Monday, December 29, 2008

Post Holiday Totals

Merry Post Christmas, all you ether-readers!

Christmas is well and truly done at our house with the news that all those who visited have arrived back home safely. We had a full house--9 people-- and this was the first Christmas that my husband and I hosted together. The gathering was a meld of my and my husband's families.

Man, am I tired.

All I have managed to do tonight is to wash some laundry (don't mention either folding it or putting it away.) My brother was the last to leave this morning. My husband took him to the airport at 4:45 AM. I dragged myself out of bed and went to work. This next week will be one of enforced sobriety since I will be on call starting tomorrow, so I am having one last glass of red wine-- killing the last open bottle of the holidays.

Christmas Eve was a simple meal of cracked dungeoness crab, superfluous salad, bread and tons of butter. I guess this is a Humboldt county tradition. I got my crab at Murphy's Market in Bayside where someone told me they buy their crab fresh from a coworker's husband. Well, let me tell you, wherever it came from, it was DAMN fine crab.

Christmas day's menu was as follows:
1) Crisp Apple Scented Roast Turkey with Cider Calvados Gravy
I changed it up a bit in that I swapped sage for basil (I useda total of 3 Safeway plastic packs of fesh sage. Basil and turkey as a taste combo just doesn't work for me like sage and turkey. I was the cook, so it's my prerogative, baby!)
2) Stuffing: dried croutons, celery, onion, cremini mushrooms, poutry seasoning, chiken broth. My aunt's basic recipe. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!
3) Buttermilk mashed potatoes
4) Spiral sliced ham
5) Pea salad with sour cream, bacon, and cashews
6) Cranberry orange walnut relish-- this stuff was GREAT. I used white sugar (not substitute), 15 oz of cranberries, not 12, and put 1 tsp cinnamon in it. I also chopped the larger pieces up a bit after it was cooked. I made it the day before and it did get better with age. It had a very small hint of sour cherry flavor to it that was delish with both the turkey and the ham.
veggie sides from our farm based on what was available:
7) Shredded leek salad
8) Kale salad with spicy almonds, olives and roasted peppers
9) Roasted beets with orange vinaigrette
10) Cider glazed brussels sprouts
11) leek, onion and shallot gratin
It actually all turned out great. The onion gratin didn't make it to the table, so we dug into it it the next day. Dessert was apple pie I made using apples from our backyard trees and a yule log my mother-in-law brought. Everyone ate until they hurt and drank to the "I-love-ya-man!" stage. Or most of us anyway. That's me in the front end of the table and my sweetie and the far end--the Host and Hostess.

The Christmas knitting project count was 8 of nine projects finished. My brother came up with the short end of the stick: his scarf was only 8 inches long Christmas Day. Oh well. It's first on the queue. Here are some pics of the projects I knit up.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

Well, the Thanksgiving holiday is almost here. Hubby and I leave tomorrow for a trip north to Whidbey Island to hang with my fabulous (yes really--I am SOOOO lucky!) mother-in-law. We are taking the long way north with a couple stops along the way. We are meeting our pal Q in Newport, Oregon at a yarn store. Yep! That's right! She knits. Even though she came from my Other Half's side of the relationship, Q and I have bonded over our mutual love/addiction to fiber. Out of deference to my husband we have promised not to spend too much time in the yarn store. Uh huh.

So here I am actually packed and ready to go and there's even time for a blog and hot chocolate! This is good as work has been a zoo (deep understatement) and this feels more like a jail break than a vacation.

We have gotten a break in the weather in HumCo so PW and I took a hike last Sunday on the Coastal Trail out of Requa. Man. 75 degrees in mid-November. Wow! We did about 6 miles and it was GORGEOUS! Check out these pics! Here is the trail as it starts out from Requa. It was hard to tell which was bluer, the sea or the sky.

Here is Crescent City through the trees like a little fairytale town:

This was our turn around point/picnic spot and my favorite part of the trail, Hidden Beach:

It's pushing up daisies. It's gone to meet it's maker. It's joined the choir invisible. This is an ex crab!!

The light was just amazing, lighting up the green of the foliage in a last trailing gasp of warm Summer weather:

And here's the Santa Cruz mascot, out for a stroll:

This picture shows the outflow of the Klamath river. even at fairly low water, it flows out to sea with a fair amount of power, hence that arrowhead shaped current.

On the way home, we drove past Big Lagoon and the and a lovely gold setting sun, capping a perfect day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall in a Big Way

Greetings from Eureka! I have been going nuts taking pictures in the garden over the last week and a half as things transition. Elsewhere there are blizzards, but here a few vestiges of Summer are mixing with Fall. Here is Cappuccino looking suitably cat-grumpy on the damp back lawn during a weather break.

Well, the rainy season has arrived on the North Coast. The storm door doesn't open here; it gets blown off its hinges. We have had about a week of solid wet since the first of November and it is likely to stay that way through March. Eureka is the dry spot in HumCo at 37 inches of rain a year, but there is a reason the redwoods here are so steroidally huge: it is damned wet here. Foggy in Summer, rainy in Winter. You don't have to drive too far either North or South before the precipitation totals get into the 80-120 inches per year range. Yeouch.

Still, that wet is good for my little cottage garden out back. I swear every time I poke about out there, I find some new, funky, weird plant peeking out. We are Sunset Western Garden book zone 17, which is the same as my hometown of Fremont, but the things I can grow here tend to be more Pacific Northwest than Bay Area. Rhododendrons THRIVE here. We have two mondo pink rhodies that explode in Spring. The rhodies hint at a more acid soil than I am used to and this really is a transition zone between the Mediterranean climate of coastal California and the deep wet green climate of the Pacific Northwest.

There are a few things growing here that are more warm-weather based. Despite the foggy coastal climate, we have a thriving lemon tree and a producing grapevine (although we were essentially Summer-less this year and were consequently grape-less.) The centerpiece of the garden is a fairly large Japanese maple that is pretty generic looking when it is green, but it has gone ape this fall, having turned almost radioactively red. Check these pics out:

I took this picture just a couple of days ago using a flash. This is looking out the back door of the Solarium. The greenery on the far right is one of the big pink rhodies in the corner of the yard along the fence.
Here are a few isolated leaves that show how really red the leaves get. This was taken using ambient light, although I tweaked the light levels in Photoshop. The color is pretty true to the leaves.
Another spray backlit by an overcast setting sun. The leaves in that light seem to glow.

Last, but certainly not least, our clematis have continued to bloom, despite the growing cold. (although the recent rain has rather bashed about these blossoms.) We have another lavender clematis blooming as well, see here. The late season bumblebee was quite torpid and so posed for a long time for the picture. It's nice to get a last gasp of blooms before we get our wet green winter. We are rather spoiled here for flowers, but everything needs to rest. Still, we are going out with fireworks. Happy Autumn, everybody!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mental Blocking

Have any of you out there in cyberspace started a project and noticed that as it goes along, you fall into a very comfortable rhythm? With such projects, I find that coming to the end, while yielding a pleasing finished product, I feel a sense of anticlimax. The more pleased I am with the item, the stronger my sense of anticlimax is. I have found that when I come to the end of a project, I tend to hesitate. I have several projects right now that are mostly done.

When the knitting is over, what remains is the blocking and sewing, neither of which are as enjoyable to me as the knitting portion. Part of this is that blocking at least is something that you can't start, pause and then finish later. The process of blocking a garment also requires space and equipment, neither of which are readily accessible to me at the moment. Even after a year and a half in my current house, I am still missing things (in this current instance, the bulk of my straight pins are not in my thread case. Huh. Now where the HECK have they gone?!) and my house is really quite small, so there is no space except the main room floor to spread out in and do my fiber-y thing.

A case in point: I just finished blocking a wrap this afternoon that I have been sitting on for at least a week. I have to say that I definitely think I would have been better off with a decent blocking board, which I don't have. NOt having a board, I tend to use towels or a thick blanket to absorb the moisture that comes with the way I block my sweaters. I also do double duty by washing the pieces in Eucalan woolwash as weeks of handling and even dragging the project around tends to leave it, shall we say, less than fresh. Most of my sweaters don't LOOK dirty, but the handwashing bucket tends to show the unseen dirt. Eucalan is easy to use because it is no-rinse and it freshens and mothproofs the wool as well as cleaning it. Then there comes the laying out, pinning, even steaming if needed (especially for cabled and fairisle all-wool sweaters--the fabric looks much more even if an iron is used to indirectly steam after washing and pinning the damp garment.)

So I made do this time around with a terry cloth bath sheet that was not quite long enough and what pins I had. I got it done, but it was awkward in execution. Having this project done leaves a little void, too. This wrap was my friend for more than a month and I really enjoyed watching it bloom and grow. Now it's done. What I have to face is what to do next.

I have several projects that are staring me in the face: Zarah that has been bugging me for months, the currently unearthed Grant Avenue vest which I plan to rehab, K's blue lace sweater that I have been stuck on literally for 3 years that keeps submerging in moves and distractions (stinking I-cord collar that I just cannot get right--do I try to make it work or rip it and make something else with it? Starting over is either a cop out or the best possible solution and I am hesitating because I am not ready for another disaster). I have two bags I have started (one knitted by me and the other a thrift store felt job) that are at the stage of dragging out my sewing machine to make up linings and add on all the fiddly findings which gets back to the concept of focused and labor-intensive work. Christmas projects that loom--I have done one, two are in progress and and at least 5 more are waiting. I think I must be nuts to have planned so many things, but I have never really made my family things before and it is well past time to do so.

The bottom line is I dawdled over the wrap because it was going well, and it kept me from having to face some knitting demons that are lurking on the periphery of my creative consciousness. It's that fine line between comfort and obligation with my crafting projects. Add to that a desire to get my hands on many things at once and it makes for a little A.D.D. induced catatonia. Still, having something in my hands sure beats the boredom! And lest you all think that all I have done today is block my wrap, I also made putanesca pasta sauce, borscht and green tomato pasta sauce in an attempt to beat some of the vegetables from our CSA farm into edible submission. Now if only the weekend were four days instead of two...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fit To Be Tied: A knitting Saga; Part II, Grant Avenue Hell

As promised, I am doing a recap of the two knitting project thorns in my side from 2008. One was taken almost to completion, and the other is in progress, circling the airport until I have time and stomach to finish it.

This blog is about Alice Starmore's "Grant Avenue" vest from her Pacific Coast Highway book. I have knit several Starmore projects over the years and I am a huge fan of her work. I think her designs have mostly tended to weather well in terms of fashion. When the partnership between AS and the Broad Bay Company went belly up several years ago and her yarns were no longer going to be made, I went into a frenzy of buying as much of her yarns as I could afford--enough of the proper types and colors for several projects. One of these projects was the aforementioned G.A. vest done in Scottish Campion.

Once I was finished with school and had started my new career, I finally had real time to tackle this project. I had swatched this in 2005 along with another AS project in Scottish Campion yarn that I completed successfully--the Rambling Rose pullover from Stillwater (the details of this project are posted on my Ravery site). 2006 had been a wild year for me, what with graduation moving out of state, marriage, a new job and yet another move BACK to California for the new job, and now it was 2007 and I was eager to get started a new project. I had a 3 weeks alone in Eureka before my new husband joined me, so what better than to do than some heavy knitting? I could get a lot done, since the swatching was already done. Famous last words..

I had my body measurements in hand and had several false starts before I had the gauge in hand and was on my way. My first attempt ended up being enormously larger that I wanted(I estimated that the sweater would have a 50 inch chest which was large even for me), so I restarted with a smaller vest size at the same gauge, but I realized a way along I had twist at in the circular knitting despite being careful, so I restarted yet again. This time things took. I motored along. measuring as I went. The pattern was beautiful and complicated at the bottom, so this took some serious attention to the colors and charts. The result was really stunning, If I may say so myself and I was super pleased with how the vest looked so far. Furthermore, I measured the circumference and it was what I hoped it would be--44 inches and so large enough to fit my bust measurement, so I felt confident that things were going to turn out as I hoped. The upper part of the picture shows the main pattern repeat and once that was established, things went into autopilot.
At some point I began the process of shaping the v-neck and armholes, which included decreases. I dutifully measured as I went along and check my stitch numbers to make sure I made no mistakes. This section was a bit of a slog as the pattern got very repetitive. Still I was confident because all my numbers matched. Silly, silly me. When I finally finished, I set the vest down for a while. I had to start cutting the steeks and that is very nerve wracking.

I did find some really great antique glass buttons on EBay. Aren't they cute? They are about 1 cm in size and I was thinking of 8-10 arranged closely together along the front button band. I was totally thrilled to find them-- the blue color with the brass fitting matched the style of the vest perfectly. It's not often that I find a project accessory notion that I was so happy with and this added to my anticipation of the finished product.

Well, I finally took a deep breath and started cutting my steeks My stitch numbers were correct and the measurements seemed OK. It took a while to pick up stitches for the borders, sew down the steek hems and get everything done. Finally I was done and I raced off to try my vest on. Quel horreur! Despite all my care, it didn't fit--badly didn't fit. The trouble was not just across the bust, but the neck was constructed to make the armholes lie wrong and it was ridiculously too small across the shoulders, which was the real crux of the fit problem. The safety pins represent to button placement points. Along with the shoulder width, the arm bands were made such that they didn't lie flat, even though I picked up the proper number of stitches.

The damned thing was literally pyramidal in shape. I mean, look at this thing. It's ridiculous looking, and I have no idea how this project got away from me. I was really devastated. I had worked on this project for months and I was so mad I literally contemplated chopping it up in a fit of pique. Still, 10 deep breaths did me some good and I instead wadded it up in a ball with the remaining project yarn and let it lie.

I was pretty discouraged by this. I fancy myself a better than average knitter and this was a serious blow to my ego. I decided I really needed to do a project that was easier and more likely to bring me out of my craft funk blues state. I had scored some Lavold Angora yarn on sale for a cardi project that I had a hankering to make and decided to make that my next project. So began my fateful tangle with "Zarah"...

Sunday, October 19, 2008


OK. An interlude I just had to share on a grey Sunday evening:

Cappuccino enthroned on the red ottoman looking all fuzzy and trying for 'dignified' but kind of missing the mark due to the fuzz factor. Her light colors definitely show well on the bright red, though, Madam Stylie Kitty that she is.

Now, she has given up on dignity and gone straight for the cute. Everyone all together now:


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fit To Be Tied: A knitting Saga; Part I, The Prologue

Something I have noticed in the last year or two in the world of hand knitting is that more and more knitters are addressing the issue of garment fit.

Now I love a comfy over-sized sweater as much as anyone. I have my favorite uber-large Eddie Bauer orange shetland, sized XXL that I utterly adore. It's floppy and shapeless and I can wear it about like a blanket with sleeves. It's way cozy and I can lounge at ease it, but is it flattering? No, not really. It's a garment I can get lost in.

This brings me to the subject of clothing fit. I got intimately aquainted with this topic during a two year stint working at Ann Taylor Loft in San Francisco a couple years ago. I loved the clothes there and used my employee discount as much as I could afford to. Let me tell you, though: working in a changing room with two big three way mirrors at either end for several hours a week, I got to know my body pretty well. A few inches here or there in garment length, the placement of darts or seam shaping, and overall proportion can change a garment from drab to wow very easily. If a garment is not a wow fit, then the wearer won't be shown off to full advantage. An epiphany came when I looked up and saw myself one day, while wearing an a-line skirt that hit my legs just below the bottom of my kneecaps. Damn, my legs looked good in that! My legs are fairly short proportionally for my body and I need to be careful what I wear. Cropped cuffed slacks that were big a couple years ago make my legs look like the reflection in a funhouse mirror. What I got from really seeing myself in that skirt was a sense that I want to make my clothes fit so that feeling that good, that hot, that put-together is not a fluke experience.

So what does all this have to do with handknitting, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I have had two tough knitting experiences this year: one was a total growling tear inducing disaster, the other has been a drawn out fight filled with frustration. Over the next few posts I will expand on the two projects. The first was an Alice Starmore design, her "Grant Avenue Vest" from the book Pacific Coast Highway. The second was the Elsebeth Lavold cardigan "Zarah" from the Embraceable You collection. Both of these projects suffered from major lack of proper fit and some of fitting issues at least were inherent in how the sweaters were designed.

Don't get me wrong: I love the work of both designers. This was my first Lavold design, but not my first Starmore sweater. I have always had great results from A.S. patterns. My purpose here in these next few posts is to work through my own problems by clarifying my experiences and to share what I have learned with other knitters. (and possibly get some feedback!)

I am not a novice knitter. I knit my first sweater in 1987 and have never looked back. I know a lot of my short comings as a knitter (the loosest gauge that ever was) and an early bad (and now broken) habit of not doing a gauge swatch before starting a project. Still, I swatched here and even with my experience, I wasn't safe from fit disaster. So more to come on the Saga of my 2008 Knitting House of Horrors...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

They Call It Mellow Yellow

All bad references to Donovan aside, this post is about my second favorite color: yellow. My favorite color, for those who don't know me is red. Bright fire engine red. Hot tomato red. Red red red.

But then there is yellow. Sunshine yellow. Cheery happy bright yellow. Like daffodils, butter, sunflowers, great fields of mustard that bloom in the spring. Yellow stands out on cloudy days. It is warm and inviting. During a January 2002 trip to Finland, I noticed both in Northern Lapland and in Helsinki in the south, that yellow is a common color for buildings. In the dark, snowy and grey, cold days, the yellow color pops and is warm and inviting to look at.

I have long been intrigued by yellow as a color to knit with. Indeed, it was Kaffe Fassett's Yellow Star Jacket on the cover of 'Glorious Knits' that I saw in the mid '80's that stirred me to take up needles and knit. That jacket was the second project I ever made and I remember what a hassle it was to find yellow yarn at the time. Even now, it remains a rather hard color to find. You look at most shade cards and often all colors are there in some form or another EXCEPT yellow. I really want to know why that is.

Take Rowan's Kidsilk Haze, for example. This yarn has a fairly extensive color range, but there is a real paucity of yellow. In fact, the only yellow shade was the elusive #578 'swish', which Rowan inexplicably discontinued almost at the same time as Knitting Daily published for free the Modern Quilt Wrap by Mags Kandis. I started poking about looking at other yellow yarn options and they are mighty thin on the ground, let me tell you!

I wanted some yellow yarn because I saw a pair of beaded wristlets in the book 'Decorative Knitting ' by Luise Roberts and Kate Haxell. The original wristlets pictured were lavender, but in my mind, I saw them bright yellow with dark blue trim and blue beads. Kidsilk didn't come in that color, so I looked at other yarns. K1C2 douceur et soie had a pale butter yellow, but I wanted more punch. Habu textiles had some good yellows in a silk/mohair, but I had a hard time finding anyone who sold them. Madil has 'kid seta', but that looked more like a highlighter pen than anything else. Then today, I found at Jannette's Rare Yarns that Rowan made a yellow shade of Kidsilk Haze called 'daffodil' that it never released for general sale. All I can say is why not?? It is a perfect yellow--warm and inviting.

I am not a dyer, so maybe there is some difficulty with yellow pigment. I am seriously curious here. Is yellow just not popular? I mean I love it. I have a few yellow garments in my closet that I wear from time to time and they always garner positive comment. I have, however, noticed that yellow clothes are often hard to find, too. very weird.

Call this post an open call to yarn manufacturers and indeed also to clothing designers to bring out the yellow!! It looks good on many skin tones, and makes both wearer and viewer happy because it is warm and positive without being aggressive. So really--more mellow yellow please!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post Something--ANYTHING! JUST POST!

Yes, I am yelling in this post title. I have started a post in my head fifty times on fifty subjects in the last few weeks. I even went so far as to start a post draft on the Dale Chihuly show I went to see in June in San Francisco. Have I posted it? Hell, I haven't even finished it. I have several nice Chihuly pics. I also have pictures from the Monterey Bay Aquarium over Labor Day weekend, where I went to see the Mini Jaws White Sharklet they had on display (and have since released). Hubs and I took a couple of very nice recent hikes, too.

I have also started percolating in my mind a collection of recipes for the farm that Phil and I belong to and where we have been getting our veg for quite some time, now. The full veggie boxes have precipitated some creative use of edible plant material. See. Another posting idea.

Then there is my knitting, which at the moment consists of a wrap I am procrastinating with, a sweater that is fighting me tooth and nail (and royally pissing me off in the process), the sweater for a friend that is half done, but scares me and lastly, the Christmas gifts that I really should be working on like NOW in order to get them done on time...

I am like a squirrel in a nut factory and I don't know where to start and my ADD is kicking in. Or maybe it's hormones. Who knows? So call this post-cum-rant a laundry list for the things I SHOULD be posting about. I guess the best thing to do sometimes is to just kick the ball and post, so consider it kicked. Oh, and here is a picture of some anemones from the aquarium trip to tide things over until I get my head together to make a 'real' post.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Praise of the Used Bookstore

Used bookstores are one of my greatest pleasures, both at home and on vacation. I have spent more hours (and dollars) than I can remember at the Half Price Books I used to live near, with my buddy La Chica poring over the stacks, finding prizes and laughing over the general weirdness that has been published.

I use this topic for this post because used bookstores figured prominently during my recent trip to Washington State. Any trip up north along I5 means a stop in Portland Oregon to Powell's City of Books. This place is without question the most amazing bookstore I have ever been in. It's HUGE, taking up multiple buildings. My first move in any bookstore, new or used, is to make a beeline for the crafts section-- specifically the knitting book shelves. A place like Powells gives me a chance to get a real look at book content rather than searching the web for pictures and reviews that other people post. This trip was decent, but not as profitable as in the past. There were many things that were new, not so much used and not so much that was old-new, meaning books that have been out for a while. The cookbooks were good, though, but I got caught in a scam that I had never encountered before. I saw a cook book called 'The Spice Routes' by Carolyn and Chris Caldicott, and when I flipped through it, it had some really interesting recipes. It was also on sale, so I added it to my stack to buy. After Hubby and I head out north towards Seattle, I flipped through my new treasures while he drove. Closer perusal of my new cookbook made me realize that some rotten nimrod had done a switch and put a DIFFERENT cookbook in the Spice Routes dust jacket. Pooh! Still the cookbook I did have was pretty neat-- 'The Gourmet Prescription' by Deborah Friedson Chud. I called Powells and, bless them, their nice manager credited me the difference for the book I had, found my wanted book, and mailed it to me for free shipping and 20% off. Now, that's service! Yay Powells! I will, however, be checking the front page of books more carefully in the future. Anyone need a Spice Routes dust jacket? I have one to spare...

This trip didn't afford time to take a trip to Port Townsend, Washington and William James Bookseller, which is one of my very favorite used bookstores ever ever ever. Much disappointment until a trip to Bellingham and Henderson Books. Oh MAN, what a place! William James just got bumped to second best. Henderson Books has the single best selection of used knitting books I have ever seen, and I was a very very bad rabbit. People knit in Washington. They knit in California, too, but every tiny town in Washington seems to have some sort of fiber underground like nothing I have ever seen before and the net result is that used bookstores are often plump with goodies others have off-loaded.

So for all you yarnies out there, check out Henderson Books and add a side of Powells if you have the time. The fiber result of my recent vacation was a deep gouge into my Amazon wishlist due to finding some lovely knitting books. Got some great cookbooks, too, but that is for another post.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On our way to Washington..slowly

The time has come for a real vacation. Hubby and I leave tomorrow ridiculously early for a trip north to Whidbey Island and all the delights it has to offer. We are driving, so that means a rest stop in Portland at Powell's Books. I have the take-along knitting picked out. and my (empty) suitcase is on the bed. And I have a migraine.

The joys of vacation! I look forward to trips well in advance and enjoy them when I am there. So why is the week leading up to the trip such an utter misery? I am seriously stressed right now. But why? Throw some junk into a suitcase and hit the road--how hard is that? The cats and bird are accounted for and reliable babysitters are lined up. The house is even reasonably clean to avoid wretched embarassment of outsiders seeing it. So what am I doing? Blogging, surfing and poring over my Ravelry site.

I am growing ever more addicted to Ravelry. I finally started a queue and have been madly jotting down ideas and transferring over my various wants. The whole process is too much fun and this vacation stuff is pulling me away from it. Who knows, though? The Coupeville Arts Center is this weekend and there are a lot of handspinners on Whidbey--better go get packed!

Friday, August 1, 2008

"I can quit anytime...!"

My husband met me at work today and as we walked home together, we chatted. About half way home he casually said "You got a package of yarn in the mail today." Like a lead balloon those words thunked out. Yep. I bought more yarn. After promising Hubby to discuss purchases beforehand, I bought more yarn. After my recent post about stash organization, I bought more yarn. Even after the patient question from my pal La Chica about the blue lace creation I was supposed to be knitting her (for the last 5 years, actually), I bought more yarn. I can rationalize anything. I really can. As my husband said today, "Well, if it's for a project you are doing and you really NEED it, it's fine." Did I NEED this yarn? No. Do I 'need' it? Yes. Really I do. I don't have a stash habit. Honest.

It's for the Modern Quilt Wrap posted on Knitting Daily a few months back. I loved the wrap in the colorway just as it was in the picture from the moment I saw it. I downloaded the pattern right away. I have also been scoping Rowan Kidsilk haze online looking for bargains. I found out recently that one of the colors has been discontinued. Just like that. Supplies of the color 'Swish' #578 are dwindling at best. So I pounced. I found Swish and in a fit of panic found a decent price and bought the rest of the needed colors. I have my Quilt Wrap yarn in my hot little hand.

Here's the thing: there is always something cool out there. Moreover, patterns and yarns are ephemeral. That pattern you are dying to make will eventually go away. But here's the rub: if you don't have the yarn yet and don't make the item right away, will you still be dying for it when you have time to make it? Maybe the answer is yes, maybe it isn't. I have a hugely elusive pattern kitted up for a Jade Starmore sweater 'Medieval Tapestry' in the original yarns. I got it years ago when it was actually affordable. I wanted it bad at the time I bought it. Really bad. It has been bouncing around in my stash unknitted for eons. I was, however, committed enough to it that I did a swatch and have kept all the yarn faithfully together through three moves. When I got it out recently looking for a project to start, I realised that my tastes have changed quite a bit over the last few years and it is not so 'me' as it once was. It is still a stunning sweater, though, and it would be criminal in so many ways to repurpose the yarn for something else--like using a priceless ming vase to hold a bouquet of cheap supermarket flowers. I will hang onto the Starmore yarn for now, but it has given me pause. I guess I'd better start the Modern Quilt Wrap now. Or at least just after I finish La Chica's sweater!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stash Organization

Today is a big milestone: my stuff, including my yarn stash, is all in one place for the first time since 2002. That's six long years of being scattered. My life has been in flux and reflux(with all the heartburn the latter term implies) for the whole of these six years--moving, back in school, moving, marrying, moving, working and now (I hope!) stable.

So what about my stash? I have been doing stash triage since I first moved from my old house in 2002. A few projects at hand with the idea that the move was temporary. At the time I thought it was. Hah! Silly me! Temporary turned into six years. My stuff is packed, but it certainly isn't organized. Two subsequent moves have made things even worse. There is still stuff buried in well packed and repacked boxes that I haven't found. I find yarn, but not the pattern, the pattern, but not the yarn. Projects are scattered, tools in multiple locations. Ugh. It's tiring. I know I have stuff and it is irksome, but easier often to buy new needles or patterns or whatnot. I have things half done because the necessary finishing components are buried. My stash is huge. I mean really huge, so whipping it into shape it is a herculean task.

I have 'resorted' (OK, that partly a self-enabling excuse to get more yarn) to buying more yarn when I find myself 'projectless'. By that I mean nothing is readily at hand. I must admit that I have at least 31 projects in the queue, many of which haven't even made it onto my Ravelry site, and more I could organize if I could easily get to my stash. I started a project list from memory on my clie (which is also mislaid in the move), but of the 31 projects I have down, only 2 are where I can get at them. I have a few more, which are more recent purchases, but the time has come for drastic action.

My plan, such as it is, is to try and arrange project plus a photocopy of the pattern in one project bag, as much as I can. This is also advice I would give to knitters with big stash facing a move. Pack a pattern copy with the yarn. You may change your mind later, but at least your original option is there, too. When I stored my stuff initially, the locker it was in had a small leak. Luckily no stash was hurt, but I lost some books. None of the books were of note, but I could have been in a heap of hurt if one of my out of print knitting books was lost.

So, Me, my husband and all our stuff are in one place. Now the real fun begins. Wish us luck!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I finally made good my threat...

I have been threatening to start a blog for eons, and I have finally jumped in with both feet. I have no idea (or at least almost no idea) what I am doing, but I am doing it anyway. Yet another blog, I know, among millions on the web. live in a really great (but isolated place) and this is a way to connect with distant and scattered friends. Mainly, this is will be a knitting blog, but I also intend to post on my other loves: food and cooking. So, here goes...!