Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Country Roads, take me home......

My family reunion. We've done this every Labor Day weekend for the past 15 years. We load up the car and drive 10 hours back to the town where I was born. We eat potato salad, (Mom's is the best). I grill steaks. Somebody pisses somebody else off. We talk about the people who didn't show up. Photos are taken to mark the event, then we load the car back up, and drive home. (can you tell how excited I am about this?) I will get to see my new grand neice, (my neice's daughter, grand neice, right?), for the first time. Her name is Gracie, and she was born last February. Isn't she cute!

Gracie has a brother or sister due this coming February! (that's right folks, 1 year apart) I also have a new nephew I haven't seen yet. My step-brother and sister-in-law didn't make it to the reunion last year. (we talked about them) I see lots of baby knitting in my future. (YAY!)

This year, due to financial restraints, we're staying with my Dad. (divorced when I was 3, not invited to reunion) In previous years we've stayed at a motel, where we retire each evening and try to regain some sanity. (basically I sit around in my underwear and knit) My Dad doesn't know I knit. Don't get me wrong, I love my Dad. I'm just not sure I would feel comfortable knitting in his presence. His career went pretty much like this; Marine Corps, carpenter, police officer, fireman. (I'm not kidding.) I'm seriously considering leaving my knitting at home! But wait! "What about that 10-hour car ride?", you ask. It's a ride for Beth and Andrew, it's a drive for me. Yes, I could turn the wheel over to Beth. She has offered, but her driving makes me nervous. I just can't relax. My gauge starts getting tighter and tighter, and then I end up having to rip everything I've knitted. Andrew has also offered, but he still has his learner's permit, and has never driven on the interstate before. (yeah, don't think that's gonna happen) Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy driving, especially when everyone else in the car is asleep. I just can't imagine going 6 days without knitting! Maybe I'll just bring a scarf with me, and knit after everyone's gone to bed.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Projects under construction

Just wanted to show y'all some of the things I've been working on. I have other UFOs, but they were much deeper down in the great pile o' knitting projects. I'm sure they will be unearthed and finished some day.

The project that's bringing me the most joy to work on right now, is Jeff's Mosaic Sweater, (it's really my sweater, I have never actually met Jeff), from Morehouse Farm Merino Knits. I'm using Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, color #412 "Thorny", and Noro Kureyon, color #178. The variegated yarn barely peeks through on every other stitch of every third row. The striping is subtle, but I really like it. The main color is sort of a dark brown/olive green. I would like to have this one done by the end of October so I can wear it to SAFF.

My next project also has a deadline, and a much sooner one at that. The Atlanta Knitting Guild has decided to enter a scarecrow in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's "Scarecrows in the Garden" competition. We are going to try to knit as much of him as possible. He will be wearing a big patchwork sweater, and I have volunteered to knit his pant legs. I have to admit, my hands are killing me. It's extremely difficult to knit with three strands of Red Hear
t ACK-rylic on size 15 needles. He's gotta be weatherproof, and I'm pretty sure Red Heart will hold up through 104 degree heat, rain, snow, hail, and nuclear fallout. I'll try and make it to the garden to get a photo of the completed scarecrow.

This is my first, (and quite possibly my last), attempt at lace. I'm sure many of you will recognize it as the Branching Out scarf from Knitty. I'm using a Karabella yarn called Breeze, (color #37, 40% cashmere, 60% silk). It's a really luscious yarn, and I thought that would be enough to get me through this seemingly simple project. If it had not been for the use of a lifeline, (which I have used many times), I would have ripped this project long ago. I have since found out from other knitters, that this pattern was not so easy, and that there are much easier lace patterns out there. Maybe I will give lace another try, but I am bound and determined to get this project finished.

This bag, based on the Everlasting Bagstopper, (another Knitty pattern), is made from Louet linen instead of hemp. I decided I wanted to knit the handles on, instead of going out and buying and sewing handles on. (and, of course, that's where it stopped) I just need to do several more inches of ga
rter stitch, and then either graft, or three-needle bind off, and I'm done. Now THIS is the kind of lace I like. First row knit, second row, YO, k2tog, repeat. Ok, I admit, it was a bit repetitive, but I didn't have to sequester myself away from all civilization to knit each repeat either. (are you sort of getting the idea of how I feel about lace?)

Many thanks to my son Andrew, for taking the photos today. I really appreciate him helping me out. Before we finished, he snapped a quick shot of some of my stash. I really need to pull it all out and get an inventory so I'll have it ready for when I'm invited to join Ravelry! (only 12,965 people ahead of me ..... any day now!)

Wow, that's a lot of yarn. (yes, it goes all the way to the ceiling) Ain't it purdy? (I'm also thinking of all the stash you can't see in this photo) OK, I'll admit I have a problem. (that's the first step, right?) But I'm really trying to not buy any new yarn, (unless there's a really good sale, and it's something I really need), and I'm really trying to knit from my stash.

I just need to learn to knit faster.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.
I was asked to post the recipie for this extremely yummy dip we had last night at the knitting group meeting. I think we agreed to call it:

Beth's Knitch Dip

4 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 - 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 - 2.5 oz. can chopped black olives
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

Drain off and set aside some of the liquid from the Rotel tomatoes.
(you may add it back in if the dip is too thick)
Mix everything together and refrigerate at least two hours.
(unless you're really hungry, then just go for it!)
Serve with chips, or veggies, or just a really big spoon.
(yes, it's that good!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Entrelac? ......mais oui!

I remember it was either my first or second knitting lesson, my instructor was working on a beautiful shawl that seemed to be somehow woven. She tried to explain the technique, but as my mind was still trying to grasp the finer points of "knit" and "purl", her explanation was mostly lost on me. I just remember gazing upon it longingly, but knowing full well I would never be able to create something so complicated or so lovely as that.

Fast forward one year. I'm at an Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting, when from across the room I spy THE most beautiful piece of knitted fabric I've ever seen. I literally drop everything I'm doing to go over and see what it is. I find out the technique is called "entrelac", (that's French
for "looks impossibly difficult"), and the pattern is called "Lady Eleanor" from Scarf Style, by Pam Allen. It is knitted with Noro Silk Garden, color #47. (for those of you who don't have all the Noro colorways memorized, envision rich warm browns, deep umbers and rusts, intermingled with charcoal grey and dark steel blue) And to top it all off, this gal has the audacity to tell me it's easy! Needless to say I rushed right out and bought a copy of Pam Allen's book, and dove right in. She was right! It was easy! If you can knit, purl, K2tog, p2tog, cast on, bind off, and read a pattern, you can do it too. I didn't have Noro Silk Garden, but I DID have 8 skeins of Noro Transitions in my stash that I had purchased on sale, in a discontinued colorway. Here are the results:

Not a great picture, I know, but it really is beautiful. My wife loves it, and gets compliments on it every time she wears it.

After Lady Eleanor, I just had to do some more entrelac, so last February, I grabbed a pile of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, and a copy of Bags: A Knitters Dozen, and headed to The Mountain for a weekend of knitting at our knitting guild's annual retreat. Due to a combination of high altitude, and circumstances beyond my control,* not much of the bag was knitted that weekend, but I have managed to finish the knitting part this summer.

I still need to finish knitting the handle, (boring!), and felt the big old thing, unless, of
course, you know anyone that needs a cosy for their Volkswagen Beetle.

But even this was not enough entrelac. I took the Lady Eleanor pattern, 5 balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite, (color #2011), and some US6 needles, cast on only 4 triangles for the first row, instead of the 8 the pattern called for, and knit a nice long scarf for myself.

In honor of Lady Eleanor, I'm calling it the "Lord Elsinore" scarf. I'm letting the LYS
, where I work part time, display it as a shop sample until we have cooler weather. Needless to say, August is not really scarf weather here in Altanta. I just can't wait for that first crisp cold day of winter to wear it! I still have a few more entrelac projects rolling around in my head. Possibly a vest, or maybe even a sweater. I do have some Kureyon in my stash that is just screaming to be knitted. So pick up a pattern, or take a class if you must, but knit some entrelac! It's fun, it's easy, and it impresses the hell out of anyone that sees you doing it!

*Remember, what happens at The Mountain, STAYS at The Mountain!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The blog you've all been waiting for!

Well here it is. I've had so much fun, over the past couple of years, reading everyone else's blogs, hopefully it will be just as much fun to write one.

But first I thought I'd tell you a few things about me that you may or may not know.... I live in the suburbs north of Atlanta with Beth, my wife of 18 years, my 16 year old son, Andrew, and two British Shorthair cats, Monty and Fergus.

I had my first knitting lesson exactly three years ago. I knit EVERY day. Even if I just have time for a few stitches, I knit. I get up an hour early every morning just so I can knit before work. I knit in the car at red lights. (I'm the guy approaching the i
ntersection chanting, "turn red, turn red, turn red....") I knit out in public with my friends, and I try to get a few stitches in before I go to bed. Knitting is my peace, it is my meditation, it is my calm. It's what I love to do.

I have a yarn stash so big it sometimes scares me. (I try not to think about it.) I cannot resist a yarn sale. I love natural fibers; alpaca, mohair, cashmere, cotton, linen, silk, but especially wool. I am an absolute nut for wool tweed. I have a part time job in a LYS, just to support my habit. I buy yarn because I must buy yarn. I mean, if I don't do it, somebody else will!

What sort of things do I like to knit?

- Not so much, but I'm still not giving up on it.

- I made a pair. (OK, I confess, I'm still one Kitchnered toe away from a complete pair, and I made two different heels, but who's going to know, they're down inside my shoes!) I will give socks another try.

- I love to make hats. Simple ribbed Kureyon hats are my favorite.

- I'm still making them. What a great way to try out a new stitch pattern or technique.

Baby Stuff
- There never seems to be a shortage of folks having babies! Love doing little blankets and sweaters.

- I love to knit sweaters! I've finished 3 so far, and have a 4th one on needles. My first was a simple top-down raglan . The pattern was from Knitting Fool, and I used black and red Rowanspun Chunky. I had a little gauge problem, so I'm considering taking it in a bit, steeking the front, and turning it into a cardigan. My second sweater, I used the same pattern, same yarn, different color, correct gauge, and threw in some cables just for fun. Here's a close up of the front panel.

My third sweater was the Classic Ribbed Pullover, from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch. In this sweater I used dark green Rowanspun Chunky, and traded some of my stash yarn, (silver Rowanspun Chunky) to have it professionally finished.
(If you haven't figured out by now, I got a great deal on some discontinued Rowanspun Chunky!)
Sweater #4 you ask? NOT Rowanspun Chunky. (It's Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, and Kureyon, but more on that sweater later)

So that's all for now. I'm going to try and be a good blogger and keep you updated as much as I can. Thanks for reading, and come back real soon!