulged in a binge of startitis-with-a-purpose last week while cookie was here, so i wouldn’t have to start anything new while not at home. i dunno if this was a good strategy or if it just makes me feel more scattered; hopefully it will pay off while on the road.

i’ll inventory all of those in a minute, but first, let’s back up and talk about something i did finish this week

you know my friend susie, the ANGEL?? she brought her skein of purple mink to class on monday and i was able to finish up the scarf. today i soaked and blocked it and it ended up the exact dimensions i hoped without any coaxing (i didn’t actually stretch it, just squared the sides and opened up the cables a bit).

don’t they look cute together?
i still need to finish the pattern and send it to ronni for proofing. i also need to find someone to model it for me over the weekend (oooh, maybe clara would do it??).

it’s been for-evah since i blocked anything—no wonder i’ve been so idgety lately. it was wonderful to spend an hour in the middle of my work day pinning out the scarf. in fact, i noticed this week that i’m experiencing symptoms of lace withdrawal. when i get back home, i must get some sort of lacy shawl on the needles—holiday knitting be damned.

before i do though, some of these other projects need to get finished.

first and foremost, the fire sock for the yarn4socks club.

i decided to name it flaming desire; it taunts me by singing i’m too sexy every time i walk by it without touching it. ok, well, it has a point—i do love the shape it’s taking in its unblocked state.

here’s the back—you can see i’ve knit down past the heel and have started the foot. then there’s the side shot—my favorite angle of all

you can practically see sparks flying, right?
i find this sock very exciting to knit; i can’t put it down once i get going on it.
so that project is definitely going in my bag—with this in my hands, i won’t have any trouble making friends with people i don’t know, hehe.

ok, then i have my henley sweater, which i have been thinking about but not knitting on for the last few days—i feel like i got it to a good place and needed to do some other things over the weekend. sorry henley; i will totally hole up alone with you once i get to my mom’s, where whole evenings of solitary knitting enjoyment will be ours.

then there are all the other socks—remember last week when i said something about being sockless?? i think i went just a little overboard on correcting that situation.

i started a sock in this enchanted knoll BFL, which didn’t work out, so i put it aside for a bit. the other night i thought of something else that i think will work, so i ripped out the old cuff and started this new one. stay tuned—more to come . . .

now, here i have a ball of STR lightweight in a rare gems colorway that gail scored for me at last winter’s barn sale. this isn’t a sock quite yet—that is, i don’t have a photo of the cuff i knit from it at the moment. all will be revealed soon . . .

and don’t forget my safety project—the red scarf i showed you the other day, which keeps me from ever getting bored while waiting for anything.

now, don’t tell the henley about this next one—promise?? because really, i do intend to work on that little cabled sweater as much as i can. but . . .

i have david’s fatigue sweater all patterned up to start a new sample so i’m bringing that yarn too. i’m thinking that the sleeves would make good, portable knitting . . .
the henley doesn’t have to know, right? right??

and lastly, there is my cornrows hat and mittens set. don’t laugh, but i think this hat is too small. i might have to rip it out—i know—overcompensation, bane of the pinheads. i’ll throw it on a string tonight and try it on first, though.

i am also bringing an emergency skein of sock yarn in case i get all my projects done and am stuck without anything to do, or get snowed in, or cannot get to the yarn shop which is just a mile or two from my mom’s house (that would mean finishing two sweaters—one not even started—three pair of socks, mittens, hat, and red scarf. i probably won’t need it, but then it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

david printed and packed patterns to take to the retreat; i keep eyeing that pile and wondering if there are enough, hmmm.

i have a jillion other things to get together before thursday, but i feel good knowing that i won’t be scrambling to get my knitting in order.

the stupid squirrels all think david built them a house—they can’t get enough of this pile of old porch parts, hahaha. will they ever be surprised when it disappears some day . . .

now, it’s very late—actually, it’s tomorrow, darn it. time to go knit and try to relax my brain . . . i have a post to put up on thursday that’s a special treat for our travel day. i’ll be back on the weekend, hopefully with a report from the retreat.

hasta la vista, baby!

i love them most when they’re gone

Posted on 28 CommentsPosted in designing, projects, spinning and fiber

this weekend, the last “outside” renovation project for our house was begun and no one is happier about it than me. until now, the two “wings” of our first floor have been topped with most hideous porches, jerry-rigged by some self-proclaimed “carpenter” before the time we moved in. at their best, they looked like this:

it’s not that we didn’t want to replace them immediately, but, being mostly a cosmetic change (at first), it was relegated to the back burner while we addressed more pressing problems, such as the 95-year-old roof, faulty gutters, the complete absence of storm windows (seriously, in ohio?), injurious stairs, and uneven walkways.

in each fall of the last seven, i have said, “in the spring we will replace the second-floor railings”. and each spring we have decided that another job must take precedence. since everything we do to the outside of the house costs thousands of dollars, i’ve had to be very patient about the railings. i’m thrifty and a good saver, but not good enough to do everything in one year.

this is the last outdoor project left to do, now that the stairs are finished (landscaping doesn’t count—that’s gravy for now, heh). we though we could wait til spring, but the porches are not giving us a reprieve.

constructed entirely of indoor plywood and other materials not made to withstand the elements, the railings have, over the time we’ve lived here, deteriorated to the point of embarrassment and even danger, as pieces turned green, then black, then rotted away entirely in the damp shade of the oak trees. i awakened several times this summer to the gentle sound of a spindle letting go and thunking to the ground below.

at the end of last week, a whole section of railing plunged into the back yard in a craptastic shower of moldy, mushy wood, nails, and splintered paint.

so saturday and sunday, in that fine, dry, fall weather that roofers live for, david set about finishing the demo job. the weather probably won’t hold long enough for us to get the railings up now (the temperatures are already plunging today), but we’ll be all set to tackle the job in march or april.

i like it better already.
now we just have to argue about decide what to replace them with. we both tend to gravitate toward stylish, expensive, and green materials; it’s up to me to shepherd us in the direction of a “creative solution” with an eye on the budget—see the problem? it won’t hurt to have the winter to research our options.

while all that was going on outside, i spent the weekend trying to catch up on knitting, pattern writing, and cooking inside, while beginning to prepare for our trip later this week. i want to get a little ahead on patterns and finish up some WIPs before we leave (mostly so i can start a couple more to take along, hahaha).

the paris-roubaix scarf i’m knitting for the red scarf drive has been in my purse for the last two weeks; i take it everywhere and add a few rows here and there whenever i have to wait for something to happen. last thursday, i added an inch or two while chatting with susan and cookie at lunch. then friday night i knit a few rows in the chiropractor’s waiting room and a couple of inches in the parking lot at home depot while david did errands (he parked under a light so i could see better, hehehe).

i have plenty of leftover red malabrigo for a nice long, soft unisex scarf. and since i’m knitting on size 8 or 9 needles with worsted weight yarn, it’s zipping along. it should be done in plenty of time to send off before the december 15 deadline. i’ll add a couple of gift cards and a card to my gift. these care packages go out to hardworking college kids who have aged out of the foster care system and don’t have family support; sending a handknit gift to one of them feels right to me.

if you’re interested in joining the scarf drive, PLEASE read the information in this post on the red scarf blog. note: there are a few rules in the right-hand sidebar for knitters; it’s really great when everyone follows them, thanks!

if you’d like to make a donation to the red scarf fund, you can read about their goals and make a donation here. your dollars are very much appreciated and norma is making sure you know it, by giving away all sorts of raffle prizes for donors at her blog.

in other news, i’ve come to the end of the road with my purple mink yarn—three rows short of the scarf’s end, argggh (ETA: my friend susie just emailed to say she has some purple—can we all give her a big hug now?).

it’s the most decadent scarf i’ve ever owned. the best part is that i don’t feel “precious” about it—i know this will get plenty of use.

i adore the stitch pattern—those plump, sexy cables just beg to be wrapped around something, don’t they? and the matching beret . . . i think this time i got it.

i cast on for the hat the other night and after ripping back the first three rows about four times, i finally settled in to a good rhythm. i was hoping to get the smaller hat out of johanna’s leftovers and a small leftover amount of my own

but i had to steal a little yarn from the scarf skein to finish (well, that came back to bite me in the butt, didn’t it?). last night i completed it and now it’s soaking.

(i love the cables!)

if you imagine the hat as a pie, with the larger one having five wedges, i reduced the size of this one by subtracting a wedge. the resulting hat is proportionately smaller in diameter

including the opening, for those of us with small, nutkin heads

it fits great—i’m really pleased to have worked it out. it’s snuggly-warm and cozy, and so light; it won’t be crushing my hair.

this thing stays perched right where i intended it to sit, without slipping down over my ears and eyebrows. finally, a hat i can wear out of the house. i wonder if my mom would want one of these?

i have all the information i need to finish up the pattern now, which will include the scarf and the hat in two sizes. the set requires three skeins of great northern mink yarn; one for the hat and two for the scarf. i should be able to release this pattern some time in the next week.

so, that’s one big project off the needles—gotta tackle a few more. i have an embarrassing number of WIPs at the moment; we’ll do inventory on those tomorrow—i won’t get through this post if i talk about them today.

i reworked the tealicious mitten and now i like it a lot better; the top was sort-of awkward before and now it looks cute.

i started the mate for it, too. i need to make a pair in my own size—this first pair is the small size and doesn’t fit me correctly.

the matching hat on the needles and progressing quickly as well

another easy on-the-go project that will be great for traveling—i can take these things along when visiting or riding in the car.

stocking up on finished mittens is a good strategy for these pre-holiday weeks—they are really quick to crank out (especially in kid sizes) and everyone loves or needs them.

barb is having an affair with fingerless mitts at the moment, getting a huge kick out of knitting with her handspun yarn for the first time. she showed up at spinning class yesterday with two new pair.

the first is an old favorite of mine—fine cabled mitts, knit up in barb’s handspun merino fingering yarn (sorry, i don’t know where the fiber came from). aren’t they classy? i just love that they are the very first thing she knit with her own yarn (yes, she’s decided to keep them . . . peer pressure).

the second pair is a set of hot waffles, knit up in a light DK yarn spun from some blue-green briar rose BFL (same stuff she has on the bobbin now). nothing feels more cozy than knitting with yarn you made yourself. sigh.

now, it’s time for me to get ready for class—i’ve also got to sort through my projects and get things in order for blogging tomorrow packing on wednesday. i’ll tell you all about our upcoming travels next time.

end of a handy girl week

Posted on 25 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

we were lucky this week to have some gorgeous fall weather for cookie’s visit—almost every day was sunny and unseasonably warm. on wednesday we took a long walk, touring through the historical neighborhood above us and into downtown below us, transversing the area randomly as we went.

canton is a small city with a mostly-industrial downtown; the streets surrounding the courthouse are lined with prewar buildings that house offices, banks, and stores, while the outlying streets are wide corridors of small factory buildings (which i love; i wish more of them were in use).

the light at the end of the day washed over large expanses of brick and old glass, turning blacktop into a midwest version of “tar beach” as the sun set.

i love the backstreets that zig-zag through my neighborhood, mapping out areas unseen by most travelers—used primarily by residents within a block or two, these narrow passages feel intimate and quiet; they are my route of choice for avoiding traffic when i’m traveling by bike or on foot.

once the chill came down and the cars put their lights on, we headed back to the house to get ready for a knit night with the sunday spinners. a purely social visit was planned with potluck dinner for cookie’s last night in canton (for now; i don’t think she’ll stay away long).

by 6 pm, everyone was dropping off food in the kitchen and crowding in around the big knitting table. i didn’t get any pictures of the food, but we had a great, well-balanced spread of soup, homemade bread, salad, stuffed peppers, cider, and more chocolate cake (because, well, there’s never too much chocolate cake).

(anne marie and susan really ARE having a fantastic time; they just don’t want anyone to feel left out by showing off how much fun it is). anne marie arrived wearing her beautiful jackie leisure jacket and is knitting a leafprints set in sunset red mink/cashmere yarn (i see craig is once again wiped out of the mink yarn, but word on the street has it that a new shipment is due to arrive any minute).

the hand took center stage for the blogging portion of the evening—i’m really lucky it doesn’t charge for all the entertainment it provides . . .

cookie finished her copenhagen sock and modeled it, along with the mink hat

the hat is so much fun that it’s certain not to be frogged at this point—it suits too many of my friends

beckie modeled her sweater too—here’s the picture i’ve been promising for weeks

she’s knitting a pure and simple top-down cardigan in briar rose charity, in a mix of denim blues. she’s almost done with the first sleeve—just one to go after that.

linda is knitting odulé in the yummy knitting notions classic merino sport, colorway dusk (same as i’m using for my henley in catherine’s superwash sport!). the regular sport yarn takes the color in a softer, more subtle way from the superwash.

keep the color of that photo in mind when you look at the next picture; i’m still playing with light metering on my camera and got something wrong here

but you can see how lovely the fabric is—soft and dense with crisply-defined texture . . . i think linda is going to love wearing this.

susan is also knitting ondulé in this gorgeous custom colorway of briar rose grandma’s blessing

she and linda started little KAL and now barb is joining in to knit her third ondulé sweater. yes, you read right—her third copy of the same sweater since august (plus, the aztec mazes she knit; how much do you hate barb?).

i worked on the new fire sock (haven’t settled on a good name for it yet, but soon) in zen yarn garden serenity sock and i’m pretty, pretty excited about how it’s knitting up; i think this is one of my favorites this year. i have a really good feeling about the way all the elements will pull together.

look at how pretty the side view is, too. everyone was drooling over the yarn, which is not only beautiful, but has a cozy, substantial feel. it’s the same yarn i loved knitting up into the popular papavar sok

kits for this sock can be pre-ordered from yarn4socks and will be shipped in early december.

well, of course the fun had to end sooner or later and once 10 pm rolled around, everyone left. cookie and i stayed up to knit and play with some layout software for a while, then conked out.

yesterday we took a last few blog photos around the house

(she loves the ceiling in our office), then packed the car and headed to mansfield to rendevous with susan from ball and skein yarn shop in germantown, OH for her next teaching gig.

we met up with susan at doc’s deli in mansfield, a terrific place to grab a homemade sandwich and soup. cookie found it on the internet, so we took a chance and were treated not just to good food, but plenty of room to spread out and knit to the delight of everyone there. in exchange for the entertainment we provided, we were treated to coin tricks and flamenco guitar on the sound system. impressive, right??

i finally had to take my leave—reluctantly. susan and i exchanged promises to plan a knitspot event at her shop, while cookie and i just said “see you next time” cuz we KNOW there will be a next time.

the house was awfully quiet when i got home—no one quite fills cookie’s shoes.

fortunately, couple of things were waiting in the mail to cheer me up. a project bag i ordered from three bags full a while back, accompanied by the newest addition michele’s line of small accessory totes—the mia bag (front)

i love it! of course it would fit a small sock or mitt project, but a bag this size and shape is just right for stowing small items in my purse or to keep personal items safe in my suitcase. it’s terrific.

and a little yarn bundle arrived from johanna—leftover purple mink for me to start another hat.

which is just what i did to console myself.

the unexpected guest

Posted on 42 CommentsPosted in designing, projects

this is the state of our table all this week—knitting projects strewn as far as the eye can see. cookie found my “hand” and immediately fell to playing with it . . .

having a houseguest is always fun for david and me—we enjoy taking a break from our routines to spend time talking, sharing meals, and showing friends around. it’s a pleasure for us to share our home with others, especially friends who create unexpected fun in any situation.

monday we had knitting class and everyone arrived in rare form at 3 pm—some of them didn’t know who cookie was, but soon made friends with her. the troublemakers gigglers all sat in one corner . . .

debbie and susie brought their finished matching sweaters to model for us

susie’s was still a little damp but you can’t tell from the photo

the art directors shouted instructions and had them moving every which way

front and back

the sweaters look nice either way

i think susie didn’t realize we were actually photographing the back view . . .

after class, we ate supper and then settled in to knit and explore the new camera cookie ordered and had delivered here. we kept talking about how unfortunate it was that i didn’t get around to baking a cake and finally, around 9 pm, we caved and just started one.

cookie is with david in the all-chocolate-all-the-time camp of desserts and i’m happy to oblige, so we decided to bake the nigella lawson fudge cake, which goes together pretty quickly.

cookie did most of the work actually—she loves baking (who knew?) and seems a little obssessed with melting things like butter and chocolate (whatever!). i pretty much found what we needed, did the sifting, and prepared the pans—i’m happy to give the kitchen over to someone else.

of course this was the perfect opportunity to collect blog fodder and try the new camera

we blogged everything that night, even each other—and she actually posted something. you can see her take on my house at her blog

mmmm, cake

while the layers cooled, we prepared the frosting ingredients and then got up to some more shenanigans with the cameras and the hand

cookie’s new camera got us talking about light settings and stuff so we got out my manual and read up on technical stuff in the hopes of improving our photos—i learned three or four things i didn’t know about using my camera.

it was a good chance to try out new settings and make adjustments.

cookie took control of frosting the cake

with the hand nearby for comfort and encouragement.

i touched up the sides to use up every last bit of frosting, and then finally, we served it, sometime around midnight.

i gotta tell you—it’s delish. david says it could use more frosting, though.

of course, before it was cut, there was the obligatory series of shots with the hand.
(fair warning: you might see the hand a little more before this week is over . . . just sayin’.)

since we have a nice view here of one of cookie’s new socks, i may as well tell you about the beautiful yarn she’s using in her projects this week.

on the right there is a stockinette sock in destination yarn variegated sock in colorway copenhagen. i am so in love, i want to steal it from her: would that be so wrong?? but i’ll be good—who knows, maybe she’ll leave them here “by mistake” . . .

the yarn itself, BTW, is knitting up beautifully; i think i might have to get me some . . . i peeked at the store and there are several colors there that are making my heart pound. i like the sock yarn postcards series and several semi-solids as well (if that harvest moon color is gone when i go back, someone is going to be in big trouble . . .).

cookie’s other sock project is a new design using indigo creating sock yarn from a verb for keeping warm; the color is really similar to the one i used for nightingale wing.

i’ve been working away on the henley sweater and have gotten past the waist on the back piece. i’ve done some intermittent work on the mink scarf as well.

but i had to start a new small project too, now that the yarn for it has arrived. i think i mentioned a while back that once again, i’d be working on a yarn4socks club design, this time with zen yarn garden serenity sock; the theme of our kit is the element of fire. didn’t roxanne do an aMAZing job dyeing the yarn??

each skein will be dyed in a random, slightly varied way from the next one, so that all knit up differently (no two flames are alike!). i just adore the way the yarn glows with firelight and the way the colors flicker across the fabric. droool-worthy, right??

fortunately, the yarn4socks club offers the opportunity to purchase single installments—you can preorder a kit at their website (but fair warning: these kits often sell out very quickly).

it’s a gorgeous late fall day here, so i think we are going to head out for a walk. no sense wasting a beautiful afternoon. til next time . . .