Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday

Yesterday was Black Friday. No, I didn't get up and go shopping 4:00am. That's crazy. I came up with my own variation: I spent a big chunk of the day (interrupted by a 3-mile walk) starting on my black Cobra Sweater.

The yarn wasn't the only thing that made it such a dark day. I actually started this sweater the day before, on Thanksgiving. I picked the large size figuring that's what would fit and got to knitting. Round and round and round and round. At the end of the first ball, I tried the thing on. Huge. Ginormous. Thinking back, when Staci was helping me pick out the yarn she seemed surprised that I was making the size I was. Should have listened. It's funny the things we think about our own bodies.

So, I undid the whole thing and started over a size down Friday morning. But wait - that's not all! I also managed to get the stitches twisted at the join and not catch it until I was 5 or 6 rounds into the ribbing. So I started over again.

But now things seem under control. I love knitting with this stuff -- and this heathered black color. Very soothing. And strangely familiar. Only this morning did I figure out that I'd used this exact color of Cascade 220 before.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Crochets' Rebellion

It took a while, but it looks like I'm getting the hang of this. I knew I wanted to use a crochet seam to join the sections of the Garter Stitch Throw (formerly known as the Garter Stitch Blanket, but downgraded due to smallness), but I have little crochet experience. Despite my intense perusal of books and the YouTube, all my stitches were lying to one side rather than forming a neat row between the two pieces. Something was wrong.

I went to The Knitting Nest this afternoon to spend down a gift card and ran into Staci. Being the fiber arts goddess she is, she figured out my problem soon enough -- wrong size hooks. She gave me some pointers and let me borrow her Very Pink crochet hook. I don't know what I'd do without my knitting friends. As you can see, I'm back on track.

I spent my gift card (plus 1 ¢ !) on yarn for a sweater -- for me! I got Cascade 220 in Jet (mostly) and Fennel (a small part) to make the Cobra sweater from Debbie Stoller's Son of Stitch n Bitch. Ravelers can see examples here.

And, I've decided to take a new tack on what I've been calling the Blue Tiger Socks. I didn't like the way they were looking, so I ripped them once again -- I think I may be testing the structural limits of this yarn it's been knitted and frogged so many times. I'm starting again, this time using a Coriolis pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

I'm a little freaked -- there are TONS of stitches on the needle. And the book is written so that you have to flip all over the place to follow a pattern. It's a little unnerving. I've just wrapped the stitches for a short row heel and am getting ready to pick them up again. I'm wishing I'd read this book a little more closely before just jumping into a pattern.

Won't be working on the blanket much. I don't want to be knitting on the in-laws' Christmas gift when I see them at Thanksgiving, but I'm hoping I can get started on my sweater. Will I really have four projects on the needles at that point? Yikes!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It's been a while. What have I been doing? Knitting garter stitch.

Taking a lesson from our soon-to-be former president, I can't quite say "mission accomplished," but I suppose, since all the pieces have been knitted, I can say that, as of today, major combat operations have ended. Only now, as I look at the close-to-finished product, do I see a big swastika in the middle of the blanket. Yikes! Let's ignore that, shall we?

I still have to block the two larger pieces (that'll be fun), crochet up the seams and do an applied I-cord. I've done theoretical I-cord, but not applied. I'm going to knit up a swatch with leftover yarn to practice on while the pieces dry and while I wait for a darker color of Eco-wool to come in at my LYS. I'm looking at a chocolatey-brown color.

The weather has been lovely for knitting. We actually got close to freezing last night, although today is one of those perfect Texas autumn days. A bit warm if you stand in the sun, a bit chilly if you stay in the shade. Some of our flowers have gotten a second wind despite the draught. The fall asters were wonderful a few weeks ago and our lantana has filled a corner of our yard with renewed bright redness that had disappeared in August. These yellow bells were blooming a few weeks ago and were siphoning off some of the love that the lantana was getting from the monarch butterflies that were passing through. Couldn't get any to hold still for a picture, though.

Knitflix moment: Jeff and I were watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford last night when I saw this brief bit of yarnishness. That's Brad Pitt seen through the distorted glass. If this movie is to be believed, Zee James, Jesse's wife, liked to knit with dark colors. My kind of outlaw's wife. Zee was played by Mary-Louise Parker. She got awfully high billing in this movie for muttering a few times and then screaming when her husband was killed. Seriously, I think I heard her ask someone what she wanted for dinner, and that was it. I guess the rest of the time she was rolling joints or frying green tomatoes or something.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Knit While I'm Around

Last night, as a special Halloween season treat, Jeff and I went to see a touring production of Sweeney Todd: A Musical Thriller that came through Austin.

I'd been spending a lazy day working on the Garter Stitch Blanket and laughing at pictures of us at a Halloween party the night before. We went for a nice walk in the afternoon to clear our heads and stretch our legs, and after a delicious salmon-y dinner that Jeff made, we headed downtown for the show.

Imagine my delight at seeing the actress playing Mrs. Lovett actually knitting on the stage! Here's kind of what it looked like in a publicity photo I found from the recent Broadway revival upon which the touring production we saw was based. Of course, we didn't see Patti LuPone, but she illustrates the scene quite nicely.

Here she's knitting a bright red garter stitch muffler for Toby (with violin), who is slowly catching on that something is not quite right with the creepy Mr. Todd and his relationship to Mrs. Lovett's meat pie-filling supply chain. Did I mention the scarf was red?

I was sitting close enough to notice that much of the garter stitch was very neat and tidy, but the 5 or 6 inches nearest to the needle were much more uneven. I could tell that this was the section that had been knitted on stage during performances, while the actor was trying to act and sing at the same time. She was doing a decent job of throwing those stitches, but one could tell she was having to concentrate on all the knitting/acting/singing/tuba playing she had to do. I was so intrigued by watching her knitting that I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to "Not While I'm Around," perhaps the most famous song from the show.

Still, it was an excellent production -- very vertical. Everything was very towering and the cast, in addition to acting, singing and each playing (in some cases, multiple) instruments, had to balance on coffins and sawhorses and ladders and chairs on coffins. I don't think I would have gotten through it without snapping an ankle.

Back to my blanket. I'm going to block the smaller sections today. If it were red, I don't think I'd be able to continue. Did you catch that, Jene?