Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Okay, the new book decision was made easier. Young Man is only 25 pages away from finishing Dragonrider and has expressed interest in reading The Thief Lord. Since that book was written for a somewhat older audience than Dragonrider, I think a preview is in order. So far, I really like it, but I'm not sure that Young Man will enjoy it yet. He has several other books on his shelf including the last two Spiderwick Chronicles and several of the Series of Unfortunate Events. Ah, to be so young and to have so many good reading years ahead......

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Shedir on my favorite model. Posted by Hello

Happy feet! Two pairs of rainbow socks for us. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Next Up

A new book is heading for the bookshelf. I finished Kite Runner this afternoon. I'm still not sure if I liked the book. This was an emotionally difficult book filled with images that I want to leave my mind, but that are stubbornly refusing to depart. Mothers of handsome little boys will probably all have this reaction. The writing was sparse, but I cannot fault the author too heavily for this as my writing is also usually succinct. The imagery was also bare, but generally sufficient. During certain scenes, I was quite glad that the images were not more detailed. The plot had several weaknesses, not the least of which were the many obvious turns. Some of the not-so-obvious turns seemed to stretch plausibility just so that the readers could not completely anticipate the twists. It did seem convenient that all the female influences were wiped out early in the book so that the issues of female roles in Afghan society did not have to be addressed. I found it particularly difficult to accept the lead character's supposition that growing up without a female influence actually left him more sympathetic. Many works have reported the opposite conclusion. Some sociologists suggest that the lack of female influence in the lives of the young men of Afghanistan was a factor in the rise of the Taliban and the resulting suppression of women's rights. Obviously, this is too large a subject for a work of fiction (at least a work of fiction that wants to be published), but to nearly ignore it seemed a grave omission.

It is not clear what book will be next out of the stash. My book club has selected So Big by Edna Ferber for its July discussion. There are so many other tempting books waiting for my attention that I may sit this one out. I am leading the discussion on Kite Runner in June and then on John Adams in August. Perhaps a stint of light reading is in order.

Both Shedir and the second pair of rainbow socks made it off the needles this week. After the initial wrong direction on the cables, the end result is pretty nice. Young Man loves Shedir and wants me to make him one as long as it is a little smaller and in a different color. At midnight, I snipped the last tail for Young Man's new socks. He woke me this morning when he found them on the sofa. The smile on his face was worth the lack of sleep. To be technically correct, the Kid's Poncho is also off the knitting needles. It needs its ends woven in, the two pieces seamed together and the edge added so it is only "done" and not "done done."

The newest project added to the needles is an exercise in masochism. Whoever designed Bernat Matrix had a real mean streak. I thought it would be a real kick to do a drop-stitch scarf as a special gift for my neighbor who shares my birthday. I cast on 50 stitches on US11 needles and went to work. The scarf is now about 8 inches long and is already trying my patience. This is definitely not the relaxing, knit while watching TV project I had planned. Each time I relax my vigilance for an instant, I slip through the strands instead of under them or I forget to YO. Luckily, the pattern is amazingly forgiving. Time will tell if this project actually becomes reality or if it is destined to return to the back of the yarn bin where it will taunt me with its unfulfilled promise for years to come.

I want to start Branching Out, but I don't think it is a particularly good idea to have two taxing projects on the needles at the same time. Maybe I need more socks. That's it, socks.......

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Weakness, Joy, and (Yes) Yarn

We have already established that I am completely obsessive. We can also now clearly establish that I am weak. What is it about yarn shops that makes it impossible for me to leave without buying something? I mean, the yarn isn't going to feel bad if I don't take some of it home! Or is it???

In any case, I wandered off on Friday and visited not one, but two local yarn shops. One already has received a sizeable amount of my yarn budget this year. This particular shop is quite large and has an amazing inventory. The downside is that it can be a little challenging to figure out the organization strategy. Some knitters have claimed that the shop is disorganized, but I have found that not to be entirely true. It is actually quite organized, it it just that the scheme used isn't immediately obvious. My previous trips there have always been to purchase something specific. This time I went "just to look." Um, yes, well, we all know how well that goes. To my credit, I restrained myself quite well. Only one skein of yarn made it into the car with me. I picked up a beautiful skein of Supersock in Blueberry Hill. It's going to make lovely socks. I also have a better understanding of what is where in the store. This will be ever so useful should I ever need to make a quick trip to the store. Of course, I could call ahead so that what I want is waiting at the counter, but that would remove any of the thrill of the chase.

I wasn't quite so restrained at the second shop. Ursula's Yarn Boutique is very small and it is virtually impossible to find anything without asking. One of the claims to fame of this place is that it has Opal sock yarn! I've been hearing so many wonderful things about this yarn that I had to try it. Being me, I couldn't just pick up one skein. No, three gorgeous skeins are now carefully stashed away in my yarn bins. Some day in the future, I will have socks in Rodeo 1155 (which is lighter than the picture), Lollipop 1015, and their brand new Petticoat. The owner had some gorgeous samples that she had knitted. She has a scarf in Lollipop 1009 (two skeins to get a nice length) and a Wonderful Wallaby that she did with two strands of Opal (I don't remember which colorway). Great stuff. So much yarn, so little time.....

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Beginner Education

Well, I found out why my Shedir didn't look cabled. It wasn't. Since I plunged into the project without rereading my references on cables and, more importantly, on reading knitting charts, I paid the price. This morning, I frogged all but the first nine rows. That is, I went all the way back to the ribbing to start all the cable stitches over.

For any new knitters out there, learn from my mistakes. When you read a charted knit pattern, and you are knitting the right side, you read from right to left. That is, the chart is printed to look the way the finished item will look. If you are knitting the backside, you reverse things. Since this is a hat knit in the round, all of the stitches are read right to left. Simple enough, but I am frustrated for not checking before starting. I also knitted a quickie sample with just three repeats (48 stitches cast on instead of 128) out of worsted to go through all the stitches. It made a cute doll hat. Actually, it is now being used for a sleeping bag for a very small, stuffed, squirrel toy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lots of Projects Off the Needles

I've been busy finishing things. See below for the proof. I have another pair of socks (that makes three, if you are counting). I'm now making a second pair of rainbow socks, but I've modified the pattern to go down to US2 needles and sizing to fit my son. So far, so good. The bag and scarf are going-away gifts for a very special teacher. The bag was fun and easy. I plan to add a lining and stiffened bottom.

The scarf is a variation of Heart from Knitty.com. I switched from a very thick yarn to a worsted weight and added a second column of hearts. I call it Heart Too, but it is still copyrighted by Knitty.

The big project on the needles right now is really a small one. I'm making Shedir also from Knitty. It's my first attempt at cables. Sure, I would try this with US3 circular needles. I'm at row 37 of 83 and I'm still not convinced that it looks cabled. I suspect that I'm just too close to it. I should have it finished by the weekend.

Yep! More socks! Posted by Hello

Another bag! This one is made from Noro Kureyon. Note the classy drying rig (corn flakes box covered in plastic). Posted by Hello

It's a little fuzzy, but here is the detail of the scarf Posted by Hello

The full-length version of my second Red Scarf Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Fiendishly Clever

I just love it when another blogger finds something marvelous. Another way to spend time. Isn't it great? I have Mason-Dixon Knitting to thank for my latest waste, er, use of time. This one is Making Fiends and it is hilarious. Okay, it is also sick and twisted, but really funny. Enjoy Mother's Day, but watch out for fiends.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Where Did the Year Go?

It's May. May! Did you hear that? Yes, it was the whooshing sound of time flying by. The biggest hit for me is that this is Teacher Appreciation Week and I am NOT READY. I have several things in the works, but nothing completed for the wonderful teachers at my son's school. At the minimum, I must go get a gift certificate for the teacher who has managed to keep most of her sanity with a class full of energetic children. I did finish a funky scarf from trendy yarn, but it really isn't my son's teacher's style. I think it will be a hit with his teacher for next year. Ack!

Of course, all I really want to do is go start a new project. To torture myself, I just picked up a copy of Great Knits for Kids by Debbie Bliss. I understand from the reviews that I may need to watch my gauge and measurements more carefully than usual, but the designs are great. Who am I kidding, I'll need to start paying attention to gauge. I am notorious for going forward where wise knitters fear to tread. I'm just a sucker for a challenge. What usually bugs me about kid patterns is that they are all for toddlers. I don't want to knit for toddlers because they are too sticky. I know that I will need to contend with grass stains and rapid growth when I knit for my son, but I'll cope (remind me of this when I weep later).

Excuse me while I go back to my socks.....