Thanks for tagging me, Laura!
What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
This has to be a very fluid answer, because at the beginning of just about every project I think “This is my favorite yarn ever!” But then by the end I can’t wait to say good-bye to it. Yarns I’m particularly fond of, though, are Manos del Uruguay, Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk (maybe the nicest to the touch of any yarn I’ve fondled), and Knitpicks Shine.
Your favorite needles?
My Denises, because they’re so practical and economical and convenient, and I’m a huge fan of all those attributes. However, I have one set of size 4 Addi Turbos and I have to admit it I love it when I have an excuse to knit with them.
The worst thing you’ve ever knit?
Well, there are a few things that didn’t come out as well as I would have liked (most things, actually), but the worst one ever has to be my only ever unfinished object:
Can you guess why I did not go on to make the second one? To be fair to myself, this was the second thing I ever knit. The first was socks. No one told me that some things were considered more advanced than others. I skipped scarves, potholders, hats, and baby blankets and went straight to socks and gloves. It’s amazing I ever stuck with knitting.
Your most favorite knit pattern (maybe you don’t like wearing it, but it was the most fun to knit)?
I really like making cat mats — I’ve made three now and want to make another one. I also love the garter stitch cloche in Knitting for Baby, which is easily adaptable to any size. It’s knit back and forth on straight needles using short rows. I love how it comes together.
Most valuable knitting technique?
Learning how to pick up dropped stitches and, if necessary, drop stitches down to switch a knit to a purl or vice versa. Knowing that is very empowering. Honorable mentions: lifelines, felted join, cabling sans cable needle.
Best knit book or magazine?
If you count online? Knitty. I like its attitude. Hard copy, I really look forward to receiving my Interweave Knits every few months, as there are always several patterns I’d like to knit (and several I’d like to pretend, for the sake of humanity, never existed). Book-wise, I’ve knit a few things out of each of several books, so no big winner there.
Your favorite knit-a-long?
My very first one, the Honeymoon Cami, because that’s where I first met so many of the knit bloggers I now chat with so often. Also the pattern was wonderful and a great first adult-sized piece of clothing for me. (In fact, I really want to make it again.) Particularly nice was that Julia, the designer, stopped by the knitalong every so often to offer advice and encouragement.
Your favorite knitblogs?
Well, the photography at Whispering Pine has been inspiring to me in terms of my own knitting photography efforts. PurlJew used to crack me up all the time but she’s been MIA for a while. And of course I love to check in on my former secret pal over at Faerie Knits!
Actually, I love all my knitting blogs for their variety, and I get so much out of each of them that I hate to leave anyone out. So for the complete answer please view the list of links in the sidebar.
Your favorite knitwear designer?
Look, I can’t even keep track of major worldwide designers in the fashion industry, so the chances of my registering the designers of the patterns I knit is indistinguisable from zero. Well, okay, I guess since I have books of patterns all by the same designer I can’t claim complete ignorance, so in the interest of giving an answer I’ll say Melanie Falick.
The knit item you wear the most? (How about a picture of it?)
I have to confess, I have yet to knit something that I’ve worn with regularity. But I will say that I use my knitting bag every single day, so I’m going with that:
That was when it was new. By now, of course, it has spent so many months absolutely crammed with a zillion things that it has lost any of its original shape. Still, it has served me well. It has lot of cute little inside pockets I customized to fit the exact things I need to organize. It’s a good bag.
Who to tag?
I’m tagging A Notion to Knit, Knitternatter, and Amylovie, assuming she hasn’t already been tagged.
I probably don’t really need to review this because it’s one of the most popular pattern books out there right now, so most people have seen it. There’s a good reason it’s popular: the designs are interesting and creative, and there’s enough variety that everyone will find something he or she likes. (The counterpart to this is that there is something for everyone to hate, but I’ll be nice and won’t tell you which patterns I feel that way about.) In case anyone’s interested, I really like Backyard Leaves, which has lace leaves but is a very substantial scarf, not really “lacy” at all. I also like the garter stitch wrap, but it’s so huge (and, being garter stitch, boring) I know I’ll never make it. There aren’t really any other “must makes,” but lots of other “would makes.” There are cables, extremely complicated color work, large wraps, little neck scarves, a bit of crochet — it showcases just about every possible knitting technique and how each can be used to create a distinctive scarf.
My biggest problem with the book is the photography. The colors are all washed out (at least in my copy) and weirdly, weirdly blurry. Then some of them are inexcusably grainy. It looks like someone took some nice photos and then a misguided art director applied some stupid novelty Photoshop filters and ruined them.
I won’t go on and on because, again, I think most people have seen this book. It seems to be the scarf pattern book of choice at this point, and overall I think it deserves that honor.
There has been a bit less knitting progress recently than I would like, largely due to this:
Last Saturday morning we discovered that our basement, always dry in the past, had filled with water during a night that saw seven inches of rain dumped on Rhode Island (and much of the rest of the region). This is how it looked on Wednesday after multiple concerted efforts to get it back out of the house by whatever means possible (I didn’t have my wits about me enough to take a photo earlier). Anyway, dealing with this took up time that could have been devoted to knitting. Harumph.
This weekend I did have the ultimate opportunity to knit: air travel. Knitting on a plane is great, because there are no cats to chew the needles and no chores nagging at your conscience. I got another several inches of the Cozy shawl done on my trip to visit my sister, who moved to Philadelphia in July. We had a wonderful time, and I got to visit my first cat mat, adorably occupied here by my sister’s kitty Marquis:
Last week when thinking ahead to my trip, I casually recalled that Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, a LYS I’ve heard about online several times and whose Web site I’ve visited on occasion (they are a terrific source for Manos — they stock all the colors) is located in Philadelphia. I had a fleeting thought that perhaps I would try to find the store, but quickly dismissed it — no way was I going to drag my sister around looking for a yarn store during my 24-hour visit. Well, guess what? Turns out my sister lives across the street from Rosie’s Yarn Cellar. Literally. It is a 30-second walk door to door. Needless to say, my mom and I paid a visit:
It was a teeny tiny crowded little place, but we enjoyed combing through the selection and each walked out with a purchase. Here is some multicolored tweedy yarn that I finally settled on after about 45 minutes of indecision; my mom got some similar yarn but in black and white with an alternating tweed/solid variegation.
It will probably become a scarf, but I’m not sure with what pattern and I’m not sure for whom. Of course I want to start right away, but I have committed to finishing both Cozy and the cabled toddler pullover first. Then I’m going to set aside the secret project and the RRS and devote myself fully to holiday gifts, the aforementioned scarf included. The RRS will be picked back up in January to be finished for my mom’s birthday at the end of that month. (No, it’s not a surprise — I had a couple glasses of wine when I was last visiting her and for some reason concluded it was a good idea to tell her that the RRS — which she has seen on my blog and also in person — was intended for her. I’m actually glad I did, though, because she was so enthusiastic about it that it has given me renewed enthusiasm for knitting it. Except for the part where I’m putting it off until 2006.)
In other news, Matt and I continue to relish the fall with hearty meals such as lamb stew:
and pumpkin-ginger soup with maple cream, served right out of an actual hollowed-out pumpkin:
In this autumnal spirit, a few weeks ago we put out some nice hearty mums and several pumpkins in various sizes in front of the house. One by one, the pumpkins have turned up destroyed or just plain gone. I think we finally found the culprit:
The only thing restraining my enthusiasm about KnitPicks (aside from the nagging concern that they are on their way to becoming the Wal-Mart of yarn) was the fact that ordering from them is a bit of a crapshoot, color-wise, given that all the computer monitors in my life are apparently calibrated to another solar system’s color spectrum. There were some unhappy surprised a couple times.
No more, my friends. I just invested $15 in 10 color cards from KnitPicks, one for each of the yarns I am most likely to use. Now it’s like having a little booklet-sized LYS right in my bedroom! Being able to really see what colors go well together and what the yarn texture actually is (so many of the photos on KnitPicks have that same scratchy woolen look even when the yarn isn’t anything like that) takes all the guesswork out and allows me to order with confidence (not to mention reckless abandon).
Required post-script for any post in which I talk about KnitPicks: Yes, I try to balance my KnitPicks shopping with LYS shopping. There is a big spot in my heart for both. I recently bought 12 skeins of Manos from the LYS, and I’m off there again soon to stock up on yarn for holiday gift projects…though I admit I will probably supplement with a KnitPicks order.
Though I think I can, without overestimating my ability, say that I am no longer a beginning knitter, the library had this book available so I thought I’d take a look at it. It’s by Debbie Bliss, who has a whole host of children’s pattern books published, so those familiar with her will not be terribly surprised by the contents of this book.
My overall impression of the book is that if you didn’t know how to knit but wanted to learn because you/your sister/your best friend was having a baby, this might be a good choice (I think Melanie Fallick’s Knitting for Baby is better, but I’ll get to reviewing that another time). There is a 50-page “learn to knit” introduction, and several new techniques are reviewed or introduced within the relevant patterns, which is nice (less “see page 39″). The first pattern is a garter stitch scarf (surprise!), and the book goes on to cover more complicted stitches, seaming, increasing and decreasing, picking up stitches, and using color. It does not get into more advanced techniques like cables or intarsia. But I do think the projects are very manageable for a beginner and would bring a new knitter along nicely with some really lovely patterns.
The photography, as in all of DB’s books, is beautiful and plentiful. The patterns are elegant and classic — nothing fussy, just simple, timeless garments. The boat-neck sweater would be a great first sweater — the front and back are both rectangles that are sewn together a bit at each end at the top to create the collarless neck opening, and the sleeves introduce increasing. There is a dress with eyelets that I also think is quite cute. While none of the patterns will blow you away with their creativity, they are all tasteful and sweet.
My complaints: First, why on earth doesn’t DB include schematics with her patterns? I don’t know why I find this such a useful element, but it sort of helps you visualize where you’re going and is standard in most other patterns. Second, someone needs to tell her that two identical cardigans are not separate patterns just because one has a ribbed border and one has a seed-stitch border. In this book alone, essentially the same cardigan appears with once with a seed-stitch band, once with a contrasting-color border, once with raglan shaping on the sleeves, and once with a shawl collar. (On top of this, variations on this cardigan appear in most of her other books as well. I will probably never make any version of this cardigan.) Finally, why is DB so opposed to circular knitting? I’ve never seen her design a sweater that wasn’t knit with the front and back as separate pieces. I guess that’s just her preference, but even the hat in this book is knit flat and seamed! I would think seaming would be harder than circular knitting for a beginning knitter.
Overall, though, my impressions of this book are quite positive. Even though I consider myself capable of taking on more advanced knits, I will probably make a few of these items just because their classic simplicity appeals to me. And, again, I definitely think it would be a good choice for a new knitter expecting a baby (hers or someone else’s).
This is really silly, but I couldn’t resist it when I saw it on Carry‘s blog. Google “[Your Name] needs” and see what kind of sentences come up. It’s a bit of a laugh for a Friday, anyway. Here are mine:
Rachel needs your prayers.
Rachel needs guidance and normal supervision.
Rachel needs to have blush that is very bright and colorful.
Rachel needs to be responsible for her own behavior.
Rachel needs to stop being so loud.
Rachel needs time to chill out.
Rachel needs help when she enters Manhattan’s meat-packing district to help
three transvestite hookers find out who murdered one of their friends.
Rachel needs to learn to edit herself a little.
Anyone else care to share their needs with the online knitting community?
Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day for self-affliction and atonement. I am celebrating this holiday today as a non-Jew. I wrote some reflections on my reasons for this, but they were a little too somber (and knitting-irrelevant) to post here. If you are interested in reading them, please see my much-neglected non-knitting blog here.
I will sing the praises of my Denise Interchangeable Needles until my voice is hoarse, but the fact remains that every now and then a project comes along that would be better served by needles of a different make and model. So it is with the Reversible Rib Shawl, the mohair yarn for which presents a special challenge to the join between the needles and the cord on my Denises. After about two pattern repeats I grew tired of the anxiety I felt as I dragged the stitches across the join, positive that this would be the time that the yarn would break, forcing me to cast the shawl into a corner in frustration, never to return to it. Actually it was a mix of anxiety and hope.
Anyway, Amylovie told me that she was planning to use her Lantern Moon needles for this project. I’ve never used these, though I’ve often admired them in the yarn store. Lantern Moon is a company that works directly with Vietnamese women who manufacture beautiful handcrafted needles, bags, and other knitting accessories, providing them with income, education, and self-reliance. In other words, a good place to spend your money. I decided the RRS provided me with a perfect excuse to try them out for the first time. So here they are in all their elegant loveliness.
I have to say it’s making a big difference in terms of the ease with which the yarn moves along. In fact, I managed to get 16 rows done in just, oh, three hours! (Did I mention this project is destined to be finished just in time to serve as my own shroud? I become more and more convinced of this.) The only downside is that this is the first time I’ve used straight needles in about 5 years, and it’s kind of unwieldy. I feel like I’m all elbows.
But on balance, the needles definitely have increased my enjoyment of this project. And they’re so purty!
Well, I guess you could say fall has been here since school started, or since September 22 at the latest, but it really hasn’t felt much like fall recently. In fact, it has been downright offensively hot and humid. But the last couple of nights it cooled off quite a bit, and yesterday morning I came downstairs and found Matt wrapped in a fall quilt to ward off the chilly autumn morning air.
Okay, the real reason for this photo is that the quilt was a belated wedding gift that we received last week (I wish people wouldn’t apologize for sending wedding gifts late — it’s wonderful to get gifts when you don’t expect them!). It was handmade by the gift-giver, and it is spectacular. I’m so touched that she took the time to make us this beautiful quilt that I had to show it off for her. Thank you, Galen!
Matt and I love fall. Our relationship began in the fall and always seems to enjoy a bit of a renewal when the leaves start to turn. Matt has tried to hurry it along recently by making fall-appropriate foods like stews and chowders. It didn’t really seem to have any immediate effect, but they sure were good!
Hooray for fall!
Deety over at Geeky Knitter tagged me to flash my stash, and I can’t help but accept. Being tagged for blog games is a bit like being invited to a party by the popular crowd in junior high: deep down you may think the antics are a little silly, but you’re so flattered to have been noticed and asked that you eagerly say yes. Unlike the junior high party, this was actually kind of fun and there was low risk of my ending up humiliated and emotionally scarred by a forced game of “Two Minutes in the Closet.”
So, without further ado, I present my stash. It would have been bigger but I’ve been very disciplined about knitting down my stash and reining in my buying for the past three months:
A quick tour, from the bottom step up: There’s some Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in “Mulled Wine,” then the Knitpicks Shine in “River,” which I’m using for the cabled toddler pullover. Above that on the right is some orange Wool of the Andes, and to the left of that is a rainbow assortment of Knitpicks Crayon. The next step holds five skeins of Cascade 220, three in gray and two in green. It was going to be a Ribby Cardi, but now I’m not sure. The variegated yarn on the right on that step is Knitpicks Simply Stripes in “Storm.”
Moving up, from left to right, is one skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton from my once-secret pal (hi Carry!), the Knit One Crochet Too mohair that I’m using for the reversible rib shawl, and the Classic Elite Spotlight Cotton I’m using for Cozy. Above that, left to right again, is one skein of Manos del Uruguay in a blue I couldn’t resist, some ribbon yarn I was going to use to make a second Ribbon X-back but didn’t, and some Wool of the Andes in a hideous sickly cream color that I hate. I’ll use it to make a present for an arch nemesis sometime.
Okay, getting up into the nosebleed seats! Everything on the second-highest step is Katia Pisco, a cotton-linen blend I was going to use to make Matt Knitty’s anniversary sweater; it turned out he didn’t care for that sweater but didn’t want to hurt my feelings. So I’m still waiting for project inspiration with that. Finally we’re at the tip top! On the left is my “original stash” — the leftover yarn from my very first projects six years ago. All the labels are gone, so have no idea what it is. Next to that in the plastic bags are, first, all my 1824 Mission Falls cotton and, in the bag on the right, all the odds and ends: half-finished balls of yarn and other miscellany.
Whew! I’m sure no one read that! But doesn’t it make this look like a nice, long, thoughtful blog entry?
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