Friday, October 31, 2008

Bliss . . . Debbie Bliss 100% Cashmere (a cruel sneak peek)

Not that I want to whet your appetites or anything but part of Tuesday's prize package is Debbie Bliss 100% Cashmere . . . gorgeous, luscious, mouth-watering cashmere.

The color you see isn't the color you'll get but that's the yarn family.

I'm thinking 10 skeins might be nice . . .

Watch for all the details Monday night. Winner will be drawn late Tuesday night so we can all have something other than the election to think about.

More tidbits tomorrow.

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Box O'Sox

How about a box of sox? Sox yarn, that is. I'll stuff as many skeins into one of those Priority Mail "shoeboxes" as I can. Think of it as a grab bag but without the bag.

Lots and lots of sock yarn to experiment with, play with, yell at (hello, Nancy!), and ultimately turn into something wonderful. (Preferably from The Wendy's Socks from the Toe Up which will be out in April.) (Not that I'm counting down the days or anything.)

Send me an email here with SOX in the subject header and tomorrow night you might see your name in lights.

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Think Pink, Michelle P

Michelle P will be thinking pink as soon as I get her snail mail address. Congratulations!

Deanna and the DVD

Congratulations to Deanna W, winner of the Knitting Daily DVD set.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or Treat, knitting style

As promised here is Halloween drawing #2:
20 skeins of Elann's Callista in a nice muted hot pink.

About 130 yards per skein so there's lots of yarn to be played with here.

From Elann's website:

Fibre Content: 50% Viscose Rayon/ 25% Cotton/ 25% Linen
Made In: Brazil
Care: Machine Wash Cold, Gentle/ Dry Flat
Gauge: 22-23 st/4 inches 3.25-3.75 mm (US 3-5)
Yardage: 119 m (130 yards)
Size: 50g (1.75 oz) ball

To put your name in the running, send me an email here with PINK in the subject header. Good luck!

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Halloween Contest 1 of 2

Because there's nothing like a little excess to cheer you up during tough times, I figured why not have two drawings on Halloween instead of a measly old one?

And because I'm too lazy (and cold) right this minute to mull over my stash and decide what goes next, I'm offering the complete Knitting Daily DVD first season collection to one lucky winner.

You know the drill. Email me with KD in the subject header and around this time tomorrow night the Great and Mysterious Random Number Generator will make its choice. These things are beyond human ken. They must be respected. You don't mess with the RNG.

Check back in an hour or so for #2, okay?


Poppy's on its way to ND

Congratulations to Patty Reed who will be knitting with Poppy very soon!

Caroline can't knit fingers on gloves but she can make mits!

I tried, I really tried to make gloves with fingers and after sixteen or so tries, I gave up and made these easy-as-pie fingerless mitts with a thumb!  I'm going to embroider something on them and give them out as gifts.

So, am I missing a secret for making the fingers? it just made me crazy and the stitches kept falling off the needles when I was trying to do them in the round.  Maybe I should try on two needles?  Or maybe I should just make more of these quick mitts!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poppies . . . Poppies!

Poppies . . . poppies . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (I love that movie. If you think about it, WIZARD OF OZ contains just about every life lesson we need to learn.)

Another day of RCY Cashsoft DK, this time #512 - Poppy. It's soft, it's silky, it's squishalicious.

(Sorry. Forgive me. It's been a long day.)

Four skeins to one lucky winner! Send me an email here with POPPY in the subject header and just maybe you'll go home with her.
Good luck!

Madame Ann M

Congratulations to Ann M, the winner of Madame!

Who Gets The Christmas Knits?

I was knitting away on a Christmas gift at my LYS recently when the owner asked me if I knitted Christmas gifts for everyone in my family. I told her no, I only made knitted gifts for certain people, not for everyone.

But that got me thinking. What exactly are my criteria for making knitted gifts for people?

I seem to feel safe giving knitted gifts to those in my family who also knit, like my sister and my two daughters. The theory behind this, I suppose, is that since they also knit, they'll appreciate the time and effort that goes into a knitted gift. And since they also knit, they wear items they themselves have made, thus there's no "embarrassment factor" about wearing a hand-knit item of clothing. (Not that anyone shouldn't be PROUD to wear something I've knitted! I'm just sayin'.)

I also feel comfortable giving knitted gifts to my husband, with the proviso that it be something he's requested. If he's asked for it, I know he'll wear it proudly and tell anyone who inquires that I made it. However, those unrequested mittens and scarves? Those go at the back of a deep, dark drawer. So, forewarned is forearmed.

With my mom, I'm never sure. She's the one who taught me to knit at the tender age of five. But somewhere along the way, her life got too busy for knitting and she hasn't done it for many years. I've made things for her, but I'm never sure if her exclamations of delight when opening the package translate into actually wearing the item or not. She's far too polite to ever suggest something might be the wrong color, size or style.

As for my dad, I don't even try to knit for him. I've done it a few times, but he's very fussy about what he wears, particularly if there's even the teeniest possibility of an itch factor. So it's really not worth it, and I doubt he'd understand or appreciate all the time that went into the creation of the gift anyway.

And my son, while he might understand how much time I spent creating an article (after all, he's seen Mom sitting on the couch night after night, knitting away, in his still-at-home years), has very specific tastes about what he'll wear and what he won't, so I wouldn't DARE try to create something for him. His sisters used to say he spent longer preening in the bathroom than they did. 'Nuff said.

Of course, the person who most appreciates the time and effort that goes into a handknitted item! Hah. This sounds like a "doh!" idea, but in my early years of knitting, almost everything I knitted was for someone else. I never seemed to get around to knitting for me. So now I make sure I have plenty of projects going for myself, even if I put them aside now and then to make gifts. I always know that *I* will wear what I make myself!

What are YOUR knitted giftgiving criteria? Does everyone on your list get an item, no one, or something inbetween? Do tell!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Fibertarian Platform: Yarn Redistribution - RCY Cashsoft Aran

With apologies to Franklin and Dolores, if I were running for office here in NJ I would embrace Yarn Redistribution as my platform. My slogan would be powerful and to the point as befits a radical Fibertarian: From one stash according to its volume to another stash according to its need.

In other words, one knitter's crap yarn is another's LaLana.

Am I driving you crazy with all these entries? I hope not. There's a method to my madness. Honestly.

  1. This way you can enter when you see something you like.

  2. This way when I get to the Big Stuff on Tuesday, you'll already be entered.

  3. Everyone who entered the earlier contests will be eligible for the biggie which will include cashmere, a book, and a gift certificate to Elann.

We're talking Rowan Classic Yarns Cashsoft DK today in #511 - Madame. It doesn't look all that much like the photo up there but you know how these things go. I think you'll be happy just the same.

Send me an email here with MADAME in the subject header and you're in! (There will be more RCY Cashsoft DK tomorrow.) Good luck!

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Mister Joe and LizzieK8

Congratulations to Lizzie K8 who won my stash of Mister Joe!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Paintbox Winner

Hooray for Amanda Reyes, our Paintbox winner!

Mister Joe needs a home

This is nicer than it looks but then again it would have to be. Mister Joe - Derby (color 4172) - doesn't photograph very well, does it? It's actually a purple-y eggplant color. Aubergine, if we're being elegant about it. 4 skeins, 50 grams each, over 125 yards each. Kind of fluffy. It doesn't say what fiber it actually is but it feels woolly to me.

I'm not sure why I bought it or where. Elann is a good case on the where part of the equation; because it was on sale is a good case for the other. This is not a good color for me. I can't stress how awful it looks against my skin. It makes me look exhausted and badly bruised. I don't know what in the name of Elizabeth Zimmermann I was thinking when I bought it.

If this makes your fingers itch to cast on, drop me an email here with Mister Joe in the subject header and maybe you'll find it in your mailbox later this week. Good luck!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wanna Win Some Classic Elite Paintbox?

This time it's more than destashing. This time I'm frazzled and deadline-crazy and need something to think about besides 1) the book that's about to come out and 2) the book that needs to be finished and 3) the campaign that has been going on for my entire adult life. (Okay, not really, but it feels that way.)

So how about 4 gorgeous skeins of Classic Elite Paintbox for one lucky knitter who emails me right here with Paintbox in the subject header. I'll pick the winner tomorrow night and open a new drawing at the same time.

Yep, there's gonna be lots o'yarn over the next week or two. And a DVD or two. And cashmere.
Stay tuned!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

And the IKs Go To --

Cheryl S. "cas2ajs" - who was the last entrant, which proves it really is never too late. Cheryl, please email me your mailing address here and I'll get them out ASAP. Enjoy!

If I can't knit, I can shop

I got a catalogue from Knit Picks in the mail the other day and, boy, have I been having fun paging through it. I don't have time to actually knit, but I want to order several items.

First, something that will solve all my problems with lace: a chart keeper. I've struggled with how to hold my pattern and mark the proper row, trying all sorts of strange methods. Here's an elegant solution for a mere $9.99. How can I resist?

Second, I've been looking for a pretty shawl pattern to knit up in some gorgeous russet yarn a very kind soul gave to me. And here it is: the Domovoi Shawl from the book Folk Shawls. Who knows what other fabulous patterns lurk in its pages?

Finally, a very cool idea: knitted placemats! I love these southwest patterned mats (although I probably won't make them due to the multiple colors which would require weaving in way too many ends). I'd never thought of knitting placemats before.

Has anybody else been window shopping from KnitPicks--or any other catalogue?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

12 Interweave Knits and 1 Lucky Knitter

The Great Clean-Up continues. I have twelve back issues of INTERWEAVE KNITS (by far my favorite knitting magazine) and I'm looking for one kind-hearted knitter who will take them off my hands. They range from 1999 to 2003 or so, all in pretty darn good condition.

I'm having email trouble (so what else is new?) so leave your entry in comments and I'll assign you a number then let the RNG do its thing.

I almost forgot: the RNG will do its thing tomorrow night.
Tomorrow morning, however, I'll be doing a phone interview with Cheryl Nason, The Dallas Book Diva. I can't wait! Check out her website. There are some terrific reviews and MP3 interviews available.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cashmere Winner!

<==Do you believe me now?
Congratulations to Spider whose number is up . . . in a good way. I sent you an email, Spider, but just in case it's trapped in a spam filter: send me your mailing address ASAP and I'll shoot the cashmere off to you.

More to come! I feel like I'm on a fiber-ological dig. I unearthed some Berroco sequined carry-along from the Great Flashy Scarf Era (c. 2003) and some Ironstone hemp-like fiber that dates back to the Let's Knit Our Own Grocery Bag era which strangely enough overlapped the Great Flashy Scarf Era. (I went through a spell when I thought I was Colette. I knitted these crazy mohair/spangle/sequin scarves then draped them over the lampshades in my office and thought French thoughts.)

I know, I know. It's time to get back to work.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My First Log Cabin

I make no apologies: I developed my color sense while eating a bag of Halloween candy corn.

Yellow and orange are my favorite colors. I have loved yellow and orange from the moment I grasped my first Crayola in my hot little hand. Yellow and orange make me happy.

My first married kitchen was yellow and orange. So was my second. And my third. And my fourth. I painted our first bedroom to look like the outside of a pumpkin and accented it with bright yellow. You needed sunglasses at midnight. During the summer of 1968 when everyone else was out protesting the War, I was crocheting a yellow and orange blanket to take with me to Omaha that fall where I would be starting a new life as an eighteen year old bride. Imagine a queen-size afghan, all single crochet, all orange and yellow.

So is it any surprise that my first attempt at Log Cabin (big shout-out to the ladies at Mason-Dixon for the inspiration) would be yellow and orange? Stash yarn: Sirdar Nova. Knit Picks Harmony circs US9. I am loving every second. Actually I am loving it even more than EZ's Garter Stitch Blanket. It's like knitting sunshine.

What can I say? Yellow and orange make me happy. Knitting makes me happy. These days that's not a small thing.

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Wool Arts Tour 2008. Ooh.

I spent Columbus Day doing the Wool Arts Tour here in New Hampshire with my sister. For more info on the yearly tour, check it out here:

It takes place every Columbus Day weekend, and you drive to five different fiber stores and/or farms, where there are also lots of vendors set up selling yarn, spinning wheels, shawl pins, spinning accessories, and just about anything you can imagine.

Of course, the vast array of colors and options is dizzying and after a while my eyes began to glaze over. But I still managed to snag a few goodies.

First I picked up a knitting bag. It's made of felt, with an adorable black sheep on it. Hard to tell from the photo but the bag is a dark green color, also lined with a lovely floral print fabric with an inside pocket. I grabbed it as it was the only one with a black sheep instead of white. When I was a kid, my favorite stuffed animal was a black lamb...'nuff said.

Next was a huge skein of "Treadsoft" merino sock yarn. There's 850 yards in this sucker. :-) Knowing me, it will probably become a lace shawl rather than socks...though I did pick up the Magic Loop sock instruction booklet. Just in case. The colors make me think of springtime in the tropics! And since tropical weather isn't my favorite, I can get a taste of it with this yarn without leaving New Hampshire.

Then I found a skein of "America's Alpaca" 100% superfine alpaca lace weight yarn, 875 yards, in a denim-blue-that's-almost-but-not-quite-purple color. Yup, this will also probably become a lace shawl. I can't help it, I'm hooked on lace. I just love the delicate fabric that seems so ethereal, it could almost float away. While I was at this least I think it was this stop...I got to see alpacas in person. Hard to believe they produce yarn that's my absolutely favorite single fiber, but they do it somehow. They're adorable. Also saw some miniature donkeys at the same stop. They were quite happy to come over and make friends with anyone willing to give them a pat.

Then I ventured into non-laceweight yarn with this gorgeous skein of handpainted "Angora Blizzard" 85% German angora rabbit, 15% merino wool, two-ply yarn from the "Honeybuns Rabbitry and Apiary" in the "Shades of Burgandy" color. (Huff, puff. Yeah, there's a lot of information on the tag for this yarn, and I love it!) It came with a lovely yet deceptively simple scarf pattern and the promise that this one 230-yard skein was enough to make it. Once I'm done with all my Christmas knitting, I'll start on this scarf for ME. Can't wait to work with it! It's so soft...just begs to be petted.

And finally, I found a huge hank of rayon chenille yarn, a little over 11 3/4 ounces for a total of 955 yards. The color is called "Teal Green," but it seems to me more shades of turquoise and darker blues, with a bit of purple thrown in here and there. You may be able to make out the purple if you squint at the photo. ;-) I purchased this at The Fiber Studio in Henniker, It's a lovely store with just about every fiber you could wish for, plus spinning wheels and a large selection of beads as well. They were nice enough to wind the yarn into balls for me, to save me the effort. This, I think, will be...drum roll...a shawl! Okay, I'm not only a lace fanatic, but also a shawl fanatic. And this chenille would sure make a comfy, cozy coverup for chilly winter days.

So that, along with the magic loop instructions and the instructions for Elizabeth Zimmerman's Adult Surprise Jacket, was my haul. (Hmm. Wonder how many yards of chenille the jacket would need?) Now I'm gloriously glutted with yarn and looking forward to each and every stitch!

Do you go to fiber festivals, and if so, which ones? Do you stock up on yarn, or books, or needles/jewelry/patterns? Or do you just go to talk with the shop owners, farmers, designers and spinners? I can't believe I went the first (mumble, mumble) years of my life before discovering these!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Win Recycled Purple Cashmere

I'm begging you: please enter the drawing for my stash of recycled rich purple cashmere. Please!

It's laceweight and we all know I'm not going to be knitting lace, real lace, any time soon. This yarn is depressing me. It mocks my lace-a-phobia.

It needs to go.


6.5 ounces

100% cashmere

Lace weight


You can either stake your claim in Comments or email me right here

and I'll announce the winner Thursday morning.

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Mystery Grey Fiber Winner

Congratulations to Cheryl C.!

Stay tuned. More mystery fiber to come.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mystery Prize

I'm doing another manic destashing and need your help. (Yes, I should be writing but I tripped over a bag of Lopi and almost broke my neck.)

Last year I bought four "cakes" of recycled wool/angora in shades of grey that I had planned to knit into a manly scarf for a manly man of my acquaintance. It never happened and quite frankly it probably never will. So now I have this lovely strange yarn (it's four or more distinct threads in the aforementioned shades of grey), maybe two thousand yards of it, in need of a home. It's very fine stuff, very appealing in an understated way.

And it's yours for the taking. Drop me a note here and I'll pick a winner this time tomorrow night.

Be brave! It's for a good cause. I'm drowning in fiber.

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Socks are not ugly!

Gee, I deeply admire those socks! I saw the coolest fingerless gloves on Knitty--with embroidery (I can do that!) but the pattern turned out to be so awkward for me. They want you to knit the tubes for the fingers first and then attach it in the round to the body and I ended up so confused with so many tails of yarn that I am near tears. So, does anyone have a good pattern for fingerless gloves that won't make me cry?

I have been ill opening our statements from Fidelity and Morgan Stanley, so I think I am NOT going to do that anymore, but just tuck them in a drawer, and I think I need some nice zenlike knitting to get me through these tough times.


Brave new worlds

If Barbara is brave enough to show you her socks (which are not butt ugly) then I can publish the above photo. Ignore the model -- the purpose is to show off the little lace top I knit from the Knit N Style pattern sent to me by Elizabeth Delisi.

You may recall that back in June I put out a call for this pattern. I wanted to knit the top to be part of a belly dancing outfit. Yes, when I'm not writing or knitting, I belly dance.

This is knit with a shiny Viscose/Polyester Yarn from Italy called New Smoking. Very odd name, I thought. The photo doesn't do it justice -- the yarn is a brilliant blue with shiny blue flecks. Almost metallic. As much as I tinked this thing, there are still a few mistakes, which is why I won't be posting a close-up. But the shiny, sparkly blue yarn and intricate pattern distract from any errors. The top turned out very nice and my dance class is very impressed. The top is comfortable and doesn't ride up when I raise my hands -- another big plus.

I have 3 1/2 balls of this left over. It was a special order from my LYS. I'm debating what I could make with that amount of yarn. Not lace, I don't think. At least not right away. I found the process very nerve-wracking and frustrating.

Right now I'm knitting another pair of socks. Comfortable, easy and portable.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

As (not) Promised

I told you so!


What I've Been Knitting

I promise not to make any more blog promises. I promise not to promise to be a more faithful regular blogger. I promise not to promise "pictures later." I promise not to promise that I'm going to suddenly turn into an organized, orderly, normal human being who keeps regular human hours, meets all her deadlines with time to spare, and always knows what's lurking right around the corner.

I also promise not to mention 1) politics and 2) the economy because quite frankly I'm sick of both subjects. Sometimes I look around and can't quite believe any of this is going on.

Which is the last mention of it you'll get from me.

There's an emotional component to knitting that I've been thinking about these last few years. Something deep, almost visceral, that I don't feel when I'm embroidering or needlepointing or sewing but feel in my bones when I pick up knitting needles or a crochet hook. A connectedness, for want of a better word, that so far has defied my attempts to explain it. Or even understand it for that matter. It's just there. Knitting makes me happy. It makes me feel more centered. It makes me feel part of something indefinable but incredibly important. I know that you know what I'm trying to say and if you can say it better or differently please please leave a note in comments because one way or another I'm going to figure this out.

There's been lots of knitting going on Chez Crazy the last few weeks. I'm on the second Vintage Velvet. I'm 2/3 of the way through a pair of plain vanilla white socks in Comfort for Goldisox. The Log Cabin blanket is looking beautiful. I've completed two complete EZ Garter Stitch blankets in Cascade Ecological. Now the plan is two complete two more and sew them all up into one eNORmous 80 pound blanket. The WAVY scarf in Noro Silk Garden is at the halfway point. I'm planning to start two shawls for holiday gifts for two very special friends. (Simple shawls. This is me you're talking to: the woman who is scared to death of lace.) And I'm determined to knit myself a sweater or know the reason why.

And did I tell you that I poured an entire Egg Cream into my HP laster printer Friday afternoon? You can read the sad story here. I don't have the heart to retype it for you. It's too embarrassing. No grown woman should ever have to up-end a printer then race it across the family room, across the kitchen, and into the dish drainer. No grown woman should have to drag the wet vac up from the basement and spend two hours sucking chocolate milk out of the carpet.

There's a better story here. It's all about the Good Old Days of writing romance at Harlequin American, back when I was a girl of 32 and waiting for my first book to come out. That was during my needlepoint period. I'll never be able to think about the experience of writing and selling and publishing my first book without thinking about the many, many needlepoint projects that I worked on during that time. For awhile I made sure there was a needlepoint/needlework reference in every book I wrote. Don't laugh. I always wondered about characters in novels and why so few of them had hobbies. What's life without a great hobby to give it focus?

Back to work for me.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Butt Ugly Socks

I knitted the ugliest pair of socks on the planet last week. I don't know if you remember but I cast on for a pair of Regia Silks a few months ago and kind of let them drop. A normal run-of-the-mill pair of cuff downs in my basic boring pattern. Plain stockinette. Gusset heel. Round toe. I wanted soft, comfortable, and functional.

What I got was butt ugly. So ugly that I don't want to show them to you. But the damn things are so comfortable that I'm wearing them right this second. They look like deflated pink footballs. The Regia Silk has no spring-back. You stretch these puppies and they stay stretched until their next go-round in the washer/dryer. They look limp, exhausted, baggy, saggy, sad and lonely and middle-aged. (Which, come to think of it, describes me right this second.)

But I love them. I can't believe I'm typing those words but it's true. I love them. They don't itch. They don't pinch. They're heaven on the feet even if I'd rather die than show them to you.

It's almost time for CASTING SPELLS to be released into the wilds of bookseller land and I am quite honestly freaking out. I looked around for a more elegant way to put it but freaking out describes my state of mind best. I'm pushing toward the end of the sequel which is helping to take my mind off the fact that after what seems like forever it's time to loosen my stranglehold on the book and set it free. I don't do that very well. I try but it's hard to admit that this whole post-writing process is completely out of my control.

So far things are looking good. I'm doing an interview with DallasBookDiva on October 20th. PW gave the book a terrific review; RT Book Club named it a Top Pick; a starred review from Booklist. CASTING SPELLS will be a "Fifty Books You Need to Know About" pick for November at Barnes & Noble. And other interviews, etc., are in the works. All good, right? So why does my stomach hurt so much that I can't sleep nights? I wake up literally in a cold sweat around three a.m., thinking of all the ways in which I could have done a better job. I want to pull the book back and rewrite it, make changes, hang on to it a little longer.

But I can't which is why I've been a knittin' fool these past few weeks. What have you been up to?

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OT: It's Hockey Night Tonight!

Actually, it will be Hockey Night almost every night from now until June-ish. Can we say "excited"? That's me!

Last night was the Devils' home opener, and we won, we won! We beat those nasty old Islanders 2-1. That's Zach Parise celebrating the first goal of the game and the season. I was there to see it too. Wahoo!

As for the lace scarf, well, it's collecting dust and probably will be for awhile. Between Brodie (see post below) and the Devils, I have a very full schedule.

So how about all you other hockey fans here at RTY? Let's hear from you about the beginning of the season. I know I'm psyched!