Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spreading the Holiday Cheeze

Okay, this is so whacky, funny and addictive!

My own personal designs (now don't go copying them! I know you want to!)

As soon as I learn intarsia I'm making these...

p.s. sorry I couldn't paste the pics here... I couldn't figure out how to do it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Need More Analogies

This post has been a little while in coming… a few weekends ago I had a sort of a knitting epiphany. And I needed some time for it to become comfortable. I needed to think through what I had learned and how to express it.

Last month Annie Modesitt came to a shop just south of me and I registered for a couple of her workshops; the autumn leaves scarf and the felted modular bag.
I had been reading her blog for a while so I sort of knew what to expect in her personally and knew a little bit about how she liked to run her classes.
She has said on her blog that she’s not the teacher for everybody… and I’m sure that’s true... although, being a teacher myself, I know that that is a truism that could be stated about anyone. At least in this case, she turned out to be a teacher for me.
Annie is a big personality. She is funny and bright and gives the impression that things just pop into her head and zip out of her mouth. Pop! Pow! Zing! Speaking for myself… I loved it! I found myself completing her sentences in my head… just waiting to hear the twisted pun, song lyric, or whatever.
Both classes were fun, and both were informative, with tips and techniques scattered throughout, but I gained something from the autumn leaves class… something that, as I tried to describe to others, I found myself at a loss for the right words… I kept defaulting to comparative analogies. I don’t know if I ever succeeded, but I’ll try again here.

Annie makes you think.
She makes you look at what you’re knitting and see deeper… to try to grasp the whys and wherefores of what you are doing. I don’t mean to imply that she won’t answer questions or give advice… quite the contrary! But instead of just reeling off the directions “knit 2 together yarn over slip slip knit” she says to you “You want a left leaning decrease here… what are you going to do?” or “The chart shows the right side. How do you make it do that working it from the reverse?”
Instead of chart keys filled with a minutiae of explanation “this is a knit on the right side with the yarn coming to the front except on a Wednesday or a purl on the wrong side with your fingers crossed and throwing from the right and facing south” she says… “This is a stockinette stitch” or “This is a left leaning decrease”.
You know what a stockinette stitch is, right? You know if you’re on the right or wrong side, correct? So… you know what to do. You know that on the right side it’s a left leaning decrease and you’re on the wrong side so... what do you do?
Go on… you know… somewhere inside you know…
And at some moment in this process I did know. I saw. I understood.

Cooking analogy: I stopped following the recipe and understood what flavorings would produce the desired taste.

Language analogy: I stopped translating from English to knit in my head and started thinking in knit.

Jedi analogy: I became one with the force.

If you’re the kind of knitter who needs your hand held, if you don’t trust yourself and need each step explained to you… she’s going to stress you as she makes you think for yourself. But if you’re the kind of knitter who wants to step outside your comfort zone… who wants to not only stand but maybe even run on your own… she has a lot to offer you as a teacher.
If you get the chance to take what she offers do it!

ETA: I didn't mean to give the impression that you need to be an accomplished knitter to get something out of Annie's classes. Far from it! I saw her work with an inexperienced knitter or two and she was most patient and supportive.
But too many of us stay in our safe place using the excuse that we don't know very much yet. We're sure that we're not "There" yet (wherever "There" may be). We're not ready.
But I beg to disagree. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts (mmmm.. doughnuts) that you know more than you think you do! My point was that Annie's classes may open your eyes to how much you already understand. How far along you are. Maybe how far you have yet to go... but how firm you are on the path. To "There".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Field Report Received

To: Field Agent Caroline
From: Fearless Leader

Good job. You may consider yourself promoted to FIFI (Fair Isle Field Inspector).

Bwha-ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha, bwha-ha-ha, bwaaaaaahaha, bwah-ha-ha-ha, ha, bwa-snort-choke-hack-hack-ha-ha.Ha!

ETA: There has been some confusion about this post. This is an evil laugh. Fearless Leaders have evil laughs. It is not sheep talk.
Although, since this is a knitting conspiracy it is possible that our Fearless Leader *is* a sheep...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Dear Fearless Leader,

Your plans for world-wide kniting domination continues. Our latest convert was a stubborn foe. She resisted for years the pleas of her sisters and mother. Finally, she promised to learn, as a birthday present to her mother. Even then, she faked it for a while. Others cast on for her and she would sit at knit group, pick up her needles and then put them down saying, "I'm just too distracted to knit". But finally, she knit. Then she took to wandering the aisles of yarn stores, picked out a second project before she was done with the first and then she finished her first project! Now, she has asked for knitting "stuff" for Christmas. She is well and truely hooked. Now for the next

Field Agent Caroline

This makes me happier than I can explain. I like that Maureen shares this in common with me, that she will understand part of what drives me. And I know that this is the really weird part but I like that we are in our separate areas doing the same thing.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Knitting

I'm doing only a few items for Christmas knitting and only one person I'm knitting for reads the blog so I won't be talking about her item (which I haven't started yet anyway). But I'm having issues with the other two items.

Socks: these socks need to be a size 8. All the directions I can find give a heel to toe measurement but nothing tells me when to start the toe. I'm used to custom fitting to my foot but I am a 7. Even worse, when I asked her shoe size and she said 8, I asked if it was 7 1/2 - 8 or 8 - 8 1/2. I should have stopped at 8! So, she's 8 - 8 1/2 and I just don't know when to start my decreases for the toe (I'm going to do a Kitchener). I'm just working myself into a state for nothing. The basic sock pattern (with the round toe) says to start the decreases about 1 3/4" from tip of toe. I need to stop over-thinking this and just knit. I tried to keep track of the time it took to make and it was about a week so if I can just get past that darn toe, I can finish in another week. Done before Christmas!

Scarf: I have ripped this out 3, maybe 4, times now. This design business is tough! I finally had a pattern that I was pretty sure I liked but didn't like the way the cables were looking. I don't know if the pictures will show and I'm not sure I can describe it well enough but the cable didn't seem to alternate the way I was hoping; even though I was alternating right and left it looked like the same line going back and forth. No over/under - that's it! No over/under was happening. So, I found a pattern in a book and will follow that. I don't know how long this will take me to make. I remember last year's scarf as taking forever but it was all seed stitch so maybe this pattern will be more interesting. It is reversible with 1 large cable centered on one side and 2 smaller cables on the sides on the other. I definitely need to learn more about cables because I do like doing them. I think I can get this scarf done before Christmas.

#3: I don't think I will get this done before Christmas. Last year's gift for the same person was done after Christmas, too. I'll have to do better next year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Up to Date

I remember being taught to knit by my mother but, although I have no actual memory of the lesson, I believe I was taught to crochet by my grandmother. I never did anything with either, just squares and rectangles, for a long time. And then I did nothing with either, literally. Junior High home ec taught me granny squares but still it went nowhere. As time passed, I kept picking up crochet but not knitting. I did finally have a finished object, a crocheted wrap and then a baby blanket for my then 3 year old neice. I still have and use the wrap and I am thrilled to know that my now 16 year old neice still has the what remains of that blanket.

I finally got serious (perhaps obsessed is a better word) about two years ago. I began with a baby blanket and then made a series of scarves for family members. I then tried to crochet a pair of socks. It was a big disaster and about a year ago I decided to learn to knit so I could make socks. I like to switch back and forth between crochet and knit. Crochet is harder on my hands and knitting makes a good break. I have stuck to baby blankets for crochet but have done socks and scarves with my knitting. I havent' been brave enough, yet, to try actual clothing. I have done my first lace project and can't wait to do more (it's not the knitting lace that scares me, it's the blocking).

So, I have been taking pictures of my FOs just in this last year and I'm kind of impressed with myself. It always feels like it takes forever to finish things but in the last year I have made: crochet - 15 baby caps, 5 baby blankets, knit - 6 pairs of socks, 1 lace sea silk scarf, 1 hat & scarf set, 1 scarf I forgot to take a picture of, 2 hat & bootie sets & 1 pair of fingerless mitts. Holy Cow! I keep thinking that's not right but yes, it is! Of course, I realise that many of you are doing larger projects and frankly I have no idea of how much time it takes most people to knit things up but as I said, it always feels like it is taking me forever. I am stunned that I accomplished that much in a year! I feel pretty good. Did I mention I'm a little bit obessive?

Here is a picture of that obsession. This past friday I braved frigid cold to stand in line 5 hours at Best Buy (don't think I'll do that again) and I tried to knit. I made it thru 2 rows on a heel flap before my fingers were in pain from the cold and I gave up.
You can't tell but my fingers are red with the cold. And I am shivering from being bare-handed. Anyway, now you are up to date.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fiber Fest revisited

One of the catalysts of Caroline and I setting up a blog was a trip we took together to the VA Fall Fiber Festival.
We took lots and lots of photos with Caroline's camera and emailed them and organized them and labelled them and then... uhm, got too busy to post them.

So, without further ado... Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you...

October 6th and 7th!!!

Caroline drove down from NH to spend a week with me and DH in the Shenandoah Valley. She got to hang out at our house with my cats and visit for a bit. But the real purpose of the trip was a quick hour and a little drive across the mountains to Montpelier and the VA Fall Fiber Festival.

Alpacas! Ahhh, look at the big brown eyes!

Lamas! A truly handsome fellow.

"Do you prefer my right side?

Or my left?"

And bunnies! And goats! And dogs! And there might have been a few sheep...

We even watched some of the above getting, ahem, naked! (Quick, shield the children's eyes!)

We both took classes as well. Caroline learned rug hooking and I did some spinning and we both took a tatting class. We petted animals, and shopped, and ate lamb burgers, and shopped, and watched sheepdog trials, and shopped. Plus, if I recall correctly, I think we did a little shopping.
It was fun and educational and challenging and fun and exciting and hot and dusty and rewarding and fun and, uhm, expensive...

Yarn! Roving! Yarn! Books! Yarn! Keychains! More roving! A hoop! Tote bags! And yarn!

But hey! It's not like we were overly profligate! We each came home with something still in our pockets...

All in all a really fun time and I'm so glad I could share it with someone who understood the call of the fiber. And didn't bat an eye (batt... get it?) at a few small(ish) bags of roving from every animal in the place.

Hey Caroline... next year... same fiber time, same fiber channel?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Missed the Dates

Holidays always make me nostalgic (okay, it doesn't actually take much to make me nostalgic). And I since I managed, this month, to forget the birthdays of a couple people I have been thinking of them a bit more.

First, my brother-in-law, Manny. Manny who married my sister even after being trapped in a car with us in full Star Trek geek mode where we turned the drive into an ad-libbed episode. Over the years they've been together Manny has let more and more of his sense of humor out. We've obviously been a good influence on him.

And Kathleen, my oldest sister, who introduced me to folk and Irish music and Lyle Lovett (not personally). She made our dolls clothes and on one memorable occasion (for me, at least) built me a fort using blankets and the bunk beds when the others wouldn't play with me.

Happy Birthday to you both!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

They Grow So Fast

When I think of my nephew, Jonathan, I still think of him as a little boy. We all do that, I suppose, but you would think the fact that he towers over me would help to remind me of his age. He is 26, almost 27 and his reserve unit is now preparing to go to Iraq. He has been attending various pre-mobilization trainings for the past few months and right after Thanksgiving his unit leaves for Fort Bragg. It does look like we will see him at Christmas but then they leave for Kuwait and then Iraq.

So, the little baby who sat in his seat in the middle of the dinner table as we ate, the cutie kid who recited Star Wars and Pee Wee Herman dialogue from memory, the teen-ager dancing to techno is taking a way bigger step away from us then I ever thought he would. I'm very proud of him and fearful at the same time.

Last night we had a party for him. Plenty of his friends came but also some of the family came up from MA. Not everyone was able to be there, so here are a few pictures of Jonathan with various family groups.

Jonathan w/ my parents

w/ my parents and grandmother

w/ my sister, his mother

all five together

w/ my brother and his family

w/ his sister and cousins

all four w/ their great-grandmother

w/ my uncle and his family

w/ his cousins (once removed?)

w/ his aunts, my sister and me (see what I mean - towering over us)

w/ his step-father and his father & wife
There are pictures I didn't get that I wish I had but I'm happy with the ones I did get. I missed the family members who weren't able to be there but I hope they enjoy these pictures.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My Mother Made Me Do It

Thank goodness Kathleen posted. Mom said if we didn't post again soon, she would take us off her favorites list! I do have my Grand View weekend to write about, though. And maybe some pictures!

My knit group, ManchVegas Knitters (yes, I need to learn how to link) goes to Grand View Lodge and Cabins for "2 Days in a Yarn Store". Is this not everyone's dream, to sleep in a yarn store? This was my 2nd year. Last year was some awesome fun but this year there were some glitches. The location didn't work as well as it did in the past. We lost access to one of the rooms due to a full-time renter. Bob, I'm sure you are a nice guy but this weekend (even gone) you were kind of a bummer. So a few people got cots and 3 people to a room instead of the expected double occupancy, everyone gets their own bed. There were plumbing problems in some rooms, as well. Oh, and there was illness, allergies and disturbing news from home for some. But I, like Bob, work on the road during the week and go home for the weekend. So despite everything, I was thrilled to be there with everyone.

I carpooled up with Donna and Sarah D. on Friday. We stuffed Donna's car to the gills with our bags and enjoyed the drive up. We ate dinner upon arrival and then the marathon knitting began. Breakfast Saturday and more knitting. Lunch in and dinner out (we brought our knitting) with knitting in between meals. And then more knitting after dinner and maybe a little drinking. Now, cross your fingers, here's where I try for pictures:

Butt-numbing chairs weren't enough to slow us down.

I'm not going to name everyone - we are a new blog and at this point my readers are in the pictures. You all know who you are.

Sonya, I can't thank you enough for wearing the headlight. I was laughed at when I admitted to wearing one when I knit in my motel room. Lora, I think you need to knit this hat.

Sunday breakfast, knitting and then goodbyes. Did I mention we did some knitting? I went up with the intention of finishing the second sock for my sister Debbie. Instead, I started 2 more projects. A scarf for a friend and the doctor's bag from Knit 2 Together.

They are hard to see but those are cables on the scarf. And hey Kathleen, I forgot to tell you....I'm designing it! It's a pretty simple design but yes, the person who swore she would never work from anything but a pattern is writing her own. It's very exciting. The doctor's bag is KnitPicks Sierra, cranberry. and the sock is Trekking.

So, I left out a lot about the weekend and the fantastic people I spent it with. You ladies made me laugh the whole time. Sonya, it was great to meet you at last. Sarah D., I'm glad to have met you as well. Lisa, it was good to see you again and I enjoyed meeting your daughter, Jess. Jess, great hats. I hope your friends were impressed with them. And the rest of you, I miss you all and was glad to spend the time with you.

Me next!

I'm the older, and apparently slower...

Although there's no question that our daring tastes in textiles started early!

Look at that color play! The bold pattern choices! The ahead of it's time midriff baring (go Caroline!).

And yes.. I made those pants. I feel no shame.

Though my interest in fabric started early, truly my life has been all about textiles for about 25 years now.

My main hobby is knitting, although I'm new to spinning and totally loving it! I used to weave (when I had room for a loom), and I do a little beading (earrings, necklaces and stitch markers) when I have time.

I have, in my past, done crochet, cross stitch, embroidery, and needle felting among other fiber arts... and I may do some or all of it again in the future.

But mostly I sew. Because I make a living as a Costume designer for theater and dance. I teach and manage a shop at a University and do outside jobs as I can. And sew for myself once in a blue moon.

I love fabric... the colors, textures, patterns and shapes of it. I love yarn for all the same reasons. The promise of what it could become. The dream it represents.

Sadly, my imagination outstrips my ability to produce...

Ah well. No solution, but to cast on/cut out/pre-draft another dream.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm a Little Freaked Right Now


I was kind of hoping that Kathleen would be the first one to post. This is a lot of pressure. I haven't even figured out how to post pictures yet. So let me tell you my vices: "hello, my name is Caroline and I'm a craftaholic". I rubber stamp/make cards, crochet and knit. I have dabbled in one-stroke painting, scrapbooking, cross-stitch and embroidery. I am just learning rug-hooking and tatting. I want to learn beading. Lately, the rubber stamping has been on the back shelf as I work on the road. I find yarn to much easier to transport.

I'm not a courageous knitter/crocheter. So far, socks have been as difficult as I've gone. Although, I've just finished my first lace project and have decided I love lace.