Aug 31, 2007

May I Present: Zee Clapotis

Within the knitting community there are definite sub-communities. Groups of us who knit certain projects, or repeatedly use certain techniques and patterns. Sock knitters, lace knitters, felting fanatics...and Those Who Have Knit the Clapotis. Since Kate Gilbert's Clapotis pattern came out in 2004, I'm going to guess that it has been knit tens of thousands of times in any yarn you can imagine. I didn't even try to resist the call.
My good friend Sean confirmed my guess that the Atacama alpaca I had in my stash would work well for this pattern, and he was so right. (All photos enlarge on click)

Finished Clapotis 083107 005
Needles: Knit Picks Options US 7 (4.5mm), 32" cable
Cast on 7/10/07 - Cast off 8/30/07

Finished Clapotis 083107 010
73" long x 25.5" wide when slightly stretched
I knit 5 extra increase and decrease repeats.I knit the straight rows as in the pattern.

Finished Clapotis 083107 008
Auracania Atacama Alpaca - 100% Alpaca (110yds per 50g skein); Color #506
Dropping the stitches took extra work because the alpaca fibers are anything but slippery.
To create the ladders I had to manually take each stitch down row-by-row. It was worth it.

Finished Clapotis Hijab Style
I love the length on this. I can have my ears, arms and most of my back covered all at once.
These photos show the Clapotis unblocked, and I think it will stay that way.

Finished Clapotis with Shawl Pin
I used a row by row spreadsheet of the pattern to keep on track. I used the suggestion to purl the stitches that were to be dropped, which worked great, but I still used stitch markers all the way across -just in case.

Finished Clapotis Back View B&W
Yarn Sources: 6 balls at Knit New York (January 2007); 4 balls from EBay (June 2007)
Used 9 balls total (990 yards)

Elephant Shawl Pin
Silver & Wood Elephant Shawl Pin
Source: Stitches Midwest (I have misplaced the vendor's name)

Finished Clapotis 083107 007

There are a few other photos available in a slideshow here. As always, if you're planning to make one and I can help in any way, let me know. I've got the row by row instructions available for sharing.

Once again, a huge thank you to my wonderful hubby for not only taking photos of this project, but for going that extra step by complementing this project profusely and actually asking me if I was ready to have some pictures taken of it this morning. I'm a lucky lucky girl.

Aug 30, 2007

My Gift Swift

It's so thrilling when your friends who don't knit (yet) still fully support your craft and will even contribute to your already obvious obsession. Such has been the case with MyKelli (not her legal name of course). A few weeks ago, she sent me the absolute coolest kit for a yarn swift. Well, the girls and I finally had some time to put it all together, and this is the result:

New Yarn Swift 011

Here's a link to the slide show of our process putting it together, click this neat little button, then click Play in the top left corner of the slideshow window:

View slideshow


BIG HUGS for MyKelli! You sure do make this friendship thing easy.
I hope you have such friends or family members that keep you reveling in the knit!

Aug 28, 2007

Catching Up

Lookie what I got!!


I was nominated for this esteemed list by both Del and Sharon - both RGBs of the HIGHEST order I assure you. Check out their blogs, you'll see what I mean. Thanks ladies!! Right back atchya! Now it's my turn to pick 5 (such a short list) so I can pay this forward...

Kelli - she makes the commonplace, and sometimes the aggravating seem downright hilarious. It doesn't hurt that she's brilliant and funny in real life too.
Nancy - she's just too loving, crafty, creative, industrious, and gorgeous NOT to love.
Adrienne - a scrapbooker, knitter, seamstress and a great photographer. Yeah, she's got skillz.
Schrodinger - I can't even tell you how many of her projects are now in my queue because of visits to her blog. Take some time to drool over what she's making with yarn AND fabric, you won't be sorry. ETA: She's got a comment contest going on over there ending 9/4- head over quick!
Juno - it's not only the fact that she's a great fiber artist and spinner; this is Just. Good. Reading.

There are so many great female bloggers out there, I'm proud to have you in my Must Read list. It really is hard to narrow it down to a few. Keep at it - I'm enjoying the company quite a bit!

Second housekeeping item, another fabulous blogger, Doulicia has tagged me to tell 8 secrets about myself:
1. I speak French to myself sometimes, just to see if my pronounciation is still worth a darn.
2. I LOVE to dance to loud music - alone or with company, and for no reason at all
3. I prefer to do house work when I'm on the phone with someone I like talking to
4. I have 2 herniated discs
5. I once tried to smoke a QTip (I was young and naive to say the least)
6. I have the tendencies of someone with ADD, but I refuse to wear the label
7. Most nights I wake up naturally after 4 to 5 hours of sleep, regardless of the time
8. I get that deja vu feeling very often, sometimes once a week

Phew! Now I tag these 6 people to make their list and pass it on:



Aug 25, 2007

Keep On Keepin' On

Just back from a week in New Jersey - my regular monthly face time visit at HQ. "Hi! How are you? Fantastic!! Glad to hear it. Please keep sending the paychecks. Thanks!" It usually goes something like that, with a lot of other fun stuff in between.

Highlights on this trip include a night out in New York city; a belly busting dinner at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant; four hours of club dancing (yes, mommies can still do that once or twice a year); seeing
My Kelli again after a long while; and knit night with KR, Maureen and Deborah. Meeting Deborah in person was an extra special treat because not only is she a talented blogger, knitter and supermom, she is someone I just knew I would love hanging out with, and I did! She's got some great stories too, so I look forward to the next time we get to take over the Barnes & Noble cafe.

Deborah & Me _2August 07
Bookstore Knit Night with Deborah

With all the hub-bub of the week, I actually managed to do some finishing. Harry Potter #7 is now under my belt. Mau described it best - "Epic". It's been a long time since a book made me cry (in 3 places!) and laugh, and feel full at the end. It was just enough. I admire Ms. Rowling immensely for finishing out this series in such an excellent manner. If you haven't made it through this one yet - I advise you to hang on through the first half, because the second half is well worth the details in the beginning.

I also finished these

Stockinette Socks
Yarn: Lane Cervinia Forever Jacquard
Pattern: Simple Stockinette, CO 64sts for size 8; slip stitch heel
Needles: KnitPicks Size 1 (2.5mm)
Techniques: 2 circ & magic loop methods

In other news - I'm nearing the finish line on the Clapotis. Let's hope the pattern finishes before my yarn does, yikes! You can see the difference in dye lots in this shot, but I think that will be somewhat less obvious when I have it on. I look forward to having this with me on those plane rides to Jersey this fall.

Clapotis Progress 082507 004

Many, many thanks to all of you who chimed in at the last Round Table discussion. More topics to come, so invite a friend over to contribute. I'm headed to Fort Worth, TX Monday morning, so I'm off to dig for my next travel project. I've got the itch for another raglan pullover, or maybe another pair of socks. It seems I'm never short on options, just sadly short on time.

Have a great weekend!

Aug 17, 2007

Planned Patternhood: Who's Got Next? Let's Discuss...

As with any hobby, it becomes easier and easier over time to accumulate the tools and notions that you crave need to continue working your craft. I started collecting needles of all different sizes before I even worked up a stash. Then when I started whipping the stash into shape (humor me, ok?), and I started collecting online pattern links instead; all with the intention of lining up a nice comfortable queue of Things to Make Next. Over time, I found that it wasn’t just what I was buying that would change, it was also how I was choosing what to knit and why. Initially, I chose every project with one rule in mind, it must be a project that would force me to learn and use a new technique, no repeats. That fizzled when I ran into things like steeks, and entrelac, and other skills that I still need more gumption to try.

KK & Chix 010

Last year, I worked myself into a frenzy about knitting gifts for everyone I could think of on my gift list, so my decisions about what to knit next were all based on finding things that those recipients would like. That chaos died down earlier this year (phew!) when my stash reached the Reality Check point and I started my stashalong Yarn Diet. At that time, I decided to choose my next project based on what stash yarn I had. Once again though, to overcome the withdrawl of not buying new yarn for months, I turned instead to stacking up a formidable pattern stash;and so the cycle continues. As a result, my current mehtod is to control my queue by only knitting from(a) patterns I have already purchased or downloaded and (b) yarn I already have in my stash.

Clapotis Progress 81607 003

How about you? How do you decide what you’re going to knit next? Is your To Be Knit list already so long that you’ve got things to fill the needles from now until the sheep come home? Or are you more inclined to serendipitous stitchery – choosing whatever project strikes your fancy next? What usually dictates your choice – your stash? Your pocketbook? Your slightly overbearing, but ever so charming and always-seems-to-be-right local yarn store owner? Are you a follower of a particular designer, or are you more inclined to make multiple projects from your favorite knitting magazine/website? What about a quest for skill? Does anyone out there knit according to a list of specific techniques they want to conquer?

Janies' Socks Progress 81607 001

Along these lines, what kind of projects take priority in your queue? Do you mostly knit any gift items first before considering what you’d like to snuggle up in next? Or are you more concerned with the influence of the season? I know plenty of us here in the south can’t even consider the brush of wool against bare skin in our laps from the months of May until September.

Yarn Stash 007

And lastly – what is it about a pattern that makes you say at some point – “Yep. That’s it; that’s the one. Time to cast on!”? For me, a good set of photos and some well-planned styling for a pattern will at least make me read further into the materials, gauge, and size information. If something in my mind says “Hmmm. I can see that on <>", I’m already a good part of the way to adding that item to the list. Recently, I do find that I’m even more compelled by pictures of “real” people in their handknits. Some things that I would never have considered before have since been added to my queue because of FO shots from a blog, or from Ravelry.

So clue us in…How do you decide

What’s Next on Your Knit List?

Aug 13, 2007

Stitches Midwest Recap

Elsebeth Lavold
SMW Yarn 005

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Stitches events, these are large annual knitting conventions that are held at 3 different locations around the country, and sponsored by XRX, the company that publishes Knitter’s Magazine, hundreds of knitting books, and puts on annual knitting course retreats called Camp Stitches. The events take place in the spring, late summer and fall in the West, Midwest, and Southeast. Some of the event involves what you might expect from a convention – vendors fill booths from one wall of the convention floor to the other and they have colorful and tempting displays of yarn, raw fiber, needles, spinning wheels, and drop spindles. There is also a huge amount of knit and crochet wear accessories – buttons, purse handles, shawl pins, and beads – oh my! A feast for the eyes. To supplement the eye candy, there is brain candy too. Talented teachers and knit celebrities teach 3 and 4 hour classes covering everything from the basics to the most advanced techniques. Since this is a widely promoted event, you just don’t know who you might run into, take a class with, or learn from. It’s a delight.

Chicago Visit  August 07 017Chicago Visit  August 07 018

This year, I chose to attend Stitches Midwest, and decided to do it right. See, the first time I went – I was a very new knitter and I fell into ALL the pitfalls you would expect. I bought WAY too much yarn (that’s to be expected, it nearly climbs into your bag the instant you pass the registration desk); I bought on impulse, so I got one and 2 skein wonders that I still haven’t been able to align with a project (but goodness me, they are pretty); I didn’t take any classes, which meant that once I got home, I didn’t know much more about knitting than before I went there. There was one thing I did right though, and that was to attend with friends, but also reach out to complete strangers. It was a great time of affirmation that this is not in fact a strange hobby, and that the diversity of my knit sibs is a great thing to behold. So this year, I did what I could to do a little better and to relish the experience even more because of it.

Homework Swatches

I registered for two classes – Advanced Finishing, and Overcoming the Fear of Cutting. I can’t say enough good things about my instructors Margaret Fisher and Nancy Bush (yes that Nancy Bush). It was a major bonus to know that I could now understand the techniques that were being taught to us, and it was a joy to see the lights go on for my classmates around me, just as they were going on for me too. One of these days, I’ll share a couple of the techniques I learned with some more photos so that I can pay forward what I gained from that experience. Fiber celebrity sightings were plentiful too. We had our photos taken by Franklin for his 1,000 Knitters project, and we were fortunate enough to get bumped in line by Sally Melville and Nancy Bush - hey, who wouldn't let them get cutsies??

SMW 07 034
Shawl Pin 001>

As for the yarn buying? Well – let’s be honest, this trip was planned since February, and the yarn budget was outlined and secured even before food and transportation were considered. Did I buy more yarn than last year? Nope. Did I buy more sweater quantities of good stuff this time? Yep. Did I buy with specific projects in mind and check quantities, content and gauge? You bet. Did I completely indulge and succumb to some pretty scrumptious goodies that I have no idea what I'll do with? Come on people, I’m a knitter. I will say this, I’m writing this on the plane on the way home, and I think that whether or not my hubby is actually going to come and collect me from the airport is going to depend on whether or not he takes a peek at the old checking account before he leaves out. If you don’t hear from me for a while, I’ll be at Gate C12 fondling the yarn in my carry-on. ETA: Made it home, but the unpacking was done covertly. I'm no fool.

O-Wool Cotton Yarn Barn Alpaca DK
Another benefit of attending Stitches Midwest is that the Chicago area and surrounding burbs are a GREAT distraction from yarn overindulgence. We met up with a few other friends, locals and out-of-towners and enjoyed some of the sites and tastes of the city. Fabulous breakfast at Anne Sather (see the featured menu item from my last post); a picnic in Millennium Park listening to Mahler’s 5th symphony; a long overdue return trip to Chix with Stix to hang out with KK from the KnittingHelp Forum; and the best chicken wings I have ever eaten (bring on the cornbread, please) at Famous Dave’s BBQ.

KK & Chix 002

KK & Chix 009

The icing on it all was sharing it with KR, who is a wonderful travel buddy, navigator, and roomie. She surprised me with the most gorgeous shawl pin for my CPH while I was distracted by some Rowan Big Wool. Thanks Kat!

KK & Chix 003

What else can I say, except, if you can plan for it and attend one of these, I highly recommend it. There is such an instant and genuine kinship that you could just stroll around for hours admiring people’s projects, or you can sit and knit at a table of complete strangers, and not feel strange about it in anyway, or you can fill your days with classes and courses for the things that you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t.

As for me, my 14 month yarn diet begins now. I feel really happy with what I brought home, and I’m going to commit to turning it into things that I will love even more. If it works out well, I’ll be attending Stitches East in Baltimore next fall. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Aug 12, 2007

Full Disclosure

Hello all, I'm blogging "live" from Chicago, IL...home to one of the great knitting events, Stitches Midwest. My girlfriend and I came for a long weekend to take some classes, buy some yarn, see the city, buy some yarn, visit with friends from my past, buy some yarn, and eat some great Chi town food, then buy some more yarn. I'll have more to tell once I'm home and things are settled a bit, but for now, here's a photo glimpse of our trip so far (all photos enlarge on click):

My New Knit Bag _

Blue Sky Alpacas - Organic Cotton 2
Chicago Visit August 07 004

Chicago Visit August 07 011

Back out here very soon. Be well!

Aug 8, 2007

Please Welcome Guest Blogger - Mau

From time to time, I'm going to ask Bloggers who's prose I enjoy to grace this space with their words. The internet allows us some far-reaching connections, but there are still many of us who haven't yet been introduced. I'm hoping to make some of those introductions here by featuring a guest blog post.

This time around, I requested some words of wisdom from a long time friend of mine, and he kindly agreed. The best thing I can say about Mau and his blogging is that he lives what he writes, and there is life in his writing.

Once you've read this post, visit him at his site, and comment there at will. There is great material to enjoy and get you thinking. Thank Mau!

Free Your Mind, and the stuff will follow.
In the United States, at least, the first thing they do to us when we are born is attach an ID band to our wrist. That ID band becomes our first keepsake. Our first item of Stuff. At least, it used to be that way. I read an article a couple of months ago that talked about mothers keeping their positive home pregnancy tests. This is essentially medical waste, and the article mentioned some mothers who carried theirs around in their purses in a toothbrush travel container.

Now, I'm not waving a flag against Stuff, mind you, because I am a Stuff-collector also. I had a phase when I was collecting wooden cigar boxes. I just liked the idea of having a reasonably solid wooden box around to put Stuff in. I must admit that some of them have come in handy, but for what? I have Stuff to hold my Stuff? That's just crazy.

The outdoor garden where my wedding reception was held last year had a little corner with a raised platform in the middle covered with slate tiles. Some of the tiles were yielding to the elements, and were beginning to break apart. Every time I visited the garden, I took a little slate stone chip, and slipped it in my pocket. Now at least one of them is sitting in my medicine cabinet.

I like books. Love them, in fact. I resolved a couple of trips ago that whenever I traveled inside the US, I would find a Black Bookstore, and buy a book from there. I'd write the name of the Bookstore and it's town along with the date inside the cover of the book. A keepsake that contributes to the Mr. and Mrs. Mau Library! All in one! And it fits in carry-on! Who can beat that? But after the book is read, it just turns into something to collect dust and take up space and make boxes heavier when it comes time to move. One day, we won't even need paper books. Everything will be stored electronically. What will I do then?

Yet and still - I am not sorry. I love my stuff. LOVE. My chewing-gum stand that my mother gave me a few years ago. She found it in some little shop when she was traveling. It reminded her of when I was a kid and used to store gum on my bedpost during the night when I wasn't quite done with it. Yes. I did it. I've never used that stand, but I still have it. Two containers full of rocks that served as centerpieces for my best friend's wedding. I drove that stuff all the day down from D.C. to Atlanta. Right through a hurricane.

Well, those rocks will probably leave soon. Why? Because even though I am not entirely Stuff-Repentant, I am trying to be Stuff-Progressive. Since my wife and I combined our Stuff, this house just seems a little smaller. And we plan on starting a family (one day), and that's CERTAIN to generate more stuff so something has got to give.

Are you ready for a change? I'm going to give you a simple method that you can use to put you on the path to being Stuff-Progressive.

Every time you prepare to take something into your home, or even to purchase something to take to your home, ask yourself: "Do I really want/need this in my house?"

That's it. If the answer is no, don't buy it. If the answer is no, then put it in the trashcan in your garage and it'll be gone within a week when the trash is picked up. If the answer is no, then maybe make a stop past the Salvation Army or the Goodwill and donate it. That's. It.

It'll be hard at first. I just got back from a trip to Puerto Rico. I did some shopping, but couldn't find anything that I wanted to give to my wife, or even something decorative that I wanted in the house. So I didn't get anything. I did, however, find something for my sister-in-law. How crazy is that? I get a gift for my SIL, but not my own wife? The house didn't take on any new clutter, though.

Yes, folks. We are in a war against clutter. I'm a pretty big offender, but I'm trying. You should try it too. Free yourself from your clutter. Your life will feel...more free (free-er?). Your mind will be more open. Your eyes will be more relaxed when they don't have to pick through a zillion useless things to get to the thing you really want.

I'm going to give you a hint. If you come across something that you really want to keep, but find it difficult to get rid of it, take a picture. It'll last longer. Whip out your trusty digital camera and take some photos. Upload those photos to Flickr or send them to yourself on Google or something. DO NOT burn them to a CD. That's just more stuff. Got it?

Try it.

Know What I'm Sayin'??

Aug 7, 2007


Just when I started to think I had this time management thing licked...

~ An Ode to Joy~

You know the drill, no spoilers please (and I don't mean for the IK - I cracked that open before I got it in the house).

Coming soon... a
guest blogger will grace this space, and we'll have ourselves another go 'round the Discussion Table!