Sunday, August 17, 2008

Long Time No Scribble

That's not quite true, you know. I was laid off last month and, in anticipation of that momentous event, I began a blog about my unemployed life. Now you might think that, being unemployed, I'd be doing even more knitting. But that's not quite true. All the things I didn't have time to do when I was working full time caught up with me, you know, like friends, and other writing projects. In addition to which it's been fairly warm here, too warm to want to handle nice yarns and cover them with sweat. So I haven't been doing much knitting - until this weekend.

In the midst of a heatwave, a friend offered me safe haven in their cool and mostly shaded home, and I took it. I've been knitting to episodes of Star Trek TOS, since the connexion here in the Bat Cave, as I call it, beats the hell out of my dial-up at home. I'm still (still!) working on the wool-bamboo scarf. It doesn't seem to matter how long or short I think it should be, I never seem to make enough progress on it. Oh well, I'll have something to knit to and from my trips to the grocery store for the next five years, I guess.

I'm starting a second Fidget for another friend, even though I haven't blocked the first one yet.

And I frogged the drop-stitch scarf pattern that I was knitting up in Blue Heron's Beaded Wool. I wanted a pattern that would allow for better fondling of the yarn's unusual squishy texture. So I decided to go with ye olde wavye gravye again - but I think it will be nice. The pattern has easy shaping so that I'm not just knitting straight ol' garter stitch, but the fact that it's garter stitch will mean that there's nothing to compete with the yarn's gorgeous texture and colors.

And my final knitting announcement for now is that I finished my first sock! I admit, it's not exactly stunning, but it has all the basic things that a sock needs, and it doesn't look like it was knitted for some space mutant. I consider that a major victory (let's not discuss my first venture into sox 25 years ago, please). I ordered the Tsock Tsarina's Sock 101 kit, and I have to say, it was great with everything except the Kitchener stitch (where I simply gave up and went to YouTube and used the knitwitch's video). I'm sure the written Kitchener stitch directions make sense to some, but not to this kid. All that remains to be seen is if I can get through the second sock...and then on to the next pair.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Craptastic Craft Idea!

Yesterday a friend of mine and I went shopping at the Goodwill near her home. As a knitter, a stop at the craft section is de rigeur, and who am I to disobey the laws of knitting, non? So I found a couple of bags that had some nice wool yarns in them - photos to follow someday - but of course there were a couple of balls of acrylic origin (or suspected acrylic origin). So, what to do, what to do. I appreciate that there are good uses for the stuff, but I don't have small children or animals, and I don't knit for relatives who don't appreciate quality fibers. I'm fine with people having other criteria for preferring synthetic fibers, but I don't see why I have to pretend to share or agree with those criteria.

Anywho, my friend later gifted me with a bottle of her homemade raspberry vinegar (inspired by my father, she found some mother of vinegar and is now making her own). So when I was packing up all my luggage to head home, I pondered how to pack the bottle of vinegar so that it wouldn't be endangered. And voila! I found the perfect solution - the yarn skein cozy!!!

The perfect gift, folks - enjoy!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Kool & Kicky

If you're a vintage pattern collector, you've probably noticed that Spinnerin yarns, in the 1960's, tried some rather unusual motifs and photo spreads for their patterns. Nothing too bizarre - no photos of Vampira modeling sweaters, for example. But I think their "Kool & Kicky" volume comes pretty close with the models they chose. Behold, The Return of the The Wicker Man:

Yes, the Daughters of The Wicker Man have decided to avenge their father's death (a theme common to kung fu films and horror movie sequels). Here they are, in all their beauty. If you suspect they are in your area, carry lighter fluid and one of those bbq fire starters - burning is the only death these creatures know!

This is some of the more pathetic yarn hair I've seen.

This one with her black lace veil is obviously the evil leader among them.

The pink pigtails are effective on this one. This would be the good Wicker Sister, the one who thinks they should give up their pointless plan for vengeance and move on...she loved their father as much as the rest of them, but that doesn't mean he was right in everything...perhaps she's befriended or fallen in love with a human male...anyway, we all know that she will die, too, but her death will be less gruesome than her sisters', perhaps even accidental.

I know, I've seen too many horror movies... (Are you kidding? I just wrote a treatment for 'The Return of the Wicker Man' - a sequel loosely based on the first one, or to be exact, the title of the first one. Hey, in the first Friday the 13th, Jason wasn't the killer - that series didn't suffer much from the change in focus. Killer wicker mannequins - no wonder Hollywood won't hire me to write movie scripts.) But I digress. I was surprised to find that the patterns in this book go up to finished measurements of 44 inches. Shockingly generous in 1967. The designs are all sleeveless; I'll have to hunt down some appropriate yarns and try whipping one of these up. I don't care for the colors, but fortunately there are no pattern police to come around and enforce compliance. I may try knitting them up in the round, too. Surely somewhere in the world wide webz there are some excellent hints for converting flat knitting to round. When I have time to follow up on this, I will report back.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My BFF - Knitting

Okay, I confess, I have just too much f*cking fun with Google books. I search out all the ancient public domain books for antique knitting patterns, folklore, weird fiction, and combinations thereof. So this little poem was found in the Friends Intelligencer. I don't know if these Friends were Quaker (I could look at the front of the, dear reader, seem to think I'm much more motivated than I am). So yes, this poem is a bit sappy - but I think there's an element of truth in it, at least for the more hardcore of us (you must be nuts if you think I'm going to be caught more than 10 minutes from a knitting project for any length of time). I don't think I'm as aged as the narrator of the poem seems to be; on the other hand, what was the the life expectancy for lower middle class women in the Victorian era? 60? Well, I'm closer to 60 than 20, that's for sure. Perhaps if I'm feeling inspired in the near future I'll update this to sound not quite so, er, cheesy. (Apologies for the tiny print; if you click, you'll end up in Google books and you can zoom the page from there...I'll try to figure out a way to do this better next time.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Crappy Swatch Photo

My swatch for Goddess Knits Anniversary Mandala Pi Shawl, using lace weight yarn from Sheep of Different Color, colorway is Altair:

This yarn is so wonderful, soft and incredible to touch, the color is absolutely gorgeous. I dreamt of this yarn the night that I knit with it. I look forward to knitting up the other 1700 yards of it. "Last night I dreamt I knitted with Altair again..."

Nut Hamburger Update

Apparently it was all the rage to do peanut butter things to hamburgers back in the day - I found a couple of links to recipes for nut burgers. Don't know if I'm going to try this myself at any point, but if you want to whip up the lovely special from The Barrel, you can try one of these recipes:

Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again

I spent yesterday with my mother; we had our usual celebration of Mother's Day that doesn't take place Mother's Day weekend. I'm hermit enough to hate competing with 20 families worth of three or four generations (the youngest one of which is screaming infants) at local restaurants. I'd rather do it the weekend before or after, and have a relaxing time. So that's what we did; on the way there we stopped at a local bookstore, and I found some lovely things on their 25 cent cart, including an early printing of "Rebecca". Sure the jacket is beat up, but it still has the jacket. And the book itself has this lovely silver band around it. Here are some crappy photos of it:
The photo of the silver band doesn't show how nice and shiny it still is; I have a photo that does, but the image is pretty much obliterated by shine. 25 cents. I tells ya, I'd have paid ten times that for this copy of the book. I'm very pleased with it! (I also picked up a scary knitting book, but that will be another blog entry.)

"Rebecca" is one of my favorite gothic novels (sure, it's set in the 20th cent., but by its nature it is very gothic); and this is certainly not my first copy of it. I think the others are in storage. However, this is one of those books that is always a good, juicy read and as such, is worth having more than one copy of (especially at these prices). There are a few books in my library that are like that for me - "Jane Eyre" (I've at least two copies), "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (again, at least two copies), anything by Jane Austen (I've a few of her books in multiple copies).

Jane, of course, is the anti-gothic - read "Northanger Abbey" if you've any question on the specifics. A world that is nothing but gothic novels would be very boring, and I'm glad that Jane was an early poker-of-fun at the movement. The first wave of gothic novels certainly left something to be desired; if you've ever read "The Castle of Otranto" you'll know what I mean. And I've never been able to make it through an Mrs Radcliffe novel. There are a couple of that era that I haven't tried that I certainly will make an effort to complete, like "Vathek" and "The Monk".

The Brontes did gothic quite well, and each with their own spin. For example, Anne's reflected her more extensive existence in the real world, and her views of women and their abilities is not the least that of helplessness and frailty. Her women are intelligent, not afraid to act, and of strong morals in the face of a world that does not reward such morality very often.

Of her two novels I've read, "Agnes Grey" is less gothic in tone, but rather grim. Agnes is a governess and the book relates her experiences of serving in horrible families with offspring who are, at best, shallow, self-centered and cruel in their thoughtlessness and, at worst, monsters (no point in pussyfooting). I mean, I consider a lad who enjoys crushing baby birds with rocks to be a monster. "Agnes Grey" had critics' knickers all in a bunch; after all, upper class children would never behave in such a fashion, right? Right?

"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" is much more what one expects of the Brontes. Still, the heroine, Helen Huntingdon, is bolder in her actions than even Jane Eyre; she exhibits a sense of self-worth wonderful to see in a 19th cent. novel. I think this novel also got some folks' knickers in a bunch; after all, once Helen realizes what scum her spouse is, she denies him, er, sexual congress by slamming her bedroom door in his face. Shocking, you are no doubt thinking. If you're not, then you are perhaps unaware that women were expected to submit to their husbands - in all ways.

Along these lines, there is an edition of "Jane Eyre" (yes, I know that's Charlotte and not Anne) illustrated by Dame Darcy; one of the nice things is that it contains the forward to the second edition. The second edition is dedicated to W.M. Thackeray, but is also a bit of a nice feminist rant. It's a nice trade paper edition and worth owning.

I look forward to reading "Rebecca" again; I think the book does a little better by the second Mrs de Winter than the film does. At least, in the first couple of pages she seems to have a little more going for her than Joan Fontaine did.

I've pretty much finished with my rambling about novels, but let me add my recommendation of just a couple other novels along these lines: "Behind A Mask" by Louisa May Alcott and "Lady Audley's Secret" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (similar stories, but both rousing good fun if you rather like bad women), "A Long, Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott (stalking old school style), and "Dragonwyck" by Anya Seton, another 20th cent. novel, but set in the 19th cent. and effectively demonstrating gothic sensibilities in upstate New York. There's a new edition of this one out with an introduction by Phillipa Gregory. Haven't gotten a copy yet, but since my only copy of this book is 60 years old, I'll be looking for one used somewhere.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

500, 10K, 10K

(I wrote this weeks ago, or so it seems, but never posted it. However, I dare not deprive my readers of cupcake cheesecake photos, if you will.}

Three events - of questionable world importance - on Ravelry in the last week. The Selfish Knitters Group got their 500th member - woo hoo! PSA - Don't waste time and good yarn money knitting for those who don't appreciate the time, labor, and quality resources that go into a nice handmade garment or toy. Pox on them, I say.

Also the MCY thread had both its 10,000th post and 10,000th reader. Do not speak ill of the MCY thread - these are my peeps, as they say out in the world. (In my cave they are those horrid little marshmallow easter candies.)

And so I said I would make cupcakes for the event, and I did - red velvet with butter cream frosting. I know that there are many who prefer cream cheese frosting of some sort, but give me butter anytime.

I shared my freshly made cupcakes with fellow Raveler Bella, but you'll have to look her up and ask her about it - I didn't get any pics of her eating them. I did, however, document my eating of the cupcakes:

Geeze, those things sure look like baked viscera in the photos. What was fun was that I took some to work the next day and the red bled just a wee bit into the frosting (probably in honor of MCY yarns, known for their hemophilia). They looked like little slasher film cupcakes - so cute!

Have You Seen Me?

This shawl was stolen at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend. If you see this somewhere, if you see someone wearing it bold as can be, please contact Shelia (sheliaknits is her Ravelry ID). I think it's a serious understatement to say that it's bad form to steal someone else's FOs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Two Nut Hamburgers, Please!

I'm at home today, full of vicodan and advil due to some dental work I had yesterday. I didn't expect it to be quite as painful as it was once the Novocaine wore off. The dentist did warn me that it would be sensitive; I found out exactly how sensitive when I went to eat a bit of ripe cheese after I got back from dance class. It hurt (or as Ralph Wiggum would say, it tasted hurty). Cheese should not hurt. All my main chewing teeth went into protest mode - how dare I chew with them! So out came the big time meds - and again, 3.5 hours later, when the first dose hadn't done enough - and 5 hours later when protesting teeth woke me up. I guess I was clenching too hard in my sleep.

Anyway, I quit being high around 12:30 PM today (it's funny, the stuff keeps me buzzed and dizzy long after it has quit working on the pain), and so I got online. After eating room temperature yogurt for lunch.

I'll be blogging more this weekend, but I thought I'd post these photos of something I found in my father's stuff. The good ol' days!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Testing testing

This is just a test.
clipped from
Gene Frenkle (Will Ferrell) plays the cowbell in the
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ETA: Even though this is a test, I'm not deleting it. I want Will Farrell to be playing the cow bell in perpetuity on my blog. Seasons don't fear the Reaper...nor do the wind, the sun and the rain...

Good Witch Glenda

This is the yarn I ordered from 100purewool. Compare this with the photos in the previous post. Admittedly my photo was taken in the sun, but I assure you, even in the dimness of my cave the colors simply are not this intense.

I'm not displeased enough to hassle with returning it (to Uruguay, no less), and the yarn is yummy to touch. But what I received was not what I expected, to be sure.

The yarn is not stinky, felted, knotted or broken, so they are not in the running for the MCY Quality Award I also got my yarn in a decent amount of time (two weeks, or just under), which isn't bad considering where they ship from (yep, Uruguay). I would suggest caution if you are counting on getting yarn colors that look like their photograph. I have found to have much more reliable representations of their colors than 100purewool, but their lace weight yarn isn't quite a yummy.

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Merino Wool - GLENDA
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Chock Full of Plucky Goodness!

I received my Wuthering Heights fingering weight merino/sea cell from Plucky Knitter today! This photo is very light - but the other ones are very dark:

It's really yummy, delightfully squishy, and not one of these photos comes close to capturing the lovely colors. I'll be casting on Sharon Miller's "Bronte" scarf from Rowan's Yorkshire Fable or Yorkshire Tales or whatever the name of that book is. (No, I'm not going to get up and dig out the book; I'm not even going to google for it. I'll leave it to you to do your own research.)

I also got some wool I ordered from I'll have to look at the photos of the yarn I ordered, but these colors don't look like what I thought I ordered. They're okay colors, and since I didn't have a specific project in mind, I've no reason for serious complaint. I'll post a wee update tomorrow, at which time we'll all find out exactly how reliable my memory is or isn't. Trust me, there's nothing wrong with knowing exactly how unreliable a source I am.

Here's their yarn:

Inspiration for the Month

Probably not the way you are thinking of inspiration, dear reader. I began writing a story last year (length TBD), a tale of personal growth and geographic quest (exile and returning home)*; I got my characters’ narrative to the point where they took the next step – but there was no next step there, nothing but darkness. I knew where they were going to be in the end, that was pretty much built into their personalities early on; however, they still need catalysts, drivers, to help the get from A to B in less than a million pages of aimless meandering. I’m no James Joyce, so trust me, you don’t want me to take on that particular literary experiment.

But this weekend I was pointlessly googling for images of whoever/whatever came to mind, and I found this photo. And some…thing, I guess, clicked in my mind, and suddenly I knew that face belonged in my tale – not the real person, by the way, but the character traits that photo conjured in my mind when I saw it. Within minutes I’d created an entire group of characters, storylines to go with them and to propel my original characters forward in their own tale. Eh, why am I bothering you with this? Well, my poor RL friends and coworkers get to hear way too much of this stuff, so I thought I’d share the wealth ;-)

If the story gets to a point where I’m willing to share some – or all – of it with any sort of reading public, I will do just that. Writing is like knitting, though. You see a yarn you like; you see a pattern you like; you think that, with a little work, you can get them to go together really well. Next you know, you hate the yarn, you hate the sweater, and the entire project spends years in a plastic bag until you give it away or unload it at a garage sale.

As a writer, you can have the same experience. Some characters don’t have nearly as much to say to you as you thought originally; story ideas that seemed to have real meat to them end up nothing but dried bones. However, with writing it’s not easy to give unfinished stories that aren’t working to the local goodwill; but you can recycle ideas, characters, or even words if it’s good dialog or a wonderfully wrought phrase. Still, it’s not uncommon to end up with several notebooks that have the literary equivalent of a half-knit sweater in them.

* If one views life as a journey then (almost) all narratives are ‘quests’ of a sort, character starting at A, going through B to get to the end, C, be it stories of personal evolution (Pride and Prejudice), personal devolution (Watt)…I was going to add novels that focus on quests, such as Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master trilogy, but that includes personal evolution and devolution, as most fantasy quest novels do to a greater or lesser extent.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vintage Goodies - Ladies' Stockings

This is from a book dating to the 1870's-1880's (I can't recall the exact date, and I'm not going to get up and look right now; I'll post a correction later). It's been awhile since I scanned these photos in; hopefully they all belong to the same pattern ;-)

Click on the images to see a larger version, please.

1884 is the year of this pattern, I believe. I can verify it if needed - just leave a comment!

Vintage Goodies - Surplice Dress

Another lovely pattern from the wonderful Belding Corticelli Bk KP 13 book. Click on the photos of the pattern to see a larger size.

World's Smallest KAL

Tomorrow I start what we're calling the World's Smallest KAL; gekofab and I both own copies of the Charlotte Bronte Shawl pattern, which is based on a shawl that was owned by Charlotte Bronte. We've decided to cast on tomorrow, which is both Charlotte's and gekofob's birthday.

We seem to be the only two people on Ravelry who own this pattern, hence the two-person KAL. She's knitting hers up in some pink tweed (I can't remember if she named the yarn or not); I'm knitting mine up in a much larger yarn in the sport/DK range, Silver Creek BFL space-dyed in the burgundy colorway. I was a little concerned about using multi on this, but the swatch knitted up quite nicely:

I'm thinking of starting a group for this; I mean, just because there's only two of us doesn't mean we shouldn't have a group!

Blah Blah Blog

I suspect I actually pilfered that title from someone's blog, as it seems too clever for my Sunday morning brain. Apologies for the lack of attribution - at least I'm refusing to take credit for it. I've nothing big to focus on (however, "Meat the Press" is on in the background, so it's always possible that I'll lose it and start yelling at David Brooks), but I haven't given up on trying to post with a bit more regularity. So here goes...

I posted some of my older FOs on Ravelry; can't say there is much that's exciting to look at , although I do like the Orca Tails scarf - I knitted two, but gifted one to a friend before I could photograph it. I also like my Bad Juju doll, but I have to get some photos of it - it's in my office at work. I had debated giving it to someone, but he was so cute that I had to keep him. This explains why I ended up purchasing some Selfish Knitter buttons from the lovely Cdaniele on Ravelry; I've gotten to the point where I won't knit for people who aren't knitters, or don't appreciate the value of fine yarn and the hours spent creating something. If you'd rather all your stuff came from Chinese child labor, you deserve what you get.

Another tale of selfish knitting - someone had asked me many, many moons ago, to knit them up a nice scarf, no wool (I know a lot of no wool types, another reason why I don't knit so much for others). So I picked up some lovely Blue Heron Cotton/Rayon seed yarn. I showed them the yarn - they had asked for something along hand painted lines - and they looked all pistol sprung and asked if I could get it in a solid...not bloody likely, as I was now the proud owner of $30+ of yarn that I would not have purchased for myself (it's lovely, but just not my first choice). So after having this in my stash forever (a couple of years, at least), I searched projects on Ravelry for something suitable to make out of this and found someone who has made three Clapotis out of it. She includes notes about her modifications to the pattern to accommodate the yarn - the perfect Ravelry project description! Woo hoo!

NB: I linked to the original sources of the patterns, not my project photos. If you are on Ravelry, you can find me under feraljane; if you're not, the links would be useless, at least until Ravelry goes public.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tupelo Honey and Moroccan Spice - The Woolen Rabbit

Here are the two colorways for the lovely Susan Pandorf designs. The Tupelo Honey colors are more golden and summer IRL than they appear on my monitor (I can't account for what you might see, folks). And The Moroccan Spice seems to have more depth than the photo would suggest. Both are truly lovely yarns, and I look forward to playing with them! {These yarns were referred to in this post: }

This was clipped from The Woolen Rabbit shop.
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Sedona - Enchanted Knoll

Again, this was referred to in this post:

The photo doesn't really capture the intensity of the colors, but it does catch the subtleties better than the other photo posted of the yarn. You can get a little hint of the lovely gloss of the yarn, too. Clipped from the Enchanted Knoll Etsy shop.
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Altair - Colorful Sheep

The photo really doesn't do justice to this yarn - I've clipped it from the CS Etsy shop where I purchased this. It does provide some idea, though, of the range of colors, but they are a bit more intense IRL.

This photo goes with this entry:
clipped from
Hand Dyed Laceweight 1750 Yards 100 Merino ALTAIR
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