Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool - The Fun Continues

In yesterday's mail, I had a brown 9x12 envelope from Ellen's Half Pint Farm. What the heck? Inside is a pattern that I bought and paid for on 5/5/07 at MSW ($6), and had completely forgotten. It came with an apology and thanks for my patience (which is pretty good when I don't remember I have anything to be impatient about). The pattern is for a vest and is very nicely printed on good card stock but with no picture--hence I have no idea what it's supposed to look like. And no memory of having ordered it, but it's definitely my handwriting on the order slip. And it's apparently one of those patterns that is a combination of stitches in different areas. Knit 36 stitches in pattern A, then switch to pattern B, then C--and all the rows are different (Row 17= row 6 of pattern A, row 13 of pattern B, etc.). The pattern suggests you might want to write out each row for your size individually to keep track of it all. Yeah, I'm right on that one in my spare time. Oh, my!

In related news, Mr. Pug was cleaning out a closet yesterday and came across a box of yarn that has been in hiding for several years, probably since we moved into this house and maybe since we came to Georgia, since I can't remember seeing it in the recent past. It's a hodge podge of projects, started and unstarted, acrylic, cotton, wool, lots of mohair. Kind of musty smelling. What was I thinking? Some Manos in a funny purple--why would I buy 4 hanks of Manos in that color? Was I intending to use it with some other yarns? No clue... A jacket started but never completed (I remember the pattern from Knitter's magazine--I might even want to make it one day, but probably not in this yarn, and I have no idea where the magazine/pattern might be.) A bunch of cotton in hot pink. Some acrylic for kids' stuff, green, purple, multicolored. More mohair! Lots and lots of needlepoint wool from that period in my life, all stuffed into a black garbage bag.

Oh, my. I'm exhausted just thinking about going through it and figuring out what to do with all that stuff. Like I don't have enough yarn I'm never going to use, I really didn't need to find another box of it. And it's one of those big boxes--the kind that bumps you every time you pass it.

Now what else is hanging over from MSW? Are there more unexpected goodies hanging about? Did I order anything from SAFF that I haven't gotten? Memory loss does have its good points, I guess.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moebi-Now What?

Pop Quiz:

What's the world's longest river?
What's the world's longest snake?
Where can you find the world's longest moebius?
What can you do with the world's longest moebius?

If you guessed the Nile, the python, the northwest suburbs of Atlanta, and no frickin' clue, you are correcto-mundo, oh omniscient one.*

Okay, I've had a couple of clues that the whole moebiusperiment might be a moebi-maybenot

First, a little moebi-history:

My first foray into MoebiusLand took the form of a sample made on 80 stitches (size 9 47" needle, Lion Brand Wool-Ease).

The result was a necklace, not exactly the flowing knitted garment that I might have anticipated from Cat's instructions posted on DIY. (I used a 9 instead of the recommended 11 because that's the only 47" needle I had at the time, but still ... 24 inches of densely packed stitches is not precisely what I had in mind, disappointing even.)

So, checking out the "how many stitches" chart in A Treasury of Magical Knitting (p. 20), I thought, hmmmm....24" is too small, we'll make it twice as big, so 48" at 5 stitches to the inch, what the heck, round up to 250 stitches.

And casting on 250 stitches gives you a long edge of 500 stitches. Cool. Cast on, knit forever (or until it's around 7" wide or almost an even two skeins), finish with applied I-cord. Extra credit question: what is the most tedious knitting job in the world? Answer: putting I-cord on the above-referenced world's longest (and least useful) moebius.

So how did I end up with 70"? Can you say gauge? Or is it the nature of the beast?

(And, while we're talking about strange, I thought the applied I-cord would result in an edge that didn't curl. Moebi-Not!)

Actually, my first clue should have been this. But I'm nothing if not stalwart--I just kept knitting.

My second clue should have been the look of horror on the face of Wanda, owner of Knitting Emporium in Kennesaw, when I told her I'd cast on 250 stitches. She showed me a beautiful moebius wrap she had knit (in worsted weight Malabrigo on size 13's) using 126 stitches. It nestled nicely around my shoulders.

Oh, well, I'm not discouraged. Not much, really. No, really....oh, hell, I'm hating life!

I suppose I could felt it, but I'm not sure whether the soybean part of the yarn (Rowan Tapestry) would felt. Probably not. And then I might end up with a vase.

But since I'm in the "making lemonade out of lemons" mode, now I'm searching for what the real estate world calls the "highest and best use" of this piece of moebi-no. Here's what I've come up with so far:

- Christmas garland (just add lights and/or ornaments)

- Ceiling fan pull

- Belt for Rubeus Hagrid

- Neckwarmer for a pug

Yes, she's the most patient dog ever! The others were quivering in corners lest they be subjected to this torture, which is (I think) the only form currently outlawed by our government. Waterboarding, acceptable; knitted neckwarmer, no.

Project Recap. This is truly an Atlanta 2007 Shop Hop project:

Pattern - From A Treasury of Magical Knitting (Knitch). Iffy at best, but that's probably because I'm a ditz. It's Cat's Bipolar Stockinette, basically. The good news is that I now understand the concept and I'll keep trying.

Yarn - Rowan Tapestry (Why Knot Knit). Lovely, like knitting a beautiful coiled silver anaconda. This shade is the colors of the Earth's precious metals all in one, and I loved seeing them change. At first I thought the soybean content might be a little scratchy (I sneezed for the first 15 minutes I knit with it), but it's soft and lovely. I did find several knots and slubby pieces that had to be worked around or spliced. (For clarification, I spliced the knots and considered the slubs "design features.")

Needles - HiyaHiya #10 47" (Needlenook). This is my first pair of HiyaHiya's and I was a little concerned because they're so light that they feel almost flimsy to a confirmed Addi-lover like myself, but they were wonderful. The join is smooth and the cord never crimped, even under the stress of the moebius cast-on. I'll definitely buy this needle again.

All ideas for moebiuse gratefully accepted, but don't even bother with "rip it out and rewind the ball." That I-cord may be the only extant monument to my patience.

*If you recognize the words of Ed McMahon speaking to The Great Karnack, you're older than you look.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

That Noro Stuff

So, are the manufacturers of Noro the smartest marketers ever, or what?

Let's examine the facts:

(1) The colorways are fabulous. If you can walk past a Kureyon or Silk Garden display without stopping to touch and fantasize, you should probably just pull the lid down on the casket and go back to sleep. However ...

(2) The colorways on the original skein don't give you any idea of the finished product. Still beautiful, but don't even bother to think you know what your object will look like. It's all a crapshoot! The yarn in the photo above* looked as though it would be much lighter than it is, for instance.

(3) The yarn is unplied and this probably saves money in the manufacturing process. If only ...

(4) The yarn costs a fortune, especially because ...

(5) The long colorways mean that you get less pooling but ...

(6) When you get to the end of the skein you have to (a) resign yourself to starting with a totally new, unrelated, color or (b) dig into the other 7 skeins you bought for the project until you find one with the color you want sort of near the beginning of the skein. Assuming the factory balled everything up in the same direction, which they probably didn't. The result is ...

(7) You will end up with 26 small balls of different colorways, none of which fit into your knitting at all. Then you'll go out and buy 3 more, this time hoping for a little synchronicity (or just good luck!) You'd better like fraternal with Noro, otherwise, your 8-skein project will require 13. (Voice of experience speaking here. 'Nuff said.)

(8) The unplied texture has a rustic look. But ...

(9) Knitting with Noro is like knitting with tree bark. In fact, there may be actual tree bark involved--I have seen several types of vegetation that could be anything from hay to bonsai tree cuttings. It will literally scrape the skin off your hands. I just took a piece of wood out of my knitting that I could have used in the fireplace to heat the house.

(10) The yarn has a gorgeous thick-thin-thicker-threadlike texture that makes it texturally very interesting. Unfortunately ...

(11) You can't use it to sew your project's seams because you might as well used barbed wire (or, as we say in the south, "bob wahr").

(12) It felts really well except ...

(13) When you're trying to spit-splice yarn together because there are 13.6 knots in the average skein of Noro yarn. Spit-splicing becomes a lost art with Noro.

Then, when you're done ...

Love that Noro!

*Iro #57 (purchased from Main Street Yarns)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

For several years, before we started to pass the food at Thanksgiving dinner and after saying grace, I terrorized my daughters, and any unfortunate guests, by making each person around the table tell what they were grateful for. The answers, as often happens when hungry folks are put on the spot and denied mashed potatoes, ranged from truly banal to gloriously provocative. Sometimes they even (amazingly!) created conversation fodder. What a treat! I have always loved hearing what was going on inside other people's minds.

This year, for the first time I can remember in about 30 years, I won't have control of that table and I won't be able to put anyone on the spot. But I still rule the roost here, and can do what I want. So, I'll terrorize you by telling you what's on my mind, just for a change.

I'm grateful for, in no particular order, and with the understanding that the list is incomplete:

- Spit. I'm knitting a Lotorp bag (Noro Revisited, I think) and when you knit with Noro, you better have an ample supply of saliva to spit-splice all the knots. My bag, about half complete, has way more of my spit than I had originally planned. On the other hand, if my body is ever discovered in a strange place, ID missing, in close proximity to the Lotorp, please feel free to use it for DNA testing.

But damn, that Noro is gorgeous!

- The November birthdays are done. As in complete, over, finished, put your wallet back into your purse. In my family, three biggies among the immediates: Jake, KC and Kerrigan. (And several more among the next-to-immediates.) Let me just say that after one weekend that included KC's birthday (NASCAR Speedpark) and Kerrigan 's (Monkey Joe's), I'm exhausted. No more birthdays until Haley and Deirdre in December. Whew!

- Measles, or more particularly, having had measles Back in the Day, or, as they were known then, The 50's. The only thing worse than being at Monkey Joe's for a birthday party is being there with a child who is unexpectedly spotty and whiny and hot and who turns out to be highly contagious. We're lucky we escaped with our lives. (There's a certain irony in having your child GET measles from the shot that was supposed to innoculate him from it, but then that's a fact that some people learn from their flu shots every years. I'm still a believer.)

- Family. As a whole, we're all pretty healthy, but there are always worries in any family. This is the year that my oldest nephew Mike had a terrible bicyling accident in the course of his duties as a police officer. He's going to be okay and for that I'm almost pathetically grateful. Jake's mom's and stepfather's health have been chancy this year and I'm glad they're doing better. We've got a wedding coming up in March (Caitlin and Bobby) and a new baby in April (Sarah and Andrew's). My two sisters are doing well. All the grands are growing up, intelligent, mouthy, beautiful--perfect in every way. My two daughters have been through tough times this year and they're both stronger for it. We are extremely lucky!

- L'Occitane en Provence Hand Cream. It's officially cold weather, although here in Georgia that's relative. But my hands know it, and they are dry, cracked, chapped. My hangnails have hangnails. And, if there was even a drop of moisture in my skin before, the aforementiond Noro has removed every trace. And don't be thinking that all that spit I'm slathering on my spliced ends is helping. The Noro has sucked all that up, along with any moisture native to my skin. And L'Occitane isn't cheap--a smallish tube, tinier than the average infant's foot but still too large to be carried onto an airplane because it qualifies as a Weapon of Mass Destruction, costs about $650 and is worth every penny. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

- Military Personnel. One day this week, I flew to Savannah and back in one day (for a job interview that will probably go nowhere). And the airports were everything you have heard and seen on the news--ugly, crowded, noisy, filled with many lovely and some quite nasty folk. (It's never a good sign when you're greeted at the airport entrance with the news that the place is such a zoo that Meredith Viera is reporting on the chaos Right Now, From Right Here in The Airport, Yes, That's What I Said, Right Here!!!!!) But back to the military. On both planes, there were numerous military personnel, traveling on leave to visit with their families before returning to Iraq. The man sitting next to me on one plane was on his way to Savannah to get married on Saturday before going back to Iraq on Monday. I felt quite teary to see all these folks who are working so hard to keep my life so peaceful here at home. Thank you to all who serve our country. And, because I'm a patriot, I won't mention that we wouldn't be there at all if folks in Florida knew how to count votes.

- Grandchildren. Well, I know I mentioned some of them earlier, but I am especially grateful because I have eight of the little suckers, after all, ranging from 2 to 21. And what they are best at is putting it all in perspective. When you're feeling a little down, like the world sucks and you can't find a job and you're too fat and you just dropped a stitch, for heaven's sake, there's nothing quite like a grandchild's hug to take your mood back up a few notches. And, if your ego needs a little downsizing, the comment that will do it is this one: "Duuuuuude, what did you do to your hair color? Man! What were YOU thinking?"

Gotta love it.

- Pugs. What can you say? A life without a pug is just plain bleak, unthinkable, a wasteland of infinite proportions. Life with four pugs, on the other hand, is a little unthinkable some days too. It takes all my meager powers to be grateful for Bluto when he starts his howler monkey imitation, which he does when he cannot see me sitting ten feet from him and therefore he believes himself to have been abandoned. But that's a story for another day.

-Low Drama, High Darhma. Things are quiet around Chez Pug, and in my life. Oh, occasionally there might be a brief scuffle over ownership of a stuffed toy or a chewie, or maybe a serenade from the howler pug and the other members of his quartet, but basically life is good. No conflicts, no anxiety (well, maybe a little about the J-O-B situation, but it's still minimal). I'm trying to live mindfully these days, taking note of the effects of my actions on others, and being aware of my blessings in life. When I hear about the drama in other people's lives, I'm just really grateful to be out of that particular fray. Yesterday morning I sat out on the knitting perch (yeah, it was kind of chilly but not too bad--remember that in Georgia, everything's relative), just knitting and enjoying the yard. The leaves were falling, spectacularly in a whirlygig fashion, dropping noisily onto the ground. The bird feeder and squirrel tray had customers lined up for the seeds and suet. The pugs were on patrol and I talked on the cellphone with Mr. Pug, who's visiting his family in Salt Lake City. Drama? Not here. Life is damned good.

- Finally, the knitting community. My life is enriched every day by the knitters I know. They are amazing people, for the most part, generous and friendly and loving. And thanks to the Atlanta knitting shops for that wonderful Shop Hop these past two weeks. I missed a few shops I wanted to get to, but having a job, looking for a job, and family obligations kept me away. Sometimes you've got to prioritize, and yarn doesn't always win. (Mostly, but not always.) But I had fun and hung out with a lot of nice people and it was a great event. And I love all those knitters I knit with every day, and the ones I just read about on their blogs, and the ones who post fabulous pictures on Ravelry. I love our community's charitable work. (A special shout-out to the new knitting ministry at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Sedona. Good work, guys!) Basically, I'm grateful for all of you--you're all exceptional people.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I am a woman of obsessions. (Note the plural.) That might seem strange to those of you who can't imagine what it would be like to be consumed by the need to make something, try something, do something, even when you know darn well you don't need it, nobody you know wants it, and you may not even want it yourself. But you GOTTA have it, right now!

Okay, that's a normal day at the beach for me. So, if it's incomprehensible to you, you can just exit out of here and no one's feelings will be hurt.

Much of this year has been consumed by an obsessive need to knit lace. Now somehow I've gotten through 45+ years of knitting with only an occasional desultory nod to the yarnover crowd. I don't wear lace. I'm not a lace person. I'm more the tailored type. I have no desire to look like I'm wearing Aunt Tillie's antimacassar on my shoulders. Neither of my daughters is the lace type--both would probably barf in their socks if I suggested they wear a lace shawl. Three granddaughters and none of them are lacy, though that could change with time.

But this year the Lace Light is fully ON and I have amassed a huge (and still growing) bucket of laceweight yarn, and a 3" binder full of lace patterns. I am knitting lace. Why, you ask? No clue. But lace is my new thing, and I'm powerless over it. Must knit lace.

I suspect that if I have one thing in common with Cat Bordhi, that's it. We are both obsessed. I think that's where the similarity ends. She's obviously on the inventor side; I'm merely a respectful end user. But now her obsession is feeding mine. Not a good thing.

Cat was in Atlanta last week and I went to a guild meet 'n greet at Knitch for her. (Unfortunately, I couldn't take either of her classes -- maybe after I'm gainfully employed again.) Cat spoke for about 90 minutes, mostly about herself and the way she works, and about her new sock book. She may have mentioned the word "moebius" but she certainly didn't dwell on it--she was all about her new sock designs. Of course, I bought the sock book and I will try them--they're truly innovative, if a little odd, and I will make at least some of them.

Then Ellen showed up at the Noble Knitters wearing a moebius and knitting another one. They were made of Noro Kureyon and, while beautiful, they were not my style, not my taste, and, frankly, made my neck feel like I'd contracted St. Vitus Disease. Interesting, I thought. Wonder why she's bothering with those things, I thought, given that there's all that lace still to be knit.

So why, why, why, am I now obsessed with making one myself? Couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is that yesterday I bought Cat's Magical Knitting book and not one, but two, sets of yarn for moebieuses (or moebiei, as it were). One yarn is just as red as it is soft and fluffy--100% alpaca--for a light, airy moebius, a cloud to float around my neck. The other is neutral, tailored wool and bamboo from Rowan, for a more professional wear-to-work moebius.

In the meantime, there's just this one little tiny glitch. The famous Cat Bordhi moebius caston. Now, you might imagine that, having bought the book, it would be clear. Clear as tar, in my opinion. Cast on, ripped out. Cast on, ripped out. At least I took Ellen's advice to use crap yarn for this process.

So I Googled the caston and found videos of Cat doing every other thing you can imagine--the woman has more videos on YouTube than Paris Hilton. Cat casts on a sock with someone else's caston method, Cat knits a sock, Cat twists a stitch to the left or right, Cat scrapes a carrot. You name it, Cat's got a video of herself doing it. But not the dreaded caston because then we might not buy the wretched book. (Which, by the way, has typos--as a former editor, this drives me nuts, and I can't even blame her worthless publisher because she self-publishes. Cat, I'm begging you, get a proofreader!)

But she IS a genius, and we'll cut her some slack for things like typos. Geniuses get a walk on that sort of thing.

Finally, on the DIY site, I found a written description of how to do the caston, and it clicked, somewhat. So now I'm playing with it, trying to figure out whether I've got it right or not. And it drives me nuts that I'm effectively swatching with crap yarn while I try to understand it, and wasting time I could be using to knit with that fabulous red alpaca. And that's another difference between Cat and me--she's apparently got the patience of Job for understanding all the nuances of a technique; I just want it to work NOW.

And, Cat, please put the "Cat does the caston" video on YouTube along with the videos of you doing all the other household tasks. You didn't lose readers when we all learned how to knit socks on two circulars--it just got us all excited to see the next thing you'll invent. And seeing that caston will make us want to knit all the variations in the book--I promise!

In other OCD news, why am I also obsessed with making the Modern Quilt shawl from Interweave Knits? It's not lace, I don't wear things around my neck, and I hate weaving in ends. So why, why, why? Can't tell you, but now I'm screaming around town trying to find all the colors. I'm telling you this right now, if I tell you I want to make an Alice Starmore sweater with 36 colors of Shetland, or a Kaffe Fassett sweater with 63, just call my doctor and change my meds!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

This is just so wrong ....

I was on the phone with Eldest Daughter today and I mentioned that I would be available to take a call later in the day if she needed me, saying "After all, I have nothing to do at work anyway."
Her response: "Oh, don't go all Eeyore on me!"
Now I ask you? Have I been Eeyore?
Fine...I probably have. But I didn't need to be reminded, exactly.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Okay, Let's Recap

Time for a little honesty among friends, no matter how painful it may be. And it is.

You may remember that I had a bit of a meltdown at Maryland Sheep & Wool in May, and bought way too much stuff. So, remembering that I haven't exactly set the world on fire with finishing up (or even beginning, in most cases) my MSW purchases, I really set out NOT to buy yarn at SAFF. My failure was spectacular -- I crashed and burned in a major way. Additionally, as though failure with yarn wasn't enough, I added another fiber to the shopping cart this time, roving.

Now, since technically I have no clue what to DO with roving, I'm considering roving bought at SAFF to be in the category of "school supplies." Beautiful school supplies, far from the lowly stuff of my childhood, the pencils (in the words of Bill Cosby) as big as a horse's leg, the paper that looked like half the tree bark was still embedded. No...this stuff can be fondled, hugged, sniffed, and sometimes the fibers actually inhaled if there's mohair involved. Dangerous stuff, but still "learning materials" since they're technically useless, in my hands at least.

Here are the school supplies:

Okay, no problem. School supplies don't count.

Here's the problem:

It's the freakin' yarn I wasn't going to buy:

2007 SAFF Purchases:
  • Brooks Farm Acero and pattern for diamond modular vest. Okay, I'm not apologizing for this. It's just gorgeous. 5 skeins, all a shade different, about 2100 yards. Also, it was the only planned purchase -- enough Brooks Farm yarn for a vest.
  • Yarnsmith Prairie (lambswool, baby alpaca, cashmere) - 2 skeins, different colors
  • Prism Lace Wool, color Mojave
  • Eidos from The Sanguine Gryphon, in Grape (sock yarn)
  • Sea Silk - blue/green
  • Dragonfly Fiber Company merino wool laceweight, Falling Leaves
  • Miss Babs Sock Wool, in Rose Garden
  • The brown Koigu at the bottom was bought for a class and it's only ends and really not enough to do much with so we're REALLY not counting it.
  • Assorted patterns, implements (spindle, nostepinde), tee shirt and SAFF jacket, a pin and some buttons.

Don't even tell me you would have done any better. I did keep to my promise to not buy anything that I could buy elsewhere. Well, except for the Prism which I bought from Yarn Paradise and the Sea Silk. But, sorry! They jumped into my arms and wouldn't leave. But except for those two eensy-weensy technicalities I think I did great.

And, of course, I did promise myself that I would not bring home ANY more sock yarn. That being said, I think I did really well to only bring home two skeins. So there!

And, on the positive side, I did NOT come home with:

  • a spinning wheel
  • an Angora bunny.

But back to that honesty thing. Here's the MSW recap with progress noted in red. As you can see, there's still some work to be done.

2007 MDSW Yarn Purchases:

  • Tess's Designer Yarns Superwash Merino blue (for Diamond Vest) - In progress
  • Autumn House Yarns (Moss Agate, for Rune Way Vest)
  • Socks That Rock, Superwash Merino, Mediumweight: (1) Romancing the Stone(2) Neptunite(3) Carbon Dating(4) Iolite
  • Ellen's Half Pint Farms: (1) 100% merino wool blue/green(2) 80% wool 20% nylon, red/fuschia(3) 50% wool, 50% tencel, blues
  • Celtic Knot Yarn Shop(1) Online Linie 3 sock yarn, blue/black(2) Opal taupe, coral and tan
  • Athlone Farm Llama/Suri alpaca handspun
  • Thistledown Alpacas Myfanvy handspun
  • Tess Designer Yarns sock yarn, blues
  • Tess Designer Yarns Superwash Lace (raspberry and green)
  • Claudia's Handpainted Fingering (for Multidirectional Scarf)- Complete

Okay, I think that's way too much honesty for the time being. Let's go back to that denial thing that I do so well. The one where I praise myself for really not going overboard. Again.

Lily Knits!

So, Lily Chin came to the Atlanta Knitting Guild this week, and what a whirlwind of energy she is! I've always heard that but, except for seeing her from a distance at a Stitches dinner long ago, haven't experienced it in person. What a dynamo--and clever and talented and a great teacher.

In the photo above, she's giving a combination slide talk/knitting demonstration at the Thursday night meeting. She wore a killer Feather and Fan knitted dress and mentioned that it combined latest fashion (empire waist detail) with technique (the feather and fan part).

On Friday and Saturday, she taught a total of four classes. I could only get to two, Borderline Personalities on Friday and Short Rows on Saturday. I have taken several short row classes and eventually one of them is going to click with me. This week was no different--I understand them intellectually but putting them into action is going to take a blinding flash of understanding some time in the future. The borders class, however, really resonated with me! Now I know how I'm going to get that border onto whichever Victorian Lace Today stole I end up making. (That's been one of the sticking points with starting one--I just couldn't make sense in my mind of how that border got attached.) Thanks, Lily. Now I can start one more lace project--that's sarcasm for those who don't recognize it!

I was lucky enough to have dinner with Lily and Claudia on Friday night (who could have predicted that Lily would be a Red Lobster aficionado and Claudia would be a Red Lobster virgin? She's now totally hooked on the whole cheese biscuit thing and has promised not to get snarky about chain seafood restaurants again.) And the weekend concluded with a lovely potluck at Whit's house, looking out over the lake and knitting with friends. What in the world could be better?

Now, for an update. You've probably concluded that I've not been knitting at all, what with all my world travels (if Asheville can be considered "the world") and my celebrity knitting experiences. Not true!

I finally finished Birch, just before I went to SAFF, and, frankly, I was a little disappointed.

Yup, it's beautiful, and yup, that Malabrigo lace yarn is probably the softest, most wonderful yarn I've ever knit with. But, despite the photo above, Birch (on me) is a really lovely little shoulder scarf. Now, a true cynic could argue that the problem is with the wearer--that if I would just lose a little avoirdupois, it might actually be a shawl. But, be that as it may, it's cute, it's petite, it feels good, and it's not a shawl on me! I'll figure out some way to use it, but a shawl it ain't. A babushka, maybe. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I could have predicted this outcome.

Let me begin by saying that you start Birch by casting on an ungodly number of stitches, using the knitted cast-on, I think, which is not my favorite, and then you knit to the point, steadily decreasing. This is wonderful if you want to have an actual end in sight. And, furthermore, before I began Birch, I used the wonders of Ravelry and searched for other people who had made the pattern to read their comments. One of those knitters commented that she wished she had cast on an additional 100 stitches (for a total of 399 instead of the 299 called for) which would have made it larger. Did I heed those words? Nah, I was so bummed out by having to cast on those 299 stitches using a cast-on method I hate that I wandered into a field of denial and stuck with the 299.

Promise to Self: I will make another Birch. I love the pattern, I loved that yarn. But I will suck it up and add on at least another 100 stitches, if not more, at the get-go.

So I did not wear Birch at SAFF, though I took it with me. (Well, I didn't wear anything knitted there--I was, as usual, hot all the time there, even wandering around in the biting wind, and by "hot" I'm definitely not referring to my comely appearance. I was freakin' sweatin' HOT. See note above about excess avoirdupois--coincidence? I think not!)

But I had two problems: (1) I needed another lace project to dive into immediately that would negate the bummed-out-ness of Birch and (2) I needed a project to work on at SAFF that my very small, menopause-addled brain could handle. Enter Kiri, a sort of upside-down Birch:

Loving Kiri! And the beauty part is: since you start at the point, you can just knit until the darned thing wraps around your rather bountiful shoulders. (NOTE TO SELF: How about making Birch out of sport weight or even worsted weight yarn? Maybe worsted weight Malabrigo? That would solve the whole 299 stitch problem! Of course, for me, it would be suitable only in a meat locker or on the ski slopes, but it's really about the process, not the product, isn't it?)

Anyway, I'm making Kiri out of Jaggerspun Zephyr which is again sort of wonderful and sort of a disappointment. Love the yarn, love the color, love the crisp texture. Hate the SEVERAL broken places where I've had to graft. Oh, well. Let's just leave it with, Love Kiri!

And I'm continuing to plod along on the Diamond Vest with the fabulous Tess yarn. For a couple of insane moments I even thought I might get this done for SAFF. What in the world was I thinking? I hate deadline knitting and this one was never going to be done by then. I'm about halfway around the lower part, then there's the upper part to pick up and knit. But I love, love, love the Tess worsted yarn and the pattern is fun (so much fun that it's got me thinking about other modular pieces, and inspired me to buy the beautiful Brooks Farm Acero at SAFF that I haven't even gotten around to showing yet).

Finally, some knitting jewelry. Who knew knitting had jewelry? Amazing!

The bracelet is amazing, from AKG member Nancy, who markets her creations at her etsy site (www.sassafrascreations at* and (ahem!) to her guild friends. It's made out of those old aluminum straights we all got rid of when we got hooked on circulars and wood needles. She has lots of other styles, too. (We even gave one of these bracelets to Lily this week after she admired it--hint: if you want to be wearing the same jewelry as Lily, you know what to do!)

The gorgeous sheep pin is ceramic and I bought it at SAFF from Cindy Hart. She and her husband make beautiful pottery and I bought some fabulous buttons too. In case its beauty isn't enough for you, I can also attest to its durability--somehow it ended up NOT coming off something I washed and it survived the washing machine beautifully, though I'm not recommending the practice.

Finally, the earrings. I made them a couple of weeks ago at a guild class conducted by Jean E. They're beaded, and now I'm very worried that I might get hooked on beads. The class I took at SAFF by Judy Pascale on beaded bags didn't help--I WILL NOT START BUYING ANOTHER FIBER-RELATED STASH, I WILL NOT, oh, heck, knowing me, maybe I will.

*I apologize--I've tried and tried to link to this site but either etsy or Blogger isn't cooperating. Try it this way.