Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fun with Young-Uns and More Trouble for Bridget

In the midst of some rather trying knitting times, there was a nice highlight or two this week.

On Friday my work ended early so I spent some time at the yarn shop. One of the women who works there and I spent about an hour watching little Miss T., of whom I have written before. She is 4 now, and pretty much talks incessantly. She decided to build a bird house, and nothing was going to stop her, certainly not lack of proper materials. She busily cut and taped pieces of paper and some sort of plastic stuff together until she was satisfied, all the while maintaining either a constant monologue about her progress or a stream of questions for Andrea and me. We found ourselves trying to explain to her how sound waves worked, and I realized even my undergraduate and graduate work in phonology, phonetics, and audiology didn't help prepare me for the mightiness of Miss T.'s questions. But. as much as I complained, I think we enjoyed it.

What you see above are two of the slightly older crowd of young people we had at the shop on Saturday. These are members of the Vista Ridge High School (in Cedar Park, Texas) knitting and crochet club, who took over the shop for the day in a Knit-a-Thon. Mr. President here is also a member of the football team, and was hard at work on a pink gerter-stitch blanket square. Magic Fingers is one of the many members with clever nicknames on their shirts. The fronts had a big VR on them, with knitting needles jauntily piercing the initials.

Mr. President's big accomplishment of the day was spraying cheese in a can down his throat, and learning that it isn't as fun as you might think. But, at least they captured it digitally to treasure forever.

Here you see the giant inflatable boom box they blew up. It also actually works as an MP3 player. Nice touch, isn't it? The young man in black spent about a half hour blowing it up. He's sitting with the Knotty Knitter. All the kids were knitting or crocheting with one degree of success or another. Most were doing garter stitch or double crochet squares from the least expensive possible acrylic yarn, on really big aluminum needles, which looked like torture to me, but seemed fun enough to them.

I helped a couple of them improve their technique, such as the girl on the far left who had some interesting ideas. The one labeled "Jade" had found some rather pretty thick-and-thin stuff with a slight sparkle that someone donated and was making an attractive scarf from it--another girl found some fuzzy ribbon and was doing well on that. The star pupil was the boy next to Jade's head. He was "Head Knitter," and one of the founders. He was at that stage where he was a total sponge for knitting knowledge. I showed him how to do cables and he asked all sorts of really good questions about that. Then he wanted to know where to get yarn and needles of good quality like mine, so I wrote down all the resources he would need. I really liked how the club had boys and girls, a nice mix of "types," and tons of enthusiasm. A bunch of them had to leave for an overnight vigil in support of the poor little child soldiers in Africa--that was touching to me. The advisor (next to Head Knitter) was a very nice art teacher and she told me how much she has enjoyed working with such a really good group of kids.

I enjoyed it too, and hope to do a sock class for the more advanced ones, after Head Knitter teaches them to purl. I've been a bit down on teenagers and how they treat each other lately, so this positive experience perked me up a lot. I'm glad Pat could open up the shop to these kids.

Yesterday was made even more fun by a visit from Store Baby #1, Abigail. We all got to hold and coo over her, and enjoyed that at almost 6 weeks, she is more alert now.

Poor Bridget

I worked very hard on my Bridget cardigan Friday and Saturday. I worked hard on her today, too. Until something became very obvious. I do not have enough freakin' YARN!!! Gosh darn it! I am now 9 rows before the bind off on the sleeve caps, and have only enough yarn left to sew the sleeves in. After working so hard on this, even knitting an entire back and frogging it, this is so disappointing!

I looked on Ravelry and found a woman who had one skein of the right colorway. I wrote to see if she is interested in selling it. If that doesn't work, I'll call the people who make the yarn, who are here in Texas, after all. But now I have to set it aside until I can get just a few more yards! I guess I will do fingerless gloves or a headband in what I have left. That yarn is just too lovely to have sit around and not be made into something.

So, I will pout and work on finishing Fit and Float. I also hauled out my skeins of Poems yarn and will get going on the vest I have picked out for it. At least this will be a quick project, and I am fairly certain I have MORE than enough yarn for this project.

Oh, I wore that grass green pullover I made out of the slimy yarn last year or year before last. You know what? With the right black top underneath it, that piece of knitting looks mighty fine. I no longer will consider it one of my less successful efforts!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Overly Quick Update

Just so you will know I am still alive--here I am!

I started my new job with a bang and have been editing pretty much nonstop this week. When I stop, I have been knitting, but haven't felt like looking at a screen long enough to blog!

I've actually made some good progress on my Charybdis socks over the weekend, since I spent a lot of time at parent activities at the college my son plans to go to. I'm moving on up the leg of sock #2 and will probably finish at some point this week or weekend.

I am also moving up the sleeves on Bridget. They look really nice and I am confident I will have enough yarn to finish. Whew. The increases look very nice in the round. I am doing lifted increases which always look neat and subtle.

I did get the new Wendy Johnson book on toe up socks (yay) and am sure my next socks will be from there. Then I'll make something from the Cookie A. book perhaps. Yes, I am too lazy to go link to them. My eyes are just killing me from looking at small print on PowerPoint slides--I will enjoy my bigger screen when it arrives! I promise to link to Wendy's book next time so you can go buy it if you already haven't or can't locate it yourself. I would say it's my go-to book for teaching about socks from now on!

I hope someone's there. No one has commented on my blogs recently--perhaps you are all busy too!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Plugging Along with Bridget

I am knitting and knitting, honestly. Bridget's sport-weight yarn just takes a while. I did manage to finally finish the body. Wow, even making the largest size and using bigger needles it will be quite the form fitting little cardigan. I know it will block a bit bigger, so I am not too worried. My next task is sewing the collar on, then I am starting on the sleeves. I hope they go quickly. And I am pretty sure I have enough yarn. Luckily I have short arms!!

I just want to own this sweater so I am knitting as hard as I can (when not blogging and Facebooking and hoping work calls).

Today it is all rainy so I am not going to go out anywhere like I did yesterday, when I tried to work at the tea shop. Bad wireless, sigh.

Today's picture is one of some of the scarves that people made based on that pattern, which Michelle at the yarn shop actually found a Ravelry link to. It has been so much fun seeing all the variations on this same pattern.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crochet Fun, and My New Favorite

I had a fun experience today at the yarn shoppe. When I got there, it was mostly just me and the owner, and we were looking at some old patterns and she spotted a crocheted scarf with ribbon wound through the rows of crochet. We decided to each make one, and had a lot of fun looking through all the Cotton Twist and Zen ribbon in the store. That's what the pattern called for. Then, I picked some other ribbon to make my brick red scarf, and she decided to use a different base yarn in black, but a nice pinky purple Zen ribbon as the weaving yarn.

I sat there and worked on mine all day, as I helped a lady with her knitting and talked to folks, while Pat went more slowly, since there were plenty of customers after noon. The fun part was that practically everyone who came in the store ended up buying yarn to make this scarf. We got a lot of yarn sold--enough for two white ones, a blue one and a green one that I can remember! It really shows how seeing a pattern being made can inspire sales. I finished mine this evening and will take it back to the shop for a sample, once I wear it tomorrow (it will be chilly enough to wear a scarf).

It was a lot of fun picking colors, and fun to make such a simple, yet effective project!

I've been working hard on Bridget, of course, and I am past the armhole shaping and last buttonhole, and moving toward the beginning of the collar! I am now hoping I have enough yarn to do the sleeves. At least the top of the front and back uses less yarn. As you can see, it most definitely is looking more and more like a cardigan.

The New Favorite

This picture shows a new pattern that popped up on Ravelry yesterday. It's called Dianna, and is by Jane Araujo, who has a blog in Portuguese. I even showed it to my old boss as the last thing I did on my work computer before I left! I think this is such a fun looking pattern--it's still not posted yet, but I am just dying to try this. It's like entrelac or mitered squares, but with lace. It looks perfect for a Jojoland, Noro or other yarn with slow color changes. I crack myself up when I fall in love with a pattern. It's such a fixation!

I'd type more, but I've been feeling a bit under the weather, so I am going to sleep. Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate. If you just got to enjoy Passover, I hope it was good, and if you are celebrating Ostara or something else, I hope it is a holiday with good food!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday Wonders #14: The Knitting Students

I wish I had exciting knitting content for you (all projects are moving along), but at least I have a Wednesday Wonder to share. I’ve just been talking to coworkers (soon to be former coworkers, as my last day at this job is tomorrow) about how much I love to teach knitting, so I will declare this week’s Wednesday Wonders to be all my past and present knitting students! The photo (which I may have shared before) is of my student Nancy A. (hi Nancy) and her red scarf with hearts on it, one of the first projects we worked on together. She represents many other students, though I must admit, she's the most loyal--we have a great time together.

But, all the students have been "wonder"-ful in their own ways. There are so many reasons to love knitting students! Here are just a few:

  1. Teaching someone a lifelong skill makes me feel good. I enjoy passing along a tradition and giving someone a way to stave off boredom for the rest of their lives.

  2. You always learn something about knitting when you teach it. By having to pay careful attention to how I so things, I have learned a lot about knitting. Seeing how people make mistakes also is really educational. You can figure out what they were thinking, and then learn to anticipate those errors in others later. And mindfully performing knitting tasks teaches me how to do a better job—not to mention all the pattern reading and dissecting practice I’ve gotten!

  3. When teaching knitting you learn lots of other stuff. A benefit of teaching people something they are required to sit there and practice for a while is that you get to chat with them and get to know them. Nearly everyone I have taught has shared something interesting with me, given me an insight into human nature, or simply been a pleasant conversational companion. I get so much non-knitting knowledge from my conversations with all the interesting people I run into, from the youngest child to the oldest senior citizen!

  4. By teaching others I get to vicariously work with lots more yarn than I could if I only was working with my own projects, and I also get to learn about patterns I never would have otherwise given a try. I’m very happy with the shrug I made because I was teaching someone else how to do it, and the scarves I’ve done along with students! I’ve found out not all pattern writers are created equal, that’s for sure!

  5. And the BEST part is that some of my students have become my friends! It’s been a wonderful way to meet some very kind, compassionate and interesting people. I don’t know what I’d do without them in my life. I am so glad I have this skill to share!

To all my former students: thank you for what you brought me when you took your classes. I hope I’ve given back even a portion of what I’ve received! And thanks to Pat at Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe for letting me teach there the past few years!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

One Charybdis Down, and Visiting the Alpacas

While I haven't had all that much time to knit the past few days, some progress has been made on all of my projects, including finishing the first of the Charybdis pair, shown here in its swirly beauty. I think the Auracania yarn in very weird colors really goes well with this swirly pattern, and I've enjoyed making this first one--it just takes a while when I am concentrating on other things. This sock was done toe-up, and has a short-row heel, which looks just fine, for a short-row heel. It's always nice to do something different every so often.

The one thing that surprised me about these socks is that perhaps I went too tight on the ribbing. I decided to go off on my own (perhaps dangerous) and do a K1P1 twisted ribbing, just to add a neat edge. But, when I bound off with my usual method, I could not get the sock over my heel! It was really, really tight! Argh. so, I had to take it all apart and put a different edging on. I guess the picot edge looks festive enough to make it worthwhile. Now I just hope I can duplicate the sock. Well, actually, the second sock's swirls will go the other way, which is quite sophisticated!

One reason I haven't been doing too much knitting this week is that Lee and I went out to the Old Oaks Ranch, which is near Wimberly, which was having its open house yesterday. I am glad I finally got a chance to go out there, though it meant I missed the yarn shop. Sometimes you just have to do a family activity on a weekend. It's a great place to visit if you ever have the time. They have lots of lovely alpacas, plus a sculpture garden and a shop where they sell yarn, looms and spinning supplies. And they have lots and lots of classes. I'd love to find the time to go to one of them some time!

We missed the demo of alpaca shearing, but did see a freshly shorn alpaca looking much thinner than her companions! I bought a pound of alpaca yarn, in what appears to be worsted weight. It has three plies, one natural, one fawn, and one chocolate. Texas Fiber Mill, the fairly new company that turns fleece into yarn, does the yarn for Old Oaks Ranch, and it is very nice. So cool it was all done in Texas. I think the yarn will make a wonderful cardigan, and I have some solid chocolate yarn that can be used for trim, etc., if I need more. The best part is that I also got pictures of each of the animals whose fleece went into the yarn. I know I am a nut for knowing who gave the fiber, but I think it's really a nice connection.

Tida gave the natural color. She is shown here rolling in the dust--so happy!

Dr. D. gave the fawn yarn. He was off in the boys' pasture, away from the ladies.

SeaBelle is particuarly lovely and gave the chocolate yarn. She's the one on the left in the photo. They're all beautiful animals, but these are the beauties who provided my yarn's ingredients.

We also saw a fun demonstration of taking raw alpaca fiber and turning it into a felted hat. Suzanne, one of the partners at the ranch, did the demo. It really looked fun!

As for the other projects, I got past halfway on Flit 'n Float, even after I repeated the pieces of the center chart twice. It's going to be just the right length for me, and I can't wait to block it (currently it curls like a piece of stockinette tends to do).

And I did get a bit done on Bridget. I am concentrating on her for the rest of my knitting day today, though, um, I must admit most of my evening will be totally concentrated on a Bruce Springsteen Concert. Fun for me!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday Wonders Lucky #13: My Blogs

Don't be afraid of today's photo! I was looking for a picture that evoked how I feel today, and this one does. It's me in late 2003, wearing a felted hat (from Lamb's Pride bulky, knit doubled) that I made for a friend in Maryland. I made 5 or 6 of them for her, and she then mailed them all over the world as holiday gifts--little bits of Knitting Suna all over the world. And that brings me to the other way I send little bits of Knitting Suna all over the world...

Today’s Wednesday Wonders aren’t people, but they are the ways I communicate with people: My blogs! Today is the 4th anniversary of my blogging adventures. My personal blog goes back to April 1, 2005. It is always good, I think, to start a Fool’s Journey on April Fool’s Day! That blog mixed my everyday life with my knitting adventures until May 2007, when I had to separate into two blogs, one that shows up on search engines and that I give out links to strangers to, which is for my knitting thoughts, and one for life updated, chatting and opinionating for an audience of just friends.* So, you may think I’ve only been blogging for a couple of years, but that’s because two years are hiding.

To my dear readers: If you are interested in more on my family, my work, my non-knitting activities and my rather nonstandard, but friendly, thoughts on life, just let me know where I can send you an email link to the other one! If you leave an email address in a comment, I will delete it before publishing it, so it won’t be broadcast all over the earth.

I am really grateful that someone thought blogs up, because I have always been one of those people who kept diaries, journals, logs and other kinds of personal records. I don’t have the best memory for details, so it’s helped me that I wrote a lot down in my past (and grrr to the ex husband who threw away my graduate school journal). It helps remind me of what I have learned from my mistakes, and what joys have popped up among the sorrows and drudgery. I love having these bloggy records of what I’ve been going through the last four years. I get a lot of laughs looking back!

And from a knitting perspective, I am really grateful that I can share with others whatever little ideas and insights come to me, so they can take what works for them and leave the rest. I get so many ideas from other people’s blogs, too (and oh, I wish I were as clever and creative as some of them, but I really don’t mind—we are who we are, and we each have our gifts!). I use my own blog to complement the records I am keeping on Ravelry, so I can check the process that went into making this project or that. I realize most of that is just of interest to me, but I think most diarists write primarily for themselves and count any audience who shows up as a bonus. Still, I hear that some people have learned things from my blog, too, and that makes me happy—as a teacher, I would like to teach at every opportunity.

And of course, there’s one more reason that my blogs are Wednesday Wonders: they have introduced me to people I’d never have gotten to know otherwise, and I treasure the chances I’ve had to get to know some of my readers, and to at least get glimpses of some of the others. Where else but in the “blogosphere” (which I think of as the place mean and somewhat ill-educated people who pick at news-makers live, but I realize also includes US) can you keep up with the daily lives of fascinating women and men from California to Wisconsin to New England, or from Denmark to Pakistan…to right down the road! I know I’ve said it before, but it’s time to do so again: thank you all for reading, and to those of you whose blogs I read: thank you for writing!
I really enjoy blogs. They are as dramatic as novels, but they feature real people. They are as educational as textbooks, but funnier and more “real.” Blogs are human, and they bring people together. There’s so much that separates us today—so much “us vs. them” thinking, so it is great to see how people with different views , of different backgrounds and from different places do share so much in common. We love our families, we love knitting, we respect others.

Hmm, on an email list (another thing I like!) today someone asked what makes us happy. I guess my answer is my blogs, who are four years old, and the blogs of all my friends, mentors and knitting companions!

As an anniversary gift, feel free to share what you like about blogs and blogging, or just wish the blog a happy birthday. It's also Wendy Johnson's blog-i-versary, so it must have been a good day to start blogs (hers started way before mine, though!)

*We had someone who was a bit messed up mentally following the blog and imagining all sorts of “reading between the lines” things from some of the entries, so Lee and I decided to take away the public availability while we were dating. At least all the other stalkers have either been kind or silent!