Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SP9, Contest No. 2

My SP9 host is sponsoring a contest which involves making a dishcloth and posting a photo on your blog. So, here it is:

The Ball Band Dishcloth from the Mason-Dixon knitting book. It hasn't been washed yet, so it's still a little "loose" looking.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Finished Object Sighting

Ok, they're not all finished, but here are the pics I promised:

This is the Fair Isle Bag from a back issue of Interweave Knit. It's the first Fair Isle project I attempted and I'm pretty proud of it. Technically, it's not finished because I still have to make the straps for it, but it's blocked and ready to go otherwise. The straps are braided and a bit hard to do by myself. I'll have to commandeer the manchild to help.

These are the fingerless mitts I finished awhile ago, made from Knit Picks Sock Garden and a very fine mohair (I can't find the label).

They are keeping my fingers toasty warm in my cold office. In honor of Socktoberfest, here are a pair of finished sock, (Knit Picks, Sock Garden)

and the socks in progress. The pattern is Victorian Diamonds, the yarn is Knit Picks Gloss, in pumpkin. I love the way these socks are turning out.

Lastly, here are four finished squares for my Lizard Ridge afghan. These are so much fun to make!

In progress are a booga bag, which is felting even now and this:

my Christmas Gnome, which, hopefully, will end up looking like this:

Making this gnome has been extremely challenging. First was getting hold of the pattern. It's from a British knitting magazine and is no longer available from them. The pattern hasn't been printed elsewhere so I tried to find a used copy of the magazine (ebay, getting more and more expensive and hard to find) but I finally found a woman who is selling the pattern on ebay. Of course, now I can't find the right yarn for the beard. It's Sirdar Foxy and I can't find it locally. The closest thing is Plymouth Foxy, but it's $28 a skein!! No way. I guess I'll have to order it online. Anyway, I'll post the photos when he's done.

And finally, a cute kitty pic. Kimi approves of the Lizard Ridge afghan, of course, she has a "thing" for wool.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Catching Up

Or maybe attempting to catch up would be more accurate. The last two weeks have been a blur, but I'm slowly climbing back up to the top of the Things Which Must Be Done list. Of course, from up here you have a clear view of just how much remains To Be Done.

I survived the conference and it went well. I enjoyed the Peter, Paul & Mary concert, I got to talk to George McGovern, hear Jeffrey Sachs (interesting guy), hear Bill Clinton (a little disappointing), recruit a few new volunteers and generally make a good work-related impression on a lot of people.

The Twins lost. Spectacularly. Enough said.

I've done a fair amount of knitting, but almost no spinning in the last couple of weeks. Knitting is much more portable and I haven't been home much. My work-related travels last week took me to Syracuse, Indiana, via Fort wayne. This involved flying on at least two commuter planes, aka puddle jumpers. My seatmate on one of these flights was a woman who was genuinely alarmed that I had been allowed to board the plane with four implements which clearly could be used to Kill Someone. Most of us would see these as four, size 2, double pointed needles. I tried to point out that they were currently involved in the making of a sock and weren't likely to do anyone harm but she continued to mutter about "won't let you bring shampoo on, but you can bring Those Things..."

I took the opportunity to visit two yarn shops. The first shop, Knitting Today , is a delightful store located out in the country about 45 minutes north of Ft. Wayne. It has the feel of a country general store, but dedicated to all things fiber. The owner, Lea Ann, had just the right combination of helpfulness without being obnoxious. She carried a number of pattern companies that I was not familar with and did a wonderful job of displaying project ideas in little nooks and crannys all over her store. Since I knew that this was the first stop of two, I exercised restraint in the spending. If I had known ahead of time how disappointing the second shop would be, I'd have spent more money at Knitting Today.

The second shop, The Cass St. Yarn Depot, is located in Ft. Wayne. In the charm category it wins very high marks as it is located in a historic train depot. Otherwise, I wasn't impressed. For one thing, they don't have much yarn. Really. Knitting Today had twice the inventory. The Yarn Depot did have a nice display of books and magazines. The shop did not have a very welcoming feel and the staff weren't particularly friendly. Quite a contrast from Knitting Today.

I know that I am very spoiled living in the Twin Cities where we have at least a half dozen excellent yarn shops, but sheesh, you expect a yarn shop to have yarn!

The trip allowed me to finish a pair of socks. I'm also working on a Booga bag (almost done), another set of fingerless mitts (done with one, halfway done with the second) and another square on the Lizard Ridge afghan. This morning I finished blocking my Fair Isle bag (shown in previous post). It's amazing what a difference blocking makes. It's like magic. The bag will be done as soon as I weave in about 4,693 ends and make the strap.

Tonight I hope to start my Socktoberfest socks -- the yarn, pattern and the double-point needles arrived from KnitPicks while I was gone. I've already used the needles on another project and have to say I love them. They're very light, just the right length and have nice, sharp points. Love the yarn (Gloss), love the color (pumpkin) and I can't wait to get started.

The Secret Pal 9 swap is well underway, I'm being spoiled and trying my best to spoil my pal. Details, later.

I will post pictures. Soon!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things...

Ok, my SP9 hostess is having a contest for her group. If we answer these questions about our favorite whatever, we're entered in a drawing, so here it goes:

Actor Johnny Depp
Actress Don't know her name, the woman who plays "Starbuck" on Battlestar Galactica.
Animal Cats and dogs, equally
Band Coldplay, U2, Battlefield Band, lots of others, no real favorite
Beverage Right now it's the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbuck's
Book Impossible to pick one, anything by Sherri Tepper
Bubble Bath I like oils rather than bubbles, patchouli, sandalwood, spicy scents
Candy Chocolate
Color Fall colors, rusts, browns, dk. oranges, forest greens
Flower Any perennial that will grow in Minnesota.
Food Anything Mexican or Tex Mex
Lip Balm Don't use it. Wait, does plain chapstick count?
Lotion Don't use it, although I should.
Movie The newest sci-fi/fantasy flick
Song Most Puccini arias.
TV Show Battlestar Galactica
Vacation Spot Pretty much anywhere along the north shore of Lake Superior

Monday, October 09, 2006

SP 9 Questionnaire

Ok, I survived the last week of working insanely hard and am now seriously vegetating and self-medicating with fiber. In the interest of catching up with my obligations, here are the answers to the Secret Pal 9 questionnaire:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? So far, I like to knit with just about anything. I love yarn that has a lot of color. I use primarily wool, wool/silk blends, alpaca. I want to try some of the bamboo or soy yarns, they look like they would be fun. I don't like acrylic, although I have been known to use a wool/acrylic blend from time to time. I don't like scratchy or itchy yarn and I don't tend to wear mohair or angora much, but I do sometimes use it with something else to make it a bit fuzzy or softer. Mostly I respond more to the colors in yarn/fiber rather than the content or texture.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? A plastic pencil box from my son's elementary school days. I'm outgrowing it and it's falling apart.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I've been knitting about 3 years. I'd wanted to learn to knit for years, tried teaching myself from books and had one person try to teach me. None of those really worked. About 3 years ago I decided to take a class at a LYS and was fortunate enough to get a teacher who taught continental (picking) style. That method clicked for me and I've been happily knitting ever since. I guess I'd say I'm in the intermediate range. I can do basic stuff in my sleep, I'm pretty good at intricate fair isle, I'm learning lace and I can do socks. I haven't learned how to cable (just haven't wanted to try anything yet) and I don't know how to do intarsia yet (do want to try that, soon). I can read a pattern pretty well, but sometimes still have to ask other folks to "translate."

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yep. Do a search on the email address spinningdervish@hotmail.com at Amazon and you'll find it.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.) I tend to like spicy scents like patchouli, sandalwood, etc. I don't like flowery scents too well and I don't like fruity/food scented things, usually.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Oh yeah. Let's see, anything chocolate. I like all kinds of chocolate, dark, milk, anything in between. I like it plain or with stuff in it. I like things covered in chocolate, especially chocolate covered cranberries. Other than chocolate I like nutty things, like snickers, nut rolls, Trader Joe trail mixes (my favorite is the one with sour cherries). Things that combine caramel, nuts and chocolate are right with the universe. I don't however, particularly like peanuts or peanut-butter flavored things. I don't mind it when there are peanuts are in things, if they're not the main flavor (for instance, I love Snickers bars). I have to say though, that I try to control the sweets, I am diabetic so I have to be pretty careful. Doesn't mean I never eat chocolate, or sweets, but I have to do it in small bits. Please don't send the sugar-free stuff though, it's pretty disgusting. I'd rather have small amounts of the good stuff!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? Yes, I do spin, thanks for asking! I also weave, but I find I weave less and less these days. I do some gardening (perennials) and I do a little beading, mostly just to make stitch markers and sometimes earrings. Mostly I just knit and spin!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD). I listen to mostly rock and classical. Rock tends to be along the lines of U2, Indigo Girls, Coldplay, Green Day, Mindy Smith, Seal, Sarah McLaughlin, etc. Classical tends to be choral (I'm a classically-trained singer) so I listen to a lot of masses and other choral works. One of my all-time favorite pieces is Berlioz's Te Deum. I like opera. I listen to my son's CD's (he sings in the Minnesota Boychoir). I also like world music, particularly middle-eastern, and african. My favorite world music group right now is Niyaz. Yes, I have a way to play MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I love color. There are very few I can't stand, at least in small doses. I don't particularly like pastels, or anything that looks washed out. My favorite colors are "fall" colors, rusts, forest greens, oranges, browns, golds. I also like blues, sea colors, purples, black. I like rich, deep colors.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? My partner and I have been together for 22 years, we have a 13 year old son. We live with an eight year old standard poodle and two cats. I also have a goldfish and two corydoras catfish at work!

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Are you kidding? I live in Minnesota! Yes, I wear all of the above, usually all at the same time.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I knit a lot of socks, mostly because they're quick and portable. I have a hard time with long, epic, projects, I guess I lose interest. I like making things for other people, so I make a lot of socks, scarves, dishcloths. I love fair isle and I'm trying to figure out a fair isle sock pattern I have (I have to substitute the yarn). I like small, intricate projects.

13. What are you knitting right now? Right now, I am working on some fingerless mitts, a sweater, the Lizard Ridge afghan from the current Knitty issue, an earflap andean style hat for my son (I still need to spin the fiber for this). I also have a few log cabin squares done for an eventual blanket.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? You bet.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I use them all, depending on the project. I like sharp points though, and I have an unfortunate tendency to break wooden needles (in teeny sizes). I use the Susan Bates aluminum sock needles now (see above mentioned "tendency to break wooden needles"), but I just ordered some new ones from Knit Picks. I lust after their new Options needles and will probably break down and order a set someday. While I don't usually like plastic, I have used Bryspun needles and like them. I currently own two sets of straights and one set of dp's from them and I appreciate their nice, sharp points. I also like Inox needles.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes, I own both a yarn winder and a swift.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? It's the above mentioned sweater. It's been sitting on needles for about a year and a half. Not likely to see daylight anytime soon.

18. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas, although Halloween is a strong second.

19. Is there anything that you collect? Yes, I collect water buffalo figures. Yes, I said water buffalos. Yes, that IS a weird thing to collect. When I traveled to southeast asia in 2000, I fell in love with the water buffalos and brought home several water buffalo thingies/figures. They have to be the asian kind, not the african kind. My collection currently consists of about 25 little water buffalos, or little things with water buffalos on them. Ebay is your only hope.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? Let's see, I subscribe to Spin Off and I always use the Michael's coupon to buy the latest issue of Interweave Knits. As far as books go, I don't have that many so there are lots of books I want. I have really enjoyed playing with dyes and color and would love more info on how to dye yarn and roving more effectively. If you visit my Amazon wishlist you'll pretty much see them listed there. I can always use new needles and gadgets.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Intarsia. Get better at lace. I'm dying to knit a lace shawl, but my first attempts at a lace scarf didn't go so well. Right now I'm practicing lace techniques but with a heavier yarn, which I find much easier. Hopefully, I'll be able to "graduate" down to a laceweight yarn at some point. I'd also like to learn Nordic knitting and would love to try a pair of mittens.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes, I knit a lot of socks. My foot measures 10" long and I usually wear either a size 9.5 or 10, depending on the shoe. European size is usually a 41 but one of my feet is actually smaller so I have a hard time wearing shoes like Birkenstocks, much to my dismay. I like a sock that comes up about 9-10" but I don't wear knee-highs.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) March 1.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What did you say my blood pressure was?

I'm just a little stressed out right now. I have way too much to do in the next week and not nearly enough time to do it.

As I mentioned before, I'm working on a "mini" conference that is happening alongside the dedication of the George McGovern library. There's still too much of that up in the air and now my national office has gotten wind of what we're doing out here on the prairie and wants a piece of the action. Which is good....and bad. They're now sending a staff person and I'll have to figure out what to do with her for three days. I hate it when people try to "help."

I'm exhausted to begin with because I worked three Twins games at the Metrodome over the weekend. Huh? Did I just say I worked at the Metrodome? Yep. It's a sort of slave labor kind of thing. The company that runs the concessions here uses "volunteers" from non-profit groups to come in and run their stands in the Metrodome and the Xcel Center (in St. Paul). They then pay the organization for each "volunteer" who works a shift on their behalf. The Manchild sings in the Minnesota Boychoir. The Boychoir is touring Australia this summer. It costs A LOT of money to send him, so I'm working shifts to pay off his tour costs.

Although it's really tiring to work the concessions (you're on your feet the whole time), it was fun to be there this weekend, because...the Twins WON THE DIVISION yesterday and I got to be there. Normally, I'm not a huge sports fan, I'm sort of one of those who come on board when things get exciting. But, of all the teams here, the Twins have always been my favorite. They won their last World's Series in '91, right after we moved to Minnesota, so it's been fun to follow them. Plus, you can knit at a Twins game. Definate plus. We go to games at least once a year, because the Boychoir sings the national anthem to open a game at least once a year. So, it was fun to be there yesterday. If you haven't been following, the decision as to whether it would be the Detroit Tigers or the Twins wasn't determined until literally the last minute. The Twins had to win yesterday and Detroit had to lose. Both games were played at about the same time, so after the Twins game was over (they won) everyone stayed in the dome and watched the Detroit/Kansas City game on the big monitors. The Detroit/KC game was a real cliffhanger, going to 12 innings, when KC finally won. I now know the real meaning of the phrase "the crowd went nuts." I think I lost a bit of hearing yesterday.

Needless to say, there hasn't been a lot of knitting the last week. There has, been a little though. The fingerless mitts are almost done, and Saturday night I started a Lizard Ridge. I completely love this afghan. I love the color, I love the texture, it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I have five more skeins of Kureyon, but I'm thinking about seeing if I can swap some of them for different colors at the Knitalong page. I think that to get the full color effect I want to use a different colorway for each one. Swapping seems to be an easy way to get some new colors.

I'll try to post pictures soon, but likely not until after next weekend, when I can finally collapse. Back to the rat race...