Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Knitting

For the past several years, I picked a new thing to knit each year. One year it was scarves, another it was hats, a third year it was socks and the last time I did this it was felted bags.

Now I've mastered enough stuff that I pick out things for particular people. I'm not on the Yarn Harlot's kind of schedule, knitting amazing quantities of socks, hats, and other amazing things in great quantity. I have modest goals.

For my little cousins Allison and Rachael, there is a shrug and a pair of fingerless gloves, respectively.

fingerless mittens 1b

Library - 1839

Ok, the shrug doesn't look like a shrug here, and the kitties, Isadora and Brandy, were definitely intrigued!

My Mom is getting the Carlsbad scarf from Wrapped in Comfort in a lovely Bombyx silk from Ellen's Half-Pint Farms.

Carlsbad scarfwip2

It's all knitted now, but not blocked yet.

My friend Lesley is getting these wonderful socks (the second one is now done too):
Christmas sock for Lesley

There is no guy knitting this year. Last year, I knit my brother and cousin socks, but they were not all that enthusiastic, so I'm passing. Life is too short to knit for folks who are polite about it, but not thrilled.

I've also got some yarn loveliness for my friends who are knitters. But they are web-savvy sneaks, so I'm not posting any photos.

For my cousin Marie, there is a secret knitting project that cannot be shown - it's the last one that is being worked on!

But the biggest Christmas knitting project is turning out to be Knitters for Critters -- between organizing (go here) and knitting ornaments like this:

Ornaments 1b

We've already raised about $750 for those non-profits that have and will continue to help with the oil spill. What a great knitting Christmas it is turning out to be!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

December Cheer

This year is an odd year for me. For the first time in nine years, I won't be a pastor-type this holiday season. Added to that, I'm actually taking time off work for most of the month. Advent will truly be a time off for me.

On the knitting front, that won't be the case, of course. I'm involved with Knitters4Critters which is taking up a lot of time. And my Christmas knitting is going well. There are secret projects for my cousins Allison and Rachel, and I'm almost finished with wonderful scarf project out of the Bombyx silk for my mother and I've frogged the Jaywalkers that I was doing in the Regia bamboo because they were fitting me funny and I didn't think they'd work for my friend either, so I got some lovely yarn by Pagewood Farms in a wool superwash:

My cousin Marie has a surprise project too. Not too bad for December.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Knitters Unite

Friday was our opening event for Knitters for Critters. We raised $350, which is a great start.

May I say that we have a fabulous knit night group at Marin Fiber Arts? Let us begin with Warren Agee, the owner.

How cool is Warren to have donated his space at the Parade of Lights event along 4th Street in San Rafael for our event. Yay, Warren.

Judy was AMAZING!

Along with Allison!

Sandy provided essential logistics and a winsome spirit!

Emily brought great snacks, flyers for folks to know more about the oil spill, and knitted more of her very cute Christmas stockings.

And many thanks to David Reidy of Sticks and String podcast fame for his support by mentioning this project!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Knitters for Critters

I've been heartsick about the oil spill from the Cosco Busan ship as it hit the Bay Bridge in San Francisco Bay. My sadness turned to anger as the initial response seemed to make several strategic errors in enfolding in volunteers, and making assessments quickly.

The nonprofit organizations have been heroes in this story. Many of them are mom and pop organizations, relying on a few dedicated volunteers and staff to stitch together resources, and when something like this hits, they are in need of help as this story will play out further in the weeks and months to come.

When I proposed to the Marin Fiber Arts Knit Night that we do a by and for Knitters Fundraiser, the reaction was very positive, even though it means that we are getting busier during an already busy season.

There are two pieces to the project:
We are making ornaments to sell this coming Friday, November 23rd at the Marketplace at the Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland in downtown San Rafael. We welcome knitters who would like to knit for this (it’s short notice). Or, stop by Friday to help put together ornaments, or help us display and sell them later in the day.

You can also make an online contribution to one of the three organizations that we are highlighting because of their direct assistance and monitoring of the Bay following the oil spill. As an incentive to make a donation, the Knit Nighters and Marin Fiber Arts are looking through their stashes for some wonderful yarn as a drawing prize. For each $25 that you donate, you’ll get a chance to win! The deadline for donations is Friday, December 14th. We’ll draw on Saturday, December 15th, just in time for the lucky winner to have for some nice knitting time during the holidays.

Please join us as we make the connection, and help to clean up the bay one stitch at a time!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Language of Knitting

I've knit for a long time. I have old issues of Family Circle with knitting patterns, I remember when Red Heart was just about the only yarn out there for the average knitter. I remember when slp 1, k1, psso was the authoritative way to do a left-leaning decrease. There were no ssk, spk, or all the infinite variations one can find on the internet today.

Knitting these days is a whole new re-birth of the craft. There are wonderful free patterns on the internet, blogs that share FO's and UFO's, boards to share and commiserate, store sites to boggle the mind and pocketbook, and Ravelry to get us distracted from the actual knitting.

But at heart, knitting, if it involves a written pattern, still involves the knitter sitting with yarn, needles and a pattern to be interpreted. We cannot escape the need to speak the language of knitting. The thing is, which dialect are we speaking? Are we in "Knitty" land, or one of the older variations. How does this particular pattern envision the simple or not-so-simple yarnover?

So, I got this lovely Ladder Lace Shrug pattern by Ivy Mok as part of a purchase at CommuKnity on the Peninsula to Pier LYShop Hop last month. I took it with me on a short retreat to this beautiful place

and by the looks of the pattern (two rows long for the main lace pattern) I thought this would be a mindless knit. I needed a mindless knit. Then I read the pattern, and tried it, and all of a sudden my years of ignoring those pesky little details of yarnover variations became clear.

I've always been confused by the variations in how knitters describe putting the yarn over the needle to make a whole, except for the most simple yarnover between knit stitches. That one I've got down.These two rows bit my you-know-what. I literally put the whole thing down, because I was second-guessing myself - was this variation of a yarnover big enough? Is the hole the way the designer intended? How lacey should this lace pattern be?

(I'll note that far more experienced lace knitters have run up against this language issue -- Alison Hyde told me that she and her editor of "Wrapped in Comfort" do their yarnovers differently and had different notions of what she was intending. It makes me feel better to hear this.)

These are indeed the existential questions of knitting. Am I doing it "right" or right enough for me? What language is this pattern-maker writing?

Well, this is how my ladder lace shrug looks before sewing it together. I hope Ivy approves.

In another burst of lace knitting, I finished the Tuscany Shawl from No Sheep for You, this in Alfabeto from Artfibers. Those yarnovers are always between knit stitches, so my main problem was counting up to 10 over, and over, and over again.

I like it. Amy and I speak the same dialect of knitting!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

When your page is a blank book

I've been tagged by Fuguestateknits

who claims that she is simply expanding her horizons by including new Ravelry friends. Hah! I did manage to find time to read my blog today, and while the one lone comment seems kinda sad, I will comply.

The closest book to me is No Sheep for You, and it is only 160 pages long -- so the blank space is in memoriam to the tagging!

I will tag those in my knitting group, because I am conveniently out of town this next week, and won't have to face them!

To repeat the rules: go to page 161 of the book you are reading, print sentence number 5, and tag five other bloggers. Have fun!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Peninsula to -- Morgan Hill?

My friend Liz was game to go on the 2007 Peninsula to Pier Shop Hop, which was organized by the CommuKnity store. Thank goodness for knitting friends. I need this overnight venture before a very busy week and a half.

We started at Nine Rubies on Friday afternoon and got to meet the lovely Jocelyn as a bonus. I swooned over the Kaffe Fassett Regia colorways, and Liz succumbed and bought the colorway I wish I had - ooops. There is redemption later in this story. This is a very friendly place with a lovely seating area.

At just about every store, someone commented on Liz' amazing scarf out of yarn she got at Tuesday morning. It is stunning yarn, and I'm happy to say that she knit me one too (she's the only person brave enough to knit for me). As an afterthought, folks would comment on my stash sweater - a good way to keep my knitting ego in check!

Knitter's Studio was an amazing inspirational kind of place -- where you see things you hadn't imagined possible. So much fun to look, but I think I'd have trouble buying stuff at this store because of the way that it is organized. Liz loved it because she likes and is good at combining all kinds of yarn together. So, what did we buy? A single skein of Cascade 220. Yeah, we suck at inspiration. FYI-The clerk didn't seem very excited about the Shop Hop.

Uncommon Threads was a very friendly store with many great tempting things, and we walked away with sock yarn.

By now, we needed a break and some food, so Liz has us stor fora wonderful dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant called Kahn's -- I highly recommend it. We were stuffed and took food home for $30 between two of us.

May I take this opportunity to say that the Parking Gods smiled on us the whole way?
CommuKnity was the best. Just as I was about to say that we might have to look a little, a car pulls away from right in front of the store. Yep, we got the best possible spot on an otherwise completely full spot. We were glad that we hadn't rushed our wonderful Vietnamese dinner, because the dyeing demo was cancelled. However, we explored the wonderfulness of the store, and I walked away with the shrug yarn (forgot the free pattern, but called and they are emailing it to me -- thanks, guys!). So charming, and I loved petting all their yarns!

Rug and Yarn Hut (in Campbell) was fun too -- the gal immediately showed us the free sock pattern -- it's a nice one, and Liz bought her third skein of sock yarn. Mind you, she hadn't knit socks until I bought her some Claudia Hand Painted from CommuKnity at Stitches. She now owns Sensational Socks and More Sensational Socks -- yes, she's gone over the edge and will never be normal again. She's putting me to shame in the sock department. Oh, she got a cute infant hat kit for her grandson -- at half price, and a Debby Bliss pattern, how can one go wrong?

I did break down and buy a bit of yarn, as the photo at the top shows -- the shrug pattern and yarn at CommuKnity, and some sock yarn at Uncommon Threadssome. Both for Christmas presents, so it isn't stash, right? Then, at Full Thread Ahead I broke down and got the Kaffe Fassett Regia Colorway, and at Yarndogs, I got some orange and black yarn on 40 percent off, so I'm fully equipped.

But I want to make clear that Liz bought more yarn than I did!

We ended at The Continental Stitch in Morgan Hill, but while we looked, we didn't buy anything. It was a quiet ending to a wonderful place.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


After knitting a number of garments for Afghans for Afghans, a couple of scarves for the Red Scarf Project, and some stuff for Lilybugs, I'm delighted to be back knitting exactly what I want to knit right now.

Don't get me wrong, I love charity knitting, but you have to knit what they need, or it doesn't matter, and so I'm glad to be able to spread my wings more.

Notice the button on the right -- Think Outside the Bottle -- check it out, and don't buy corporate water that's been bottled straight from your tap!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Knitting for Afghanistan

Early this year, I discovered one of the many charity knitting projects out there -- and this one is perfect for me -- Afghans for Afghans (see the button to the right). Anne Rubin, the founder and organizer, probably never dreamed that this work would be going on so long, but the needs are still critical.

I'm so glad that that the latest project partner is Church World Service, an ecumenical agency that partners worldwide, and is just an amazing organization. As a result, I've been knitting a lot, but not for me.

First, I knit a couple of hats,

A pair of mittens from the leftovers that I made the hat with!

And I made a sweater that I'm really happy with -- out of a Cascade 220 Heathers, with a bit of color thrown in for interest. The actual pattern is from a booklet published by Phildar in 1985, if you can believe -- it was called "New Classics", and other than the slightly blousy sleeves, they really are classics. C, the son of one of our Knit Night-ers, happened to come this past week when I brought the finished sweater, so I even got it modelled! Isn't he cute -- and thanks to Judy for taking this photo with her iPhone!

I also have a Kid's Hoodie that's almost done, and more Cascade 220 that I think I'll try either a vest or two or three hats, or maybe some thick socks. We'll see!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Yarn Splurge(s)

ok, I promised to talk about yarn splurges. I mentioned a few weeks ago that my congregation had bought a very generous gift certificate to Marin Fiber Arts. Up til this week, I bought a bunch of Cascade 220 at 20 percent off for several things for Afghans for Afghans (you're knitting for them too, right?). That left a bunch still there, and I had Warren swear not to let me fritter this away with little purchases that wouldn't add up.

So, Tuesday afternoon, I need to get a fun thing in after having some fillings done at the dentist, and while I hung out with Warren, I decided to get serious about the yarn purchase. Yes, Patricia, Boise was seriously considered, but I'm not into making really really expensive things that I can't wear for much of the year. So, I went instead for the Karabella Empire Silk in my signature blue color. Definitely the totally biggest yarn purchase of my life. Yahoo! Don't know what it will be other than some kind of cardigan. I've checked out Luxury Knitting at Warrne's recommendation so I figure out the kind of being that this silk is!

But that wasn't the only splurge for the week. No, indeedy, I went on Sunday to Artfibers, and simply could not leave without Alfabeto, seen here:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Third Sock

Why make a third sock -- when I have only two feet?

Well, it goes like this. I made a wonderful pair of socks using a Regia 4-ply yarn in lovely blues and greens using a great Knitty pattern called RPM. The yarn is wonderful, hard-wearing yarn, and the pattern, which is a spiral rib, is great pattern to hug the leg and foot. I loved these socks.

But then, up in Tahoe, when I had to do laundry, the unthinkable happened -- one of the socks disappeared when I did my laundry at the laundromat. The remaining sock was lonely.

and so because I want my socks to feel good about themselves, I checked the leftover yarn, and I think there's enough to do a third sock to pair with the other one. So far, it's looking good -- I think I'll have just enough from the remaining ball to make the matching sock.

For Tomorrow: yarn splurge!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stash Acquisition

Travel implies a need for stash acquisition, at least for this knitter. Niki, who frequents KnitTalk on Yahoo, helped me this time when I mentioned I was heading to North Carolina. Even though I was going to the Asheville area and she lives 4 hours away, she was quite helpful in recommending yarn stores in the area.

The closest town to Montreat is Black Mountain, which used to have a cute yarn store on the main street Broadway -- no more. Although the website is still active, the store is something else, and the phone number disconnected.

So the yarn crawl had to head to Asheville. The local tourism bureau, because of the folk craft nature of the area, has a tri-fold flyer on fabric, fiber and bead stores in the area. After looking at that and comparing it to the list Niki gave me, I headed to Purls in downtown Asheville on a Saturday morning when I was heading out of town. Purls was listed as a store that focused on natural fibers.

As soon as I parked (conveniently across the street and only $1 on Saturdays) and walked in, I knew it was a good choice. The store is organized by color, which gives the store an immediate arty look. The guy (who was helpful when I called for directions) was great -- helpful without being intrusive. And it turned out that when I picked up this:

it was his very own handspun yarn.

But I also think that one of the reasons to buy yarns while traveling is to find things that I haven't seen at home. Why buy stuff I can do at home (and support the folks I need when I'm trying to figure out a pattern)? So, I asked the helpful guy for stuff that is new and I found this lovely wool merino from Peru:

which is Mirasol Hacho, and is a wonderful bouncy yarn with a wonderful twist. I can't decide what to make -- mittens, socks, a hat? Oh, I am very happy with all of these purchases.

The final part to this experience was as I left, I was able to get some great lunch ideas, and had the best bowl of soup at a place called The Laughing Seed!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Trip Knitting

I've been traveling a lot in the last six weeks. Sometimes a trip will provide major opportunities to knit (while I was in Tahoe, I almost finished my tomato, and worked on socks), but on others, it is simply not knitting aura.

I was at Montreat Presbyterian Conference Center, in Montreat, NC, more famously known as the home of Billy Graham (trivia alert: Ruth Graham was a Presbyterian, and this is a very Presbyterian kind of place, an odd place for one of the most famous Baptists, I'd say). The photo to the right is one that I took while there last October for another event.

Anyway, this was a NOT-knitting kind of trip. I was with people all day, and my brain was thinking all the time, and there was a brief few hours where I felt that I literally should be in three separate states of the union for various reasons. It was stressful.

The complicated sock patterns I brought along were wwaaayyy beyond my mental capacities, so fortunately I brought along this scarf of my own design -- knit purl diagonal ribbing, baby!

Finally, yesterday I went back to my basic sock recipe and began with this Regia self-striping yarn -- Isadora clearly approves.

But there were, of course, some yarn acquisitions, some on eBay, others in Asheville. I'll review them tomorrow!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Knitting on Faith

When I left the congregation where I served three years ago, my knitting yearnings were well-known, and I got a gift certificate in the hundreds to my then favorite LYS, which lasted 'til about 9 months ago.

This month I'm finishing another interim pastorate, and because they are very much in debt for all kinds of reasons, many of which are not under their control, I expected a potluck party and good wishes for the future.

Imagine my huge surprise then, when I got the following at my farewell party yesterday:

-- a pair of lighted knitting needles, with batteries
-- two books on knitting (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's At Knits End, and Zen and the Art of Knitting
-- a gift certificate to my NEW favorite LYS in an amount almost equal to that of the last larger and more financially stable congregation of three years ago.

Are these great folks or what!

OTN: a scarf for the Red Scarf Project

Monday, August 6, 2007

Stress Knitting

It's one of those weeks, when there's too much life for the hours that are there. In other words, I need my knitting. It'd better be pretty simple, because it's just not a good thing to add to the stress by having to frog stuff.

So, I worked on this birthday present for a family member:

and started the Carlsbad scarf in Alison Hyde's Wrapped in Comfort. It's done with beautiful bombyx silk from Ellen's Half-Pint Farms, a score that I made at Stitches West this year. I tried two other patterns that didn't work because it made it look like tie dye (the pattern repeated too perfectly) but this is going to be very nice...and it's very easy, so it's good for my nerves!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I've been away, on travel for work, and then what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. So the vacation part was good for a while, but then life intervened, and it wasn't so much.

In short, my Mom joined me in Tahoe, and after a couple of days, she fell. Fell kinda down a small incline, over bushes. Rolling over kinda falling. For an 85-year-old with osteoporosis, this is not good. At all.

But miraculously, she got away with a pain in her neck and a bruised hand! No ambulance or broken bones. Dude, she WALKED AWAY from the fall...that's a spunky 85-year-old.

But the rest of the time was spent in some care-taking, not just relaxing. Clearly that is going to have to wait 'til September.

I did, however, get some knitting in...cute socks for Mom in Panda Cotton

and another Tomato sweater, just for me!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Celebrating some FOs

Ever have one of those FO's that you are really, really glad to have done? This week I finished the Lily seater in Euroflax linen by Louet.

It came out well -- a bit of fudging with the styling to accomodate my shorter, curvier shape, but the fiber is very tough on the hands. I will be knitting with only very soft stuff for a while. In addition, because I am a loose knitter, this baby was done on size 0 addi turbos. It was like knitting a very, very large sock for an elephant with twine.

Did I mention that I really liked the outcome? In that respect, it is, I fear, a lot like having a baby -- so much fun at the end that I'll forget the process.

I also finished a hat and socks of my own design for a cute baby in my life.

So, what do I do to celebrate -- yep, head straight to the lys for a fix! Got me some Sierra in a couple of nice colors to make a Tomato for me, now that I realize what a lovely pattern it is because of the one I made for my cousin. LYS owner talks me into some Regia bamboo to take to knit a sampler sock -- I'm using the Jaywalker pattern, since it seems to work with almost any yarn, and I've wanted to try it.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wrapped in Alison's Warmth

Today I headed to Marin Fiber Arts for the booksigning with the wonderful, amazing, gentle spirit that is incarnated as Alison Hyde.

She brought her wonderful shawls for us to admire and drool over, and although the sun is not great for her, she would not remain alone, but joined us on the floor, refusing to take a proffered chair – there’s a humorous story she told about a couch, but it is her story, and I leave it to her to tell it.

The book is lovely and wonderful too. Thce shawls really do work so much better than others that I have seen, and lucky me, the Carlsbad scarf is perfect for some bombyx silk from Ellen’s ½ Pint Farm that I bought at Stitches West earlier this year. And I will decide on whether a shawl is in my future.

She laughed with Patricia, of the very cool Sea Socks '08

took photos herself

and posed with me and Warren Agee, owner and inspiration of Marin Fiber Arts.

It was a good day!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Today I post my Amanda Squatty Sidekick photos. I used Cascade 220, in a wonderful purply heather. The purse felted in 5 minutes in the washer. One hank with leftovers, hardly any finishing -- you gotta love it!

At the owner's request, I made one for the LYS -- -- with a much nicer button from the store.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Yarn Fast for a Good Cause

Well, I was so busy on my mission trip to build a couple of houses in Mexico that hardly any knitting happened -- I started the toe of one sock, but then I got busy the rest of the week, or was so beat that yep, the trip turned into a complete yarn fast.

But see what was accomplished -- we helped build houses, one for this family -- Luis, Yajida, and Janeen:

and the baby's feet were stamped into the new concrete entry to their new small, but now more than twice as big house!

I think the Yarn Goddess will understand!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tomato Sweater

I have a new finished object:

- the Tomato Sweater from No Sheep for You -- I made this out of Cotton Fleece yarn, and hoped that it would work -- it did! I think the 20 percent wool actually gives it a nice drape, and I'm sure that Amy would approve. I had my cousin Marie (who I was making it for) try it on yesterday before I wove the end in -- a perfect fit.

Now I want one for me!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Knitourage

Today is World Wide Knitting in Public Day.

And in my county, it is also the day of almost a fair in every part -- the LYS was just 1/2 block from the Italian Street Painting Festival, which is a wonderful place to see artists doing it for the love of it, great music, decent food, and funding for youth in arts.

So, what better than having a wwkip fest in the middle of it.

For the past couple of weeks, I've starting calling our Knit Night group the Knitourage -- kinda like a knitting Entourage. So, I made up some stickers like this:

We were lucky, we had knitters from the north (Sebastopol and Santa Rosa) as well as folks from the Marin Knitting Guild. It ws a very good thing. Look at the fabulous lace scarf being knit in the chaos, and then there was a big knitting emergency Gabby finished her hat while there and had no other knitting, but Warren came to the rescue with a swatch for her to work on!

and I have finished the Tomato sweater from No Sheep for You that is destined for my cousin Marie for her birthday on June 19th. Photos coming - I want to make sure it fits, so she gets to try it on tomorrow...

Friday, June 1, 2007

This is my first blog, and my first blog entry. Late to the game and dollar behind to boot, but what the heck. My publishing desires can be fulfilled, and I have a place to post my knitted objects.

All is well. Because I blog, I am!