Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yarn Along: Cranford

I've been absorbed in Cranford.
The book by Elizabeth Gaskell (I enjoyed's free audiobook too)
The miniseries, in spite of all the creative license they took.  Pete was shocked when I told him that most of the compelling  and memorable story lines were invented by Masterpiece.
The same is true of its sequel, Return to Cranford.  Still lots of fun, though...
One of my favorite moments in the story has been especially inspiring.  I thought I'd share the two versions:
When oranges came in, a curious proceeding was gone through. Miss Jenkyns did not like to cut the fruit; for, as she observed, the juice all ran out nobody knew where; sucking (only I think she used some more recondite word) was in fact the only way of enjoying oranges; but then there was the unpleasant association with a ceremony frequently gone through by little babies; and so, after dessert, in orange season, Miss Jenkyns and Miss Matty used to rise up, possess themselves each of an orange in silence, and withdraw to the privacy of their own rooms to indulge in sucking oranges. I had once or twice tried, on such occasions, to prevail on Miss Matty to stay, and had succeeded in her sister’s lifetime. I held up a screen, and did not look, and, as she said, she tried not to make the noise very offensive.

This pattern for a citrus-inspired shawlette and a skein of bright orange laceweight Malabrigo yarn demanded to be made into a tribute piece.
Here's the very beginning...
(Join our Yarn Along at small things!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yarn Along!

Join in at small things!
My first sock is finished!  I've been wearing it with pride.  Now to cast on #2.
The colorway, Queen Anne, reminded me of Anne Shirley's nickname, so I dug out my old paperback and found this gem in Chapter 5:

"Oh, look, there's one little early wild rose out!  Isn't it lovely?  Don't you think it must be glad to be a rose?  Wouldn't it be nice if roses could talk?  I'm sure they could tell us such lovely things.  And isn't pink the most bewitching color in the world?  I love it, but I can't wear it.  Redheaded people can't wear pink, not even in imagination.  Did you ever know of anybody whose hair was red when she was young, but got to be another color when she grew up?"
 "No, I don't know as I ever did, " said Marilla mercilessly, "and I shouldn't think it likely to happen in your case, either."
 Anne sighed.
 "Well, that is another hope gone.  My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.  That's a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I'm disappointed in anything."
"I don't see where the comforting comes in myself," said Marilla.
"Why, because it sounds so nice and romantic, just as if I were a heroine in a book, you know."
Anne, I think you would have looked stunning in these pink socks!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yarn Along!

I am obsessed with sock yarn lately.  I love how fine and bright and sprongy it is.  I recently pulled out all the sock yarn I have in my stash and just gazed at it for a day, dreaming about all the possibilities.  (This from a girl who has never made a pair of adult socks!) 
My two sets of appropriate needles were being taken up with a languishing legwarmer
and a sock meant for a baby that is now 9 months old. 
So with visions of some socks I want to knit for myself, I evaluated the misshapen baby sock and discovered where I had gone astray.  I took a breath, ripped back to the heel, and picked up all the stitches that were waiting so calmly for me to do just that.  I finished that sock in a rainy afternoon, and promptly cast on its mate.
Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears has been my bedside reading for the last little while.  I'm savoring it this time, whereas I scarfed her down upon the first reading. 
Something she said about being frugal while not compromising quality stuck out to me in these lean times. 
"If you prefer to economize and love to knit, make your sweaters with very fine wool and many stitches.  A thin sweater weighs much less than a great heavy one, and, broadly speaking, wool sells by weight.  Fine knitting gives you many hours of your favorite hobby before you have to sally forth and make another capital investment."

Oh, EZ, what would I do without you?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


All this talking about souvenir fiber reminded me of some amazing roving I bought a couple of years ago in one of Toronto's amazing yarn shops, The Naked Sheep.  Sadly, I've just discovered that it shut down.
I'm so glad I have this Painted Fleece to remember it by.  Missy Westgate lives and works in Toronto.  She hand dyes fiber from a local Canadian mill.
 To make it go further, I plied it with some pencil roving I used to practice spinning back in the day.
As you can see, the pencil roving is nice and even, whereas the roving from Painted Fleece is thick and thin.  That's just my own inconsistency--and absolutely not a reflection of Painted Fleece.
 I'm finding the imperfection charming, thankfully.
After much reflection, I decided to crochet all my thick-and-thin handspun into a little woolen rug.   
The beauty of this project is that it can continue to grow as I spin more.  And it's a great way to commemorate my spinning progress.  Each color is like a ring on a tree stump--the burgundy is my first handspun ever (and quite sad, I might add), followed by some very stiff turquoise. The improvement is already evident!
Right now, it's living on one of our kitchen chairs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Souvenir Skeins!

 Whenever I visit a new place, I scour the internet for local yarn shops.  During our recent trip to San Francisco, I got to visit two.  Pete even popped in for a minute before retreating to the car to listen to the SF Giants game.
We started at Bluebird Yarn & Fiber Crafts in Sausalito, CA.
 They arranged their roving in glass jars on a shelf.  I snapped this picture to remind myself to steal this amazing idea.  It was one of the first things I did once we returned home.  Expect photos soon!
 This little statue at the cash register embodied my purchase of a pattern by the owner of the shop.  It's the Golden Gate Bridge Hat by Sophie Kurnik.  To make it even more souvenir-y, I picked up some orange and black Cascade 220 superwash to knit it in.  Go Giants!
 The next stop was Oakland, CA.  I have been intrigued by A Verb for Keeping Warm since I heard about it on the Knitmore Girls podcast.  I read more about it in this post from the Knitting Kninja.  This store was the quintessential souvenir yarn store, because nearly everything is a product of California.  Not only do they grow their own organic dye garden in Oakland, they also make a point of using wool from American and Canadian farms. 
 I popped in right in the middle of two different classes, which was exciting to witness.  All those knitters in one place!  The patio out back had a drying rack strewn with drying, freshly-dyed yarn.
Unexpectedly, I walked out with two bundles of roving.  I just couldn't take my eyes (or hands) off them.  Stay tuned for some spinning attempts!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

join in!

I've decided to combine a meme I found on facebook with our Yarn Along:
It's National Book Week. The rules: grab the book closest to you. Go to p. 56. Copy the fifth sentence.

"Don't be frightened; there aren't many percentages, and they are simple ones."

-Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears
Let's play, fellow readers/knitters!
I just cast off on the Jayne Hat I started on our plan ride to San Francisco.  Any Firefly fans out there?  If you want to know why I knit such a wonky hat, here's an amazing video that explains the whole thing:
Now I'm stuck in the airport, because our return flight is delayed.  Elizabeth Zimmermann has been keeping me company.  I'm trying to decide how best to put my trusted wooden circs to use on the flight home.  As EZ puts it, "It is perfectly possible and--in airplane seats, for instance--desirable, to use a circular needle for working back and forth.  And one runs no risk of losing a needle."  Wise words indeed.

Join our Yarn Along at Small Things!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yarn Along!

I'm making a simple stockinette hat whilst listening to more of Mma Ramotswe's adventures. 
It's on my one pair of wooden needles in preparation for our plane ride tomorrow.  If they take them away, I will be absolutely furious.
There's nothing like Berocco Ultra Alpaca!  Just scroll through all those juicy colors...

Join our Yarn Along at Small Things!


Check out our new cat's beard. 
Remind you of anyone?
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…
-Walt Whitman

Monday, August 1, 2011

purple prose

This is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

 When my friend PB came to visit, she came bearing 6 yards of plum cotton jersey, a few spools of blue Button and Craft thread, and her copy of Alabama Studio Style, by Natalie Chanin. 

She gave half to me and saved the rest for herself.  We labored over it for two days, and in the end, when we parted, she had a gorgeous plummy tank dress with stitches that both of our hands made, and I had its twin, waiting to be sewn up in her absence.
The Word Plum
Helen Chasin

The word plum is delicious

pout and push, luxury of

self-love, and savoring murmur

full in the mouth and falling

like fruit

taut skin

pierced, bitten, provoked into
juice, and tart flesh
and reply, lip and tongue
of pleasure.