2015.

Well well. Have I really skipped the entire year of 2015 without posting once? You would think I would have something to show for it – more money, a new person in my life, another excellent hobby – but no. Just same old me doing the same old stuff.

Truth be told, I did knit a bunch of things in 2015. Not as many as I’d like, of course, but there were a lot of long flights and some solid weekends upstate where I powered through a lot of projects. Was there a common theme?  Not especially, if you look at the FOs – mittens, throws, lots of hats. But if you look at the yarn, my objective is clear: get. rid. of. all. that. fucking. yarn.

I admit it, I have a touch of hoarding disorder. I like to think of it as Temporary Pack Rat Syndrome, since I like to hold on to a lot of shit and then one day I snap and throw it all away, because I truly like simplicity and lack of clutter. When we lived in Park Slope, I kept all my yarn in bags behind the couch, out of sight. But occasionally a guest would look back through the windows…and then down…and then shriek in horror. Rightfully so, there was a lot of creepy looking yarn back there. It was the physical manifestation of my compulsive yarn purchasing.

Around a year ago today, I had a “snap” moment and actually threw out a bunch of yarn. It was cathartic, but still there were a handful of skeins I just could not part with. Some I just had too much of, some was just too soft and beautiful.

Two projects worth mentioning: one, an easy knitting and highly customizable hat pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The fun part about this one is getting creative with stripes, patterns, earflaps and most notably colors. I got rid of ALL of my leftover skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (check out the new website on Debbie! said as Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, i.e., check out the big brains on Brad!). Here’s one sample of probably 5 hats I made.

I also had a lot of leftover Loops & Threads Cozy Wool super bulky yarn in various colors, but mostly an off-white, not quite ivory. This is essentially the Michael’s store brand, and it’s very similar to Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, which I adore. The Michael’s brand tends to be slightly less expensive, which is a little nuts because Michael’s is 50% wool and 50% acrylic, and Lion Brand is 80% acrylic and 20% wool. Oh well. Either way, the acrylic makes it nice and washable without a grody wet wool stank.

I’m continually impressed with the Purl Soho site and selection of patterns (not to mention their yarn – swoon – more on that in a subsequent post). Most of 2015 was mild and pleasant, not exactly the kind of weather where you’d need mittens (esp knitted in super bulky, where they turn out like oven mitts, see another project of mine). However, I knew the day would come, as it did, and these mittens have been invaluable during morning and evening dog walks. This is the Ancient Stitch Mittens pattern (they have a scarf version as well), and it was a pretty fun little pattern to learn. For whatever reason, my thumbs ended up in the middle of my palm, but that’s probably my mistake. They still work, and are still so pretty.

ancient_stitch_mittens

In conclusion (I guess in beginning and conclusion) 2015 was about being more efficient with yarn, and doing so via Joelle Hoverson and her Purl Soho empire. Not a terrible way to spend a year! And oh yes…one big change in 2015 – we adopted another labrador! Sweet old Rocky passed away in August 2014. We were terribly heartbroken, but our hearts have been mended by one large, sweet 7-year old chocolate lab named Mobley. We adopted him via Labs4Rescue, a fantastic group of volunteers who were able to secure a foster in Shreveport, LA, where he was found as a stray wandering the streets. Being heartworm positive, he was on the euthanasia list until L4R pulled him. Since January 17th, 2015, he’s been enjoying the good life of snuggling, napping, chewing bones and chasing squirrels in Brooklyn and upstate in Barryville. We absolutely adore him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bulk Fiction

One other big project I completed earlier this year was a huge-ass, extremely cozy (at times, downright hot) cardigan from a pattern I found on Ravelry, Kyoko Nakayoshi’s Bobble Cardigan. It’s almost incorbobble_cardiganrect to call it a cardigan, because it’s like wearing a gigantic blanket. It’s a Slanket, no question. But I loved the big shawl collar, and the bobbles were pretty fun to make – oddly enough, I think the bobbles actually took up a decent amount of yarn. I had originally knitted a men’s sweater (the rolled collar pullover from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts, thanks again, Joelle), but it was a bit long for Greg, and frankly hot as balls. I knew Greg would never wear it, so I frogged the whole thing and started over with the same yarn.

 

And perhaps this is my biggest issue, my obsession with Bulky weight yarn. Why do I like it? Am I a lazy knitter? It does knit up quickly, and I like to make throws and cardigans, but I never really like clothing items (or even hats) made from bulky yarn, because they make me look bulky. It’s not good to take on airplanes (or even to a local watering hole where I like to while away an afternoon in the winter), mistakes are spotted easily and it often fuzzes like crazy. Why do I gravitate towards it?

Alors, because: it looks better in the store. That’s it. I see those smaller, stringier yarns…they look small. Not warm. Skimpy. Spindly. Like things I don’t want to knit. Those bulky yarns…they’re voluptuous. Sumptuous. Supple.

I must avoid this temptation, this sinful approach to yarn that will only result in fat, less wearable projects. I solemnly swear, from now until…my 38th birthday, or something…I will not buy any more bulk yarn. It will not make me happy. It will not make me a better knitter. It will not make me voluptuous, sumptuous, or supple. Lord, or rather, Andrew Luck, give me strength!

 

yarn2


Rolling in the deep. And the cheap.

One of many things I like about my man-friend are that we agree that gifts are fun but experiences are better, so we decided to hit storied Half Moon Bay for his birthday weekend. It’s usually a stone’s throw from SF, but this weekend happened to be the Mavericks Invitational, in which super famous and floppy haired surfers convene around a world renowned spot for tasty waves. So while we made great time for the first 13 minutes of our trek, the last 5 miles were 2 hours instead of 2 minutes. Parking illegally, walking into the beer garden without a ticket, and we didn’t even see any actual surfing (they keep people from the beach for safety). However, it was sunny, hot, the 49ers won the NFC championship, and all was right with the world.

In addition to staying here, and having a room that had a real fire pit in it (well, outside of it), whalf moon bay bloody, Grege also tooled around the downtown Half Moon Bay, which was utterly delightful on a holiday weekend. We stopped in at the San Benito House, right on the main drag, lured in by the promise of the “Best Bloody Mary in the Bay!”. Hey, advertising works. Turns out, they meant HMB, which includes maybe one other bar/restaurant, but it seriously was a phenomenal bloody – the secret apparently being the addition of lots of smoked paprika. Greg certainly enjoyed it, even if the massive celery stalk proved somewhat challenging.

The other signal that HMB is a winning town in my book is that they had a yarn store. Fengari is full of yarn ideas, books, projects and has a ton of inventory in the back. The lovely ladies working there were kind and helpful, but not all up in your grill. Aside from the fact that I already had about a zillion projects underway, I simply could not help myself – I bolemon-dropught a beautiful bright lemon yellow yarn, with the idea that I might make the lovely swing sweater pattern I’d seen a few months ago in Knit Simple. Here’s the good news, the news of my improvement: I bought cheap yarn. I bought yarn which had a sign next to it that said, “Good for Felting!” which might as well mean, “Wipe your ass with this!” I don’t care – it’s a solid wool, slightly scratchy, and incredibly cheap Lamb’s Pride in bulky weight. If I am still going to battle my uncontrollable yarn urges, at least I will make them more economical. This color is called Lemon Drop, and it’s bright, but a slightly darker “lemon” color – as if you added some Dijon mustard to it. It’s actually 85% wool and 15% alpaca, so not entirely a hairshirt experience.

The Knit Simple Bell Sleeve Turtleneck is a really cute design, although I loathe the garter stitch. I really do. There, I said it. It looks JV. It looks dumb. It looks like worms worming around each other, especially in bulky yarn. So I decided it would stockinette, Lamb's Pridelook better in stockinette, realizing there would be a roll at the bottom, but thinking I could live with it. After, oh I don’t know, 25 rows or so, this bitch was still rolling. Rolled up like a rugelach, or a rug. Rolling, in a way that was just wrong. So, I’ve just taken it apart, and starting over. The question is, do I follow the wormy garter stitch pattern? Or do I do a tiny garter border and keep it in stockinette, as I wanted originally? What a cliffhanger! Tune in again in about 6 months to find out. See how I roll.


Holidaze 2: Elf Hat Edition

Man, what’s cuter than babies at Christmas? Nothing. What’s creepier than naked Santas in a Finnish nightmare about the legend of Santa Claus, aka Rare Exports?

Creepy Naked Santa

Me, crazy old lady, the only non-breeder in Park Slope, knitting things for my friends adorable childrens.

Hopefully I’m not as creepy as him. Actually he’s not even Santa. But watch the movie, it’s adorably creepy and very Spielbergian. In the best way possible.

In any case, I found a great pattern that inspired me to knit for the babies Ryan, Jackson, Barrett and Jacob. Best thing about knitting for babies? It takes about 2 seconds, or one long flight across the country or to another country (except eastern Canada). Actually, I take that back…I might have completed one to and from Toronto. Elf Hat with Effect

Elf Hat, Side ViewHow cute did this turn out? I got the yarn at Seaport, using hand dyed Malabrigo Silky Merino in Natural and Ravelry Red. I doubled the yarn to get the best effect and it worked great (I used size 7 round and DPNs as well). Cute as pie and fun. Will post some photos of the kids wearing them; the pattern comes in several sizes for several size baby craniums.


Eyes are bigger than my…hands?

My man-friend always comments/complains that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and we consistently over-order at restaurants. I do my best work at tapas, korean and sushi spots, which specialize in small plates and little tastes of things. At Peter Luger’s, I’ve unfortunately been known to plow through creamed spinach, bread, mashed taters, caesar salad, and bacon slabs before even considering my porterhouse.

Likewise: I’m plowing through Briar Rose, and now more fantasy patterns come to light Do I have knitting ADD?

Want: Ysolda’s Gretel beret. So cute! Not sure if my noggin could swing it, but I like it. Want: Ysolda’s FREE pattern, Cloud Bolero.

Cloud Bolero

Bah…must finish existing projects! It kinda felt good to finish those mittens over Christmas, even though I finished them in a larger needle size and are thus a bit mismatched.

All this happening with the background of Episode 7 of the New York documentary. Truly a riveting, enjoyable doc. This is the ep of the’50’s and ’60’s. Jane Jacobs is the hero, and she’s going head to head with Robert Moses, who is pretty much the devil. Love this.


Bring me the malabrigo, it pleases me.

I went to Stitch Therapy  on Lincoln and 7th ave in Park Slope last night…the nicest, coziest, most non-threatening yarn store on earth with the simple idea of going in and buying some size 7 needles I need for that upcoming Ysolda project I keep fantasizing about.

And then I went to the sale corner…and bought like 8 more chunks of Malabrigo. In a delicious creamy Orange Julius and then a couple in a pretty robin’s egg blue. These are the kettle dyed worsted weight yarns…they’re soft and versatile and the colors are beautiful. The sweater I’ve [temporarily!] abandoned was a beautiful cranberry kettle dyed Malabrigo.

Orange Julius…aka “Tiger Lily” Malabrigo kettle dyed    Stone Blue from Malabrigo    Cranberry for the old sweater…aka Garnet

Christmas presents, right? Too bad it’s December 13th and I’ve not even started. I have a problem. Stitch “Therapy” is not the kind of therapy I need for this.