Friday, May 01, 2009

Picking up where I left off..

If I just start chatting about the latest finished project and the weather will you not notice that I have been gone for a very long time? I haven't meant to be. All is well here. My best excuse is that I started a new job a few months ago and for a time it was all consuming. Since the knitting wasn't progressing, I couldn't motivate myself to blog.

When I finally realized my niece's wedding day was fast approaching, I got serious about her gift, which had been languishing on my needles. I nearly made it, too, but five days before I was to leave for her wedding, I used up my last bit of yarn (including the test swatch yarn which I unraveled and used in the vain hope that it might suffice) and still had 18" of edging to complete.

I immediately ordered another skein and it actually arrived the day before I was to leave. I finished up the knitting but left the blocking until my return last Sunday. And now, at last, without further ado ..

Giralsole for Jeanne and Lou

Pattern: Girasole by Jared Flood

Yarn: Cascade Pastaza in Doeskin Heather (14 skeins plus a little bit of a 15th)

Needles: US Size 10 Knit Picks options (and dpns)

Finished size: Nearly 7 feet in diameter!

Modifications/Notes: My only mod was to go down a needle size; I did use the suggested yarn but I'm a loose knitter. (As evidenced by how huge this is, even with a smaller needle!) Fantastic pattern; Jared is brilliant!! I was tickled to learn the nifty circular cast-on.

Glorious weather this week. I played hooky yesterday and we went to the beach!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's The Little Things...

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I've crafted only a very few, and very small gifts for this holiday season. I'm a little bit gift-challenged; I obsess and fret and worry that I've not done enough or gotten the right thing. This is in conflict with my desire to make gifts, as MY handmade gifts never seem quite sufficient to ME. I get around this by giving handmade stuff either in addition to store bought (crazy, I know-I'm working on it), or by making things to give away when a gift is neither required nor expected. That way, it doesn't matter that it's just handmade.

My very special friends in Berkeley, who will be having their annual dinner at Bucci's without me next week, will each be getting a bookmark. The light was extraordinarily crappy this week, as I tried to get photographs of these before sending them off.

They were fun to make and it gave me lots of pleasure to imagine The Moms, sitting around the table, drinking Cosmopolitans, and unwrapping these. (The first year I had to miss one of these dinners, I printed a photo of myself, drink in hand, and mounted it on cardboard so it could "sit" at the table with my friends. My desire not to be forgotten is pathetic great, I know.)

Six Bookmarks
Yarn: Perle Cotton #5, assorted colors, less than 1 skein for each
Needles: US #0
Hooks: I think I used a 2.1 mm, but it might have been something else
Crochet Patterns: Fan Bookmark, Shell Bookmark (That's a Ravelry link)
Knitting Pattern: I just made this one up using the Melon Stitch pattern from VLT
Most Fun: Picking out beads for each of them!

By the time I had finished and mailed the bookmarks, I had rather warmed to the idea of making gifts. I actually have a gift sock on the needles, but as it's the first of two, I've accepted that it won't be gifted by this Chanukah (and it's ok, I already bought and mailed the real gift.) That left me free to cast on for another sweater...

ornament! I love these wee tree decorations. This one is made from that recycled silk that was so popular a few years back. It's sort of on the funky side, but I love it. And the great thing is, it's going to a woman who totally appreciates hand made gifts. (She's getting a big Fruitcake, too!)

Jen's Sweater Ornament
Yarn: Recycled Silk
Needles: US#8 DPNs
Pattern: Last year I made a few of these by following Jared's recipe, more or less. Shortly after I posted about them, kt sent me mail and asked for help. Luckily, I was able to find my response to her and followed my own directions, which I would otherwise have had to re-figure out.
Best Thing About This Project: Near-Instant gratification!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Shetland II

I finally finished my Shetland Triangle. Why I thought it needed to be so big is unclear. It's lovely, and I'm happy to have it, but will I wear it?

Having gone to all the trouble to make it truly shawl sized, instead of scarf sized, of course I like it best worn as a scarf.

Shetland Triangle II
Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark, from Wrap Style
Yarn: Zephyr Wool/Silk Yarn used double throughout.
Needles: US Size 4, KnitPicks Options
Finished Size: Big. Something like 80" across and 40" from center top edge to bottom of point.
Modifications: Needles and yarn, and I worked extra repeats. I forget what the pattern originally calls for, but I worked 19. I also omitted the last two rows of the pattern (this is how Jared did it, way back when) to make the edge less pointy.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Fruitcake Day

I know it's an unlikely tradition for a nice Jewish girl, but every fall I bake a double batch of fruitcakes. I've been doing it so long - 26 or 27 years - I can't not do it. But it is a day long commitment to turn 15 pounds of dried fruit and nuts into 19 loaves. In the early years, I used the day we "fall back" to standard time so I could take advantage of the extra hour; I needed every minute of it. In recent times, I've gotten less obsessive more relaxed. (I've also acquired a free-standing KitchenAid and it makes all the difference.) I usually aim for the beginning of November, though Fruitcake Day has occurred as early as September 30th and as late as late November, but I don't think it's ever been quite as late as this.

Just to be clear, these are not your everyday fruitcakes. No colored candied plastic fruit pieces have made their way into these confections. They are just dense loaves of dried apricots, dates, raisins and pecan halves, with just enough buttery allspice-laced batter to hold them all together. After baking, they are soaked in a blend of brandy and orange liqueur, wrapped snuggly in aluminum foil and shoved to the back of the refrigerator to "age" for at least a month. Many of them will then be lovingly packed into boxes and hauled to the post office for the annual fruitcake migration. Others will be gifted locally, and the rest will be consumed by us. My boys have developed a taste for these over the years, and slipping thick slices into their lunch bags makes me feel like such a good mom!

Knitting content will be back with the next post. Soon, I promise ...

A quick shout-out to kt who sent me mail over the weekend because I hadn't posted in sooooo long. It meant so much, and was, of course, the kick-in-the pants I needed. Thanks, kt!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Guess Who Came To Juneau?

My knitting continues at a very slow, unbloggworthy pace. I keep adding "just one more repeat" to my Shetland Triangle Shawl. I hope to finish it soon. I've been surprisingly monogamous with this project, probably because I have memorized the pattern and it now fills both of my knitting needs: complex enough to keep me interested and simple enough to be carry along or TV knitting. Now that the end is in sight (really, I'm on the last repeat), I'm starting to get the itch to start a new project. Hopefully there will be some interesting knitting happenings around here soon.

In the meantime, it's a crazy time to be an Alaskan. Things got even crazier a few weeks ago when Dolores Van Hoofen made a stop here. She's been on a whirlwind campaign tour. I was honored to be her Juneau host. While Franklin maintains that you "really can see Russia" from the Governor's mansion, I'd like to point out what else you can see... (Mudflats is a great resource for those of you who are interested in the bizarre saga of Sarah Palin and politics in Alaska.)

I'll leave you with the official press release from Dolores' visit:

Fibertarian Candidate, Dolores Van Hoofen, photographed in front of the Governor's Mansion, on her campaign stop in Juneau, Alaska.

After spending the afternoon wandering about in the rain shaking hands and kissing babies, Ms. Van Hoofen needed to find a place to spend the night. She was delighted to learn this lovely white mansion had a vacancy. Ms Van Hoofen wasted little time making herself at home. Though she declined to eat the mooseburgers she found in the freezer, out of Unglulate Solidarity; she did avail herself of the on-site tanning bed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

One in Eight *

I've recently finished a stealth project that's been in the works for a while. I'm unveiling it today, as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I created it for an annual art exhibit here in Juneau: Bra Dazzler. It's a fundraiser for a local non-profit, Team Survivor Perseverance, that provides fitness and exercise programs to women affected by cancer.

It is totally unlike anything I have ever done before. I tend to knit wearable things, and I don't think of myself as artsy.

Let's just say that there was a serendipitous convergence of top-down hat knitting and hearing about this exhibit last year. Then I went to see the exhibit and there was such a wide range of styles and materials employed, that I was emboldened and decided I was brave enough to give it a go. I started working on a prototype last spring, and once I had it figured out, I began slowly knitting breasts. They were great little take-along projects, and I kept them going in the background.

When we returned from our last trip of the summer, in August, I realized the deadline for exhibit submissions was earlier than I expected. So I went into high gear and started churning out knitted breasts. Turns out, the knitting was the easy part. Nick helped me figure out how to assemble it. (Thanks, honey!) In the end, it's pretty darn close to what I envisioned when I started out; that makes me very happy.

One in Eight
Created for the Bra Dazzler 2008 Exhibition in Juneau, Alaska
On display at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum
October 3-November 1

Cascade 220; shades of grey, black
and kool-aid dyed lemon-lime
Needles: US size 5 dpns and US size 3 circulars
Size: Canvas measures 30" x 24."
Each breast is approximately 5" in diameter.
Most surprising this about this project: Think about it .. 16 knitted breasts .. eight pairs .. brought to you by a knitter who has trouble getting a second sock finished!

*The risk, if you are a woman, of getting breast cancer in your lifetime.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fading Memories...

This post is way overdue. Back in July, I promised that I would let you know how I fared at our Moebius Knitting Retreat on the shores of Lake George. As it gets colder and darker here, I am happy to remember those warm halcyon days of summer...

To recap: My two sisters and my s-i-l (and our non-knitting husbands, and our children, some of whom DO knit, but not moebii) gathered for a week long family reunion in Ticonderoga, NY. We stayed in a lovely house right on Lake George and it was the perfect venue for our First Annual Knitting retreat.

My sisterly patience made up for my lack of teaching skills; everyone had a moebius cast on by the end of the first full day and knit diligently ...

and happily...

and even giddily...

until they were finished!!

Follow this link for a close up of Hilary's beauty!

I have been knitting too. Slowly making my way through a shawl and ready to embark on a pair of mittens. I will try to be a better blogger. I miss all of you!

As fall arrived on Monday, so did the snow on our nearby mountains. We're waking up to crispy mornings and the urge to knit wooly things is strong ..