Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Clearly Don't Get It

Okay, so a mere three months has flown by since my last post. And it's not like I forgot I had a blog or anything. It's more like I haven't posted often enough to remember how to do it. My own fault, I know. I'm not looking for any sympathy here. I'd just like to be able to post for a few consecutive days so I get in the habit and it isn't such a big, time-consuming deal. Is that too much to ask? Apparently.

Well in the absence of blog posts, there has been knitting. And plenty of it. I have made at least a half-dozen felted bags since mid-September. No, I take that back - it's closer to a dozen. As well as a vest from Fitted Knits, a couple of wraps/shawl type garments and more scarves than I care to count.

Many of these things were sold at my school's holiday boutique to benefit the school and moi. Some are still here looking for good homes. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I guess I'll quit blathering and add some photos.

This is one of the felted bags. Knit from Lambs Pride Bulky - my favorite felting yarn. I start with the bottom then pick up stitches around the sides. Pretty straightforward knitting on circular needles. I usually use some kind of carry-along yarn to give it a little more texture then go crazy with the novelty yarn at the top. Many of my bags are variations on this theme. I line them all usually with some sort of silk brocade although lately I've branched out a bit. They generally have two inside pockets - one cellphone sized and then a larger one on the other side. I've used all kinds of handles but I think I like the acrylics best. They're bright and fun and seem to be a good complement to the funkiness of the bags.

Here's another. P1000501

This one is the same idea. A good bag to wear with jeans. But also has a touch of glitz. Novelty yarns definitely have their place in my felted bags.

So that's it for today. More to come. Hopefully within a reasonable amount of time. Whatever that might be.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Yarn Harlot Comes to Town

Yesterday was a perfect day in my little corner of the knitting universe. My best buddy who is a newbie knitter (yes, I got her hooked) and I went to see the Yarn Harlot speak at the Central Library in L.A. Unlike most Angelinos we took public trans - the metro - from the Valley to downtown L.A. This was my friend's first time on the L.A. subway and she was stunned as most new riders are by the cleanliness and efficiency of the train. Such a shame that so few people take advantage of it. The subway let us off about two blocks from the library - Pershing Square stop on the offchance that anybody is interested. We got to the library and joined the line of knitters waiting to be let into the auditorium. Virtually everyone standing in line was knitting. A woman queued up behind me and murmured with a happy sigh, "Ah, my people..." The mood was happy and anticipatory as knitters admired each other's WIPs as well as the shawls, scarves, etc that were adorning many in line.

The Yarn Harlot was great! She has incredible comedic timing and was charming, smart, insightful, playful, and inspirational without ever being full of herself. Definitely the kind of person I'd want to hang out with and have in my knitting group.

She had many interesting things to say. What I found particularly amazing was the fact that there are 50 million knitters in North America. That is a staggering number! She talked about how knitters tend to identify themselves as knitters before many of their other identifiers - I'm assuming she meant things like religion, political leanings - that type of thing. And when I thought about it, I realized that I fit that pattern. I think of myself as a knitter long before I think of myself as a college graduate, Californian, cook, or any one of a number of obvious identifiers. She also talked about the level of giving within the knitting community and how knitters really get the concept of small acts repeated many many times adding up to something greater. Yup, we understand that alright - every time we cast on.

What inspires me most about the Yarn Harlot isn't how good a speaker or blogger or fundraiser or knitter she is. What I find so impressive is that she is one of us who created a niche for herself and has found a way to support her family, do a lot of good works, enrich the knitting community, and have a lot of fun while pursuing something she feels passionate about. How lucky for her. And for us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Buying Gifts for Strangers

I just finished my first knitting gift exchange - Ravelry Summer Camp. It was fun, but kind of weird. A total stranger sent me a skein of Sea Silk - a yarn that I have been coveting for over a year, but everytime I went to a website to look at it, I couldn't justify buying it. It seemed so decadent.... I have so much yarn already..... it's so expensive.....what would I make out of it....
Like that. Now, I'm not the kind of knitter who routinely denies herself yarn. There have been many, many occasions where I bought a skein or two of gorgeous yarn despite the price, lack of project - whatever. I bought it because I had to have it. That whole instant gratification thing. It's a bit different with online yarn though. That takes a week or two to arrive. I've been able to resist the temptation when I can't touch it, pay for it and take it home with me.

But I gotta tell ya, when my bunkmate sent me that skein of gorgeous Sea Silk I was suddenly the world's happiest camper! And knew instantly what to make - Montego Bay from IK summer issue - of course. I haven't cast on yet - too many WIPs to finish first. However, I look at my Sea Silk every day and it makes me so happy. Add to the beauty of the yarn the fact that it was sent by someone I don't know and I must say I feel a little like Blanche DuBois.

As for the giving part of the exchange, that was nervewracking. My bunkmate lives in Rhode Island, but the rules of the exchange said "goodies from home" so I wanted everything I sent her to come from southern California. A trip to the farmer's market, a lys, and a fiber festival provided me with an array of treats and yarn that represented SoCal quite nicely. She received her package today and seems happy with it all.

I'd do another exchange in a New York minute. Something about connecting with strangers through the love of knitting and yarn makes the world a tiny bit sweeter, don't you think?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sooo Sorry

Okay, so it's been over a month since my last post. I have not quite gotten the hang of this yet - and it hasn't become a part of my daily routine - to say the least. But I want to keep trying and hopefully at some point it will be a bit more automatic.

There has been a lot of knitting in the past month. A cross country flight and the inevitable hours spent in airport lines gave me a lot of needle time. And driving through Vermont was a great opportunity to check out a bunch of lys.

I'll report on the current WIP's today and save the FO's and travelogue for a later date - later this week, not later next month!

My favorite WIP at the moment is a Plymouth pattern -3 Button Wrap - made out of delicious Royal Llama Silk. This is such an appealing fiber. It has a kind of rustic elegance that is hard to put into words. It's very soft and fun to knit with. I picked up the yarn and pattern after seeing the wrap displayed at the Knitting Studio in Montpelier, Vermont. I was on my way to the Burlington airport to fly back to L.A. and needed a bathroom break so I stopped in Montpelier - okay, if you must know the tourist information signs had a SPINNING WHEEL on them - so, of course, I had to stop. The guy at the tourist place told me that there was a great yarn shop a half a mile away. In ten minutes I was back in the car with my llama silk, pattern, beautiful buttons - having tried on the display garment then bought everything to make it exactly like the store model. I can't remember the last time I've done that but it was gorgeous just the way it was. And I had a car to return and a plane to catch. Anyhow, it's a fun knit. And one of the few projects I can stand to be working on during the current heat wave. 108 degrees in my backyard this afternoon!!!

Next project is a Karabella pattern. A lace wrap intended to be knit out of Boise but being knit out of Magritte instead because I can't afford Boise. It's pretty but knitting black lace is proving to be a pain in the butt. I can only work on it in really good light and in this weather, it's too unappealing to even touch. But someday I'll get back to it.

And finally, I'm working on a scribble scarf made out of Kidsilk Haze and Louise Harding Grace. It's a mindless take-to-work knit-at-meetings project. Perfect for the start of another school year. It's a beautiful dusty grape. Photo next time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finishing Frenzy

I've been trying to wean myself away from Ravelry long enough to finish some WIP's. Only because I'm sick of the old, and can't wait to start some new stuff. So I've spent my knitting time whipping through some stale stuff and I've made a little progress.

First, I finished a yarn-over scarf that used up a random skein of CTH silk and merino. It's pretty, soft, and will make a good gift for someone in a few months.

Next, I tackled the Bomber sweater by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan's Denim People. I'm making it out of Rowan Cashsoft DK in navy. The pieces are all knit so this weekend I blocked it and now need to sew it together - ugh - I really detest this part - then knit up the collar. I'll take it to someone for the zipper as it would be terribly tragic to screw it up in a pathetic attempt to sew in the zipper myself. Always good to know one's own strengths and weaknesses!

I also finished knitting a black bag that is waiting to be felted. I knit it on commission for a co-worker and frankly I'm not feeling it. It's okay but I really don't know if it's what she had in mind.

I knit a lot for my school's holiday boutique. I love it when people buy my stuff and get such a kick out of seeing them walk around school with one of my bags (or hats or scarfs). And I've knit bags "on demand" a few times for people which I'm certainly happy to do. But somehow it isn't nearly as much fun as creating my own bags. I worry about whether or not it's what the person envisioned and that takes some of the carefree creative joy out of the process. But making some money knitting at least allows me to justify buying more yarn so I guess it's all good.

My final project of the past few days is a Fibonacci bag in Lamb's Pride Bulky - my yarn of choice for felting - in Kiwi green and black. I need to kitchener the strap then throw it in the washer with the other black bag. I'd like to get one more bag knit before I go to the laundromat. (I try not to felt in my machine as it's a front loader so I can't check on the process.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ravelry and Me

Okay, I am hopelessly hooked on Ravelry. Aside from the hours a day I spend perusing the site, it is a healthy addiction!

It has motivated me to learn (primitively) to use a digital camera; it has forced me to take a good hard look at my stash (hell no, I'm not taking photos of every skein of yarn I own but I did organize them); it has led me to evaluate (frog) a bunch of WIP's that didn't deserve to see the light of day; and it has inspired me to start a queue of potential projects.

Good things, all.

I've also listed all my books which I have to admit I thought was a pretty lame exercise until I discovered that when you click on a book, it links to the individual projects and all the Ravelry users who have made said project. Incredibly cool - useful - brilliant even.

The only downside to the Ravelry addiction is the loss of knitting time. Yup, I spend more time Ravelrying than I do with needles in hand. But I figure the novelty will wear off soon enough.

Ravelry has also made me realize that I should start a blog. It's something I've been thinking about since I discovered knitting blogs a couple of years ago. But as much as I wanted to have one, I really didn't know where to begin. Ravelry helped me with that too. (Okay, this post is starting to read like an incredibly cheesy personal testimonial so enough with the Ravelry worship.)

Here go the basics: I wake up in the morning thinking about knitting and fall asleep at night thinking about knitting.

I'd say I'm an intermediate knitter. I can do all the basics, have decent color sense, and generally am smart enough to knit a swatch first. But of course all is not perfect. In fact yesterday I spent my knitting time frogging two projects that were done but weren't making me happy. In fact, they were embarrassing. The yarn deserved better. I'm relieved that they're gone.

I've been knitting for something like thirty years. And have loved yarn and handknit stuff since I was a young kid. My most cherished possession is an afghan knit by my great-grandmother. It was given to my grandmother in 1926 as a wedding present. It's a gorgeous array of hexagons knit out of fingering yarn. In fact it's my heading. Enjoy!