May 27, 2007


Massachusetts is not a large state, but it is a wide one, and Mass Sheep and Wool is on the other side of the state from here, two+ hours away. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and I was in good company with the other Stinkers - the Crafter, the Pirate and (still-blogless) Jess. Incidentally, the group nickname had its origin in the Pirate's boyfriend mangling of S 'n B into "Stinky Bitches", which we then adopted as our own. We find this charming.

Given the length of the ride, it only made sense to stop at Webs on the way. To, you know, stretch our legs during the long car drive. Amazingly enough, I managed to remain 100% tweed free despite considerable temptations in the tweed department (this may have had something to do with the stern cries of "NO TWEED!" from the other Stinkers). I was also practically assaulted by a Louisa Harding wool-silk blend in a delicious chocolate brown, but it was quite a lot more expensive than I wanted it to be, even at Webs prices. I prevailed.

That's not to say I didn't buy anything. I had acquired a respectable but not excessive amount of yarn, when I spotted a sample sweater knit up in a teal-blue-green Berroco Ultra Alpaca that was, quite literally, jaw-droppingly beautiful. The pattern was a nice-enough v-neck pullover, but it was really all about the yarn...


I've made socks out of this yarn, and I periodically visit Windsor Button's wall of Ultra Alpaca to marvel at the subtle, gorgeous colors. It's probably my favorite solid-colored non-sock yarn. And now it's mine.

Mass Sheep and Wool, the main event of the day, did have some very lovely things, though I found it rather more spinning-focused than finished yarn focused. That was ok with Jenny...


And I still managed to find a little something...


The dark pink is three skeins of mystery wool-mohair yarn (I'm cursing myself for not getting a card from the owner because this stuff is gorgeous), and was part of the Callisto shawl kit. I saw Callisto in the first barn and kept coming back to pet it, try it on, etc. It's lacy, but not really lace and is 100% lace-knitting-symbol free. Hurrah!

Plus, there were sheep that looked like this...


And as always, no festival would be complete without food. If anything, this festival food was even more exciting than at the Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival.

In particular, Mass Sheep and Wool had Taco in a Bag.


This epicurean delight consists of a snack bag of chips with sauteed ground beef, shredded lettuce, cheese and sour cream thrown on top. Thriftily, the whole thing is eaten straight from the snack bag. Brilliant, efficient and delicious. And almost endlessly funny. Don't believe me? Sing "taco in a bag" to the tune of the infamous SNL short "D*ck in a Box" and I'm sure you'll agree.

Sunshine, yarn, and a gang of ladies with an equally juvenile sense of humor? It really doesn't get much better than that... Thanks ladies for such a fantastic day - I haven't laughed that much in ages!

May 25, 2007

A perfect evening

Last night my friend Megan and I went to see the unutterably charming Barbara Kingsolver talk about her new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She spoke eloquently about understanding where your food comes from, the environmental impact of our existing agricultural methods, and the pleasures and perils of feeding yourself and your family locally grown foods.

For the, ahem, climactic finish, she even showed a most edifying video clip about turkey reproduction. Truly, a thing to behold.

I love Kingsolver's work, both fiction and non-fiction, but this book is particularly intriguing, as it details her move from Tucson, Arizona (one of my hometowns) to rural Appalachia (where she grew up and where I have some complicated family history). I can’t wait to read it.

Though organized by an exceptionally good local bookstore, the talk was actually held in the First Parish Church in Cambridge. The pews had informational cards that you could send in to learn more about their programs, social activism, and spiritual groups, including the UU Covenant of Pagans. Also, there was a knitting group, an LBTGA group and a karate group. Gotta love the Unitarians. They mean it when they call themselves “Universalist.”

After the talk, Megan and I met up with The Boyfriend (henceforth to be known as “TB”) to enjoy frosty cocktails and heaping piles of Tex-Mex at the Border Cafe.

After dinner, as if my day hadn’t been good enough already, we saw something wonderful. While I do try to maintain some minimum standards for photographs included in this blog, I didn’t have my camera with me and this was just too exciting not to share. So forgive the crappy cell phone picture…

…and just marvel at how the fine people at American Apparel are embracing the legwarmer. True, it’s the end of May and 90 degrees out, but they are still feeling the legwarmer love.

Perhaps it’s time to revisit that legwarmer project I set aside so many months ago???

For an exciting change, I will not be working this Saturday. Instead, my knitting group ladies and I will be attending Mass. Sheep and Wool.

Given recent yarn purchase, Festivalgoing Rule Number 1 will be NO MORE TWEED. Anyone want to guess how that will turn out?

Hope everyone else's Memorial Day weekend will be equally relaxing and wooly!

May 21, 2007

No mwali for me

My lovely and brilliant best friend Quinn once theorized that the giving and receiving of blog comments is like a Kula Ring, where one achieves status through engaging in reciprocal exchanges of goods (comments) with an ever-expanding group of people.

The goods themselves do not have any inherent monetary value, it is the number of exchanges one engages in that raises you to a higher status in the community. She's a clever one, eh?

Ah Blogger, how I love you/hate you. You give me an exciting new autosave feature, but you disable comments randomly on new posts. The Blogger he giveth and the Blogger he taketh away.

So it's not that I don't want to hear from you...We just seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties...

May 20, 2007


I've been tagged for my first meme! By Kristy and Risa.

The rules: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog.

And now, the facts:

1. I learned to knit at school when I was 9, but stopped knitting when I got to junior high and decided knitting was terminally uncool (trust me - I needed all the help I could get in the cool department). I took a knitting class at my local adult ed center a few years ago and discovered I still totally knew how to knit almost twenty years later.

2. I was raised by hippies. Culturally speaking, this is a lot like being raised by wolves, but with a lot more tofu. So before the age of 10 I had done t’ai chi, aikido, and yoga, helped teach women’s self-defense classes, carded and spun my own yarn with a drop spindle, crocheted (I hated it even then), made my own quill pen, and read the Ramayana, Bhagavad Gitta, the Norse Myths, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. As with the knitting, it took me almost another twenty years to realize just how cool most of those things were.

I say “most of those things” because I still haven’t found it in myself to love the crochet.

3. I have a large collection of religious kitsch, mostly of the Mexican folk variety.

4. Both my parents were ordained as ministers of a small hippie church in southern Oregon when I was in my teens. Think Unitarian Universalist but with a more Buddhist bent and significantly more rockin' music.

5. I once interviewed for a job at a strip club in Prague. In my defense, the job listing in the English language newspaper said “waitresses and hostesses wanted.” Slightly less defensible is how, arriving at the stated address and realizing it was a strip club, I totally went in and interviewed anyway because, well, I’d never been in a strip club before. Plus, there were free drinks and naked ladies. All around, by far the most entertaining job interview I’ve ever had (incidentally, I was indeed offered the job but didn't accept).

6. I own all seven seasons of Buffy on DVD. And I’m not ashamed.

7. I can be shy in person. Even if I know you well, it will take me some time to warm up if I haven’t seen you in a while.

I'm tagging the Daft Crafter, the Craft Pirate, and Deb.

In tagging me for this meme, Kristy also reminded me that new sweater yarn is awesome, but existing sweaters sometimes need some love too. So Wicked has his first sleeve.


Now how about a Single Sleeve Liberation movement???

May 18, 2007

So much for my best intentions

I was in Brookline Village for an appointment this morning, directly across the street from A Good Yarn. Entirely coincidentally, I swear. Also, in yet another freak coincidence, they just happen to be in the middle of an end-of-season sale right now.

I went into A Good Yarn because I needed a set of size 2 DPNs. I have a theory (amply supported by common sense and the advice of experienced sock knitters) that my ongoing sock gauge issues might be helped by size 2 needles, of which I only have one set. That set is busily producing The Boyfriend's socks.


Anyway, in the Land of Denial of which I am a resident, we believe things like "I'm only here to buy needles." So I visited A Good Yarn's sock yarn wall. Pretty, but nothing I couldn't live without. I patted their Felted Tweed. Also pretty, but I've got some of my own.

And then I saw the sale bins. A stronger woman would have averted her eyes and gone straight for the DPNs. But as some may recall, I unexpectedly developed a tweed fetish thanks to Vintage Knits. So what did I do when faced with sacks and sacks of steeply discounted tweed yarn?

I bet you can guess without reading another word....


Meet Jamieson's Soft Shetland, in the "grape heather" colorway, purchased at almost 50% off. As you can see, from a distance, it's a perfectly nice slightly variegated pinky-purple, but up close it's ever so much more beautiful.


More heavy wool, just in time for spring! Excellent planning on my part!

In more seasonally appropriate knitting, I joined Sockapalooza a few weeks ago.

My sock pal seems to like pink, so this may be just the time to try out Lucy's merino-tencel sock yarn (fruit salad colorway) which has been patiently biding its time in the stash.


Now for a pattern...

May 17, 2007

Random Thursday

Spotted at the Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival...

This bumpersticker on the car parked next to us...


And this bumpersticker on the car parked in front of us.


Eerie, no?

May 13, 2007

Fun with compulsive copyediting

I should be editing a paper right now, but it's ever so much more fun to edit other people's writing.

For example, the fine people at Rohrspatz und Wollmeise, makers of supremely beautiful yarn, have a most unfortunate error on their site. The English version says this:

The company name is the appropriate alliance of the beautiful products in steel by Rohrspatz and the wooly ideas of the wool tit.

Wool tit. Heh.

The cleverness of other knitters

In high school, we took a battery of standardized tests at the beginning of our freshman year. These included the usual math and logic and reading comprehension and vocabulary, which were just fine. But this round of tests also included a horrible spatial relations section, which showed a series of unfolded three-dimensional shapes, with various options for how those shapes would look when you folded them up. You know, IN YOUR HEAD. In the hour allotted for finishing the section, I answered one question, incorrectly at that.

The guidance counselor that reviewed everyone's results with their parents cheerily informed us that my score in the spatial relations section landed squarely in the 'retarded' range.

So clearly, spatial relations are not my strong point. This means a lot of knitting needs to be taken on faith. Incidentally, this also makes me a terrible driver. I take public transportation for a reason.

Anyway, faith. When I'm knitting a pattern for the first time, I can't easily envision how the mess on my needles will magically transform itself into the pictured finished object.

My first socks were very much knit on faith. I knit and knit and knit the leg. I made the heel flap, turned the heel and kept thinking 'this will never turn into a sock.' I picked up the stitches along the sides of the heel flap, still thinking 'this will never turn into a sock.' But I figured the Yarn Harlot wouldn't lie, and she obviously knows a lot about socks.

Then I knit my first round after picking up the stitches. And there it was - a tube again, with a bulge where the heel was supposed to be! It would be a sock after all! Hurrah for the cleverness of knitters!

The same thing happened with my first pair of baby booties. When I finished knitting, it looked like this:


To me, this is not a bootie. This looks horribly like a pair of knitted men's briefs. But I kept my faith. And with a quick fold, it looked like this:


Dude, it really is a bootie! And with some seaming and an i-cord, I ended up with this:


Sometimes faith is rewarded. Finished Be-Ribboned Booties from One-Skein Wonders (love that book). Alas, Kristy, I am not joining the Single Sock Liberation Movement.

The "ribbons" in this case are leafy knitted i-cords. I thought they made a nice match with the zucchini-ish hat. The Daft Crafter asked about the cords, so I've included instructions at the end of the post.

Meanwhile, the new issue of Interweave Knits is out. And that means I've got something new to learn:


This spatial relations thing also makes diagrams hard to follow, but I always end up with a huge amount of leftover sock yarn, and toe-up socks completely obviate that problem. So I'll figure this toe-up sh*t out if it kills me.

Leafy Bootie Ties

Cast on three stitches. Knit two rows garter stitch. On the next row, knit into the front and back of the first and last stitches in the row (5 stitches total on the needles). Knit one row. On the next row, knit into the front and back of the first and last stitches in the row (7 stitches total). Knit two rows. On the next row, knit two together at the beginning and end of each row (5 stitches total). Knit one row. On the next row, knit two together at the beginning and end of each row (3 stitches total). Knit 3-stitch i-cord of desired length. Repeat leaf at end of i-cord.

The leaf wouldn't fit through the eyelets on the bootie, so I knit the first leaf, then the i-cord, put the live stitches on a safety pin, wove the tie through the bootie, then knit the second leaf. This has the added advantage of making it almost impossible for the tie to work its way out of the bootie.

May 6, 2007

They say virtue is its own reward

...but cute-ass baby knits aren't half-bad either.


I spent a few hours on Saturday watching bad TV, not knitting, and glaring resentfully at my unfinished projects. Then I read all your comments and remembered I don't have to knit anything I don't want to knit.

Somehow that was enough, and I immediately cast on for the requisite hat-and-booties set for The Boyfriend's new nephew.

Fruit-and-vegetable hat pattern from Ann Norling. Tahki Cotton Classic from the stash, 64 stitches, size 6 needles. No modifications. Be-Ribboned Bootie* from One-Skein Wonders, same yarn, size 5 needles, modified to knit 24 rows on the leg instead of 27 and to replace the ribbon with an i-cord drawstring, with knitted leaves at the ends. Pure fun from start to finish.

Thanks, ladies, for reminding me that knitting is something we do because we want to, not because we have to!

* And yes, I do realize booties traditionally come in pairs, but I've got some important laundry to do. Tonight's goal: lower the Laundry Alert Level from Critical (Crazy Lady with No Underpants) to Moderate (slightly disheveled college student).

May 4, 2007

Temptation strikes

I have some works-in-progress, and I feel almost no desire to knit on any of them.


Mostly, it's socks. One pair actually has one sock finished and a goodly start on the second sock, in the always-charming Meilenweit MegaBoots Stretch.

The other pair is only one half-started sock and a fun knit, but I've run into some serious pattern issues with the Interweave pattern (admittedly, this may be entirely me and not the pattern). Lengthy rant forthcoming, complete with incompentent basic knitting math and, most likely, a few f-bombs.

I also have a sweater. A sweater with a body and one arm, sans cuff. However, this particular sweater has been relegated to the corner, where bad sweaters that sink into the Knitting Black Hole go to think about the consequences of their misbehavior and hopefully learn to be better and faster knits.

Stupid, stupid sleeves. Why can't sleeves be more like socks, with a nifty entertaining bit in the middle to keep me interested?

Plus, it's spring time. And the entire world looks kind of like this right now:


How can I knit a heavy wool sweater when the weather is this nice? And why would I knit boring beigy-browny socks when there is yarn like this I could be knitting?


Cherry Tree Hill supersock in Potluck (Blues/Greens). AKA "The Temptress."

Oh, this yarn...I've been making goo-goo eyes at it every time I go to my LYS, but I have resisted, because I already have plenty of sock yarn.

But then I had a particularly bad week at work awhile back and decided I needed to "just visit" the yarn on Friday after work, without buying anything (ha!). Of course, "just visiting" turned into "being unable to resist the yarn's wicked charms," and - realizing no one but me is surprised by this - I ended up taking the yarn home.

Since then it's been lounging on my living room chair, just looking beautiful. Beautiful enough that it cheers me tremendously each time I see it.

But looking beautiful isn't enough for this yarn. This yarn wants attention. If it were an animal, I feel like it would be presenting its reddened hindquarters or puffing up its feathers or doing a naughty mating dance. However, because it's yarn (and therefore immobile and lacking reddened hindquarters), all it can do is sit there, looking all blue and green and knittable and delicious.

So why haven't I been knitting with it? I love this yarn. But I have two other pairs of socks in-progress (that I will admit to) and another pair I really should start for gift purposes.

Plus, The Boyfriend's sister just had a baby (welcome, Oscar!), a bit earlier than planned, so I'm way behind on baby gifts. And with work and school and, well, Season 2.5 of Battlestar Galactica to watch, I just don't have a huge amount of time for knitting.

I feel like my knitting time needs to be focused and productive. Not self-indulgent and silly. Please, please, convince me otherwise...