Friday, March 30, 2007

Host of Problems

Loafing workerMinnie and Risa have advised that my RSS feed has gone nuts. Thanks for the heads up – I think the fault lies with one of my image hosts. [Sigh] I've been wanting to do some blog renovation anyway. I hope the tinkering will be largely invisible, but before things improve there may temporarily be even more nuttiness for readers using aggregators or feed readers. Sorry about that – you can see what kind of "under construction" guy I have.

Meanwhile, it turned out what was left of the Yarn Harlot goody bag yarn, Patons SWS, was indeed sufficient for a small pair of mitts, with about 7 yds (6.4 m) left over.

Bluepoint mitt and collegiate mitt

The long color runs pretty well precluded any hope of getting a matched pair from one ball, let alone from the remainder of one ball. But I'm enjoying bluepoint mitt and collegiate mitt – they're the perfect thing for early spring.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

S2K Happiness

The other day I was badly coveting the cheerful marled yarn in Cara's current Picture of the Week. By a happy synchronicity, today not so much, thanks to my amazing S2K orphan swap pal, Jen of Fiber in the Hands of an Angry Spinner. (The reds are strangely too orange-salmon here, they're actually cherry pink.)

S2K skeins from Jen

Thank you, Jen – I heart cheerful marled yarn! Also in the package were a nice note, a set of Jen's signature rainbow stitch markers, and two fiber samples that have my fingers twitching.

Cream Shetland and mahogany Fudgy alpaca

That's cream Shetland from a neighbor's beast and mahogany alpaca from Jen's own Fudgy the alpaca. Teehee. I've never spun Shetland or alpaca before, much less alpaca from a known, named source. I'm looking forward to giving them a spin.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

S2K Wipeout

Seen Sunday at Jenks, Point Pleasant Beach. Notice fullsuit with hood, gloves, and booties on dude (it's cold out there!), tri-fins on board.

Jersey surfer

For those who don't know surfing, in surfer culture the best surfers are the ones having the most fun, not necessarily the most highly skilled. This dude is catching air because he is in the process of falling off his board. Wipeout! His board shot straight up and he went under (his buddies were spotting him), yet he came up smiling and eager to continue. It was a good wipeout.

Spin to Knit swap moderator Jaime Guthals confirmed that both my upstream pal in Las Vegas and my angel in Baltimore went incommunicado and are presumed dropped out, a thing that seems unfortunately... common. So Jaime organized a secret-optional consolation swap among S2K orphans. My new downstream pal is Crystal (please visit her and encourage her to GO FOR IT!!!); my new upstream pal is the mysterious Al. Both are definitely communicating [waving hi]!

For Crystal's first skein, I spindle-spun some blue Wensleydale from another beauteous Grafton Fibers batt. Like the others, it produced a delightfully marled skein. This one is 57 yds (52.5 m) of sportweight, shown with a new penny for scale. As usual, my digicam is playing the eccentric; colors are truer in the skein photo than in the batt photo.

Blue Wensleydale batt   Blue skein

I'm collecting some extras to keep the skein company, then will send it along with hopes for a good wipeout. Cowabunga!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Yarn Harlot and a Cast of Hundreds

Last night while Dorre, Kim and I were in NYC for the launch of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off, roundabout Exit 151 the final show of The Sopranos was taped at my favorite neighborhood ice cream parlor. Holsten's (not pronounced like the cow) is a cozy, old-timey place that serves excellent sandwiches and has a candy counter. Trendy types seem to prefer chain places like Coldstone Creamery or Rita's, but now [sigh] I guess everyone will want to go there and the place will be, er, mobbed.


Celebrity (or notoriety) is a peculiar thing. Town council initially refused to grant the show a permit to film because they didn't want people associating the township with the show's glorification of crime, violence, and negative ethnic stereotypes. Regardless, vast crowds (with lawn chairs) turned out to watch the, uh, shooting and to get autographs from their favorite stars. After a very busy day that extended well into the night, today Holsten's is closed (see the pink sign on the door?) and there's a police car conspicuously parked across the street to deter the acquisitive. [Eyeroll] I don't mind having missed it all – I'd rather a cast of knitters.

The book launch was held at the Fashion Institute of TechnologySeventh Avenue is Fashion Avenue, part of the state university system, located at Seventh Avenue and 27th Street in the Chelsea section of the city. For those who don't know NYC, Seventh Avenue is Fashion Avenue (the street signs say so). Chelsea has a colorful history, good Cuban-Chinese food, and some handsome architecture (below left, one of my favorite side doors on a Sullivanesque building). Perhaps appropriately, much of the FIT campus is in the International Style (main entrance, below right).

Favorite side door   FIT main entrance

Inside, the 750-seat Haft Auditorium was filled to capacity with knitters who came to knit. I saw some spectacular expert knitting – a magnificent Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl, a finely knit Dale sweater, several bold original designs. It was inspiring to be with so many knitters!

Capacity crowd in Haft Auditorium

I'd heard Stephanie speak twice before, at the celebrated Lord & Taylor event for bookbookbook1 and at the Rutherford Public Library for bookbookbook3. As before, the power of the Yarn Harlot was manifest – I can think of few other knitbloggers who could draw such a turnout. Anticipation was high, perhaps too high. I've not yet had a chance to read bookbookbook4, but I suspect that for the first time I may prefer the author's written voice to her spoken one. Others clearly had a different response – during Q-and-A, there were very few Qs, but lots of what could be called testimony. Oh well, I did like the buttons (pictured on Kim, with her funky bead necklace) and the posters. The campus security guards seemed amused by all the knitters taking pix of the posters.


As always, Stephanie prefaced her remarks by taking pix of the crowd and her traveling sock and confessing her nervousness. As always, Enchanting Juno handled the highly successful collection for Tricoteuses sans frontières. Then there were the surprises – for everyone. Stephanie had barely started speaking when she realized Joe was sitting in the front row (!). She murmured, "Omigoodness" (I would have shrieked!). Thanks to Jayme the wonder publicist there were goody bags with swag from the Craft Yarn Council and Storey Publishing, which came with an assignment: to knit a square for Warm Up America using the Patons SWS yarn and Boye needles provided (check). It was nice to see all the colorways. I got colorway 70128 Natural Blue (I think Dorre got the prettiest of the lot); what's left oughta be enough for small mitts.

Goody bag

From what I heard from Jessica, other events of the day went well, particularly the gathering in Central Park and the yarn crawls. In the past few days some out-of-town folk have seen more NYC yarn stores than are on my life list! I enjoyed hearing their fresh, frank assessments of my favorite shops – clearly my faves are not to everyone's taste (OK by me). My regret of the evening is I shoulda brought my film camera – my digicam is just too slow for such low light. I have no decent pix of much of the evening, including of the author.

An auditorium setting is not the best for schmoozing, yet such was the good spirit and inclusive fellowship of the group that following Stephanie's speech there was some quick-as-three-card-monte sock yarn commerce in the lobby and several impromptu dinner groups formed. Dorre, Kim, and I had had a bite beforehand at Once Upon A Tart in SoHo, so opted out. I love Once Upon A Tart – it's got tasty food and appealing window displays.

Tart   Window display

Not to mention it's next door to Purl, which currently has the Knit 2 Together trunk show [g]. Like many SoHo shops, Purl has cellar storage space which is accessed from doors set into the sidewalk. The cellar doors were open (!), so of course I had to peek down the Purl hatch (not to be confused with Purl Patchwork, a few doors up the street).

Purl   Purl cellar

A day later I've been trying to identify the capstone of such a capstone experience. For me, it would have to be the gathered community – so many knitters in one place at one time, all imagining global stash back to the dawn of time, all imaging their personal "Mick," all knitting afghan blocks for others. It seems to me that experiences of belonging and self-transcendence are increasingly rare these days, even for those who follow devotional practices or attend big sports events or big concerts, and therefore are correspondingly precious (and usually costly). There are so many forces – perhaps neutral in themselves, but malignant in the aggregate – that work to tear people down or apart. Here was something truly radical and counter-cultural, something that brought strangers together and made them, at least for a few hours, part of something more.

ETA: The Yarn Harlot's own account of her day vividly demonstrates her stamina and dedication, as well as the exhilaration – and strain – of such knitterly events.

Finally, to come full circle and in case you've been wondering, Dorre ferreted out this YouTube clip on what goodfellas and wise guys really do when they think no one is watching.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ready to Rock the Muggles

OK, I'm all set. Here's what I'm donating, showing off, and wearing on NYC Rock the Muggles Day, March 22, aka the Yarn Harlot bookbookbook4 launch.

But first, a word for visiting knitters: Thanks largely to the efforts of the beyond-fabulous Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, many tall NYC buildings must provide public access space, kinda like indoor public parks. These urban oases can be lovely: nicely appointed with café tables and chairs, amenities, and even live music at lunchtime. NYC would be a far meaner place without them. So don't wander disconsolately through the streets of Gotham – look for tall buildings bearing discreet signs indicating public access, sit and knit, refresh yourself, and enjoy this enduring legacy of a most gracious First Lady.

Speaking of gracious, while some may fondly wish to "freak out" the Muggles tomorrow, kindly remember we are talking about New Yorkers.Hermione's hat Who on the one hand tend to be tolerant of harmless eccentricity and on the other hand have likely seen worse (jesting references to drug addiction, gangs, and urban terror rather pale beside the real deal). Not to mention many knitters are Muggle-born (moi aussi) and countless Muggles are appreciative beneficiaries of knitcraft. We're all about diversity hereabouts. So the hat I'm donating is Hermione's Cable-and-Bobble Hat by Lauren Kent, worked in Cascade 220 (cf HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the movie). It's just the thing for a book launch. Currently no cause is specified – I trust a good one will be selected. (ETA: Teehee, the hat is on the Harlot's blog!)

My traveling sock is Grumperina's ubiquitous Jaywalker,Jaywalker sock worked in Lion Brand Magic Stripes colorway Jelly Bean Stripe. I'm knitting my first Jaywalkers (with mods) partly to honor the Boston knitters heading to the Big Apple and partly because Cara, mightiest of Jersey knitbloggers, has made so many, but also because it's a gentle symbol and reminder that knitters command vast powers of craft, networking, philanthropy, and finance – and deserve R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Finally, I'll be wearing my Clapotis mini,Clapotis mini a scarf-sized version of Kate Gilbert's contemporary classic design, worked in Koigu PPPM. Teva's Steek Vest is brilliant, but I couldn't get the substituted yarn to behave to my liking. Bergamo it's not – the vest still looks pretty much like a hat and is headed for the frog pond. Ah well. If you can't beat 'em, you may as well join the crowd in Clapping.

Hope to see you tomorrow at FIT! If you'll miss the Harlot this time, never fear, full details to follow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Equinoctial Climes

Happy Spring! Or, for friends in the Southern Hemisphere, Happy Fall! Or perhaps that should be Happy Autumn! The seasonal meaning of fall is a Shakespearean usage that lingers in American English, but not in contemporary British English. Not to mention India has more people who speak English than the U.S. and U.K. put together.

The incredible egg

Officially the equinox occurs at 8:07 p.m. EDT. I'm told that is the precise moment to stand a hen's egg on its point. In honor of the day, DH took a few potshots at our shade tree before trudging off to work. No trees were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Snowball target practice

It doesn't look much like spring (or fall) roundabout Exit 151 this equinoctial morning. But never to fear – it's supposed to be 64° F (17° C) on Rock the Muggles Day, March 22 (aka the Yarn Harlot bookbookbook4 launch).

Hot cocoa

Ah, that's better!

Friday, March 16, 2007

We're Off to See the Harlot

Miss Dorre, she's got powers. Dabbling in the dark art of crochet is the merest tip of the iceberg.Tricoteuses sans frontieres button Proof positive: Wednesday it was 75° F (23° C) and balmy roundabout Exit 151. Then Dorre did her snow dance. Now there's snow falling on Jersey. More proof: Yesterday I wasn't planning to see the Yarn Harlot at FIT next Thursday (press release and grand plans). Today I am – even got out my Tricoteuses sans frontières button.

Kim is going – anyone else? I'll be the one wearing... er, something, hopefully Teva Durham's Yarn Over Steek Vest from Loop-D-Loop, worked in Malabrigo Aquarella in colorway Soriano. I figure the FIT auditorium will be chock full of Clapotis, so I may as well drop some stitches, too. The element of uncertainty enters because the vest currently is approximately equivalent in size to a hat and it's a busy time and I do plan to bring a real hat to donate and a traveling sock or somesuch to show off. Alas, the colors in the photo are entirely off.

Hat-sized vest

Meanwhile, Minnie and Dyann have asked how the Adventure Bag is coming, in particular, if using crochet cotton helped the top edge to felt evenly. It did – I'm quite pleased with the results.

Adventure Bag after two washes

It took three passes in my front-loading washing machine to felt the bag to my liking. The strap flaps shrank immediately, but the rest of the bag felted rather unevenly, with the most change occurring in the second pass. After the second pass, I unzipped the crochet cotton – it zipped right out, which was relieving and gratifying. The vertical channels in the felt mostly went away after the third pass.

Since then, finishing the Adventure Bag has been on hold while I've searched (not terribly energetically) for a zipper and rings for the strap. But never to fear, it's in no danger of sprouting wings and joining the vast cloud of UFOs buzzing roundabout Exit 151. Gah – no!!! There's not one, not two, but three township snowplows outside, methodically piling an ice berm at the apron of my driveway... and the fire hydrant! Must rush outside like a maniac to tell them off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy π Day

Happy π Day! I don't have a pi shawl to show off but I do have a box of mini lemon meringue pies made for a church supper. It's one of my favorite recipes from Flo Braker's Sweet Miniatures.

Mini lemon meringue pies

I knit a bit on Anemoi, enough to discover the pattern is incredibly clever and Diakeito Diamusee Fine and Rowan Scottish Tweed 4-ply don't play well together. As that's essential in colorwork, Anemoi is in the time out corner until I can rummage through stash for a better pairing.

Meanwhile, I've sorted out more of my Flower Show pix. Having a digicam has revolutionized the way I experience the show. I used to take a notepad – when I saw a plant I liked, I'd jot down its name and notable characteristics and maybe add a sketch. Now I just snap pix of the plants and their labels. That was a prohibitively expensive proposition when shooting film, but electrons are cheap. Here's a favorite Caladium, with label.

A favorite caladium

For the Amaryllis fanciers out there in knitblogland, here's four specimens (click on the photos to view bigger).

Pink Amaryllis Red Amaryllis White Amaryllis Striped Amaryllis

And here's a trio of orchids. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to photograph the Dendrobium, which is not pink. The white Cattleya was enormous, more than a foot (.3 m) across. I've never seen a solid vermillion Paphiopedum before.

Not pink Dendrobium orchid White Cattleya orchid Vermillion Paphiopedum orchid 

Sometimes I miss my old notepad.

Pink Cymbidium orchid

Digital photography has its good points, too. [g]

Oh, and if you missed this π Day, there's Pi Estimation Day, usually observed 7.22. ETA1: But don't miss wishing Margene a happy birthday (per Carole)! ETA2: Also congratulate my excellent spinning teacher, Stacey, who's a new mom of twins!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March Sanity

Spring wonders never cease. It's 55° F (12° C) outside and Eunny Jang will be the next editor of Interweave Knits. Congratulations, Eunny! I can't think of another knitblogger who brings such a felicitous combination of technical prowess, design elegance, fresh outlook, timely execution, and writerly voice to the task. I'm very much looking forward to her first print issue and to new developments across other platforms as well.*

Guess that means I may have to take out a subscription. Or at least to knit up some Anemoi. After rummaging through some Jamieson's oddments while mumbling, "More spring-y, more spring-y" (a commentary on the yarn colors, not the yarn bounce – Jamieson's is plenty sproing-y), I lit on a nontraditional combination, Diakeito Diamusee Fine in colorway 120 and what is now called Rowan Scottish Tweed 4-ply in colorway 24 Porridge.

Anemoi mittens pattern and yarn

Meanwhile, tomorrow is 3.14, Pi Day, an auspicious time (especially at 1:59) to to start or show off a pi shawl, celebrate roundness, contemplate the mysteries of nonrepeating decimal places, and eat pie.

It all makes perfect sense.

*I'm also looking forward to learning once and for all whether her given name rhymes with bunny, moony, puny, toney, or something else. I can sympathize. ETA: According to Susan Lawrence (she of Branching Out, Forest Canopy, Horcrux Socks, etc) it's Oo-nee (rhymes with moony). Thanks, Susan, I'm glad that's settled!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Flower Show 2007

Back from the Flower Show. This year, most of the large displays had water seeping from them and many smelled like old socks rather than flowers or foliage. Guess the drainage system wasn't working properly. The smaller displays were fine. I walked and gawked 'til my feet fell off, took lots of extremely bad pix, bought a lopper [hehhehheh], and am very glad I don't have these garden pests.

Garden pests

The theme was "Legends of Ireland." I'm not sure what velociraptors have to do with the theme, but there were green flowers, harps, thatched cottages, curiously marked stones, triskele and Celtic crosses, pipers, dancers, and a hairy guy with a pointy nose and bark clothing who ran around frightening small children. Here's the best of the pix (click to view larger).

Green Cymbidium orchids   Harp and triskele   Stone with bird markings

There was also a fantasy table setting with sheep, which got my attention, although that makes only a little more sense than dinosaurs in the backyard. Actually, it made me think about absentee landlords and how Ireland was a net exporter of meat even at the height of the potato famine.

Sheep and fantasy table setting

I have more flower pix to upload, but the Daylight Savings Time patches are causing trouble, so fixing the fix comes first. More (I hope!) after we spring forward.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Star-gazers may be familiar with Serpens Caput, the snake's head, and Serpens Cauda, the snake's tail; gamblers know about snake eyes. Thanks to Susan Lawrence, now there are snake feet (??) as well.

HP and the Horcrux Socks

I love these socks, knit from Susan's clever Horcrux Socks pattern. They're a lot of fun for HP fans and lace knitters. I particularly like the S-shaped lightning bolts (Z-shaped bolts just wouldn't do!). The 3x2 ribbing at the ankle and modest gusset give the socks an excellent, no-bag fit, and the square heel looks handsomer with the strongly linear lightning bolts and ribbing than a wedge heel. I used a finer weight yarn than suggested, so added a few extra repeats to give more width and length to the sock.

Socks and pineapple-shaped shortbread

Untenanted, the ribbing on the sock draws in, making the cuff and leg look a bit like pineapple-shaped shortbread. (Surely Prof. Slughorn would approve.) The yarn is Crystal Palace Panda Wool (46% bamboo, 43% wool, 11% nylon), bought at the tiny Whitney Avenue Yarn LLC store in New Haven. The new-fangled stuff knits up somewhat like cotton, with outstanding stitch definition and a bigger gauge than might be expected, yet the resulting fabric is both cushier and much lighter than cotton. This colorway, 4108 Vine Green, has marled green and sage-blue-gray strands that sometimes look solid, sometimes look stippled, and sometimes gleam slightly – an appropriately Slytherine mutability.

Taking pix of one's own feet is quite a task – I fell over more than once, as neatly as if tripped. Which leads me to leave the reader with a question: What do you suppose would happen if one tried Impedimenta on Nagini?

ETA: To view more socks, see the Horcrux Socks Flickr group. Susan is currently adapting the pattern for sockweight yarn.