Thursday, February 28, 2008

Unsolicited Marital Advice

When your husband is sick (claiming he's dying, whining, crying and coughing in bed) it's a terrific idea to "accidently" wake him with a tightly gripped pillow in your hands. Mutter under your breath, "I just can't stand to see you like this. I want to remember you the way you were!"

Nothing is funnier than a feigned mercy killing.

I'm off to find Mark's Halloween costume. The Grim Reaper needs to bring David some soup and Gatorade.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Spinning

I finally took some pictures of the Beaverslide Merino roving I've been spinning. It's great. Leanne is a joy to buy from. Even her postage is special.

The preparation of the fiber is rough, with plant matter and neps and noils throughout. The 10% kid mohair often appears in clumps and gives the yarn a heathered look. I love this yarn so much. The natural lanolin makes the finished product so soft and lovely. Yum!

The roving colors aren't shown on the website. The purplish yarn is the Mountain Midnight. The dark brown is Natural Black.
I spun all of this roving as bulky weight. I need to think of something special to knit with it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spinning Tip: Beaded Navajo Plying

My previous attempts at beaded yarns have tended to sag. The completed yarn had droopy loops with beads flopping everywhere. Both knitting needles and crochet hooks tend to catch in these yarns. I wanted to bead yarns in a way that trapped the bead (or pompon, or charm) in a way that kept add-ins from sliding and kept the yarn from stretching.

If you don't know how to Navajo ply, there are many great tutorials on the internet. I won't bother adding one. If you know how, it's easy to add beads to your chained single.

You'll need a tiny crochet hook. The beads will need to fit over the throat of the hook.

Get your yarn started plying. I leave the last few yards unbeaded for tying the skein and for casting on/swatching. I don't like wasting beads or my time.

After several "chains" pull a loop 4-6 inches in length through your working loop. Keep the twist pinched awaying from your working yarn with your nondominant hand.

Put a bead onto your hook and push it back to the throat.

Catch the tip of your working loop with the crochet hook and slide the bead down the loop.

Spread the loop open again and continue chaining (Navajo plying) your single, adding beads as often as you like. I added a single glass Blue Moon bead every yard or so for this 100 yard skein.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

False Spring Cropped Cardigan

It's too warm here. It's been in the 30s and 40s. I live in Montana and it's February. This won't last, however lovely the warmth and sunshine is.

Children knock at the door all day, begging for playmates.

My light-starved soul has been temorarily recharged. I've been cleaning...voluntarily. I have been throwing things away without threats from my husband.

I'm celebrating this mini heat wave with a fun crocheted cardigan designed by Monica Brown. The pattern is free and easy to understand. If you can crochet a granny square, you can make this sweater. It has elbow length sleeves and a swingy shell-stitch body. I'm making it out of sturdy, warm wool, though. When the dry, cold Montana winds start blowing again, my cardigan will keep me warm.

I bought the yarn for this sweater in the clearance aisle at Michael's a few weeks ago. I brought home a conservative 7 balls. Really, who can pass up $2 wool? David was so impressed that he drove me in a snowstorm across town to buy the rest of their stock. I ended up with 21 balls of yarn--much of it a rusty orange color David loves.

Just when I think I'm driving him bonkers with the yarn all over the house, he enables me to buy more. He's also been asking me to work on the afghan he'll take to Korea. (I've been trying to work a few rows whenever I can. It's too bulky to take anywhere.) Perhaps I have converted him to Fiberism. Hmm... interesting...

Friday, February 22, 2008

D is for David

He's a big stinker who refuses to be photographed. I have a lot of pictures of the back of his head. There are species of fierce and elusive snakes that are more open to having their pictures taken.

I am crazy in love with my husband. Seriously, it should be in the DSM.

He requested that I make him a Half-Pipe Hat from the new Debbie Stoller Son of Stitch and Bitch book. He won't model it, so I had our daughter do it at the breakfast table today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thank You, Mountain! May I Have Another?

Okay, so Ski Patrol had to escort me down the mountain this time. I was sobbing and I felt like an utter failure. I was sure that my husband would be ashamed or disappointed. He was actually proud. No matter how badly I mess up... no matter how scared I get... I keep coming back for more. I keep trying. I won't and can't give up. I used to be terrified of heights. Fear is ugly and useless and I am defeating it bit by bit.

This garter stitch scarf is my lodge knitting. It's simple and soothing. I'm using some of my handspun "dryer lint" yarn. The bouncy texture of the yarn and the energy of garter stitch are pulling the rows together to make the fabric appear roughly woven. Nice.

My Etsy shop was so badly neglected after my brother's accident that I've been cancelling listings and knitting with the yarns. I plan to list a bunch more next year before we move to England, but I'm not terribly motivated right now.

If you belong to Ravelry, you can snatch up some of my yarns. My user name is Kniterdone. Friend me. Don't me shy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The skiing humiliation continues. I got on a hill that was much too advanced for me. It was military ski day and David's commander heard me screaming from the top of the hill. He insisted on rescuing me. I just wanted to lie down in the snow until Ski Patrol took pity on me and escorted me down. Either that or I was going to try to scoot down on my butt.
My husband has an uncanny ability to photograph me at my best, no?

I ended up flipping down the hill hard enough to rip out the crotch of the snow pants. Yikes.

The colonel who lead me through "ski boot camp" was the nicest, most patient person I ever met. Even if I wanted to cry every five minutes because he wouldn't leave me to sit in the snow and pout.

These modeled photos of me apres ski wear reflect my pouting, my fatigue, and perhaps a tinge of triumph. Mostly they show that me sweater was fit at the bust and loose from there down. It's so comfy. So very comfy and warm for nursing wounds and pride in the lodge and at home after skiing humiliation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Warm Hands

I made a pair of thrummed mittens. I used my handspun, navajo-plied corriedale and some leftover roving scraps from other projects.

They were so soft and delightful before I foolishly steam blocked them. Now the thrums are flat, flappy, and icky. I feel each one between my fingers. Wearing them reminds me of elementary school Halloween parties--reaching into bowls of peeled grapes and oiled spaghetti as part of a G-rated scarefest. These mittens need a microfleece lining. Their new home is next to the sewing machine until I get motivated. Fortunately, the weather is windy and snowy. Nature is my muse.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My favorite sweater

Enjoy my (self) award-winning bathroom mirror photography…

This is the oldest sweater I have in my wardrobe. It's not the prettiest, but it was my first design. It's my favorite. I used Lamb's Pride. If it weren't so itchy, the yarn would be my favorite, too. I love the texture. I almost love the fuzz. I don't love the prickle. I always wear a long sleeve tee under this sweater.

I did the entire thing in twisted stockinette stitch. I had just finished a crochet afghan jag and wrapped the yarn incorrectly while teaching myself to knit continental style. I figured out what I was doing halfway though, and finished by knitting though the back loop.

I love twisted stockinette, but I don’t recommend it for stripes because people will constantly try to straighten your sweater for you.

The star is a crochet motif. Had I known I would grow up to be a stay-at-home-mother, I would never have made such big sleeves. I end up rolling them up because I drag them through everything.

I wear this sweater more than anything I’ve ever made. It’s a junky, sweatshirt style and I don’t mind cleaning house or kneading bread while wearing it. (At least we know the source of the purple hair in the dinner rolls.)

By the way, we're moving to England when David gets back from Korea. It's a long way off, but something to look forward to...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My life story in six words

I make stuff all the time.
Share your six word memoir with the world at SMITH Magazine.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Zen and the Art of Sweater Maintenance

So many people choose yarns on the basis of machine washability. For children (and sometimes men) that's absolutely necessary. For my selfish knitting, I actually like the special maintenance of animal fibers. My handknits are too precious for the brutal washing machine.

We live a modest life. My husband's military salary is our only income. We decided that I should stay home and keep house. We aren't poor, but we don't waste money. When I have something nice, I take good care of it.

Like polishing shoes or waxing skis, removing pills and blocking wool are mindless and meaningful tasks I've learned to love. When I pull a heavy, lavender-scented sweater from the sink and wrap it in a towel, it reminds me of bathing a baby. It's not a chore. It's a reminder of how blessed my life is--how much I have if I will care for it.

The sweater is a top-down raglan knit last year in Paton's Classic Merino Wool. It's not fancy, but it smells sheepy and it's affordable. It was my first attempt at a knitted hem. The neck and wrist cables were knit separately and sewn on. The pill shaver is from KnitPicks. It's brilliant.

Monday, February 4, 2008

C is for Crochet

This scarf is just a row of Granny Squares. I used Baby Alpaca Grande from Plymouth for the green centers and a squishy handspun single of mine for the blue.

I love the rythmn of crochet. I love the quick and flashy movement of the hook. I've probably gone more miles with a hook than knitting needles, and not just because crochet takes more yarn. I've crocheted a lot of baby and wedding afghans.
I have acres of fabric behind me...