Friday, April 11, 2008

The River Runs Deep......

......the river of denial, that is. While this cleaning, sorting, selling and reorganizing my stash has been great and I'm thrilled to have done it, the reality is that it probably (most certainly!) wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the move.

Some days, I'm pretty excited and see it all as a time of possibility and adventure...a new start, the next chapter, etc. Other times, I'm nearly overwhelmed with the reality that I am losing my home which I have poured heart and soul into for more than twenty years. It feels particularly hard of late as the snow melts and my thoughts turn to gardening. I stand and stare at the yard and think, "this is the year I'm dividing those irises" or "I really need to move that rose." I wonder if that wisteria I planted on the old play set will finally bloom. I'm itching to get out there and see how much winter damage there is, see what made it and what didn't.

And then I realize that, this year, none of that matters. I won't be moving that rose or dividing those irises. It doesn't matter what survived and what didn't because, in a few months, these won't be my gardens anymore. It's almost more than I can bear and I have to shove the thoughts away before they plunge me into a deep and heartfelt sadness.

So, I just keep knitting and cleaning and try not to think about it. My latest efforts at the former resulted in these socks.......

 first Koigus. I loved, loved the colors and the yarn is nice but it's a pretty short put-up which meant a fair amount of concern that I'd have enough yarn. Consequently, they are a bit shorter than I like my socks to be and I may have inadvertently made my first Christmas gift! It's a disappointment, for sure, but life is too short to wear socks that don't fit...hand made ones especially. Not worth frogging, I'll just give them away and make myself others someday. Such is life, I guess.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

For Howie

A former teacher, colleague, mentor and neighbor was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. This is so tragic on so many levels, not the least of which is that he underwent open heart surgery a year ago and thought his health issues were behind him. Additionally, as an academic man, knowing your brain is killing you is a whammy he just doesn't need...but then, who does??

He's taking it all in great spirits, and is a convivial as ever. He and Dianne recently added a porch to their home so he says it's going to be one on-going porch party every night, as friends and colleagues stop in to visit. He's sent out a blanket invitation to the world it seems and people are gathering whenever the weather suits.

As per my usual desire to make/give/present something, I decided to make this vest from the Green Mountain Spinnery book. Not unlike Howie himself, it is elegant yet simple, classic without glitz and glam and one of those looks that will never go out of style. I hope to get it to him within the next day or two and hope he can use it on these evenings that aren't quite warm enough yet to be true porch weather.

Bless you Howie and fight on!

Heading off in an entirely different direction, my next project is: ta da! The Burninator! Trogdor! I found the pattern on Ravelry and don't know how I can avoid making it for Trevor. He will have to laugh his butt off! (I can't believe I'm going to knit a stuffed toy....can dishcloths be far behind????)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Have We All Gone Mad???!

As I woke up this morning and got dressed, pulling on a pair of socks I had made last year, I noticed they were looking a bit less than stellar. No holes or anything, but a few pills, a little loss in stitch definition, a bit faded. I've loved these socks and I wear them often. I thought back to making them and how much I had loved the yarn, how happy I was with the pattern I chose and how gorgeous they looked when finished, washed and blocked. I couldn't wait to get them on my feet! They were my first knit of this hot new yarn and I was more than satisfied with my choice to purchase it.

Now, here they are, a year later...much loved, much worn and still fitting perfectly. But they hardly continue to inspire awe. No one would look at them and ooh and ahh over their beauty. They are, after all, just socks. Well made, gorgeous, warm and a feat of some skill and talent but still, just socks. I pulled them onto my feet, shoved them into my slippers and proceeded to start my day. But the thought of them stayed with me as I did my morning chores.

I have recently become more active in Ravelry and am delighted to have such an amazing resource at my fingertips. I've added photos of recent projects (unlike this blog!), inventoried my stash and joined a few groups. One of these is a destash group where folks can trade or sell things they no longer want. Having just sorted through my own stash, this group intrigued me as a way to perhaps unload some of my own unloved yarns.

What happened instead is that I discovered all the new hot yarns and they are incredible! Luscious colors combined in such ways as to be works of art just sitting in the skein. But worked up, they become magic and, even without feeling them, I began to lust after many of them. I will confess I went a little nuts. I bought a bunch. Well, I traded some so it was not all money out of pocket, but I know I ended up adding to my stash rather than deleting from it.

The hottest, most sought after yarn at the moment seems to be this yarn from Germany - Wollmeise. The minute this name appears on the list, the response is immediate and posts get added like machine gun fire. People can't grab it fast enough! It looks gorgeous and I have no doubt its yummy to the touch and will make socks that will be magnificent. But here's the can sell for up to $40. In fact, I saw a skein on Ebay that was up to $70 and still had days to go before the bidding ended!

Simultaneously with watching this sock yarn get gobbled up at alarming prices, I saw the flurry of activity surrounding the latest WEBS sale. People are buying in boat loads at amazing prices and delighting in their scores of enough yarn for a sweater for $30 and enough for two sweaters and several summer tops for $50. Just the approach of this sale led to discussions of cleaning up credit cards, selling off other words doing all they could to insure plenty of buying power. And yet, we'll rush to buy yarn for a pair of socks for $70 and, if we can get it for $30-4o, come away feeling like we got a bargain? Have we all gone mad? My Gramma would be appalled. My Gramma would think I was nuts for spending $20 to make a pair of socks!

Socks to my Gramma, and for that matter mittens and hats too, were something you made with scraps leftover from other projects. The idea of contrasting heels and toes was not about fashion or artistry, but was about making use of small bits of yarn. It doesn't take much to do a heel so you found a bit in your stash bag that would work and you used it. In fact, the idea of a "stash" was not yarn you hoarded up from overbuying at a sale, but were those little bits and pieces left over from larger projects. As those bits became smaller, their usage changed...when it wasn't enough to be a heel or toe in a sock, it became a stripe in a hat or mittens. But nothing was thrown away until it really was "string too short to save."

Look at us now...we scramble over each other to get those hot yarns in those amazing colors and price becomes no object. Whatever the newest flavor of the day becomes, we all rush to get it. And in the end, we have socks. Beautiful, warm, well fitting and expertly made socks. We'll knit them, wash them lovingly and block them to their artistic best. And then we'll pull them onto our feet, sigh with delight at their feel and then shove them into our slippers and begin our day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Catching up.........

It's been forever since I've done anything with this blog and, rather than go into all sorts of explanations and excuses as to why, I'll just add a few photos to catch up. It will say as much as anything why I haven't been writing!

This is the long suffering Maltese Shawl that I made for my sister. I have written all about the trials and tribulations it caused me in the VLT blog, so won't repeat that here. Needless to say, she loves it and I'm thrilled it's done!

I used Zephyr for this in the color coral and it was a bit pinker than I wanted but certainly more apricot than these photos. I adore the yarn...maybe even more so than the Alpaca Silk from WEBS??????

The next FO is a pair of socks for myself I did with the much advertised, but as yet to be determined, Step yarn from Austerman. It is loaded, treated, saturated (?) with aloe and jojoba oil and supposedly will make your feet soft as you wear them. I liked the yarn well enough and found the colors springy and enjoyable enough to knit. Just the standard pattern for my feet and we'll see if they become a favorite over time.

The other socks I recently finished are in the popular Monkey pattern from Cookie A - a hot new designer. It was fast and fun knit and, as alway, I do love working with CTH yarns. Shockingly, they are too big! I think I got so carried away with the pattern repeats that I made them about an inch too long. It's certainly no issue to frog and redo the toes, since that's all it will take, but have I done it? No. They sit here, awaiting their trial wearing.
I DO like looking at them though!!

Somehow, in the midst of the madness that has been the last few months, I decided to tackle some long overdue WIPs and finished off this entrelac bag. It's since been felted but still waits for handles to be truly done.

I'm happy enough with it and always love using up some of the old Nordic yarns!

Lastly, I finished off this Three Corned Shawl in Cherry Leaf pattern from VLT. I made it significantly smaller than the pattern asked since word was coming from others that it was absolutely gigantic as written. It was a great knit, loved it all...even the endlessly long rows towards the end. Now if I could just reconcile the fact that I really don't think I'm a shawl person, we'll be all set. I DO love making them but there is something very Jeremiah Puddleduckish about them that I'm struggling to overcome. I think my next attempt will be a rectangular stole shape. I continue with my passion for creating lace. This was done with the Malabrigo lace and I like it, loved the vinegar smell while knitting, but I'm not sure it holds a candle in my mind to Zephyr or the WEBS yarn. But then again, it doesn't have any silk to it. The colors are lovely.