Monday, August 21, 2006



That's right -- I'm actually getting somewhere with something!

I started the Grumpecue last week and plugged along doggedly. "Hrm," I thought, "this'll take a while." And I'd really like to get it to her at our next haircut, but school starts soon and my husband is looking a little shaggy, so I guess we can't draw it out very long.

Then I was hit with Frogitis, forcing myself to reknit approximately 20 rows in whole or part about five times. (Note to self: watch the damn scallops WHILE you're knitting them, not AFTER.)


Sunday morning, that thing was no match for me. My rapier points shot through those defenseless strands like a finger through Cheez Whiz. Not only did I finish the last 50 rows or so, I then took a two-hour jaunt to lakeside for color selection and returned to knit 80 more rows -- the long ones, no less. I'm no Wannietta Prescod, but given that it had taken me a week of spits and furts to do what I accomplished yesterday alone, I was feeling pretty speedy indeed. I'm now more than a quarter done with the whole thing.

This was due in no small part ot the Summer Under the Stars marathon on TCM and the aid of my beloved TiVo. Over the past weekend, I watched the following, trying to clear out the ol' queue:

--The Nun's Story is a VERY good movie, but it's dreadfully sad. Incidentally, I completely didn't recognize the guy playing Dr. Fortunati as Peter Finch, the guy who played Howard Beale (Mr. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" in Network.
--Wait Until Dark is rather hokey. I LOVE Audrey Hepburn, but she has this pause before she does the "I'm so confused and frightened" scream that confuses and frightens me in turn -- who does that in real life? And Alan Arkin... good gracious, he was cheesy.
--Keeper of the Flame, on second viewing (fell asleep the first time), was still pretty boring despite the early Tracy/Hepburn pairing, and for some reason I could barely see it since it was filming an outdoor scene in the woods at night in black and white (or, more accurately, black and black).
--Always -- cute movie. John Goodman is always funny. Richard Dreyfuss, however... I don't think I'll ever be able to watch him without seeing the "Richard Dreyfus screen tests for C3PO" skit in my head.
--Ninotchka -- I'd never really seen Greta Garbo before, and this one was pretty cute.
--Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House -- love Cary Grant, love Myrna Loy.
--Travels With My Aunt -- again, kept falling asleep. I rewound the end twice and still couldn't follow it. Darn you, Maggie Smith; couldn't you do more than just drag the poor guy between a series of hotels that look exactly the same?

(If you're reading this with your mouth agape... yeah, I did watch a lot of movies yesterday, but I was multitasking. So nyah.)

Back to the knitting...

I was also thinking about my dad's vest again. Still trying to find a yarn with a good color depth and texture without a lot of pooling. Mountain Colors Bearfoot? (OH, the price! I love the guy, but 20 bucks a hank is just not going to cut it until I get my Jeopardy money.) Trekking XXL? (OH, all the stitches with those tiny needles!) Rowan Feted tweed is looking really good, with the perfect weight and color distribution, but my mom was very clear that I should aim for easy washing if at all possible.

Who knew making the Cosby Sweater's younger sibling would be so hard?

In pattern news, I also picked up Evening in Eden. Gorgeous, yes, especially in that color, but I don't know where I'll wear it. (Though it's a stole and not a shawl, so it's more my style, at least.) still, even though icarus was much easier to pick up/put down and plow through without looking, I still feel the twinges of a small lace jones. A small one, mind you, but present nevertheless. We shall see.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back on the horse!

After some spits and furts (as I like to call them), I feel like I'm back on track for my knitting. The apartment looks decent and I FINALLY have a good project going. I was also able to buckle down and do some more yarny enrichment over the past week, which felt good. Overall, then, I'm hoping to get some stuff done and use this to help me focus on enjoying the new place. (Not that it's hard.)


After much hemming and hawing I finally started up a couple of projects. I've got almost two full skeins of this lovely seafoam green Gems Pearl, so I thought I'd start some socks (even though I hate wearing socks :P), but that didn't go so well. I need a fuller complement of sock needles; right now I have a set of too-long bamboo size 1 dpns, four size 2 short birch dpns (stupid Key West stealing the fifth one), a couple of 24" Inox circs and a single long metal #3. I think I needed a single long ) for this one, or at least 0 dpns. I did okay switching from the smaller dpns to an approximation of Magic Loop before, so I'll have to check some of those out. Maybe I'll bite the bullet and get those KnitPicks circs.

I'd started a baby blanket for Jenny's baby in my eggplant 220 Superwash, but the large needles and fusty pattern made me sad. So I swapped some Lion Wool with a chick in Delaware (hi, V!) and got a copy of the Oat Couture Curlicue Coverlet. I was thinking about making it as-is, but really I was going for Grumperina's Grumpecue variation, which is basically a simple pinwheel knit in segments instead of from the center. Since starting it last night I can already tell that it'll be a long haul, but I like how it looks and feels on 7s. It's fairly intuitive as well, so I'm hopeful that it'll make good TV/movie knitting.

Note to self: I think each of the sections is 105 rows, so that's 630 rows for percentage purposes.


I finally gave in and got myself a subscription to Interweave Knits on Sunday night. Of course, then I geeked out and bought the fall issue from a local bookstore so I could have it right away. (Incidentally, for local folks who are downtown, A Room Of One's Own has a small but decent selection of knitting books and magazines... they've got IK and the British knitting, as opposed to UBS, who only seem to carry VK and Family Circle or some such... and about 85 random embroidery mags :P)


I was over near Monona on Saturday when I thought to myself, "Self, you really need to go find that yarn store you keep hearing about." I'd heard that there was a new place on Femrite Drive, only a few doors down from Monona Drive... which was odd, because I knew exactly what was a few doors down from Monona Drive, and it was certainly not a yarn store last time I checked. Let's just say that about 12 years ago a certain high school sophomore had a friend of a friend of whom her mother would definitely not approve. Okay, nothing terrible went on, and he was mainly an accessory to any incidents that DID, but he had long hair and listened to loud music and was surely held to be a Bad Influence. And he and his 28 stepbrothers lived in a rambling old farmhouse at that very location.

So I pulled up in the back, and there it was -- the yarn store, right in Matt's kitchen. Huh. And when I explained my confused expression to the owner, she introduced herself as his stepmother. It was all very Twilight Zone.

But anyways.

I should fricken review the store already for those of you out there who aren't suddenly having flashbacks of hockey games at the Coliseum and clandestine late-night phone calls.

I wasn't able to spend a lot of time looking around because we had errands to run, but I did get the story of the shop and a good peek. The shop is called Off the Beaten Path, the owner's name is Karen, and she and her husband opened after a fair amount of consultation with the Knitting Guild, of which she is a member.

They'd been thinking about opening a store for a while; they'd scouted locations but hadn't seen anything that jumped out. One day they were captivated by the Yarn House in Elm Grove, which was apparently THE historic house in the village. They'd looked for a similar house around Madison, but either the place was too far or the renovations would have cost more than the property. Suddenly Karen realized that the house they'd lived in for 23 years was both a historic farmhouse and mostly empty of kids, so they moved upstairs and opened the shop on the first floor.

The property is actually quite lovely on its own. As I noted, it's only a few doors away from a main artery (and very close to the Beltline), but it's remarkably peaceful -- a large, shady corner lot with seating in the yard and on the porch. Karen welcomes community groups to sit in the kitchen, which is fairly spacious. They have three or four other areas which are chock full of yarn on the walls and in the middle of the room. I didn't catch a lot of brands because I was in a hurry, but aside from the usual suspects I did note some brands which I hadn't seen as frequently at other local stores. Specifically, I saw Cherry Tree Hill, Sandnes and Frog Tree, as well as some soy yarns. In googling them, I see that they also sell K1C2 and Wool in the Woods, as well as roving.

Karen also described the philoosphy of the store. I'm totally going to get this wrong because the Pit of Despair (aka my bottomless purse) is not yielding her card, but it's something like "sustainability, community, serenity." (There's a fourth one in there too.) From the website (a work in progress): "We believe in thinking globally and acting locally. We look for and promote yarns made by artists, cooperatives, women-owned businesses, environmentally responsible mills, and eco-friendly processes. We believe that knitting and knitters can change the world."

They've crammed a lot of good-looking stuff in there, and they are clearly eager to become part of the knitting community, so it's definitely worth a stop.

Off the Beaten Path
215 Femrite Drive (corner of Femrite and Roselawn)
Monona, WI 53716
Phone: 608-221-0219
Fax: 608-299-1407

Hours: Guild Mondays: 2-6pm
Tues, Thurs, Friday 10-6 pm
Wed 10-8pm (6-8 open knit)
Saturday 10-4 pm

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Not dead yet!

Hola, amigos... been a while since I rapped at ya...

Mostly because I haven't done a darn thing since I finished Icarus. Partially for good reason, but I'm also still in a bit of a knitting funk.

(To give you an idea of how long I've been percolating, this post was started on July 25th.)

First things first: the shawl, she is lurvely. I've never actually blocked anything like that; I blocked my Branching Out scarf by casually manipulating a sopping puddle of yarn into a straight line on three towels. Not so easy on Icarus. There was much gnashing of teeth and bending of pins and continual repinning-until-good-enough-for-government-work. I used the Yarn Harlot's method of stringing the sraight edge on a separate length of string/yarn and pulling it to either side, but it sagged dreadfully, even when I added a few more pins to stabilize it. So I'd continue to pin out the spikes, and then the other side would get too low, so I'd repin THOSE... lather, rinse, repeat for about two hours during some episode or other (I think it was the one with the pups) of Project Runway.

Happily, though, everything worked out. Not a moment too soon, either, for reasons to be explained below. Pictures to come. (I actually took some.)


Rehearsals quickly moved from "sitting around waiting for my turn to sing while seated" to "Let's polka around the stage and hang off of ladders!" Not very knitting-conducive, though I suppose I could have done some backstage. (That's all we needed on top of a wheeled cow and a giant creaking chariot... another strand of something on which to trip.) Shows went well, but I found myself pining away for a project, especially since the boring part of Icarus was nonetheless a good rhythm to work with.

The big news is that we magically decided on a whim that we wanted to move.

Oh, it's nothing drastic; we only moved up four flights in our building. But after I *cough* won a little money on tee-vee, our landlord joked that we'd be finding a bigger place. We laughed him off, since my winnings would be a lump sum and dedicated to grad school tuition, but we also found ourselves thinking, "You know, we've paid off some other stuff, so we can afford a little more, and it'd be nice to not live in the basement anymore." So we called him on Thursday, saw the apartment that afternoon, and as of now we've been there for about a week and a half.

We got rid of a CRAPLOAD of stuff, including furniture, and as soon as the giant cardboard check arrives we'll probably buy a couch -- something we haven't really owned. Of course, until that time I don't have much of a knitting spot.

So that's the main reason I've been slackin' something fierce. (Also why I actually had floor space on which to block Icarus :P)


My current project (and the first one I've worked on in forever) is a blanket made out of eggplant-colored Cascade 220 Superwash for our hairdresser/neighbor's Baby Of Indeterminate Gender, due in a month or two, and two inches in it looks like crap. Needles (9s, I think) are too big, and even if the pattern were tighter it'd still look old and fusty. I wanted something relatively quick to knit, and I looked around in all of my books and sites for inspiration, but sadly this won't cut the mustard. But i wanted something simple but with a little more flair than just a moss stitch, basketweave or Big Bad Baby Blanket (which I can't find anyway since I think I lent my snB book to someone), so we'll see. Debbie Bliss's alphabet blanket is simultaneously calling to me and screaming, "You're crazy! You want a TV-watching project, not something requiring constant staring!"

Maybe I'll use the herringbone pattern from the poncho in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Use that with a moss stitch border or some such. That'd be kinda cool.


I also made myself a PVC niddy-noddy last weekend and felt very capable indeed, but the T-connector on one end popped after only a couple hours of use, so I guess I was too much woman for it. Le sigh. And here I was looking forward to actually winding and using the remnants of a sweater we unwound approximately three years ago.


Thinking about doing the Lucky wrap cardigan from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. Considering KnitPicks Shine or Dale Baby Ull. The sleeves are a bit too short and belled for my taste, but otherwise I think it could be good. Comparing it to the similar Arisaig from Knitty, I like Arisaig's slightly closer silhouette, but not so much the ribbing. (Okay... not at all.) The tighter knit of Lucky is also a bit more appealing. Worth investigating...

Annnnnd... I'm spent.