Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And the Winner Is … (plus your sock questions answered)

The results are in from my knitting-friend judge and the winner is … Lissa. Congratulations, Lissa! The felted bag kit is small consolation for the pain of the knitting error you described, but every little bit of comfort helps, right? Be sure to check your e-mail for info on receiving your prize.

For those of you who didn’t read all of the contest entries, Lissa described knitting a sweater in the round, using steeks for the underarms and neck. She used a crochet method to secure the steeks (wisely “sewing and cutting” rather than “cutting and sewing”). But then, disaster struck as she proceeded to cut on the wrong side of the crochet “sewing” she had just completed.

Imagine the horror! I recounted this story on Friday at a knitting session at my favorite LYS, Farmhouse Knits in Beaverton, Oregon. The response from the knitting gals was pretty much what you would expect: gasps of shock, eyes widened in terror at the thought, and hands reflexively covering mouths agape with horror.

If you haven’t read all of the other entries, there were some good ones there! You might want to go back and read the comments to this post to learn why someone would frog a sweater while wearing it, to hear about how one knitter learned the lesson that most babies do in indeed have arms, to read a poem about what can go wrong with a spray bottle of vinegar, and other such intriguing tales.

Thank you again to all for your entries!

Before I sign off for today, I also want to take a moment and touch back on the knee socks again from my posting on August 24th. I realize that I never answered a couple of your questions on that topic, so will do that now.

Was there enough yarn in one 4-ounce skein of the Superwash Merino Sock Yarn? Yes, indeed there was. If you recall, testing this was one of the reasons I knit these socks in the first place. It turns out that there was plenty of yarn. I did make the socks a bit shorter than I should have and it was also a lacey pattern with a lot of stretch to it, but there was enough yarn left over when I was done that I can comfortably say that indeed there is enough for a pair of knee socks in one of these 4-ounce skeins.

What pattern did I use for the socks? There was no actual pattern used for these socks. I just used my favorite standard cuff down, vanilla sock pattern and replaced the dull stockinet with a lace stitch on the leg and top of the foot. One little secret about these socks is that I didn’t have to do any shaping to make the leg fit, as you might normally expect to see with knee socks. The lace stitch is a ribbed lace so the leg has tons of stretch to it (not only is it ribbed but the lace stitch itself gives more flexibility and stretch around the calf area). The double-eyelet lace rib stitch I used is one I've used previously that appeals to me both because I like the looks of it and also because it’s a 7-stitch repeat that divides evenly into the 56 stitch cast-on that I use with this standard, vanilla sock pattern. The 4 row repeat for the double-eyelet rib is super easy. Here it is (expressed for knitting in the round):

Rows 1, 2 & 4: *K5, P2* repeat around
Row 3: *K2TOG, YO, K1, YO, SLI, K1, PSSO, P2* repeat around

The ribbing at the top of the sock is a K5, P2 ribbing. This is not as tight a ribbing as I usually use for socks, but I wanted the cuff ribbing to flow nicely into the patterned stitch, which as you can see above is also a K5, P2 variation of ribbing. It seems to have worked out fine, as the cuff is quite tight on its own and so I don’t anticipate any problems from the wider ribbing.

OK. That’s it for now. Stay tuned for my next update, including progress on the Fair Isle Sweater which is now finally on the sticks.

Congrats again to Lissa for her contest win!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Swatch and a Prayer

One more time with feeling: Don't forget to get your entries in for the "Dumbest Knitting Mistake Contest" from my prior post. The deadline for entries is this Monday at midnight.

Now on to the fun talk!

I’ve completed the gauge swatch for my Fair Isle sweater. It’s still finishing blocking/drying, but I’ve got enough of an idea of the gauge now to move into more serious thought about the design for the sweater. Here’s the picture of the grand swatch:

Before I bore you with a few details about the design of this sweater, a quick note: If you go to my Etsy store to view the matching set of skeins in these colors that I mentioned in my last post, you’ll find that they are gone. And no, that doesn’t mean that someone quickly snapped them up for their very own creation. No, no, no. Rather, I had a sudden epiphany that I may indeed need more yarn for my own sweater than I originally thought. I don’t know what I was thinking – or apparently NOT thinking – but, of course, a stranded color sweater will require a great deal more yarn than a plain old vanilla sweater. With every stitch that’s knit, a second color is stranded behind the work and so – DUH – more yarn is needed.

To be truthful, this was not really an epiphany. An epiphany implies that I suddenly, miraculously had an amazing insight about the amount of yarn I will need. In truth, I was perusing an old issue of Knitter's - Knitting in Norway from way back in 1993 when I came across a pattern I always loved but have never gotten around to knitting. I noticed that the pattern calls for a total of somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 yards of yarn! Now, I won’t need anywhere near that much yarn for my sweater, as this sweater from Knitting in Norway calls for a yarn that is practically laceweight, but just seeing the yardage gave me pause and I suddenly realized my rather significant oversight! (OK. While I’m being truthful, I suppose the reason that I never got around to knitting that beautiful sweater from this magazine is that it’s a 2-color stranded all-over patterned Norwegian sweater knit with LACEWEIGHT yarn. It’s apparently designed to drive knitters already on the brink of sanity – for what knitter considering such a project could be entirely sane? – over the edge and deep into the abyss of utter madness.)

As to my sweater, I’ve made a few key decisions. First, I’ve decided against what probably comes to most people’s minds when they think of Fair Isle, i.e. a sweater comprised of horizontal stripes of different patterned motifs, with colors changing along with the patterns, creating a wild mosaic that somehow comes together to create a beautiful, unified piece. I’ve abandoned the idea for this type of Fair Isle sweater because I fear that the horizontal patterns combined with horizontal colorwork will just be too much horizontal, if you know what I mean. My pear-shape just doesn’t cry out to be clad in horizontal stripes!

I’ve decided instead to go with vertical patterning. Hey, it's still Fair Isle. Just not what first leaps to mind when thinking of Fair Isle. The colors will still move horizontally, of course, but the patterning will move vertically. This is actually simpler to design, as there will only be a few motifs to select. I’m leaning toward one primary motif down the center (likely the one you see in the gauge swatch, except of course completed to a nice symmetrical repeat of some sort), with a brief “join” motif, and the sides of the sweater with an all-over patterned motif of a smaller size. Perhaps one horizontal motif around the bottom (which I will not rib … that pear-shape problem again influencing my choices here) and repeated again around the neck line (a little stand-up mock turtleneck perhaps?) and again around the bottom of the sleeves.

I’ve spent a bit of time now on the fun of counting and adding stitches in different motifs, searching for a good plan for pattern repeats to work in the grand scheme. Perhaps "fun" isn't the best word for this activity. Maybe "torture" would be better. It's a fine line ...

As I work through these necessary calculations and decisions, again the needles are crying “Cast On, Cast On! To hell with all of this planning. Cast on!”

My answer: Soon. Very soon. But all I have so far is a Swatch and a Prayer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

One FO Down, One UFO to Start

Once again, I’ll begin with a quick reminder that the contest deadline is this Monday, so be sure to get your entries in soon!

Now on to knit talk …

At long last, I’ve finished the never-ending pair of knee-socks that I began so long ago! I just haven’t had much time for knitting lately and so these took me a very, very long time to complete.

I’m fairly happy with the results, but I do wish that I had made the legs an inch longer. The socks fall just a bit short of being full knee-socks. This is my own fault, as I still seem to have conveniently overlooked the fact that when one gains 20 pounds, some of that weight is bound to appear in one’s calves. I also made some type of bizarre error in the lace rib on the leg. It’s just a tiny spot where there’s some type of odd twisted stitch (things like that happen from time to time when you need bifocals and can never really see what you're knitting!). I thought this small mistake was hardly noticeable, but when I put the socks on and proudly showed them to my husband the first thing he said was, “What’s that?” while pointing at the exact spot of my little boo-boo. Oh well.

Here are a couple of pictures. The socks are knit from my Fearless Fibers Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in the Deepest Forest colorway.

And yes, there really are two of them ...

In addition to the usual satisfaction of completing a project, the other exciting thing about finishing these socks is that it means I can move on to my next project! Since I’ve had so little time for knitting of late, I’ve been trying to keep to one project at a time so that I have at least some hope of actually finishing something now and then.

As I’ve mentioned before, my next project will be a Fair Isle sweater of my own design. Let me begin by saying that I’ve never designed a Fair Isle sweater and have no reason in the world to think that this project will be a success.

The sad truth is that I am afflicted with a little-known disease called Delusional Knitteritis that causes me to plunge head-first into projects well beyond my capability. The symptoms vary by outbreak, but are easy to spot. It this case it began with a review of pattern books and online patterns, resulting in a score of lovely choices that would satisfy any knitter’s aspirations. This was followed by confusion over which project to choose. A few days passed and the confusion turned into utter mayhem within my head as the projects under consideration were pushed further and further into the recesses of my addled brain and ideas of my own began to crop up and take precedence. You can imagine what happened from there.

Delusional Knitteritis is usually not pretty, but now and again – perhaps as much by accident as “design” – something magical happens and the project turns out as planned. Those are the moments that knitters who suffer from Delusional Knitteritis live for!

The yarn for the sweater is ready and waiting for me now. It’s a sport-weight superwash merino wool that I dyed in six complementary colors. I also created a second set of six skeins, which are now up for grabs in my Etsy shop. I absolutely adore these colors, although they are frankly not the best choice for me personally. Cool tones generally look best on me and these are definitely warm tones. But I don’t care. I love them! (Take note: This may later be referred to as “Critical Error Number One” on this project. Knowing this as I do it and doing it anyway is another symptom of Delusional Knitteritis.)

Planning a Fair Isle sweater is turning out to be a bit more complicated than I expected. It’s not brain surgery, but it will require some careful thought. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time. First, I’ll need an accurate gauge swatch. I abhor knitting gauge swatches, as the yarn and needles are always calling out to me, “Cast on already! Let’s GO!” The result of this abhorrence for swatching is that I often complete the swatch in such a haphazard manner as to make the results rather meaningless. For a Fair Isle sweater, that simply won’t do. It’s critical that the pattern repeats, both horizontally and vertically, are planned well so that they end and begin at the right places in the sweater to maintain an acceptable level of symmetry.

There are lots of other small matters to be worked out, but I’ll spare you the laborious details now and just share the project with you as it progresses.

I would like to say that I’m now off to start that gauge swatch, but the truth is, I’m becoming weary just thinking about it and am seriously considering a nap instead.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Love My Little Easter Egg

A quick reminder to all before I begin my post today: Don’t miss the opportunity to enter the contest that I’m currently holding! Details are available in my prior post.

Now, on to current events …

Those of you who visit frequently likely know that I drive a little orange convertible Mini-Cooper, aka My Little Easter Egg. Well, let me tell you, I just love that car! It’s fun to drive, reasonably priced, great on gas, and all of that good stuff, but she’s more than just that.

Yesterday, after several busy days of yarn dyeing, I had to bite the bullet and make a trip to the supermarket. There was no way to avoid any longer the fact that my refrigerator was so empty that I if spoke into it I could probably hear an echo!

I hopped into My Little Easter Egg and wound my way through the streets of my immediate neighborhood until I emerged at the main road where I needed to turn west toward the supermarket. I did not, however, turn west. My Little Easter Egg took me east.

“What are you doing? Where are we going?” I asked. She just giggled and said, “Vroom, vroom!”

There was nothing I could do but relax and enjoy the ride. A few miles down the road, we made a left turn and then another right turn into the parking lot of a large shopping complex, anchored by Target and Mervyn’s. I couldn’t imagine why on earth My Little Easter Egg had brought me to this destination, but all became clear as she drove further into the parking lot, around to the back and settled herself into a spot square in front of Barnes and Noble.

Ah ha! What a darling little car! For the last month, I’ve felt an increasing yearning for some new knitting books. Apparently, this has not gone unnoticed by my dear little orange friend. I knew that I should not indulge myself with such luxuries, but how could I disappoint her? And so I ventured into Barnes and Noble to have a look at the knitting section. Here is what I bought:

The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns published by Sterling is, of course, a stitch dictionary. I’m embarrassed to admit that I only own one other stitch dictionary right now (I had a second one that a friend borrowed and promptly told me I would not be getting back!). This new dictionary appealed to me for several reasons. First of all, it is indeed a “big” book. It has over 550 stitch patterns, but more importantly, the book itself is large. It has only two stitch patterns per page which means that the pictures are sizable enough that one can really see the stitch pattern clearly. The instructions are written in both row and chart format, which is a nice added touch. There are also quite a number of lace and cable stitches, which I particularly appreciate. On the downside, there’s a section of “Creative” stitches that’s quite extensive. Although they’re fun to look at and some are very nice indeed, there are also quite a number in that section that are nothing other than “creative.” They have no beauty or symmetry or anything really to recommend them in my eyes, but I suppose all dictionaries will have some stitches that simply don’t appeal to some readers. This dictionary just seems to have a heavier dose of those than some others I’ve seen. There are also a few small sections at the back for things like “jacquard” patterns that really seem like nothing more than filler. A few pages of jacquard stitches barely touches on the subject and seems out of place in this book. Overall though, I’m happy with the book and think I will get a good deal of use out of it.

1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Luise Roberts is a book of charts for colorwork. I’m a sucker for these books. I’ve got several already that are each focused on a different type of chart – Fair Isle, Celtic, Native American, and such. This book touches on numerous areas, with sections for motifs of different origins, including Aztec and Inca, Scandanavia, Lapland, and many others. The book is OK, but I chose it largely because it has a healthy section of Fair Isle that I thought might help augment the Fair Isle book I already have (and my next project – the Fair Isle sweater – is looming large in my mind!). As it turns out, many of the charts in the Fair Isle section are not really Fair Isle after all, in that they use three colors per row rather than the traditional two-color patterns of Fair Isle. This may seem like a minor distinction, but the two-colors-per-row rule is part of what makes Fair Isle Fair Isle. I’m certainly not a purist about such things, but when I say I want to make a Fair Isle sweater, part of what I mean is that I want to have the fun of knitting with one color in my right hand (throwing the yarn to knit) and one color in my left hand (picking continental style to knit). Three colors per row just throws the whole rhythm of Fair Isle knitting out of whack.

The final book I purchased is Meg Swansen’s A Gathering of Lace. I haven’t gone through it enough to provide an opinion yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I bought it not so much for any specific patterns, but more just to have one book with lots of different styles and shapes of lace shawls to review. I’ve done very little lace knitting, but I enjoy it and plan to do more in the future and so I thought it would be helpful to examine the different structures and the way the lace stitches are handled as the different shapes of shawls are created. I’ve read a bit on the internet about lace shawl construction but I think having one book to examine at my leisure may be of some use. And besides, the pictures are soooooo pretty!

That’s it for my trip report. What about you? Do you have a book or two in your library that standout as "Must Haves"?

As to actual knitting … At long, long last I’ve reached the final stretch of the knee-high socks that I posted about so many weeks ago. It’s unbelievable that I’ve taken so long to finish these, but soon (hopefully next post) you will see a picture of the completed socks. I’ll also then post a picture of the six colors of superwash merino that are now eagerly awaiting their turn on the sticks. I see lots of highs and lows in my future, as I begin the rather daunting task of the Fair Isle sweater that these six skeins will become.

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

It's Contest Time!

I think it’s about time to have another contest. Anyone up for it? Here are the details:

The Prize: A felted bag kit. The kit includes the Fearless Fibers yarn required to make the bag pictured below, although the colorway for the prize will not be the one in the photo. The colorway will be Stormy Night, pictured below the photo of the bag. The yarn in the kit is 8 ounces (325 yards) of worsted weight Mohair/Wool and 2 ounces (125 yards) of Small Loopy Mohair Boucle. The kit also includes the pattern for the bag.

The Deadline: Entries must be submitted before midnight on Monday August 28th. If you have a blog of your own, submit your entry by posting it on your blog and then submitting a comment here with a link to your entry. If you do not have your own blog, submit your entry directly into the Comments of this posting. Be sure to include your e-mail address when submitting Comments, so that I can get in touch with the winner. The winner will be announced on Wednesday August 30th.

Entry Requirements: To enter, submit a brief description of the dumbest mistake you’ve ever made in a knitting project. Entries will be judged by a good friend of mine who is an avid and experienced knitter and who does not know any of my readers. The winner will be the entry that she judges to be the best all-round stupid mistake, considering both the depth of the stupidity and any extra considerations, such as the funniest or most unusual knitting mistake among the entries.

So come on folks – it’s time to fess up to those embarrassing boo-boos! To get the ball rolling, I’ll tell you about one of my own that comes to mind.

A year or so ago, I knit a summer sweater of cotton/rayon ribbon, slightly cropped for a just-to-the-waist length, in stockinet combined with a thick band of embossed seed stitch diamonds around the bodice, with a zip-front closure. Since this was a sweater of my own design, I had no pattern to help protect me from my own stupidity.

I knit the back first and then moved on to the front right-side and finished that. I then moved on to the front left-side. I got about halfway through before I realized that I was knitting another right-side instead of a left-side. Sigh. Frog. Frog. Sigh.

I began again with the front left-side, shaking my head and tut-tutting myself for my stupidity. This time, I completed the ENTIRE second front side before I realized that I had done it again! I then had two entirely completed right sides.

Yes, I’m an idiot.

Fess up! How dumb are you?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back to Knit Talk

I’ve settled back into my routine after my recent vacation followed by the Saga of the Swallowed Partial, and so it’s about time we get back to some knitting and yarn talk!

Let’s begin with a photo of the new Superwash Sock Yarn colorway that I mentioned in a recent post. It’s called Thoroughbred and it’s oh-so-delicious! I love the rich brown tones, with further warmth and visual interest added with touches of sun-kissed, bronzy tan.

I’ve listed the first skein for auction on eBay and will be adding more to my eBay store inventory sometime tomorrow. There will be more listed on Etsy as well, after the first couple of skeins were snatched up within minutes of listing earlier today.

As to knitting news, I’ve been very, very, very slowly progressing on the knee-socks I talked about some weeks ago. I’m now halfway through the second sock, so the end is in sight. I’ll be sure to post a photo when I’m done.

My progress on these socks has been slow partly because of my time off for vacation during which I found no time at all to knit, but also because I’ve been savoring the knitting a bit – dragging it out like the last 50 pages of a good book that you just don’t want to end – because I had no next project firmly in mind and simply couldn’t handle the thought of having nothing at all on the needles!

The good news is that my next project is beginning to take shape in my mind. I suddenly have a burning desire to do some interesting work with colors, but this time using solids and color-charting rather than a variegated handpaint. There are now six 4-ounce skeins – each a different color – of sport weight superwash merino that will become my next sweater project, drying in my workshop. A Fair Isle sweater is beginning to materialize in my mind’s eye. Hmmmm … this should be fun! (Or horribly frustrating, depending on how well it goes!)

As I contemplated this new project, I began to think about the days before I dyed my own yarns and how frustrating I found it to buy multiple solid colors to work together. This frustration arose when I wanted to work with five or six colors but found my LYS lacking in enough variety of colors in any one yarn type to satisfy my needs. Usually, a shop will carry no more than eight to ten colors of any one yarn type. When one has grand visions of complex colorwork, that palette may not provide enough options. Can one really find five or six colors that work well together within a variety of only eight or so? Online options were not much more appealing either because of the variation that can exist in the way colors appear on one’s monitor. That slight variation of color from monitor to the real-thing is not troublesome when dealing with a single color or colorway, but when trying to coordinate multiple shades into a harmonious medley, a small variation can throw the whole plan askew. A shade of red that has more orange than expected can entirely destroy the palette. A blue that is more purple than expected may still be beautiful but may violently clash with another color selected. What is one to do?

I pursued this line of thought while dyeing my own set of six colors for this new project and it suddenly occurred to me that folks might find coordinated sets of semi-solids, such as the set I created for myself, an appealing idea. Imagine the possibilities? A Fair Isle sweater of your own, perhaps. Or how about a number of coordinated and complementary mix and match smaller pieces? What about mixing and mingling the colors using mitered squares or other modular shapes? The possibilities are seemingly endless!

And so, of course, I dyed an extra set of the six colors I’ve chosen for my own next project, which I will add to one of my stores when they’re finished. You can expect to see a photo of them here soon.

I’m so intrigued by this idea that I think I will create a few more color sets and test the waters to see if folks are interested in this. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does the idea of coordinated sets of this sort intrigue you?

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Trauma is Over + Other News

Just a quick post today with a couple of newsworthy items …

First of all, I’m pleased to report that the lost object described in my last post has returned after a wild journey through dangerous territory. I shan’t describe this morning’s exciting happenings to you, as I fear such a story would not elicit the giggles of the last post but would rather cause a wave of retching and heaving throughout the knitting community. Suffice it to say that the object is back and my husband is thankfully none the worse for wear. He may, however, never muster the courage to actually use the item again. We shall see. Hubby has suggested that we proclaim August 12th as a new holiday to commemorate The Passing of the Teeth.

The other newsworthy tidbit is a review of Fearless Fibers on Moshknit, a knitting podcast by the utterly fabulous Brooklynne. I can’t thank Brooklynne enough for the over-the-top wonderful review! If you haven’t listened to this podcast before, you may want to check it out. It’s a mix of music and knit talk that’s offbeat and entertaining. In my first few moments of listening, I wasn’t sure that it was the podcast for me, but the more I listened, the more caught up in it I became. When Brooklynne told her readers that reverse stockinet is just plain wrong for any garment (paraphrasing here), I knew I had found a kindred spirit.

Have a great day and get some knitting done!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Rebuilding my Etsy Store and Waiting for my Husband to Take a Crap

I returned home from vacation Wednesday evening and am trying to recover from the usual post-vacation exhaustion. Thanks to all who participated in the busy-work activity I left for you while I was gone!

Now that I’m home, I’m busy rebuilding my Etsy store, labeling and listing yarns, and waiting for my husband to take a crap. (My apologies if you find the word “crap” a bit offensive. I just couldn’t think of a better word to use. “Bowel movement” sounds as though I’m 80. “Poop” is far too cute to describe what my husband does in the bathroom. And the other obvious choice seemed to me even more crude than “crap.”)

Let me step back and explain, as there’s a bit of a back-story here.

When my husband and I were first dating, he lived in California and I lived in Oregon. We spent lots of time on the phone and got to know a lot about each other during those long conversations. In one conversation, he said to me, “You know that I wear a partial, right?” I paused before I replied that I did not, in fact, know that. Now the thing was, I also didn’t know what a “partial” was. The only thing I could think of was that it was some sort of toupee. I envisioned a partial toupee, perhaps yarmulke style, covering a circular bald spot at the top of his head. This troubled me a bit, not at the thought that the new love in my life was bald but rather that the new love in my life was the type of man who would hide his baldness with a hair-hat! But my error was quickly corrected as he explained to me that a partial is like a mini-denture.

Turns out that he is missing two teeth toward the back side of his mouth and has a little apparatus that’s basically two false teeth that slip in place and hook onto the teeth next to the missing spaces. Whew! I can live with that. So much better than a hair-hat!

About a year later, once my now-husband had moved up to Oregon to live with me, he and I took a drive out to the coast one day. The day slipped away from us and before we knew it, it was late at night and we were too tired to drive home, so we stopped at a motel for the night. We were unprepared for an overnight trip and so just had to make due with a quick stop at a convenience store for some toiletries.

When we arrived home the next day, my now-hubby suddenly realized that he had left his partial in the motel room. Not having his personal, overnight items with him he had put his partial into one of the coffee cups in the motel room before he went to bed and then completely forgotten it in the morning. We had quite the laugh as he called the motel and awkwardly told them that he had stayed there the night before and “left his teeth” in the room.

Everything turned out alright, as the maid had indeed found his teeth and the motel was able to ship them back to us. This was a relief, as he had only recently gotten this partial and it cost around $1,500.

When the package arrived from the motel, we found his teeth safe and sound, casually wrapped in a rather crumpled paper towel.

A couple of days later, my soon-to-be-husband tells me that he can’t find his teeth. Apparently, he had not immediately washed them and put them safely back in place in his mouth. He barely notices when they’re not in place, unless he’s eating something particularly chewy. Now, I love my hubby, but the fact is, he’s a bit of a big old lazy slob. Turns out, he had never even taken his teeth upstairs to the bathroom. He had left them wrapped in the crumpled paper towel in which they had arrived, lying on the kitchen table.

Well, needless to say, I had thrown my husband’s teeth away. They’re very lightweight and I didn’t even feel them when I picked up that crumpled paper towel and threw it away. And, of course, the garbage had gone out and been picked up that morning.

There was nothing we could do but shake our heads, laugh about it, and make an appointment for him to see the dentist about a new partial. He needed to go to the dentist anyway, as he had another tooth that was hurting him. It turned out that that tooth was also beyond hope and had to be pulled, so in addition to replacing his old partial, he needed to get another, smaller one to cover the new gap in his mouth. (Poor hubby. Still in his 30’s with his mouth beginning to look like an old man’s!) His dental plan covered part of the cost, but we still had to shell out $1,000 ourselves as well.

He got those new teeth a few months ago and has been less than thrilled with the work of this new dentist. He’s been back twice already to have them adjusted. Finally, the larger one seemed to fit alright but the smaller one was still not quite perfect and has come loose a couple of times when he’s eating.

Last night, my husband had a little snack of some cheese before heading up to bed. I was still up and watching David Letterman when he returned downstairs and sheepishly reported to me, “Uhhhhh … I think I …. Uhhhh … I think I swallowed my partial.”

At first I thought this was impossible. If you’ve never seen one of these things, it looks like a tooth but it has two prongs on each side that are about 3/8’s of an inch long that wrap around the tooth next to it, serving as little clamps. How can someone swallow such a thing and not even know they’re swallowing it?! Not possible, was my first thought. But on further consideration – keeping in mind that my husband has the neck and throat of a football player and wolfs down his food like a ravenous lion – well, yes, it suddenly seemed all too possible.

Our first reaction was concern. Imagine this thing passing through one’s system! I thought of those awful, metal prongs ripping at his insides! He called his brother, whose wife is a nurse, for advice. She put his mind somewhat at ease by explaining that the body normally “encapsulates” foreign objects so that they pass through the system safely. Children often swallow glass or other dangerous objects without any damage resulting.

So now we’re just waiting for my husband to take a crap. To make matters worse, he is not only going to have search for this item (ick!), but he is also going to have clean it, sterilize it, clean it, sterilize it, clean it, sterilize it … and then eventually put it back in his mouth!!! We just can’t spend another thousand dollars on another partial, if in fact he is able to recover the one he has temporarily “lost.”

I see lots of fun in my future, giving him a hard time about what a “potty mouth” he is and other such things. I do not, however, see much kissing in our future!

Ah well. Enough of my rambling story. I have lots of work to do to finish preparing and listing all of the yarn that dried in my workshop during my vacation. I’ve already re-stocked quite a bit of Superwash Merino Sock Yarn and have quite a bit more to deal with, including one new colorway that I’m sure you’ll love. It’s a lovely blend of warm brown tones, with hints of golden brown and sage brown throughout. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, although I have to say that brown is not my favorite color at the present moment.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Busy Work

I’m on a brief vacation right now, in SoCal for a family wedding and I thought I’d give my blog readers a little busy work while I’m away.

I recently watched a movie I haven’t seen in years – Foul Play with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. In the movie, there’s a scene where Goldie’s character comes home from work and sits down on her bed to do a bit of knitting. I always get a big kick out of seeing folks knitting in movies. I have no idea why it tickles me so much. It just does. In this movie, Goldie is knitting on very large needles, probably at least 19’s. She actually looks pretty comfortable with it and moves along at a good clip, leading me to believe that she probably has done some knitting her day. Later in the movie, she uses those gigantic needles as a weapon to fend off one of the bag guys. Go Goldie!

This got me to thinking of other movies where characters are seen knitting. I know I’ve seen a number of them, but I could only think of two others: America’s Sweethearts and Raising Helen.

In America’s Sweethearts, there’s a scene where Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack are in the forefront, with Julia Roberts sitting off in the background knitting away. In Raising Helen (at least I think it was Raising Helen … my memory is a bit shot!), there’s a scene where Joan Cusack is knitting. If I recall correctly, there’s an exchange between her and her husband in which he pokes fun at her for knitting and she defends the practice by citing how many “celebrities” are knitting these days. If my memory serves me, later her husband jabs at her again with some comment about how any minute a celebrity may show up to do a bit of knitting with her.

Anyhow, I put the question to you: What movies can you recall where a character knits?

No reason that I’m asking, other than to share the fun of wracking one’s brains for obscure memories of something entirely inconsequential.

Have fun while I’m gone!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Knitting for a Pear

When I was young, my mother told me that when she turned forty, she turned into a pear. She was over 40 when I was born, so I never saw her pre-pear figure, but I saw pictures and indeed she was a slim, trim gal until around the age of 40. She was never obese or anything near it, but after 40 she carried a nice little roll of fat around her middle and had an ample derriere and upper thighs to match.

I always assumed that my mother’s conversion into a pear was not the result of aging but rather was the aftermath of childbirth. She was pregnant for the first time at age 40, with my sister. I – her second and last child – was born less than a year after my sister. A couple of years ago I learned, however, that I was wrong in my assumption about my mother’s pear-shape resulting from childbirth.

My sister was always very thin. Much thinner even than I. She’s a couple of inches taller than I am but never weighed more than I did. She had five children when she was in her twenties and even after that remained very thin.

A few years ago, I was planning to visit my sister in Pennsylvania. She warned me in a pre-visit phone call not to be shocked when I saw her. She claimed that she had gained a fair bit of weight in the year or so since I last saw her. Knowing my sister’s figure, I assumed this meant that she had added two or three pounds. When I saw her, I was rather stunned. Now, don’t get me wrong. She is still most definitely NOT fat, but she had put on what looked to be about 20 pounds.

Being a sensitive and loving sister, I laughed and laughed. I did a bit of pointing at her mid-section. And then I laughed a bit more, as I sat sipping my coffee and eating a piece of cheesecake in my size 4 jeans. Her response? “Don’t laugh. It’s going to happen to you too.”

Sigh. Sigh. My sister was right. It started about three months before my 40th birthday and continued for until about three months after. I gained darn near 20 pounds. I turned into a pear.

So far, my new pear shape has not bothered me too much. I know that I’m still smaller than the majority of women my age and I’m certainly not one to get all tied up about how I look. I spend most of my time in sweatpants anyway, working away at my yarn dyeing. This weekend, however, I am attending a wedding and will need to dress for the occasion. OH NO!

I had no idea how difficult it would be to buy clothes when one is a pear. I hate to shop as it is, but found this latest shopping experience to be quite a nightmare. I tried on several beautiful dresses only to find that I looked as though I were hiding a child’s inflatable pool-ring under the garment. Eventually, I was able to find a dress that looks passably good on me. It’s a print in black and ecru with a fitted bodice and a looser-fitting mid section that gently expands into a slightly flaired skirt. At the bottom of the bodice is a thick ribbon-trim in black that gives some definition to my shape without clinging in any way around the midsection. It also has a sort of tie-thing at the chest that hangs down to the midsection and does a fair job of masking any bulges in the wrong places.

This horrific shopping experience got me to thinking about knitting for my new pear shape. I’ve been so busy lately that I don’t think I’ve made any new sweaters for myself in well over a year. I made a couple for my husband, but none for myself. This got me to thinking about the possibilities for knitting to camouflage my new spare tire.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still not a big girl. I assume there are plenty of knitting patterns out there designed specifically for big girls. But that’s not what I need. I need something for a Was-A-Small-Girl-Not-Long-Ago-And-Still-Is-Not-A-Big-Girl-Now-But-Needs-To-Hide-An-Inflatable-Tube-Around-Her-Middle-Kind-Of-A-Gal.

I’m intrigued by the idea of using color or stitch patterns to create the illusion I need. I know there is nothing new in any of the ideas I have, but they feel new to me as I’ve never had to contemplate this problem before. A few ideas brewing in my mind are …

Using color combined with modular knitting: I have a vision of doing a modular knit sweater, with squares and triangles mapped out so that at the midsection there are two triangles with their hypotenuse falling along the underarm seam and their points meeting at the center of my body. This would create two wedges of sorts around my midsection. If these wedges are in a darker shade than the squares fitting above and below them, I think it would work well to create the illusion of a narrower waist. Hmmmm…

Using varied cables: I’m also thinking about what possibilities there might be to use intertwined cables to create a slimming illusion. Perhaps a cable pattern where the cables are narrower around the midsection and then expand to a larger width as they move into the bodice. Hmmmm….

Using stitches and texture: How about a looser fit sweater with a stockinet body, with an inch or two of ribbing that actually runs up the sides (knit in the round, with the ribbing where the underarm seams would be). I think this might create a bit of a slimming illusion. The ribbing situated in this way would not be enough to cause the sweater to cling but it would gently slope inward toward the sides of my body, perhaps creating an illusion that my body is narrower than it really is. Hmmmmmm.

The possibilities are probably endless and I’m just beginning to think about this. Although it’s an interesting knitting challenge that I find entertaining food for thought at the moment, it is also a sad day. It’s happened to me. I am a pear.