Sunday, September 24, 2006


I got an email from my Sock Wars assassin that she is shipping my socks TOMORROW!! Lucky for me she's in France. Luckier for me I didn't have time to get the needles I need for my EZ sweater (I want 32s and i have only 24s) so i'd better get to sock knitting FAST!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Which is better?

Say you're getting a present. Which is better - yarn or a hand knit gift? Tough one, huh? How about both?

My friend Ruth over there in England sent me these little teeny pants for a little teeny person who will someday arrive in need of some pants. There's a matching shirt, too. So soft you might cry if you touch them.

But. Then.

She also sent me one kilo of natural oatmeal colored Bluefaced Leicester yarn. I've wanted to make myself a Rogue for the longest time, and Ruth found this divine yarn that would be perfect for the pattern. I've been pining over it for ages. And here it is. That, my friends, is love. Yarn AND a handknitted gift. Make sure you click on the card photo to read it in all its glory.

I've got other photos, but they all seem so inconsequential in respect to that.

Finished the bear. This was an experiment with a new size. Needs tweaking. the bear looks a little shruggy and squished to me.

Finished the navy cardi. Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton. Soft enough to make you forget that it's navy. For a second.

Yarn arrived for my husband's EZ Seamless Hybrid. Just in time for Zimmermania. I'm glad i went with the darker color. It's going to look great on him.

Tough to photograph. Made a baby blanket. Inca Cotton, one of my all-time favorites. Simple 3" basketweave with seed stitch border. Measures 30" x 30". Not terribly exciting, but I'm disproportionately proud of it for some reason.

Oh, and the clap is no more. I made a little mistake, took it as a Freudian slip, and frogged it. I love the yarn too much to subject it to a life of being a scarf i don't adore.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Squid and the Scarf and other finished objects

The Squid loves her scarf. Made from Jamie Harmon self-striping angora/merino it's soft and lively. Just like the Squid. Her first comment was "did I ask you to make this for me?" and when i said "yes, you did." she said "Good job, mamma!" and has been wearing it all day.

Monday Morning followup: she took it to school today. Every day she brings some toy to school, ostensibly to help her sleep but really because she likes hauling things around. generally it's a stretchy lizard or spider, but today her "toy" was the scarf. I finally found something soft enough. And I found out that I need to make her toys that don't look like toys.

Sadly, another chemo hat. Again with the Plymouth Bamboo, again with the f-bomb. That was a specific request this time, too. I made this one a little more feminine this time, with a spiraly top.

Clap update. Not loving the pattern. Completely loving the yarn.

Brooklyn - check.

There, nestled between the New Age section and the Bibles, is the sock photo.

I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect. I sat next to the delightfuly cranky Elaine who told me about her recent (5 years ago) hip replacements and kept insisting I move to the Upper West Side and didn't even flinch when I replied "death first". She told me all about her knitting group up there in the nosebleeds and how she knitted the pink scarf on the cover of the Loop-d-Loop book since their knitting group was the primary sample knitters pool. And she pointed out various people in the crowd saying "Now, I may be a yarn slut but that one there, she's a yarn whore. And I can say that because I've known her for a long time. So I know it's true and not just a rumor."

Elaine intends to be in the fashion show at the Union Square Knit Out today, sporting one of several blue lace shawls.

Finally Stephanie's cab drive made it over the Manhattan Bridge (I myself made the trek in 20 minutes on the subway, and was then quite pleased to hear about the traffic because I was thisclose to taking a cab myself from sheer laziness) and she dived right in, with not even a hint of a post-cab-traffic stupor.

She was delightful and witty and tossed excerpts from her book in without sounding stilted or false. Her wit does take on a new level when you hear her timing. She has great timing.

I've seen some authors speak well and some speak poorly. The bad ones make you feel like you're in a high school lecture listening to a nun read Houseman. The good ones make you feel as if you're sitting around a tall table in the corner of a bar, a little too tipsy for 4pm. With Stephanie, I could almost feel the beer trickling down my throat.

So when it was over there was a whole book signing thing. They requested that those with kids, extremely pregnant women, disabled people, etc to come to the front first. I stayed in my seat, thinking "well, I'm not extremely pregnant. I can wait." but when ages passed and the little line of special needs knitters hadn't shrunk, AND I ran out of yarn, I decided to get up and stick myself up there with the feeble and infirm (actually, 2 women with babies, a pregnant woman - definitely qualifying as "extremely" and Elaine with her new hips who truth be told was really worried about getting home in time to give a shot to her diabetic cat).

I was glad I did. the 10ish or so minutes I was tired of standing, tired of being awake at all, and had to go to the bathroom. I remembered that it's not just when you're huge that you need a little special care. That having to pee every 30 seconds thing is pretty overwhelming. So I took my place in the little line.

An on-the-ball organizery type person with a lot of sharipes clipped to her decolletage asked me the spelling of my name and slapped a stickie note to a book and handed it to me. Which, when my turn came, I plunked on the table.

Stephanie asked me if I was Marnie of the comments, to which I kind of shrugged and made an intelligent response like "I've commented I think." I'm not a big commenter. I figured it was her polite way of asking "do you read my blog?" Then she clarified "Marnie Talks or something?" And I said "oh, no. that's the other Marnie. The famous one. I'm the not-famous knitting Marnie."

Marnie McLean has designed a bunch of stuff and actually has had things published by someone not her, unlike this Marnie.

"So," Stephanie asked "Which Marnie are you?" to which I kind of muttered "Curly Purly Marnie." And Stephanie, bless her little heart, said "Oh, of course, you are famous! I know who you are!" and she turned to an assistantly woman who was standing nearby and said "It's Curly Purly Marnie! You know her, right?" to which I got the perfect, completely blank stare. Like you couldn't create a more blank blank stare if you tried. I was instantly relieved because in those 3 seconds in which the onus of fame weighed heavily on my shoulders - should I be behaving differently? Should I have worn something hand-knit? - I had a mild panic attack.

The blank stare sent me back to comforting anonymity and left me assured that I could behave as badly as I wanted. Stephanie glanced at the book, grabbed her pen to sign it, and without looking up kind of nodded at the sock and said "yYou can go ahead and hold the sock now" in a "put your feet in the stirrups" kind of tone.

There was some discussion about the sock or the weasel and we ended up opting for both. I did not get a photo of this, so you're going to have to take my word for it, but I did, in fact, hold both the sock and weasel (on my shoulder, tipping my head in to steady the poor weasel, who incidentally wears a beaded necklace. I never knew that.)

Then, figuring turnabout to be fair play, I took this photo.

Which I thought was terribly clever of me until the Yarn Harlot suggested that my bear carcass resembled a bifurcated willy warmer.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Knitful Weekend in NYC

First, tonight the Harlot is speaking in Brooklyn. I'm even contemplating leaving the borough for that. Impressive, huh? Then tomorrow is the big Knit Out in Union Square. I was rather underwhelmed last year, but it is only a few blocks away from me so it feels sacreligious to avoid it. We shall see.

As for me? I finished a sweater for a 6-year old in Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton (yum, but sheddy) and a little scarf for the Squid (AKA playing around with the yarn to see what I could think of and the Squid adopted it) from Jamie Harmon self-striping angora/merino blend. Divine. I always sort of thought angora would be hideously sneezy. It's not.

I'm also more into the Clapotis and more into not liking it. Oh well. I love the yarn, and the pattern does show the yarn off beautifully. I'm just not thrilled about the Clapotis itself.

And I think I've found a yarn soft enough for the Squid to love. The thing is, I could knit her a sweater out of barbed wire and she'd be happy, but she has a soft obsession when it comes to something to fondle. For a long time the item of choice was a microfiber eyeglass cleaning cloth which she clutched round the clock. So It's a bizarre kind of soft she'll approve of.

So far she's agreed to give Touch Me a whirl. But she doesn't want me to knit from it. She just likes rubbing a strand of it. Of course I won't let her sleep with a strand of yarn because visons of strangling herself with rayon chenille dance through my head, so when she lets me try to knit something from it, we'll see if she really goes for it.

I feel it should be a blanket but $15 for 61 yards for a blanket she might like seems a bit much. I'd rather attempt a little one-skein doll of some kind. Who knows. I'd love more than anything in the universe to make her something she absolutely adores.

She woke me up this morning (no mean feat these days) saying "Mamma, it's wake up time. But don't get up because there's a baby in your belly. I brought you this." and she handed me an enormous skein of Henry's Attic "Cuddles" Alpaca Boucle (if you haven't seen it, it's this huge, fluffy yarn in a ball bigger than my head which is best knit up on 13-15s) and a pair of 32" size 1 circulars and said "Here, stay in bed and knit yourself some socks. Papa will bring you breakfast."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spiced Earth

I got this yarn second hand. The photo on the screen looked interesting, it's kettle-dyed with a bunch of colors, so I felt it wouldn't pool badly even if i knit something smallish with it. I was thinking a baby kimono (I'm working on my pattern and trying different yarns) or something of the sort.

But when I got my hands on it, I knew it had to be mine.

It's an alpaca/silk blend dyed by Dashing Dachs in the "Spiced Earth" colorway. And I am in love. Plums, russet, olive and spring greens, deep steely blue, even a stitch or two of periwinkle showing up every now and then. Truly an amazing blend of colors.

I have 333 yards of it. And I want it to be something I wear often. I would have loved to have more of this yarn, in a solid something coordinating, and make a yoked sweater with this color as the yoke and the remainder of the sweater solid. Nice, huh? Alas. I was impatient and didn't feel like waiting for more yarn. Besides, my anatomy this winter will do horrific things to the shape of sweaters so I'd rather not waste the yarn.

So I thought a scarf would be a good choice. I originally started to make Branching Out and while i enjoyed the pattern it wasn't doing justice to the yarn or the lace. It looked like a mess, actually. I had done 5 repeats and I just knew I would never wear it. i considered a memorial photo but just went right to frogging instead.

Then I went back and forth and hemmed and hawed and settled on Clapotis. I didn't make one last year when the craze was on. I'm not a stole kind of person. And not crazy about variegated yarns for myself, most of the time. And, truth be told, I'm not nuts about the pattern. But it did seem an excellent showcase for this yarn, so I went for it.

It was a good choice. I'm making a skinny Clap, scarf-sized, which means I'll wear it. Seven dropped stitches, it measures about nine inches across. I like it. If i have enough yarn I might even go whole-hog internet knitting trendy and make a matching Panta. So when I walk around all winter in my out-of-date poncho that I really did buy in Ireland 10 years ago before ponchos were back (and over again) that I'm wearing despite it's has-beenness simply because it fits over my gut, I'll at least have some of last-years fashionable accoutrements.

Of course, I could also make swanky Knucks and bring a little of this year trendy into my life.

In other knitting news, my husband wanted to go with a worsted weight yarn for the seamless hybrid. I didn't even coach him in the sheer number of stitches he'd save me. I showed him a sweater knit in DK and a sweater knit in worsted and he preferred the weight of the worsted. And he preferred the slightly deeper, slightly bluer tone to the 'wild plum' color of the worsted as opposed to the 'revel' dk. The darker yarn will look better with his olive skin and black hair. So I ordered it. Phew. Let's see what happens.

One note: It's not that I am irreverent. It's simply that I can't stand the use of human suffering for political propaganda. So I had a long post written up, about how my day began 5 years ago. How I had been up until 5 am playing cut-throat backgammon and drinking bourbon, toasting at midnight (and all the rest of the night) with my friend to celebrate my turning 30. About how I watched, incredulous, still half-drunk the next morning as the world turned upside down outside my bedroom window.

And I decided to scrap it. We all know what happened. We were all touched and affected in different ways, to different degrees. You don't need to read about my experience. Not today.

I will tell you one thing. The best part about having a birthday that is September 11? what I lose in parties and celebrations (because yes, people do feel like heels going out and cheering on this day, in this city) I gain in words. Where everyone else gets email animated cards with funny animals and off-color humor, I get sincere, loving words from my friends who tell me that today they are choosing to take a moment today to celebrate life instead of death.

So take a moment and look at something you cherish, something you are glad to be alive to witness. Some joy that outweighs all suffering. And as you mourn the dead and our tragic planet, find a way to celebrate your life today.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'm a Sucker

She begged for a red elephant. Swore up and down she would actually like it for more than a minute. I didn't believe her but made it anyway. I had a random skein of red bulky merino lying around without purpose so i went for it. Finished it up Showed it to her. She stood in silent contemplation for a moment and then dropped to a little downward dog and said "I need one that does this. And softer."

Well, I expected it and I'm over it. But here's the challenge. I am willing to figure out how to make the elusive 4-legged creature (so far i've only worked out short leggedy critters like cats and dogs) but I need yarn help. I'm willing to throw aside my desire for natural fibers. I'm thinking Berroco Softy kind of soft, but in a thicker, cushier yarn. Stuffing would fall right out of Softy. My LYS owner is as much of a natural fibers snob as I am (and it was she who introduced me to Softy as "yeah, I know it's fake but it's really soft.") so I'm not going to find a whole lot there. Tell me what I need.

On a happier toy note, what do you make a toymaker? Her family in toys.

My friend Stellaria of Fern & Faerie made this little representation of my family (to be) in celebration of the next little family member.

The mom has a removable pregnant belly and there's the sweetest little tiny baby. Stell just released the patterns to make these dolls and of course I snatched it right up. you can sew the clothes by hand, but I'm going to try to adapt the patterns to knit the clothing from leftover sock yarn. cause I'm a big geek.

She has some other very cool patterns over there, even for the sewing-wary like myself. Like the baby doll you can make from an orphaned sock. I wish I had the luxury of having the space for a "craft box" or something lying around so I could be one of those people. Like the Magyver of crafts.

Autum is for New Beginnings.

I was born in the fall. The first day of school sometimes landed on my birthday, but in any event it was always right around that time. And so for me, the year always started in September. New school year, new age. Fall has therefore always carried a feeling of excitement for me.

Also, I hate the heat. So fall is, for me, like spring - finally able to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, outdoor restaurants and sitting in the park. And I love to look forward to all of my projects for the winter months, planning and preparing. It's no surprise to me that both of my pregnancies have hit at this time.

And the herald of fall is the US Open. I love the US Open. While not much of a sports fiend, there is something about the tension, battle, poetry, and release that is a tennis match between two expert players. (Watching the US Open while pregnant is extra intense because every minor triumph elicits tears and an outpouring of emotions that leaves me walking around feeling my emotions constantly swelling.

Every time that Maria Sharipova "I feel pretty" commercial comes on I have this overwhelming pride in being a woman - I get choked up just thinking about it - and now you know just how truly insane those weepy hormones are.

But back to autumn and the beginnings it brings.

I'm finishing a navy blue school uniform for a friend's daughter which is bringing back 12 years of back-to-school navy blue sweaters. If i never see another navy blue sweater it'll be just fine with me. It looks like I'm going to have an extra skein left over and I haven't the faintest idea what to do with it.

I've got the Squid's lollipop sweater finished (worn for the first time yesterday and already lost a button. whoops.) and one more (Black Cherry "Haiku") on the needles. She got her back-to-school shoes and sneakers. Shopping for new jeans that actually come all the way down to said shoes and sneakers and socks that have a heel that actually hits her heel instead of her instep this afternoon (no, I will not be knitting a wardrobe of socks for her this year.).

School starts on Thursday and we are both very excited. Squid's going to be in the threes room and she can't stop talking about it. She is a little concerned about her friend Harrison who was in summer camp with her who will be in the twos class this year. She seems to think everyone should be in the threes. But the threes class has a better kitchen, a better dollhouse and both a sand and a pebble table. Which I've been hearing about a lot. The Squid loves rocks.

Ok. Off to knit some navy blue. Hooray for fall!

Friday, September 01, 2006

That's a lot of Stockinette, even for me.

For the past few days I've been dreaming about b r o o k l y n t w e e d 's stunning sweater. I mean literally dreaming, at night, while sleeping.

It's gorgeous. The color is amazing, the little hem contrast color detail divine, but look at that fit! It's an EZ formula, so that fit is all to bt's credit. (Have you checked out his gallery? miles upon miles of deliciously fitting sweaters.)

I'd love to make that sweater's twin. My devoted egg-cooking husband doesn't have one thing I've made for him. Not one. And he'd look great in that color. And he just bought himself a couple of saddle-shoulder shirts that are especially flattering on his not-brawny build. I'm trying to decide if i can really knit a man's sweater on size 6s, though. That's some serious love. And while our relationship is pretty secure, I've got to evaluate just how secure it is.

That's a lot of stitches.

Things I've Learned

1. I really like wearing handknit socks.

2. I really hate knitting socks.

3. When pregnant, my fingers get wobbly and it takes me 3 times longer to complete anything.

4. When pregnant i crave reading books.

5. Someone who makes you scrambled eggs before you get up in the morning is the number one cure for morning sickness. Today.

6. Too much TV really does make a toddler agitated and an extra super special brand of whiney.

7. Rain and a droopy mama leave little else for a toddler to do than watch too much TV.

8. I feel a need to push on to ten items in this list just because. I'm going to fight that urge and stop here.

9. By the way, I also happen to have a huge craving to improve my crochet skills. The main thing holding me back is that I can't find a crochet hook that I like.

10. I made it to ten.