About Me

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O'ahu born and Rockville bred, both Maryland and Hawai'i are home. Middle-aged knitter (believe me, my 40 is NOT the new 20) seeking the courage to live consciously, each and every moment. Now if I could just remember where I put my keys...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Big Fat (not Greek) Mess

I have no idea how initial posting with VIDEO CLIP (hellllllloooooooooooooo 2010) is going to work. A certain someone got me a Kodak Playsport* and I shot an initial video that I can't seem to figure out how to edit (could be the software, could be the ancient and abused IBM ThunkPad, and then again, it could just be me).

Chester DOES make a cameo appearance!

So, y'all are stuck with this very amateur little clip, good mostly for making you feel better about your own yarn and/or computer woman- (or man-) cave.

Upon review, you may join me in noting the following roadblocks to a Zen-like environment:
1. UFOs everywhere (UnFinished Objects)
2. Needles and tools everywhichwhere, too
3. UICs everwhere (UnIdentified Cords)
4. Just your basic ICFISITEAAISCFIATIWSFISIABIAPWIDHTLAIA (I Couldn't Find It So I Tore Everything Apart And I Still Couldn't Find It And Then I Was So Frustrated I Shoved It All Back Into A Place Where I Didn't Have To Look At It Anymore) mess times about each occurrence, say weekly, for two years, so times about 104.

(Sadly, those of you who've seen my office at work will NOT be shocked.)

Coming posts will hopefully take you through my journey to Nirvana - lots of yarn, lots of electronic toys; total organization. For at least a week.


*Need prompted by a kayak flip with my iPhone. The rice trick did not work. Unfortunately, replacing the iPhone led to too much time in the Apple Store, which led to not only a replacement iPhone but also to an iPad. Could the PlaySport be a money-saving ploy to keep me out of Best Buy? Nah... but I love it. Thanks, honey!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father...

Oh, the sad sad things I do when I'm bored... with too much Colinette Point 5 in Alizarene.

So this week, I've been home sick (nothing long-term, I hope, just a bad tick bite and subsequent infection) and bored. (And here's my plug for a Lyme vaccine - get ON it, medical science!) I bastardized a hat pattern, not sure what I'll call it yet (I'm thinking "Helga"... I'm thinking "Bollyhat"...) but once I figure out a name and what the heck I actually did (was watching Glee DVDs, listening for the cheery 'ping' of work emails coming through), I'll write it down.

Meanwhile, I have this awesome Tarina Tarantino pin that I haven't done jack with since I wore it to a par-tay a year and a half ago, and it looked like it could work on this! Or not. Or not? Hmmmm....

Anyway, someone is getting a lovely set of scarf and hat - or maybe I'll keep it - I think there's enough yarn to make Shasa (my 18 month old Tibetan Terrierist) a little sweater. I do believe in a diverse representation of my work, but she's just not old enough to dress up and sit still yet.

Chester has informed me, through his agency, that large rhinestone pins will not ever again be permitted in a photo shoot. Or else.

Happy Saturday!

Coming soon, I think: Lots of yarn in small living quarters - tips and tricks, and Yarn Project Management 101. I'm negotiating with the spokesmodels.

And, because I can:


Friday, September 24, 2010

More Absolute Fabulousity! (no afghans were harmed during this photoshoot)

Another Colinette Absolutely Fabulous Afghan following the knitted "stripe" pattern option, in the kit colors named "Meadow".

I went a little crazy towards the end of last year and got on total acquisition mode on these afghan kits. Colinette isn't bagging them anymore (although if you get the instructions for one, you can assemble the yarn types and colors to make any of them, except when the yarn type has been discontinued by Colinette and there are just no more skeins to be found, even raiding Ravelry members' stashes).

A LYS (local yarn shop) was divesting itself of the kits it had in stock, and I snatched them up because they made me a deal for half off. So I think I got three that way. Then I saw the possibilities... I found some Ravelry members selling the kits and ordered a few more, at deep discount off the $190 that is the US list price as of the date of this posting.

This particular afghan came out pretty long and narrow and when I gifted it, the friend and her daughter both liked wearing it as a shawl. This was truly gifted from the heart - Terri is a childhood friend whose mother was an incredible artist, Patricia Bourgeois (sometimes Patricia Bourgeois Bailey). Pat was an all around amazing woman - belly-dancer and compost maker (both in the 70s, so she was pioneering the 21st century for us), artist, nurse, and mom. Pat had a great influence on me by just being herself - and I wish she was still here so I could let her know this.

In the meantime, I have beautiful art, some significant pieces, that she made, prominently in my home. They are daily inspiration.

This afghan/shawl was a thank-you to Terri for gifting me with some of Pat's pieces. I mean, how do you say thank you for something like beautiful art? Made by someone you admired? Whom you actually knew? This was the closest I could get.

I still owe Pat's granddaughter, Rosemary, a little sumpin' sumpin'... promised and not forgotten...

Love you, Terri - and miss you, Pat.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Animals Were Injured During This Photo Shoot

I crocheted this.

Yes, I can hook. Hooking for longer than I care to admit - taught to me by my mom's mom, who was a crocheter of MAD SKILZ.

I made this afghan for Mom in the crochet option that comes with the kit, to honor Grandma O. I also chose a kit with the colors "English Garden" because my mom grows roses. (there's a typo on the picture. oops.)

Will this ever be used as an afghan? Not sure - it IS dry-clean only. I am astounded it made it into the family room and onto Mom's TV chair; I thought for sure it would be relegated to the more formal living room (where currently the grandkids' Legos live).

One of the heartfelt things I love about creating stuff by hand, is it takes time and you can love so much while you're making it. When you're done the love is all kind of tied up in the project and if you're lucky, the project shows the love and is treasured.

Hormonal much? I hear Judy Collins singing "Send in the Clowns"... but it's all true. Yarn can be love. No wonder I have a whole bathtub full!

Happy Fall, my friends.

PS - Chester's union rep called. A mandatory day off.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lace is So NOT My Bitch*

You can't really tell, but when it's stretched out, what Chester is wearing looks like this: Wing O' Moth shawl. Kind of. Pretty much. If you squint.

After knitting a few things with Colinette Parisienne in stocking stitch, I really thought I was ready for the big leagues: Knitting Lace.

You get into knitting with big yarn and big needles. If you are not OCD or actually have a life, you probably stay there, or maybe size down a little. To sane projects, like socks. For the rest of us, we matriculate to knitting lace. If you are contemplating knitting lace, this is a favorite tutorial on it... Majoring in Lace by Eunny Jang, who apparently is now with Interweave (but I'm happy her postings are still available).

My words of advice, fair knitters in the first blush of enchantment over needles and yarn: enter the Chamber of Lace with a small project. You could be like me (training for your first marathon, having never even run a 3k) and go for the big mo-fu project as your first one. Not advisable. Although I HATE HATE HATE swatch knitting - you should at least do a couple repeats of the pattern stitch for one full set of rows.

Things I have found out by NOT knitting lace swatches:
1) this really expensive yarn doesn't look good in this pattern (especially with yarns with color shading or multiple colors)
2) one can spend precious hours of knitting time on rows 1-3, find a mistake in row 1, and risk having a foul aura for the rest of the day
3) this pattern bores the crap outta me and my chances of finishing this project are minimal to slight to none
4) frogging lace yarn, especially when it has kid mohair or other fuzzy fibers, can be its own visit to a Very Dark Place

If you heed not my words of warning, be prepared to (it's a list day, can you tell?):
1) learn how far you can actually throw a whole project
2) be tempted to go Letterman and really, really throw it out the window
3) sigh, and cry, and almost die, and consequently require massive infusions of Really Good Chocolate

I should have a picture of this project all spread out, but I don't. The yarn I used was Colinette (shocker) Parisienne in Moss colorway. Green with flecks of rust and pink. Sounds a bit odd, but is actually a pretty cool colorway, as it goes nicely with pale pinks (the red stuff kinda turns dark rose) or more orangey stuff (where the red stuff kinda turns coral).

Chami calls this my spiderweb. As in when I wear it she says, "you are wearing your spiderweb today." Gentle reader, and fellow knitters, we have been tempted to go Letterman on Chami and throw her out the window, but thus far have exercised restraint. (and are quietly plotting our revenge....)


*Apologies to Ravelry group "Lace Is My Bitch" (where we cheer each other on through the dark disasters and glorious triumphs of knitting crazy intricate patterns with itty-bitty needles and itty-bitty yarn) for co-opting the headline for this post.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crimes Against Pink: Design vs. Yarn, 2009, 7th Circuit of Hell, Court of Public Opinion

Some things are better left ungifted. Perhaps even unknitted.

I actually gifted these to friends who purport to love pink. I did not check back with them to see if they were ever worn. I am scared, frankly, to do this.

How big of a wimp am I? They live w/in 10 miles and I sent the gift by FedEx. (Recommended mode of delivery for knitters gifting questionable items to unsuspecting victims.)

Meghan and Jenn - Don't worry. I won't be upset if these ended up (oops) in the hot cycle, and then in the dryer (how did that happen?), and then as chew toys for Widget.

In case you are curious (or just a little... out there)
Pattern: Colinette Iris Hat & Mittens
Source: Colinette Artyfacts pattern book
Yarn & Colorway: Colinette Prism in Alizarene (#119)

Random unscientific rating:
Five stars: Pretty pattern book
Three stars: Easy to read pattern (had a few glitches, but this could be my brain)
Four stars: Finished products are awfully cute, but more accessory pieces than actual wearable, functional garments.

For Continental/Russian knitters who don't want to gauge swatch - SIZE DOWN by 3 on the needles.

Happy clicking... am working on that holiday knitting list, swear.

And because we love P!NK - purdy good editing on this - rock out, you wild knitters, you...


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Etiquette for Non Knitters Receiving Gifts: Part One

As you will notice from the captions, Julia handled this situation PERFECTLY!

I was itching to use this yarn - Rose Garden colorway in Colinette Prism. I had 2 skeins, enough for SOMETHING, and this cute pattern "Iris" (as featured on the cover of this Colinette pattern book, Artyfacts was ACHING to be made (along with the matching mittens) - and although Julia here is not exactly your pinky-pink cutesy-hat girlie girl, she handled being the recipient of my magnanimity with aplomb.

She wore the hat around me for a few hours, then put it in a nice place for display, and then let me wear it when I came to visit her.

So. Rating Julia's reaction to the gift:
Five stars - for accepting what I made her and not being disappointed that it was not what she wanted
Five stars - for waiting a couple months to say, "I'm not really a hat person"
Five stars - for not asking me where the socks I started for her have disappeared to
Five stars - for being a gosh-darn all-around great friend.

(and yes, Julia does have one pair of socks, with GREEN in them [and some pink], that I made her and SHE WEARS HERS, GREGORY THOMAS - she didn't give it to her mother!)

Note to knitters - I transmuted the pattern and knit this in the round, so that's why the colors pooled the way they did. I made another of these and followed the directions and made it with a seam and I have to say that I liked the way the colors didn't form this swirly pattern - not that this looks bad, it just was more to my liking without the swirly bits.)


Friday, September 17, 2010

HECK YEAH - Real Men Wear Pink

So. Here is something that takes about 2 hours to knit (Russian-style, did I mention how fast we Russian-style knitters are?) and can only be called a statement piece.

The yarn - my beloved Colinette brand Point 5 yarn in colorway Alizarine (probably also known as PeptoBismal swirl) in the Pansy scarf pattern from the Colinette pattern book Artyfacts.

Should this be the post where I spell out my frustration with getting Colinette yarn in the US in all colorways? In the past three years, almost every store in these United States that used to carry it, stopped. So seeing it in person in the US is not easy. The one place in the US that seems to maintain a strong relationship directly with Colinette is Flying Fingers Yarn Shop in Tarrytown, New York.

I have yet to make the pilgrimage, but must someday climb on the Yarn Bus! (People. If you click on no other link, you have to check this out. Truly a case of real life trumping fiction - I could not make this up.) It's been featured in The New Yorker magazine. I'm just faux-intellectual enough that this gives me goose bumps...

Gotta give props to Flying Fingers. They have saved my everloving behind a couple times when I haven't had enough of a skein to finish a project - and owner Elise shares my deep love of all yarns Colinette. The other great Colinette lover on the planet seems to be Sarah Durrant, of Australia, and she is also great at figuring out how to finish a project when you can't find that one last skein of something Colinette.

Colinette yarn is exported from Wales. Now, for you lucky Celts and Brits and Scots and Welshies, and for world travelers, there's this place where all the yarns are produced. Mad textures and colors - solids, stripeys, lots of fiber, lots of fun... true fiber artistry. The Colinette Mill Shop (ye olde mille shoppe, I'm picturing, a la Disney theme park for knitters) in Wales. And if you live in the UK or other select countries you can order their products online at the Colinette website. For really good prices! But I, alas, live in the US, and so have never seen ART or Hullabaloo, and unless I get to Tarrytown someday, I'm giving up all hope.

ORIGINS OF COLINETTE: From what I can find, Colinette Sainsbury is a real live person, an artist from Italy, and I've heard one person say they remember her selling her handpainted yarn out of a pushcart in Covent Gardens. Urban myth says her son now runs the business, and I'm glad for that (a world without Colinette - how would I exist?), but this distribution issue and the huge price discrepancy between EU prices and everywhere else (is shipping REALLY that expensive, and I know, I know, I know the distributor needs to make a living) - rough for a customer to navigate and unless you're really a freak, like me, you can move right along at the LYS (Local Yarn Shop) and start fondling the pretty stuff one bin over. Maybe they are staying small by design? This whole thing makes sense to someone, and I wish that I was in the know... rant rant rant.

OK, enough ranting about the sumptuousness of Colinette and the current sad state of distribution at retail across the US. I'm just trying to say that if I had to pick ONE YARN BRAND EVER to knit with, I would have a hard time saying goodbye to Noro and Artyarns, but it would be Colinette, hands down.

Sigh. Any updates as to the state of US distribution would be appreciated in the comments section under this post. Please note the date you make your update - many thanks...


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Introducing... America's Next Top Model: Chester O. Mouer

Mister Ruggedly Handsome

Here is Chester, my beloved Golden Retriever, doing one of the things he does best: put up with my antics. Which include making him model lots of "creations" (even when they are really not his colors.

These socks were made with Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Colori sock yarn. I think I found it on eBay. The pattern is your basic ankle-to-toe sock; I got this pattern from a class I took in sock knitting at Knit+Stitch=Bliss (shout out to Anne - funny, patient, but also makes you frog out to the mistake and knit it over again The Right Way, and while an English-style thrower, tolerates translational questions from Russian-style pickers like me). (And, Anne, your stitches may be more even but i'm FASTER, and that's why we block!). I altered the pattern to include ribbing between the ankle and toe, cuz the socks were looking like real flags, flapping in the wind as they came off the needles.

As a Russian-style (an even more specific style of knitting than Continental) knitter, I often have to go down 1 to 2 needle sizes (even with socks) from the pattern recommendation. Which means that I probably knit these suckers on size 1 double points, even though they were my second pair ever. Teeny teeny tiny itty bitty needles. I definitely became enamored of Nancy's Knit Knacks sock tubes (not to be confused with Tube Socks - oh, the NFL colors on the top from the 70's - the way the cheap ones would scrunch around the ball of your foot - skin crawling, skin crawling) to keep the sticks from snapping when I carted them around in my various bags. Seriously, it was like knitting with toothpicks. And if you're just trying double-points, go longer rather than shorter until you get really good at moving from needle to needle.

These socks actually ended up going to my brother, the Marine officer. He swore he would wear them. I will have to check with his girlfriend on that. If he doesn't, I think Chester wants his socks back. (He now has a collar that matches, and I am not joking.)


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Colinette Rossetti Shawlesque Jacket - and they are Liberty Boots. Zappos. LOVE!

mmmm mmmmm good ETA: this is me at Mautner Gala 2009 in what is probably considered vintage (15 years old - ? Leslie, is that vintage?) Laura freakin' Ashley dress that I have decided I will have until I die or explode, whichever comes first. The shawl-jacket thingee is (but of course) a Colinette pattern, Rossetti, that I finished in one week (do not try this at home, I made a lot of mistakes in it) using Colinette yarn Parisienne in colorway Marble and Colinette yarn Tao (how do I love Tao, let me count the ways) in colorway (where did this name come from?) Whirley Fig.

The shawl was perfect though - it's lightweight from the lace yarn and still drapes well from the weight of the single-ply dk-weight silk yarn. The pattern is basically a long rectangle with slits for where you will insert the two smaller rectangles that are the sleeves. 4 seams to sew to put three pieces together. Totally doable.

You do have to pay attention while knitting with the lace yarn. More of a books on tape or NPR knit than a catch up on True Blood knit.

You can wear it upside down or right side up - depends on how much of a collar you want. And how much you want hanging around your knees.

This pattern gets-

Four stars for simple construction
Two stars for understandable pattern (the lace stitch has gotten me questions on Ravelry (friend me, I'm "puppycatrancher" on the Rav), which are hard to answer because I knit in the Russian style which is fairly obscure -'cept in Russia, I'm guessing- and this pattern is written in English for English-style knitters).
Five stars for the ba-gorgeous Colinette yarns
Five stars for a pretty pattern book (Nostalgia)
Five stars for a garment that you can wear in four seasons and dress up and dress down ('cept not waaaaay down - I don't even see Zsa Zsa Gabor walking the pooches in rhinestone collars in this - wait! I do. But not me. Let's say this pattern and your Orioles ballcap - never gonna work.)

and, oh yeah, the boots. My 45th birthday present to myself, found them at Zappos (BIG SHOUT OUT TO ZAPPOS - the friggin' president of it emailed me personally when an order got screwed up - and yeah it was him because I had an in to him ain't sayin' how, it wasn't some form response) along with the matching Tarina Tarantino jewelry!

Felt like such a princess that night (thanks, Sheila, for making me go)!

I had my makeup done professionally for the first and so far only time in my life, and was wearing false eyelashes... if my boobs were bigger and if I had a tan, I would have felt like Queen Latifah at some awards night. (and some love to the B and the single ladies and the Queen [she shows up at 3.28 looking totally amazing] and that fierce Jane Lynch show. and to my own true love who purports to be ring shopping...oops, who said that?)

testing - how do I load a picture to blogpress? jeeeez...

Edited to add (ETA): am still searching for a way to upload pix from the iPad to blog posts. Steve Jobs, did you get a "needs improvement" in the category of playing well with others? I know, strategic position, negotiating tactics, market share, blindly adoring Apple fan base, and MicroSoft is the evil empire and you shine the beacon of light. I KNOW! I get it!

But seriously, dude, for us in the sandbox to have you guys holding our toys hostage is annoying. Not that there's any other sandbox for non-techies like me.

Just saying'.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

More prettiness...

So - whadaya think?  I got this funky app to watermark my pix. Typedrawing.

Yarn is my beloved Colinette Giotto in Raspberry. Pottery from some little shop in Avignon (ah, Avignon, sur le pont...)

Of course, I still love mahjohngg.  and knitting.  but the competition is getting fierce!


Monday, September 13, 2010


So. This is one of many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) hanging around in my conscience, project bin, to-do list. It's the yarn (brand: Colinette, yarn: Giotto, colorway: raspberry) that lured me back into knitting a few years ago. It was in a sale bin (how? why? does it matter?) at Knit+Stitch=Bliss had it at deep discount and I stared at it (because even at discount, Colinette is pricey, at least here in these United States) and suffered my first case of yarn sticker shock.

Yarn lust had struck. The next day, I went to the yarn shop at lunch and coveted. I googled. I researched what I could do with 1 skein of Giotto. (Not enough.) Did they have 2 skeins? They did!... And there went the 50% discount and thus began Serious Yarn Addiction.

But admit it... Pretty.


Christmas is coming, let's pretend the stash is fat!

Yes, it is barely autumn. But my new toys (iPad and an awfully pretty mahjong app) are making it gosh-durn hard to take my 3 month timeline seriously. I mean, the leaves haven't even turned and I still don't know what all the bonus tiles look like so why knit?!

Therefore, friends and fellow fiber freaks, I issue a challenge to you: post your dream list of finished objects to gift at the end of this year. Go a little crazy - you can pare it down later and get real, but indulge yourself with me and roll around in a fantasy jacuzzi filled with Colinette, Noro, Artyarns... Silks, kid mohair, baby alpaca... (dammit, now I'm drooling, and it's sooooooo not attractive.)

I will start. [ahem]

for mom - machine washable something that she won't ask how much the yarn costs (she hasn't figured out that how much the needles & miscellaneous supplies cost would probably cause a seizure - "how much is in your retirement fund?! And you paid how much for that set of Addi Turbo Clicks?")

For dad - well, 3 years ago I gave him some Great Adirondack Yarn for Xmas that was supposed to become a sweater. Didn't. Various reasons, probably none of which are that he has a lazy and distractable daughter ("oooh, is that silk?" -casts aside daddy's sweater which is getting boring and not measuring to the gauge swatch i didn't bother to knit). Last year I bought a crap load of Eco Wool ('cuz It was Friday night and I had just got paid and it seemed like a good idea at the time) rationalizing that it was machine washable (it's not, I was hallucinating that little portion of the label, go figure) and it seemed like a good yarn to start my first cable project on (it was, but key word here is "start"). So for dad, hmmmm, something (anything) that makes it through mom's criteria and that he might use. I'm thinking afghan. I'm thinking family room. I'm thinking Lion Band Yarn.

For my sweet sweet beloved - let's see. A) I have three promised objects on the needles (OTN); B) this blog is monitored by beloved; and C) I have no clue.

This is harder than I thought! Must do research and return!

Happy clicking!