Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #30 (gulp)
I'm not really here. You may think I am but I'm not. This is an electronic illusion.
Back tomorrow with baby sweater pictures and the perennial question, "Why are men so damn strange??"
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #29
I've got nuthin' today. Ab-so-lute-ly nuthin'. I finished the baby sweater. Well, at least the knitting part. I sewed the plackets the way they're supposed to be sewed. I added the buttons. Now all I have to do is attach the sleeves, weave in a million loose ends, then admire (I hope) my handiwork.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #28
More tomorrow. I have a sleeve to finish . . .
Friday, July 27, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #27
Did you see the 25th anniversary edition of Vogue Knitting? It just arrived here in central NJ and I'm enthralled. You know I'm not exactly an unabashed fan of the magazine (Meg Swansen's column is what keeps me hooked) but they outdid themselves this time. Two fabulous collective interviews: one with the knitting old guard and one with the new. I don't know about you, but any magazine that features the gorgeous, glorious, supernaturally talented Kaffe Fassett is a must-read for me. Add Meg Swansen and Alice Starmore to his star power and I swear I need shades.
Great job, VK, and happy anniversary.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #26 and some more thoughts on handmade gifts
Congratulations, Julie Krick! You're Yarnapalooza Winner #26!
(Still haven't entered? Hurry! Time's running out.)
Some very interesting comments on my last post about giving handmade gifts and where the search for perfection intersects with the joy of giving.
Georg's comment about the "cheesy" paintings she created and gave as gifts resonated big time. When I first started fooling around with watercolors again in 1992, my mother fell in love with a "test" painting I did of a vase of impossibly blue flowers. She wanted to hang it up over her bookcase. I didn't want her to. She told me she loved it. I told her all the ways in which it was badly flawed. Finally I gave in but not graciously I'm sorry to say. I was embarrassed by the painting and let her know it every chance I got. Guess I don't have to tell you what made me cry the hardest after she died: the fact that the stupid painting of those stupid impossible blue flowers was propped up on her nightstand where she could see it.
Maybe we're not the best judge of what will (and won't) be appreciated. Ever spent a fortune on some fancy schmancy sock yarn then spent hours of your time knitting love and powerful good wishes into every stitch only to see that look of dismay on the giftee's face when she realizes the pretty package didn't come from Nordstrom or Tiffany's but from your loving hands. You know the look, the "I could buy a pair of socks at K-Mart for a buck fifty" look. The look that stabs the knitter/artist/crafter right through the heart.
Sometimes the evil knitter in me feels the urge to attach a sales receipt to a hand-knitted item just to show that my time wasn't all I spent on said giftee, I actually spent some bucks too. But the truth is if that's what it takes to impress or delight the giftee, she'll never receive another handmade item again from me. To both of our relief.
When I was a little girl, my mother painted what seemed like hundreds of Japanese and Chinese waterscapes. I remember them so vividly--beautiful, sad paintings of women crying on the shore while their men sailed off to who knows where. Everyone who saw them loved them. And my mother, being my mother, gave them all away. Every single painting. Like it? It's yours. I thought she was crazy. I couldn't understand why she would leap into action at the first compliment, pull the painting down from the wall, and press it into the shocked admirer's hands. Was she crazy? Didn't she want to keep them for herself? Why did an appreciative word from someone trigger such an outrageous response?
It took me a long, long time but I get it now. When you find someone who loves what you've created, you can't help wanting to shower him or her with the bounty from your own two hands. Not everyone appreciates a gift that doesn't come with a 30 day money back return policy or a gift card from Saks. It's a sad fact of life but true just the same. It doesn't mean you love them any the less but it definitely means there won't be any handknitted socks in their future.
Which strikes me as a real shame for both of us.
Gift ideas, anyone?
Barbara's post about knitted gifts got me to thinking. This is the time of year when I like to get a start on my Christmas list. I don't have a very long list -- mainly my husband, his parents and two nephews. I think I'm going to make my FIL a really nice pair of socks out of some very soft, strong yarn. I just have to find that yarn!
I'd really love to make my MIL something too. They live in Texas, so wool sweaters are out of the question. But a cotton cardigan might go over well. Has to be casual, as she is not a dressy person. And lightweight. Any ideas for yarn or patterns -- or other suggestions?
What gifts have you made that went over well in the past? What are you making this year?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #25
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Instead of knitting . . .
These seven French Angora bunnies are the offspring of Ducky & Bunny Boo, who came to live here at the farm a year ago. (Their names came with them .) The youngsters are as amiable as their parents. And just look at that fiber! I have such plans for that fiber.
Yarnapalooza Winner #24
Monday, July 23, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #23
On the run so this will be short. Bless wireless connections in unexpected places! See you all tomorrow.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Yarnapalooza Prize--Another Sockaholic Skein
The winner will be "generated" this coming Friday, thanks to Barbara's cool Random Number gizmo. Good luck!
From Riches to Rags ...
Here's what happened: Our tickets said to arrive at 2 p.m. and to wear dark clothes. After a late breakfast, however, we decided we'd walk by the ABC-TV studio on W 67th and check out the scene. People were already lining up so we joined them and wound up being in the first group of 20. Our group really bonded and we held places for people who had to run down to the nearby Starbucks to use the restroom, etc.
Once we were called in, we couldn't leave for any reason and come back. (Thank heavens for those Starbucks' runs!) We were ushered into the studio - it was cold! - and our group got to sit on the front row, right behind the chair where Meredith Vieria sits during the show. We clapped and laughed and hooted and hollered right on cue, and I suspect you'll "see" us (just our dark-clad bodies, not our faces) at the opening of the new season's shows.
After several hours of that we went into a cafeteria and sat at assigned tables. Each of us was given an envelope with our question sheet inside and an answer card just like the ones that are used for SATs and such. Our finished cards were "graded" while we waited and, like I said earlier, they only called on 5 veterans out of 250 auditioners.
But guess what? It was a wonderful trip to New York! We ate in some old familiar places (Cafe Bryant, behind the NYC Public Library) and some terrific new ones (The Palm ... lobster, yum!). Our hotel was all refurbished and was in a midtown location, which meant we could walk everywhere (except for cabbing to the studio). Heck, even in this summer of airline horror stories, our planes were on time going and a little early returning!
Now it's back to writing and knitting. I've about got my proposal ready to submit. Wish me luck on that one! And I've settled on Patches by Plymouth in Brights for the marble cardigan.
Which raises the question: What are you all doing to defeat the dog days of summer that are now upon us?
P.S. Yes, Barbara, I felt the good vibes from everyone and really, truly appreciated them.
Yarnapalooza Winner #22 and a Technical Question
While I have your attention I thought I'd post a technical knitting question. I'm zipping along on the sleeves of the Creative Knitting baby sweater and it occurred to me that the finishing is going to be a little weird. Take a look at the photo then zero in on the brightly colored sweater and you'll see what I mean. I'll be attaching a garter stitch cast-off row to seed stitch selvedge and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips to help me create a non-bulky, sturdy, semi-attractive seam. I've Googled but haven't come up with that particular combination yet.
Finishing isn't my strong suit. It's kind of like bowling for me: I position myself, focus in on the pins, then watch the ball leap into the gutter or head straight for a strike. I'm never quite sure what I'm gonna get . . .
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #21
Friday, July 20, 2007
Two sleeves or one?
I'm late posting this week because my husband and I took a little road trip to a gorgeous country inn on Lake Waramaug in Connecticut. We had a two day window of opportunity because both children were away at camp simultaneously (one has returned, thank goodness!). To be honest, our house felt so odd and empty that we really wanted to go somewhere else.
That's me knitting on the patio of the inn with the lake in the background. I finally started on the first sleeve of the sweater-that-never-ends. A friend suggested knitting both sleeves at the same time. She says it keeps you from faltering when you finish that first sleeve and face another of the same boring variety and it makes them look more uniform.
I had already started the first sleeve on straight needles and didn't really want to deal with two balls of yarn or shifting onto circular needles (the sleeves end up being quite wide at the top so I needed the room) so upon reflection, I didn't take her advice. I'm sure I'll live to regret it.
I'm curious though: how many of you knit both sleeves at once? How do you deal with the two-balls-of-yarn issue? Is it a good idea that I should reconsider in the future?
Another Contest I Almost Forgot To Tell You About
Yarnapalooza Winner #20
I'd write more but I'm in the middle of major reorganization of circs, doodads, and art supplies. I'll admit even I was a bit puzzled when I discovered over a dozen beautiful rocks from the beautiful (rocky) beaches of Maine tucked in with my watercolor paraphernalia. Clearly I have always organized to a very different drummer.
Details to follow later today.
PS to Fran: Could you feel the good vibes yesterday? We were all pulling for you!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Malabrigo Molly winner!
Maureen Emmons, give that Random Number Generator a great big thank you because it picked you as the Malabrigo Molly winner. You go, girl!
All you other entrants, do not despair! I'm planning to hustle down to my LYS and get two more skeins of the Malabrigo lace weight (perhaps in a different shade since they're all so lucious) and offer it as a prize in the near future.
Happy knitting, Maureen!
Yarnapalooza Winner #19A
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #18
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #17
Hurt Book Sale
So, now that I've got mine, it's safe to share the secret . . .
Back again after a long absence, though I've been reading the posts of my fellow bloggers. Though I haven't shown up here, I have been busy with both my needles and my keyboard, working on a new book and several new projects.
The somewhat off-center picture here is of the sleeveless top and matching lace socks I made with Lion Microspun in Leaf. The yarn is very soft with a nice sheen, but a little splitty. The top is from a free pattern on the Lion website. The socks are the Gull Wings pattern from Socks, Socks, Socks. (And Barbara, how could you give up socks -- what blasphemy!)
Right now I'm working on a simple garter stitch cardigan knit in this wonderful yarn from Knit Picks, Shine Sport I chose Blueberry, a wonderful rich blue, almost denim-colored. This cardigan is to replace the ratty old thing I wear all winter in my office. The pattern calls for buttons, but I'm thinking of putting a zipper up the front. Anyone done a zipper on a knitted item? Any tips.
So that's what I've been up to. What summer projects are you working on?
Here's the link: http://www.KansasCity.com/fyi.
Scroll down to the Naughty Needles article. Then click it on to read and watch the video. Hilarious!
Okay, I'm off to New York on Thursday to audition for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on Friday. Wish me luck, knit on, and I'll tell you all about the process when I get back.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #16
Yarnapalooza Prize: Malabrigo Molly
Whoever Barbara's Random Number Generator picks on Thursday, July 19th, gets this prize.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #15
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #14 - Happy Bastille Day!
Friday, July 13, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner Lucky #13!
So much for triskaidekaphobia. Friday the 13th is Shanzi Pruitt's lucky day! Congratulations, Shanzi: you're our Yarnapalooza Winner #13.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #12
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Noro Kureyon Winner!
Congratulations, Cheryl. May I assume the address in your email entry is the one where you want the yarn sent? Let me know (just post a "yes" in the comments section if that's the one) and I'll get it in the mail.
Thanks, everyone, for participating. And good luck on the drawings the rest of July ... our one-year anniversary!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
It's a subtly striped Nani Rather Huge Carpet Bag. The yarn is Cascade Heathers in soft natural mossy greens. I splurged on a set of handles in a rich brown leather. It's all sitting there in its bag, calling to me, but I am trying to resist. I need to knit two black sleeves and a collar before I heed its siren call.
Second, yesterday (July 9) was the two-year anniversary of my massive heart attack. I'm still here, for which I'm thankful. And I'm still working on my "Things To Do Before I Die" list.
Third, it's not too late to sign up for the three balls of Noro that I'm giving away tomorrow. Just send an email to Fran AT FranBaker DOT com, with Contest in the subject line. If you've already sent your email, I have it but couldn't figure out how to make an automatic response and didn't want to clutter up peoples' mailboxes with a multi-receiver response. I'll draw a name tomorrow afternoon. Good luck, all!
New Post from Laura
Yarnapalooza Winners #10 and #10A
I give up!
It was a nice idea, but I think I'm done with baling twine doormats for now. The fiber is stiff, and while it knits up quickly -- theoretically -- into an ugly but functional item -- I keep breaking needles. Mia (above) helped me find a good use for this aborted project. She thinks that strip makes an awesome neck scratcher. I think I'll just bind off the edge and let her have it. And if I'm lucky, I won't break another needle doing it. Time to move on and admit that this one has me beat. That's not something that pig-headedly stubborn people like me do often, so mark this date on your calender.
Moving on . . . I'm also resisting the urge to shop for my own luscious yarns like those in the Yarnapalooza giveaways. Wow, what wonderful stuff!
Monday, July 09, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #9
Yarnapalooza Prize for All You Sockaholics
My Lovely Yarn Lady tells me that TOFUtsies is the hottest new sock yarn. It's made of wool, soysilk fibers, cotton and chitin which is fiber from shrimp and crab shells. Somehow this makes the yarn naturally antibacterial. The skein is 425 meters long so you get a nice pair of socks out of it.
So, whoever wins the Yarnapalooza prize tomorrow, July 10th, gets this prize from me. Barbara will let me know who the Random Number Generator chooses.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #8!
Yarnapalooza Winner #8: Carol at *******0503@yahoo -- congratulations!
I still can't post a title to this blog. Only Blogger knows why. I can post titles to my personal blog but for some weird reason that privilege is being denied me here. How weird is that?? (Clearly my bizarre electronic karma follows me everywhere. Beware!)
Photo of yours truly circa 1954, taken on the monkey bars at Elmhurst Park in Queens, NYC. (I'm running out of yarn photos!)
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #7!
Friday, July 06, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #6
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #5
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #4 on The Fourth of July
Happy Fourth of July!
Fireworks over Niagara Falls.
This seems a fitting time to quote a blog favorite, 1776. One of the great scenes in the musical comes when John Adams stands alone in the chamber where the Continental Congress meets for their endless, inconclusive debates. The room is dark and silent; everyone has gone home for the evening.
Adams recalls the last lines of General Washington's most recent plea for more supplies for his starving army, "Is anybody there? Does anybody care?" Adams adds his own question, "Does anybody see what I see?" Then he describes his thrilling vision:
I see fireworks,
I see the pageant and pomp and parade,
I hear the bells ringing out,
I hear the cannons roar.
I see Americans--all Americans--free
I propose a cyber-toast to the brave men who committed treason by signing their names to the Declaration of Independence two hundred and thirty-one years ago to make that vision a reality.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
How about I draw for a winner on July 11 (7 come 11!) for these three balls of Noro Kureyon, color 92. One is missing its wrapper but they're all the same color. Send an email to Fran AT FranBaker DOT com, with Contest in the subject line.
Now while I'm yammering on ... do you want to hear something fun? I'm going to New York to try out for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire! This is on my list of "Things To Do Before I Die" list. Wish me luck! I leave for NY on July 19 and audition on July 20. I'll report back on the process when I return.
How about y'all? Any special thing you want to do while you're still around?
Yarnapalooza Winner #3
Monday, July 02, 2007
Yarnapalooza Winner #2
The Argyle Laptop
If I can tap into even a tiny fraction of the real EZ's spirit when I sit down to work at the Pink Argyle EZ, I'll be one very happy knitting writer.
Or is it writing knitter . . . I'm never quite sure.