Tag Archives: yarn

Luminary panel musings

luminaries

There were some interesting questions put to the Luminary Panel at Sock Summit. One that I found particularly intriguing was, “Why are there no knitters of color here?” I found it interesting on a couple levels. One is that I *am* a person of color, just not the color that the questioner meant. (I’m Asian-American, and I saw many other Asian-American knitters at Sock Summit.)

The discussion by the panel first delved into socio-economic issues; if food and housing is insecure, knitting is not going to be high on your priority list. Race is often tied to socio-economic status. Knitting in the US is primarily a recreational activity, and it can be quite spendy if you let it be! But I ran into an acquaintance right after the panel discussion, and she commented that she doesn’t have a ton of money, and that you don’t have to have a ton of money to knit. Another idea explored by the panel was that knitting isn’t a part of all cultures around the world. One could extrapolate that we should evangelize knitting and spread the word, but I don’t think all people should be forced to consider knitting for their leisure activity. It’s supposed to be fun. I think we should just say, “Here’s something I like. If you want to knit, I’d be glad to teach you.”

Who taught you to knit? Did you ask to be taught, or did someone offer to teach you? Or did you just find it intriguing on your own? As a child, I wanted to learn to knit because I was heavily into the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Deep in my heart, I wanted to be a pioneer girl. (Pretty funny for a Chinese girl.) In fact, part of the reason I still love my cuff-down socks on dpns is the whole pioneer sticks and string schtick; pioneer girls didn’t have two circulars or magic loop! (This reminds me of the “You can’t use the pedal when you play Bach because he didn’t” argument, although in that case I’d say, “He would have if it had existed!”)

I’m still knitting along on my ruffle tank, and swatching my colorful stealth project. And I think I’m going to start one of Cat Bordhi’s toe-up socks, just for review. And I’ve fallen in love with Lorelei from Twist Collective, but I don’t think I’ll start that right now! Just dreaming. I’ve noticed a good bit of start-itis in other bloggers that were at Sock Summit. Too many creative ideas all at once?

Besides start-itis, Sock Summit has had another effect on me. I had to buy another box to store my increased stash. Although the stash is growing, I’m still not a stasher at heart, so I’d like to share a skein from my Sock Summit goodies. This is from Deb Accuardi’s pre-summit lunch. The colorway is Cherry Mallow by CraftsMeow. It’s 100% superwash merino wool fingering weight yarn, 400 yards.

cherry mallow

If you’d like to play, leave me a comment telling me who taught you to knit. I’ll do the random number thing and pick a winner after August 23. Good luck; I’m looking forward to some wonderful stories!

Searching for “the one”

It’s been quite a swatching week here. It’s like speed dating. Isn’t it tough when you know exactly what you want, and just can’t get it? I bought a bag of Noro Silk Garden Lite at Sock Summit with a project in mind. The yarn is too heavy for the intended project, so I went searching for something else. The Jojoland Melody wasn’t it; it didn’t have enough color change. Then I thought I had found it in the Noro Kureyon Sock. The colors were perfect.

Noro2

The swatch was gob-smackingly pretty. But as I knit on, I found myself with doubts. Would I wear a garment that was gorgeous, but scratchy? I’ve already found that I prefer my Malabrigo Ishbel to my Shetland Triangle, because it’s so soft. Hmmmm.

I voiced my concerns in an email exchange with Melanie. I told her I was dreaming of something similar to Noro in the way color is treated, but as soft as Malabrigo Sock. She suggested Crystal Palace Mini Mochi. Not quite as soft as Malabrigo, but that’s hard to live up to.

Back to Twisted. I briefly eyed the Zauberball, but the colors were too eye-poppingly bright. Malabrigo Sock? The color runs were too short. Mini Mochi?

mini mochi

More swatching. Similar color palette, beautiful colors, and a long run of each color, with the colors gently shading from one to the next. Just like the Noro. But much softer to the touch. We may have a winner. I thought the extra Noro was going back to the store, but in the morning light it’s still really pretty and it’s not as horribly scratchy as I thought. It’s more of an art piece, though. Do I make two? Is this how stash starts? What am I making? I can’t show you yet; it’s my stealth project. Don’t you love surprises?

Speaking of surprises, the blue silk laceweight Ishbel has made it to its recipient. I made it for Susan as a thank you for guiding us through Vietnam. She says she’s going to call it Ishmael. I knit part of it on the trip, but I was so jet-lagged all the time that there wasn’t much knitting!

blue ishbel 2

And one more surprise. The community baby quilt was presented to our music director, the mom-to-be, and she was very touched. We started this on our women’s retreat in May. The theme was hearts, but you could go anywhere you wanted with it. Each person there was asked to make a square. I see mine! It’s the heart-shaped music notes in the upper left corner.

quilt web

My aunt called yesterday to ask about Sock Summit. I told her about Cat Bordhi starting class by asking our names and who taught us to knit, and that I had shared that she had taught me when I was 16. She thought that was pretty neat. So now I’m sharing it with you, too. Thank you, Aunt Rose!

Down the slippery slope…

I’m having a hard time getting started on a post-Sock Summit project. I have several ideas in my head, but haven’t found the right combination of yarn and idea. The Jojoland Melody turned out to be not the right yarn for what I’m planning, so I went back to Twisted and came home with this.

Noro

Noro Kureyon Sock. Still not soft, but such gorgeous colors. I like purples. I like gray. I like black.

Noro2

And I love purple with green! Noro skeins are always a surprise inside. I like this combo a lot. And while it seems like I’m sliding down the slippery slope for a self-avowed non-stasher, it’s not quite as bad as it seems. I exchanged the Jojoland Melody for the Noro.

On the other hand, I also said that I didn’t want to learn to spin, but then I bought a Turkish Delight drop spindle from Jenkins Woodworking at Sock Summit. Today I met up with the local spinners’ group, Portland Spinnerati. They meet monthly at the Central Library. Tami and Leila got me started on some beautiful merino and silk roving that I got from Knitted Wit.

first spin

I spun some yarn! And liked it. After I spin some more, I’ll have to learn how to ply…a slippery slope indeed. Oh, later today I brushed the cat. I found myself drafting out the hair from her brush, wondering if it could be spun. Help.

Post-Sock Summit blues

Sock Summit is over; it’s time to go back to real life. What’s a knitter to do? I could go check out the Oregonian’s re-cap of the event here. I even saw myself in the video!

Or…

melody

I could buy some more yarn! The Noro Silk Garden Lite wasn’t the right yarn for the new project in my head, so I went to Twisted to get some Silk Garden Sock. But I got distracted by this Jojoland Melody superwash, which is really soft. It also has a really long color run, and a very slow change to the next color. I think it will do what I want, but there’s only one way to find out. The S-word. Yes, swatch!

melody2

The colors are much richer than you see here; I can’t quite capture them.

I wanted to mention something that really struck me last weekend. Cat Bordhi began her class by having everyone give their names, and tell who taught them to knit. I love the honoring of the ones who came before. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, co-workers, Youtube! You can trace the lineage back, in much the same way that piano students can trace their teachers back to Mozart. Cat was also really good about crediting ideas, such as Judy Becker for Judy’s Magic Cast On and Magic Toe, and Jenny Staimann’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. It’s because of this that I can say that I learned my modified way of making an SSK (slip 1 as if to knit, slip 1 as if to purl, knit off together through the back loops) from Meg Swansen, who probably learned it from her mother, Elizabeth Zimmermann, and that was a modification of the SSK that was invented by…Barbara Walker. And so it goes.

Some other news: Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks, one of the Sock Summit sponsors, is closing their brick and mortar store. They’ll still have an online presence, but this is a big loss for Portland. I’m sad to see them go.

Megknitficent
(Ravelry name) is knitting her own wedding veil, and she had several teachers and students at Sock Summit knit on it. That will be a wonderful keepsake! And maybe she should get in touch with the woman who made this amazing wedding dress.

That’s the news from here. Knit on!

Voilà Ishbel, encore

blue ishbel point

The blue laceweight Ishbel is done, finally. She took a little trip to Vietnam, had some good knitting on the plane over, and then completely languished during her time there. I was too tired in the evenings to knit, because I was waking up at 4:30 every morning due to the time change. I did a little knitting in Tokyo, but couldn’t knit Ishbel on the way home. I had a little scare with my circular brass needles with airport security in Vietnam, and didn’t want to risk having to take Ishbel off the needles on the way home from Tokyo. I finished here at home.

blue ishbel

Unblocked, the shawl measured 46″ x 17″

unblocked blue

This is the lace pattern that I was never able to memorize, even after finishing two Ishbels.

macro lace

Blocked, the shawl measures 56″ x 22.5″

blocking blue

So the sheep says.

sheepish

Ishbel, pattern by Ysolda Teague
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Silk Lace, color Deep Blue
Addi Lace needles, US size 5
Weight: 32 ounces

Mods: I made the larger stockinette center, and the smaller border.

This shawl is beautiful. It’s extremely lightweight and ethereal. It is destined to be a gift. There’s more than enough yarn left (46 ounces) to make one more, or I may play with some ideas from Evelyn Clark’s book, Knitting Lace Triangles. But not any time soon. Sock Summit is coming, and I have homework!

BTW, I did make Blueberry Boy Bait the other night, after buying more butter. (It takes a pound!) And it was delicious. The boys of the house were quite taken with it, and so was I. The only problem was that it was bigger than my largest platter, so the ends fell off. We ate them right away, warm, so it wouldn’t look bad. Altruistic, aren’t we? ;-)

I’ve got the blues…

And I love them! Blue is my favorite color. I’m still plugging away on the blue Ishbel and the blue Ruffle Tank. And now I’ve won some beautiful blue yarn from Lorajean at Knitted Wit.

blue sky

It’s 400 yards of fingering weight sock yarn, colorway Blue Sky. Lorajean noted that I don’t knit socks, but that’s not completely true. What’s true is that I don’t knit socks with fingering weight yarn! Someday I may. But wouldn’t this blue make a gorgeous scarf or shawl?

blues

I also harvested the first of the blueberries on Sunday when I got home from Carmel. I made blueberry cobbler, and we had it with vanilla ice cream for Father’s Day dessert. It was delicious! While I was picking the berries, I noticed a blue jay on the corner of my roof, with a big fat blueberry in his beak. I think there’s enough for all of us, but that was pretty cheeky of him!

Travel knitting

I’m going away for a weekend with the Piano Babes. Too bad I haven’t played the piano very much this year. Oops. Knitting and blogging have taken up a lot of my leisure time! But I’ll try to resurrect the three Granados Waltzes from Valses Poeticos that I played this year. Wish me luck.

I’m trying to decide what knitting to take for the plane. I think my socks on dpns (poor languishing Kai-Mei) would be a bad choice because it’s so easy to drop a needle. Circular needles are great for plane knitting, because you can’t drop one! That means I should take the Ruffle Tank. Or my new Ishbel. Or both.

addi ishbel

New Ishbel? Yes! I was feeling sorry about not using that glorious blue Claudia Handpaint Silk Lace. It was a bit spendy, and I was feeling guilty. I bought some Addi Lace needles, and it has made all the difference. I also went down a needle size to a US 5. The silk glides along on the metal needles, and I’m a happy camper.

addi points

This doesn’t meant that I don’t love my Lantern Moon Ebony needles. They’re still my favorite. And they’re working great on the Ruffle Tank! I finished the back, and have cast on for the front. This is a great knit, just enough pattern to it that I’m engaged, but simple enough to knit while watching old episodes of Firefly. Mmmm, Firefly. I’m going to be sad when the 14 episodes are done!

Have a great weekend! What’s on your needles?

Promises and Potpourri

I can’t remember exactly when our blueberries ripened last year, but there are promising signs out there.

blueberry promise

All five bushes are heavily laden again this year. I hope they’re ripe soon; I love blueberries!

My Ruffle Tank is showing signs of promise, too. The knitting is easy, and it’s a great take-along knit. I’m almost to the armhole shaping on the back, and still on the first of three skeins of yarn. I don’t think I’m going to run short.

back

It’s interesting knitting with this linen/merino mix. It’s string-like, but not really hard on the hands. I know that when it gets washed and dried, it’s going to get a lot softer, and it will help even up the stitches, too.

And one more sign of promise:

robin nest

This robin is nesting in Carole’s lilac. Since our wreath nest was abandoned, Carole says we can share this one instead.

In other local news, Lorajean of Knitted Wit is having a contest. She’s participating in Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis, a fundraiser for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. For every $5 you donate to Take Steps on her behalf, she’ll enter your name in a drawing for some wonderful prizes, including a Lantern Moon circular needle case, and hand-dyed yarn and fiber.

Deb Accuardi of Mt. Hood Fibers is starting a local sock club, which includes a lunch at Gino’s Restaurant in Sellwood (Portland) with every yarn/pattern release (every other month from October 2009 through August 2010).

And lastly, Saturday is World Wide Knit in Public Day. Last year I was on a camping trip, knitting in a field. I have several choices for this year: Hollywood Farmers’ Market at 8 a.m., Pioneer Courthouse Square at 10 a.m., or Hillsboro from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Get your needles ready!

Looking for a WWKIP Day event near you? Check here!

Ishbel, you heartbreaker

Heartbreakingly gorgeous, yes?

ishbel

It’s been a bumpy road with Ishbel. First, I chose a yarn that I didn’t enjoy working with. Then I switched to a different yarn, and ran out before I was done. (Sooooo close. 1.5 rows, plus bind off.) After a rescue by KellyinTexas from Ravelry, I finished the knitting on Saturday.

Here it is unblocked.

unblocked

unblocked close

I was pretty pleased, and started the wet block process. I bought blocking wires last year after making my Shetland Triangle shawl. These are a great invention. I love how easy it is to pin out points with these. But seriously, I am going to have to get a plain white towel for blocking. This cacophony of color is just too much!

blocking ishbel

What is it about a blocking shawl that is so attractive to cats?

mookbel

As I was pinning the shawl out, I noticed this disintegrating section (without the needle in it, of course).

bad corner

I must have dropped a stitch during the bind off. I was devastated. But there was nothing I could do, until the shawl was dry. Which gave me time to think it through. There were bound off stitches on each side of the dropped stitch(es), so that meant the run was confined to a small area. After Ishbel was dry, I picked up all the live stitches I could see, and then removed the blocking wires. I tinked back the bound off stitches (luckily, this was near the end), and then proceeded to recreate the three rows that had ripped out. This took three tries to get the lace pattern correctly. I finished binding off again, and voilà!

corners

See the second from the bottom motif on the left? Yeah, I fixed it. Due to the bit of curl, you can’t see the whole motif, but it’s there. It just needs to be blocked to bring out the point. But no, I’m not going to re-block the shawl right now. It’s just fine the way it is.

But I have a comment, and a question. I never quite memorized the lace pattern, despite the fact that the repeat section is the same in sections A, B, and C. Is it because I was fixating on the holes, and not the solid parts? Which is figure, and which is ground? The branching holes, or the solid parts that look like leaves on a vine? What do you see?

figure ground

Despite all the stumbling blocks, I’d love to knit this shawl again. But I think I’ll make the larger size with the smaller border, or the smaller size with the larger border, to make sure I don’t run out of yarn again! And this yarn blocks like a dream, and is soooo soft. I’m going to love wearing this!

Ishbel, by Ysolda Teague
Larger size, with larger border
Malabrigo Sock yarn in Violeta Africana, one skein plus a few more grams!
Size 6 (4 mm) needles (Lantern Moon ebony circulars)

While I’m waiting…

While waiting for Ishbel’s yarn supplement to arrive from Texas, I started a new project. (I could have finished the second Kai-Mei sock, but I was looking for an excuse.) It was either the Ruffle Tank or the new Single Skein Club project.

I was really hankering for a semi-mindless knit, so I started the Ruffle Tank. No charts to follow, just 9×2 ribbing for the first 13 inches. I can manage that. I’ll start the Club knit when Ishbel is done. Only one chart project at a time!

back start 2

This is my first experience with linen, and it’s really different. Where the Malabrigo Sock is buttery soft, the MerLin is like knitting with twine. But I like it! It’s crisp and “dry” and “hard” feeling. The fabric is a bit stiff, but I know that it will soften up when I run it through the washer and :gasp: dryer. Hey, the label says I’m supposed to! I’m not following the advice given in my Tips & Tricks class with Lily Chin; I should wash and dry and hang the swatch. But I just want to get started, and the tank isn’t terribly fitted. Fingers crossed; I just want to knit.

We had a stellar dinner when my in-laws were visiting. Vickie made an unbaked version of it a few weeks ago when we were camping. If you can make it on a Coleman stove, it must be manageable in a real kitchen! We had it with polenta then, but pasta is way easier for me to coordinate. Sorry I don’t have a picture; it disappeared quickly! And the in-laws would have thought I was weird, taking pictures of dinner. Well, weirder than they already think I am.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Makes 4 servings (I increased shrimp to 1.5 lbs for 6 peeps, and it was plenty)

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
2 14.5 oz cans diced (roasted) tomatoes with their juice
3 T smoked paprika (pimenton)
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 1/4 lbs medium shrimp, peeled & deveined (1 lb is enough for 4 peeps)
2/3 C crumbled feta cheese (3 oz)
1 lb dry linguine or other pasta

Start your water for pasta now and timing will be great. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil, add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add tomatoes, pepper flakes, paprika; bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to casserole dish. Add shrimp & cilantro. Sprinkle feta over top. (Start cooking your linguine now, takes 12 minutes) Bake until shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes. (Linguine is done!)

Serve over drained linguine.

Enjoy!