31 August 2005

Midwest knitting indeed!

Every now and then states are referred to by their area of the map rather than by their two-color election patterns and sweeping generalizations about political viewpoint. Seems less frequent lately. At any rate, I'm typically myopic enough to furrow my eyebrows in question at hearing Ohio named midwest. I know it is. A good friend in South Dakota maps her midwest from Ohio through South Dakota. However, it is interesting that we tend to identify our definition of a region from the viewpoint of our personal maps.

My personal midwest includes:
  • Illinois - now with enough of Illinois to have outgrown the Chicago myopia where everything beyond the city limits is "downstate." (Stereotype? Afraid not.) Learned to knit here.
  • Wisconsin - A drive-through state with a couple counties of family heritage and geneology records (births, deaths, burials, property ownership, church founders) Still have extended family who live throughout. My very first circular knitting needles came from a recently departed dear Wisconsin family knitter.
  • Minnesota - family and family visiting from northernmost points to south of the cities. Lived and worked there for short stints. LOTS of knitting on those family visits. Shipped my knitting to and from here when I lived out east.
  • Iowa - I should know more of the Iowa lyrics from State Fair and The Music Man, I should. Somehow I managed not to work on or see either in a full production while I lived there. They must be just around the corner. Iowa was the home of the first stacks of plastic knitting tubs.
  • South Dakota - Among my SoDak adventures was a weekend of sitting at a cattle show in the Black Hills working the booth of a scale company. And it was a knitting adventure - I was knitting a Fassett inspired red and black sweater* while I worked the cattle show.

*The Maine Monster, to be discussed at a later date.

30 August 2005

23 August 2005

Choices, choices, choices

Planning to plan the designated project for BWV 96. That's cantata speak for the specific cantata that's up next. Seems they were numbered and catalogued. Bet Bach as today's knitter would have his stash catalogued and computerized. He certainly frogged plenty of his previous works and worked them up into new ones. (Sorry. Carried away. Bach jokes made with knitting references are a bad sign. Must be time to leave.)

There's a morning star thing (no it's not that morning star tune or lyric). Colors. Motifs. Maybe.
I do have some newly gifted Malabrigos in Paris Nights.

Green's the color of the season, and I have lovely green potential projects in the stash. However, that's too liturgical for me. The red sock thing, fine.

Or there's the mathematical possibility of something with 96 stitches - or a 96 stitch repeat before borders/selvages. Could work. 96 is good.

This post is no good to anyone. This is, however, a log. I will capture this feeble planning moment until I'm ready to delete it.

22 August 2005

Taking requests

I had the second person in two days ask me, with enthusiasm, if I might teach them to knit. I'm developing a fairly simple theory about knitting's popularity. It's not as simple as trend appeal. The heightened visibility of knitting makes it seem more attainable. I used to hear far more people say "I couldn't do that." (Of course, that popped up today, too, but I cheerfully let her off the hook, assuring her that I was probably taking care of her yarn consumption allotment.)

I also think it's like a string around the finger. While the might-be-knitter isn't wearing the reminder, she or he is seeing MANY more people with strings on their fingers as reminders of what's on the life's to-do list.

Happy to help.

And now I'm off to watch a Jane Austen film. I have my knitting. Will be ready to take requests, if there's another incipient knitter present -- but not for the finished product.

19 August 2005

Get Ready to Rumble!

This fine repro poster art postcard was at the top of the grand box of goodies from Mittenfarce.

And how fitting it was ....
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I took out the loosely crumpled newsprint which cushioned the top of the box. Dropped the paper unceremoniously in a heap. Into the room bounced the not very often so bouncy anymore Miss Imogene. Her 14-year-old sedate, spoon-while-you-knit demeanor was replaced by a vigorous display of hunting, rustling and wrestling with paper. Pictures? What kind of self-respecting cat companion and digital dabbler would I be if there were no pictures?

However, I tried to post this once already. (You should have read the first version!) Productive phone calls timed me out. I may have to post the gratuitous kitty photos tomorrow.

So yes, even the kitties were delighted by the box. Oohing, aahing, laughter, and a great kitty rumble.

Knitty SP4 - August Splendor

Mittenfarce is a kind and generous soul.  It's been such fun visiting with her through the course of this event.  And in this sunrise photo, you may spy a bit of the splendor she sent. 

Starting from the lower left corner and working counter-clockwise:  Habu Paper Moire, handspun alpaca, Malabrigos merino, a rustic and decadent block of artisan soap, a package of tasty looking mix for beer bread (for which she covertly advised me yesterday to pick up a little Goose Island Summer Ale - which I did), a tube of rich hand cream, and a wine cozy she made.  I haven't had anyone knit anything for me since grandma knit slippers and mittens for little girls.
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The beautiful soap block is very French, you know. You can almost spy some of the print here. Beautiful from all sides - and I was just about to go browsing the fine soap counter, too.
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Habu Paper Moire

Oh my.  I've seen a photo of Habu's magically expanding, densely packaged skeins.  This lovely sage green linen blend is intriguing.  I had to hide it from the cats, as it looked just the right size and an interesting texture for hunting.
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Creamy white alpaca

Looks like sunset.  Seems it can be too early in the morning for photographic natural light.
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Malabrigos "Paris Nights"

Hmm.  That morning light and no flash combo might have worked better, I'd have thought.  Nonetheless, this beautiful kettle-dyed merino is deep, deep blues.  I could dive right in.
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Beautiful Cotton Wine Cozy

This beautiful blue (think sky and cloud colors) cotton cozy was knit by the very charming mittenfarce.
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This was in the wine cozy

Beautiful deep grey alpaca and deep, clear red. (Took this in the morning light, and it was just early enough to cast a more golden light on the whole business. If I retake, I'll replace.) The colors are yummier than this, and the yarn is yummier than the colors. (That sounds wrong somehow, or at least not as gushy as I wished.) The colors are gorgeous, George, and the alpaca is invitingly soft. I'll warrant this will be some fine, fine knitting.
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Cotton Cozy

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Wine cozy cord

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17 August 2005

Bach Cantata Season!

I'm going to have to start planning my next Bach Cantata knitting project. Rehearsals start in September, so I have a little time to sort it out. Naturally I can work on anything I have in progress, but my section has enjoyed the notion of naming the project for the cantata. Who am I to disappoint them?

Up to this point, it's been a matter of circumstance. However, it was rather festive to observe that the Bach socks were red - and it was a day of pentecost cantata. I will need to find out the titles of the upcoming Bach Contata Series.

Clearly I have one more item to add to my homework list.

Heel Discoveries

Here I was so pleased the other week to have sorted out the slip stitch heel. Lo and behold, it seems I became carried away. To the right is the recognizable green slip stitch heel. To the left is the "thought I'd figured it out and then went too far" triple thick Slip Stitch? You Betcha! Yes, the airport socks included both the slip 1 knit 1 rows and some extra, we're not messing around slip 1 purl 1 rows.

I won't be needing to mend those heels. Nice actually, what with the yarn being such a treat.

So I've been working on this little project...

I'm comparing bamboo and Bates quicksilver as I go...
There are front and back twists along the side, which is making the Bates more attractive...
The fancy result of a temporary cast-on. (I've forgotten the term and refuse to look it up right now.)
I'm practicing camera skills with moderate success.

Airport sock closeup ?

Eh, it's a little fuzzy. The photo, not the sock.
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12 August 2005

Focus, woman!

Step away from the computer.
Leave the work on the desk.
Do not print up instructions to places that have yarn.
Go home.
Knit what's on the needles.

And eat some fruit.

09 August 2005

What I learned today

In addition to working on the airline socks (where repeating is learning), I've started an extra project for take-along knitting. Of course. Thought I'd take on the petticoat socks in Weekend Knitting. Tackled my first ever provisional cast-on. Didn't feel fully confident in the description given in that book, though, so I moved onto the bookshelves, read up, sorted out a plan, and hauled out the crochet hook.

Pretty nifty knitting.

05 August 2005

Art Fibers Yarn Tasting

Here are some bits of fun from Art Fibers in San Francisco. 
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Yarn tasting. 
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Off diet. 
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I love mixing metaphors.

Make More Messes

It was with some interest that I idled away a good chunk of yesterday afternoon reading and searching for some of the ether's various knitting blog comments and recent commentary about criticism and failure. I was reminded of Harold Clurman, a director who was part of the Group Theatre and whose work on stage, in film, and in print is part of the American theatre experience. A friend had a video document of a Harold Clurman's thoughts about directing and theatre, which I do think I need to find again. On the tape, Clurman challenges our collective habit of responding to a flop of a play by asking what went wrong. And people do seem to take offense that someone has created a flop - we've wasted money, we've wasted time, they've wasted efforts. There should only, we imply, be successes.

Clurman challenges the theatre to have more flops. How can you reach successful work if you aren't taking risks - if you aren't risking some failures?

Which is what the knittyboard threads about failure, the snarky comments on blogs with arch tones, and even the "ew, what tacky projects/yarns" photos and statements brought to mind. Me, I'm going to keep plugging away, failures and all. Sometimes things will work.

As for the vitriol, sometimes I listen to Rush L, just to hear another viewpoint. Sometimes I watch Joan R and the like to see what is deemed tacky. And then I weary of it and stop. But sometimes I wish I could have been Dorothy Parker. Just sometimes.

03 August 2005

Yoga Practice for Sock Knitting

I've been enjoying sock knitting on a very basic level. In the spirit of using what I have, I've decided to try to keep returning to patterns I own. Kind of like going back to your mom's Betty Crocker. A basic Anne Norling and a pamphlet from Jawoll with basic variants on toe & heel were both purchased a couple of years ago when I decided I could actually try knitting socks. Before I move onto some of the pretty socks in IK and the like, I'm making my third pair from the Norling (with the rounded toe lifted from Jawoll). I'd just begun the heel with great confidence, when LO, I discovered that I've been misreading the heel flap.

The error? Sl 1, K across row. I slipped one and knit across the row. The close-up photo is of the erring heel. I was distracted by self-patterning.
The correct reading? All of you seasoned socksters may sing along. (Sl1, K1) across row.
The result? That lovely dense self-reinforcing heel. (If the photo of the Mountain Wool Airport sock below weren't so dark, you could almost see it.)

It was rather like that gentle adjustment in a yoga class where suddenly you're actually aligned and the asana has a whole new AHA.

Nothing like plane travel for sock knitting. And nothing like plane delays for greater progress. For what should have been about 5 hours of plane travel each way, I started and finished one sock and started the second. Reached my destination a day late, but I scored a travel voucher. (Once I was already into the second day of travel and staff looked for volunteers, I stepped up to be bumped.)

The gift yarn is working up beautifully. I'm playing with casein needles, this time, worsted weight, and a pebble rib. It's very pretty. Maybe my next photo will be truer.