Friday, January 29, 2010

Love from Anonymous

Back when I was a starry-eyed, idealistic teenager, I read a book by Lloyd C. Douglas. I can't remember the title but it had something to do with charity. Now I'll admit I'm not a fan of the word "charity" -- it's a tad too noblesse oblige for my taste but the idea of giving freely to someone you don't know with absolutely no expectations attached is both compelling and seductive. (Note: It was Magnificent Obsession.)

And I know you all understand exactly what I'm talking about. Knitter are givers. We can't seem to help ourselves. Maybe it begins from a selfish place (please please help me reduce my stash!) but it quickly becomes something deeper. More intimate. More necessary.

Anyway, the point of the Lloyd C. Douglas book was that giving only had true value if the donor remained totally anonymous and that idea stuck with me all these years. Crazy, I know, but admitting to making those shelter blankets was a big deal for me and I did it only because I wanted to encourage other knitters of like mind to give it a try.

There's more. I make baby blankets and booties and tiny socks for various hospitals and organizations and I'll bet most of you do too.

Let's talk! What do you knit and where do you send it? What organizations are in need? To hell with LCD . . . let's share the info.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And even more FOs . . .

I know what your thinking. "Did that woman do anything but knit last year?" The answer is hidden beneath a mountain of Malabrigo . . .

These are Cable Footies from ONE SKEIN by Leah Bradford. I used Filatura Lanarota Luxury Cashmere that I bought on sale from Smiley's On-Line. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get a decent photo of them. They look all floppy and formless but, trust me, they're soft and cozy. In retrospect, I probably should have used either thicker yarn or smaller needles but my niece was happy and that's what counts.

And then we have the Kumara Bed Socks from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2009 - pattern by Andi Clark. And oh what a pattern it is: quick and easy. Totally intuitive once I made my Magic Loop adjustment. Pure knitting pleasure. I used more Filatura Lanarota Luxury Cashmere on size US7s. I couldn't get a decent picture of these either. (Are you beginning to see a pattern here??)

And some more shelter blankets.

Is it melodramatic to say knitting saved my sanity?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spreading the Word

I have to say, I'm really feeling pleased with my yarn-prosletyzing lately. I saw Simone last week, and we did some crocheting together at a cafe; I saw Lori recently, wearing a cute double-ruffle tea scarf she crocheted. Both of them knew how to crochet before me, but I helped talk them into picking it up again. (I think mostly with the adorableness of amigurumi, since they have little ones to make toys for.)

And then at the show on Saturday, Nikhil showed up wearing a beautiful hat he'd crocheted -- he asked me last summer to teach him how to crochet, and he came by for an hour and I showed him stuff, and I didn't know if he'd really follow up with it, but he apparently did, making not only a hat for himself, but holiday gift hats for his nieces, and I think he said something about also making them some legwarmers on the plane. Woohoo! And now Venu wants to learn, so I'm hoping to teach her next week.

It's incredibly satisfying to pass these skills on, and so easy -- I can teach someone enough crochet to get them going on a scarf in about an hour. I haven't tried teaching knitting yet, but I think that would take 2-3 hours. And once they have that, they're basically good to go, and can make all sorts of fabulous things for themselves, relatives, friends. Yay!

In theory, I could also teach the basics of stained glass, bookmaking, candle-making, collage, acrylic painting, glass etching, etc. and so on, because I am a craft addict. But yarn is easy, portable, inexpensive (if you're careful and don't indulge in the fancy ones), and super useful for day-to-day life -- I think the only thing that might be better for me to teach folks is basic cooking skills, and most of my friends do have those already.

Anyway, I guess this is my way of saying I like teaching yarn. Little effort, high reward. Maybe I need to offer a basic crochet class? I wouldn't charge for it, because really, the basics are so easy. (I learned from a book.) We'd just need people to bring their own supplies -- about $5 worth of crochet hook and yarn. I wonder how many of my friends would be interested in coming by Oak Park some weekend soon to learn? I think I could reasonably teach 3-5 people at a time; more if Lori or Simone came by to help teach. :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some more '09 FOs

Okay, so these aren't pretty, but they're useful. I love to crochet "Snuggles" for shelter animals waiting for a new home. (Two strands of bulky yarn, humongous hook, single crochet or hdc, depending on my mood and the yarn itself.) You can find out all about Hugs 4 Homeless Animals by visiting this link. Click on Snuggles Project on the right under "Please Help." If you love animals and want to help, this is a terrific way to do a little stashbusting. I've done many more but haven't uploaded the photos yet.

My Red Scarf for the Red Scarf Project. This is from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. It's the Men's Cashmere Scarf, knitted in burgundy cashmere on US9s. The truth? The sides curled and the endless length made me despair for my sanity.

And what's the point of all these winter holidays if you don't knit up some handwarmers. I went back to the wonderful, simple, tried-and-true Voodoo Handwarmers by the incredibly talented Bonne M. Burns. Noro Kureyon yarn, of course. And yes, I'm a fan of fraternal twins. Why do you ask?

Some interesting socks and a giant realization next time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

On the needles: another blanket

My husband's fertile family is expecting another new arrival in April, this time a little boy. I was bored with bibs so I decided to try a different project. What did I choose? A baby blanket!

You'd think after all my whining about my DD's Boundless Blue Blanket I'd stay away from blankets for awhile, wouldn't you? Instead I seem to have become addicted to them, even using the same darned pattern for the baby project. The truth is I like the texture and neatness of the pattern and it's easy to knit without concentrating on it.

Also, a baby blanket takes about one fifth the amount of yarn that DD's B.B.B. did so it seems quite manageable. I'm making excellent progress and enjoying it so far.

My one disappointment is the softness of the project. Because the expectant parents live in Florida I chose a cotton yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton in color #602, a pretty pale mint green. When I squeezed the skein in my LYS, it seemed quite squishy. However, as I'm knitting it up on #7 needles, it is coming out a bit stiff. Not that it's scratchy or anything like that, but it doesn't have the lovely drape that my DD's blanket does. I'm kind of sad about that and wondering if it's because I'm using smaller needles for this project. Would that make it seem stiffer?

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FO: Boundless Blue Blanket in use

I finished the Boundless Blue Blanket in time for my Darling Daughter's birthday. Yay! To prove that it is appreciated, here's a candid photo of DD wrapped in the warm turquoise baby alpaca while Facebooking in her bed. Can you tell she gets cold easily?

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

And she can bake too . . .

You already know I'm a big fan of Dawn Brocco's designs but what you didn't know is that I'm a big fan of her cookies too!

This is what remains of my wonderful Christmas 2009 surprise package:

Sweet, spicy, chewy, glittery . . . just plain delicious. THANK YOU, Dawn! Now, in the interest of full disclosure among knitting friends, I need the cookies' official names and--umm--maybe a recipe or two?? xoxo


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Some 2009 FOs - part 2

I couldn't get a decent shot of the Cable Footies from Leigh Radford's book One Skein so ended up clipping them to a winterkilled bush next to the house after the requisite tree shot bombed. They're indecently soft and squooshy - Filatura Lanarota Luxury Cashmere again. (I bought up an armful of the stuff during a Smiley's sale about two years ago. Very smart move on my part!) They'd be more shapely if I'd used a less supple yarn but what I sacrificed in form I more than made up for in comfort. (They went to our niece Laura. The Kumaras went to our niece Tricia.)

A very simple pair of super-soft socks that went to D for her birthday. Regia Softy is a delight to work with. It feels fabulous on the feet. But it sheds. Oh man, does it shed. After washing, you have to reach deep into the toe and pull out a golfball-sized wad of Softy fuzz.

The red Softys I made for myself. Both socks were made using a slightly modified version of The Wendy's top-down pattern from Knit Simple magazine. Highly recommended technique.

And I couldn't let the year pass without at least one Red Scarf Project scarf, could I? I used some unnamed burgundy cashmere from a long-ago eBay purchase. The parttern was Men's Cashmere Scarf from Joelle Holverson's Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. My advice: 1) check for errata. My first go-round with this pattern ended in tears of frustration. I thought I was the world's dumbest knitter. Turned out World's Dumbest Knitter wasn't as dumb as she thought. There was an error in the pattern. And 2) It curls. It shouldn't but it did. Big time.

I also discovered that endless seed stitch variations bore the crap out of me. That scarf felt like solitary confinement. I missed the fiddly fun of knitting lace, the crisscrossy goodness of cables! Who knew!?!?

And there's still more . . .

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Some 2009 FOs - part 1

I may have been silent, but I definitely wasn't idle!

Kumara Bed Socks - pattern from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts edition
Filatura Lanarota Luxury Cashmere

An unbelievably quick and easy knit. The pair took less than a week. The first sock took less than a day! Highly recommended.

Close-up of Kumara

The photos don't do the finished socks justice. Great pattern!

Baby UGGS - pattern from Fiber Nooks & Crannys in Corvallis, OR
I ended up adding extra lines of fluff to make them UGG-ier

Berroco Suede and unidentified white fluff

A two-hour knit. Great fun!

O Tudora! How I love thee!
Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed

More dangerous than potato chips! Once you start knitting, I dare you to stop after one Tudora. I resisted this pattern for over a year and then something clicked and I was off and knitting. Completely irresistible.

Pure knitting pleasure!!

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010!

I don't know about you but 2009 couldn't leave soon enough for me. And did you notice it left on the night of the blue moon? Gotta be good luck. I refuse to accept anything less!

So here's to fresh starts, fresh ideas, fresh ways of looking at old problems. Here's to being happy with what we have while we're lucky enough to have it. Here's to aiming high and hitting the mark.

And here's to knitting. It kept me sane these last few months. Seriously. The simple act of making loops and knots with pointy sticks soothed my soul and kept me from playing in traffic.

Did I tell you my big news? I finally finished a lace project. Okay, it's only Branching Out but I did it and believe me if I can finish a lace project anyone can. (Don't tell anyone but I actually had fun. There's something mesmerizing about all those YOs and K3Togs.

We take our triumphs where we can get them! I can't wait to see what 2010's gonna bring.

So what have you been up to? I've missed you all more than you'll ever know.

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