Back to our regularly scheduled programming

Wow — lots of life has intervened since my last post! First the knitting. I had made (past tense) great progress on my Cable-Down Raglan from the latest Interweave Knits (to about row 14 or 15 on the yoke before separating out the sleeves. Then I went on a weekend church retreat where I could only knit in 10-15 minute increments except for one 45 minute stretch that was heavenly. It was during the latter I discovered I had too many stitches in one section and too few in another and I couldn’t figure out how to ladder down where I had increased, so……. ripitripitripit!

I’m now back to row 6 and I’ve written a row by row chart with the number of stitches required per section and I’ve promised myself not to knit when I’m sleepy. Don’t mistake me — I’m not resentful.  I LOVE the process of knitting and I want a garment I make and wear to be RIGHT.  Sure, no one else would ever know if I fudged an increase or decrease here or there, but I would know!

My only regret about my mistake is the wasted time. In college a procrastinating friend of mine had a plaque that said “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” I agreed back then, but now I take issue with the definition of “wasted” time. If I’d been more attentive, I would not have made the mistakes that required me to do-over. I think I could have learned my lesson in less time, thank you very much….

I had a fabulous, spiritually envigorating time at the retreat with many new and familiar teenagers. But I’m STILL recovering from sleep deprivation and just plain exhaustion. I had to hit the ground running on Monday for my teaching job and just got wearier and wearier. One fun fact from my job is a colleague just shared his blogs for two of his classes — he uses a subscription to Typepad — and I’m getting inspired to make one for my classes. No links to this one, though — I’d like to preserve some relative anonymity….

More later — I’m also behind in grocery shopping!


Falling Off the Wagon

Sigh …. I was doing so well, too. I had surpassed the 21 days it takes to establish a habit of posting daily. Then — life happened. On Saturday I had to be in 19 places at the same time from basically 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., spent a total of about 65 minutes in my house between those hours, and came home exhausted. On Sunday I got up to lector at the 7:30 a.m. mass, then came home, made breakfast, and crawled into bed again for a lovely long time. Sunday night my dh and I had a lovely belated Valentine’s Day dinner (can you say diamond earrings!?!?!). On Monday I did all the stuff on my holiday off that I should have accomplished during the weekend and … here I am.

Oh, well — no blood involved…. I can’t imagine anyone else in the universe cares whether or not I post every day except me. Actually, this takes the pressure off of having to maintain a streak. I allude once again to Dale Webster, who surfed EVERY DAY for twenty-nine years. Amazing….

My photos today are of spinning! I haven’t spun in months. Last night I went to a local Monday spinning meetup at Starbuck’s in Anaheim. This is Melyssa giving a spindle lesson to Jerry with Renata spinning on the right, as well as a shot of Melyssa’s show-and-tell handspun skeins. My favorite is the autumn colored tencel blend (wish you could see the shimmer) and also the tweedy wools. She has some really fun silk in there as well. Go visit Melyssa at Woolgathering and Jerry at Twisted Knitster for more pictures! My current bobbin is of practice Corriedale. I LOVE spinning it — it’s silky and short (i.e. challenging) but feels so lovely. It also still smells vaguely of sheep and the lavender I store with it. Very soothing….

What Not to Knit

Today is a take on one of my current favorite reality shows (of which there are very few) — What Not to Wear. It’s not that I enjoy mocking the taste of the fashion victims profiled (well, OK, I like that a little….), but I actually learn stuff about better style and color choices for my own particular shortcomings. I think I’ve begun dressing with a little more flair lately.

This is my latest purchase: a Johnny Was jacket from a boutique in Walnut Creek, CA. Note its suitability for conservative occasions … from far away! I LOVE the embroidered detail below:

As far as knitting goes, the first scarf is a regretful design of my own, all stockinette. I get now the thing about edges curling. It’s still a cute color, though. The second is a lesson learned — I used a 2×2 rib. A little better and, again, a cute color redeems it. What’s nice is that my daughter doesn’t seem to care about these scarves’ shortcomings — she just likes to wear them. I LIKE her fashion sense!


What the Girl Wants

Yes, I’ve knitted my daughter several scarves at her request, but what she really wanted was a bikini. I used the Lanikai Bikini pattern from Knitwhits in Cascade Fixation (98% cotton, 2% elastic). I must confess to adding more stitches to the bottom (hey, I’m her mom!). It’s swim-in-able, but she’s only used it for tanning.

She’s also requested a scarf in granny squares, but I’m having a hard time motivating myself to do that much crochet in about 5 different colors. We’ll see if it every becomes an FO….

I guess my philosophical point is that I’ll do virtually anything for my family … except knit something I don’t wanna! 🙂


What to Wear in Weird Weather

It’s been unpredictably freezing at night, sometimes foggy in the morning, and blastingly hot in the afternoon. This FO is one of my favorite layering items. It’s a Hooded Poncho in Lion Brand Homespun, the Agate colorway (I think). The pattern is free on the Lion Brand website. I originally shopped for the yarn at my LYS (local yarn store), but learned rapidly how snooty they are there when I asked for Lion Brand and they looked down their noses — “We don’t carry Lion Brand!” So I just ordered it from the internet. I don’t shop at the snooty store…. 😦

Sorry for the blurriness of the full shot (no willing relatives handy to take the shot). I hope you can see from the detail shot how the border is defined with a decrease.


Comfort Clothes

You know how mashed potatoes and gravy are comfort food? Well, my Elegant Gauntlets, from The Knitting Experience Book 2: The Purl Stitch by Sally Melville, are among my favorite Comfort Garments. First, they’re very cozy. I have teeny, skinny fingers with lousy circulation, so my hands are always cold. Second, they’re in a purply colorway, one of my favorite combinations (the colors from the detail photo are more accurate than the full length). Finally, they’re made from one of my go-to yarns, Koigu PPPM.

It’s been a rocky weekend, physically and emotionally, so comfort anything (food, clothing, huggable doggie) played a prominent role.


The Virtues of Babies!

I got to see my wonderful nephew this weekend. He’s now about 7 months old and growing like the proverbial weed. These photos are of the Baby Kimono I knit him out of (what else?!) Koigu KPPPM. The pattern was, from a Rowan magazine (I think).

I’m sad I can’t post photos of him right now — I didn’t take any with MY camera! Waiting for my relatives to upload….

Sorry so post a cliche, but … there is no happier sound in the world than a baby’s chortle, and no more optimistic sight than a baby about to master a new skill, like scooting backwards. My own kids are now teenagers, so their accomplishments are more … complex.


Kind Strangers (Act III) and Me

Just a few more details about my wonderful SP package. The variegated yarn is a handpainted from Amish country. I’m still waiting for inspiration to hit on the best use of this special yarn. The note pad was a nod to my love of the beach. And notice the details on the handstamped gift tags as well as the handmade stitchmarkers holding them together. Such awesome thoughtfulness.

The SP program showed me that knitters can connect through cyberspace the way they connect in person in knitting groups. A journalist recently visited one of my groups and inquired about our thoughts. If you are so inclined, please let me know YOUR answers. Below is what I wrote (why waste writing about knitting on only one audience?!?!?! ):

1. Age, name, occupation, where do you live?
I’m 49, my name is Teresa, I’m a teacher (high school and elementary) and lawyer by training, but I currently teach high school English, and I live in Irvine.


2. When/Why did you start knitting?
I started knitting in high school, having sewn and cross-stitched quite a bit. I continued briefly into college (when I also hooked rugs — there’s a boyfriend curse related to rug-hooking, too, BTW), then stopped until about 5 years ago. I resumed when I realized how many new yarns and free patterns were out there compared to years ago.


3. What do you think about younger women knitting, as it’s traditionally been viewed as a hobby for older women?
I honestly don’t think it’s all that unusual — there’s just been more media attention. After all, where do the “older women” of today come from? They were the “younger women” of yesterday. Also, blogging and the explosion of online and print publications have exposed more of the formerly underground knitting (and crafts) community.


That said, it’s true that many younger women have produced interesting avant-garde and downright risque patterns and products that would not have been publicized in prior years!


4. Does knitting relax you, comfort you, take the place of a bad habit, etc?
All of the above! Primarily it relaxes me, and I love to see something tangible and pretty from the time I spend on it. I love knitting while listening to the radio or podcasts or re-watching favorite movies. I also love to knit with friends, although only on projects that don’t require a lot of concentration. Unfortunately, I realize I often knit to procrastinate. Not a good thing… Also, except for books on tape, I don’t read as much as I used to.


5. What’s your favorite thing to knit?
That’s like trying to name who your favorite child is! Each type of project has its unique virtues. I was really into socks and gloves for a while. Now I’m focused on sweaters and cabling. I’m guessing lace will be my next obsession. The one pattern I’ve done three times now (just cast on my fourth) is Kate Gilbert’s iconic shawl, Clapotis.


6. Do you attend a lot of knitting clubs?
I’m pretty religious about UCISnB because it’s so close to my home. I love the camaraderie of two other local groups (All Things String and SnB at Suzoo’s), but haven’t attended as regularly. There is some overlap among the members of these groups. A new one is OC Pub Knitters, which meets at a pub. 🙂


7. Why go to a knitting club?
I first went to get some help. Now I go to chat and share ideas and enjoy vicariously other people’s yarn and book and gadget purchases. Knitters are such interesting, creative people! Those who attend knitting groups share a passion, but not necessarily a background or political orientation or taste in books or music or food. But the passion is more than enough to link us.


8. How much time per week do you spend knitting?
It varies. During finals week and before grades were due I was down to only a couple of hours. Made me extremely grumpy! On vacation I’d guess about 4-6 hours a day.


9. Do you always finish one piece before you start another?
I have NEVER finished one piece before starting another!


10. Any really good local knitting clubs or yarn shops everyone should know about?
To the above I would add The Sheared Sheep and the PurlSoho warehouse in Costa Mesa. Even Tall Mouse, Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s occasionally have some great buys.



More SP Kindness

This is another photo of one of my three packages from my Secret Pal from a few years ago. “Secret Pal” is a program whereby knitters are anonymously matched with other knitters for about 3 months. Each person completes a questionnaire about likes, dislikes, obsessions, wish lists, tastes in music, snack food, books, etc., then sits back and waits for gift goodness to come in the mail. There is a dollar limit and a commitment to something like 3 packages, depending on the exact program. Each knitter provides goodies for a differerent knitter than the Secret Pal assigned to her(him), and identities are revealed (and new friends made) at the end.

What I most loved about this package is the serendipity. See the luscious pink Peruvian Baby Silk? Within about two months, I ran across the perfect below-the-ankle sock pattern in MagKnits done up in — what else? — Baby Silk. How cosmic is that!?!?! (I’m out of town, but when I return, I’ll post a picture of the finished socklets.)

The Potato Chip scarf is one of my favorites to wear, and I’ve long since burned through the yummy pear-scented candle.


The Kindness of Strangers

I’ve been saving this photo for a long time. It’s of my very first package from my Secret Pal, way back in’s SP5 before participants were required to have blogs. My SP was awesome! She really listened to my preferences and — notice! — sent a great card with a surfer girl on it. The books were inspirational (I think I’ll do separate entries about them in the future) and the yarns were positively yummy. The lovely bumpy ones were part of my huge litter of Knitted Gift Bags a few Christmases ago. I’m still waiting for inspiration to hit for the other skeins.

Nuff for now cuz I’m out of town at my mom’s house. Thank goodness they have a wireless network!

BTW, public thanks are in order for the “strangers” who have been kind enough to comment on my blog. I appreciate your visits, but especially your feedback!


PS. The allusion in my title is Blanch DuBois’ poignant line from Tennesee Williams’ classic play, A Streetcar Named Desire. (It’s meant to be delivered ironically, not as pathetically as from Blanche!)