25 September 2009

This Week in Purly

I've been battling the bugs this week, the daycare, kindergarten, first grade bugs. But I'm almost better now. Luckily, at the beginning of the week I acquired a birthday present - the iPod Touch (I stumble over the name every time and found myself practicing what to say while waiting in line to get mine at the beautiful Apple Store in Soho). Anyway, love it! But in synching my bookmarks, contacts, etc., I've discovered that my bookmarks are an absolute mess, so this afternoon I've been working away to clean things up. So, I have some links to share. These are new discoveries for me. Hope you enjoy them.

Knitfinder: knitmag pattern indices, lace links - pretty cool and growing
Knitting Lace by Susanna Lewis is being reprinted by Schoolhouse Press - pre-order by 15 October and get free shipping - this lace book has been OOP for over a decade and sells for beaucoup bucks on ebay.
Textile composed of spider silk is on display at the Museum of Natural History, here on the Upper West Side. May have to drag the kids this weekend when the weather is uncooperative (looks like Sunday).

Guess that's it for the moment. I have some belated September birthday presents to mail to my niece and nephew, and then I'll have some FOs to show you.

23 September 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Ugh! It's that time of year again; the time when school children and their parents come down with the new round of bugs, and we are no exception chez Purly. Isobel threw up on my birthday, then Nick was home with the stomach bug and a fever, then Penelope had a fever for two days, and not-as-invincible-as-she-thought Mommy got the stomach bug, then the fever, and finally a whopping head cold. Whee! Needless to say, not much has been happening around here; I'm still knitting away on the center square of my Stonington Shawl - love a good bit of garter stitch and even worked on it during Curriculum Night at the kids' school yesterday.

18 September 2009

KSA: Ravelry

Just in case you're a fibery type that's been offline for the last few years (it's possible, I suppose), check out Ravelry, an amazing online community space for all fibertarians (knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, dyers, designers). Some say it's like Facebook for knitters, but I say it's more. The site is still, technically, in beta, so sign up now for your invitation (I'm pretty sure they've caught up with the backlog of requests, so you should get your invitation right away) and enjoy! Be sure to "friend" me (RavelryID: Purly) once you're in.

17 September 2009

The Job Search

So, I'm looking for a job, most likely outside the house, that pays money. Not too much to ask, but, you know, it takes time to find the right thing, both from my perspective and that of an employer. I check various job sites that focus on book publishing, since that's my area of expertise (mediabistro, Creative Hotlist, Publishers Marketplace), I've got my searches set up on Indeed, and I continue to expand my "network" on LinkedIn. It takes time, and it's not the most fun I've ever had, but every once in a while something good comes along, or at least something plausible. And then there are the clunkers: responsibilities include "creative ideation" - at least they've stopped mentioning that we should "think outside the box" (when was English replaced by Business-speak?); my Indeed search on "knit" that mostly comes up with nannies wanted for close-knit families or the frightening-to-a-handknitter "cut and sew knits". Something will happen, eventually, and I appreciate you, my Purly cheering section, for all your supportive comments and pleasant distractions.

And today it's better that I only have mommy employment, as Penelope is home with a fever (she's going to daycare two days a week now, which gives me time to search for a job and gives us a leg up on care for her when I do go back to work). Never consciously think how great it is that she finally sleeps through the night! Inevitably she will wake up with a fever and need a lot of Mommy in the middle of the night. I'm going to do some more searching while she's sleeping and work on the garter-stitch center of a Stonington Shawl - knitknitknit is about all I can handle today.

16 September 2009

Door County Yarn Crawl 2009

While on vacation last month (I know, how do you go on vacation when you don't have a job? Well, it's not much of a vacation with the kids, you know. Kidding!) up at my parents' place in Door County, Mom and I went on a little yarn crawl, since there are two new yarn stores on the Peninsula.
First, we visited Red Sock Yarns (no website, that's the link to the Ravelry page) in Fish Creek. I didn't bring my camera, so you'll just have to use your imagination on this one: a nice, spacious store with yarn displayed mainly on freestanding shelves, a lounging area with couch, armchair, coffee table, and a pile of pattern books to browse through, and lots of yarn. It's all sort of a blur now, but some luscious, red Skacel Lace Merino came home with me, as well as some Crystal Palace Merino 5 in black for a hat for mom (custom designed - what's the point of a daughter who knits if you don't get exactly the hat you want?). I don't want to say it was all standard yarn, as they had a nice selection, good variety, but it was almost all stuff you can find most anywhere. Until we got to the counter, where I noticed one skein of sock yarn that looked to be hand-dyed. Turns out it was from a local indie dyer. Now, to my mind that is the stuff that should be piled up all over the place. Door County is, after all, a vacation community, and knitters like souvenir yarn, something we can't find just anywhere, something that will remind us of our leisurely days by the Lake. Anyway, we'd already made our purchase, so the sock yarn was left behind (just as well for me, as I need another skein of blue sock yarn like I need, well, another skein of blue sock yarn). The shop is tucked away at the back of the Fish Creek Top of the Hill shops, so keep going towards the back - it's there!
A couple of days later we went down to Spin in Sturgeon Bay (don't you love the names of Door County towns?), which is housed in an old bank building. I'm happy to report that they kept the beautiful pressed tin ceiling and bank vault.
Lots of sock yarn, lots of Rowan, Misti Alpaca, a wide variety of baby friendly yarns (in addition to being a vacation spot, Door County is also a popular retirement destination, at least for the summer), and a nice selection of books. I came home with The Art of Fair Isle Knitting: History, Technique, Color & Patterns, a couple of Cottage Creations booklets for Irish and Ukrainian dolls, and some pretty mother-of-pearl buttons for Penelope's unfinished birthday sweater (what? she doesn't know, and it hasn't really been cold enough for a sweater yet). Why did I come away without any yarn? Everything I was drawn to was pretty much like something already in the stash (see sock yarn, blue). And, again, they didn't really have any souvenir yarn. But I'm happy about the things that did come home with me.

And then we hit the place that does have souvenir yarn, Whitefish Bay Farm. I bought yarn for a yoke sweater there a couple of years ago, four natural-to-the-fleece colors, and they are still waiting for me to knit them up. I hope to do it this winter and have some groovy ideas for how to use the colors. They also sell roving, some hand-dyed yarn, as well as hand-spun yarn. I controlled myself and bought a couple more skeins of the palest, sheepy color - not sure if they will be insurance for the sweater project or for something completely different. Apparently they have their yarn processed by Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill, also in Wisconsin, and really like the way the yarn and roving turn out, so if you are looking for a processor, they might be your place.
While there I also visited the upstairs gallery, where I fell for this beautiful rug woven out of locks. Not quite in my budget these days (nor small enough to fit in my suitcase), but maybe next year.

So, that's it for this year's Door County yarn crawl. There are a few other fibery places up there, including some spots on Washington Island, but with little Miss Penelope taking two naps a day, it wasn't really feasible to get there this year. Next year I plan to knit some August Fiddle Faddle in the Woods a la EZ. Won't that be fun?

12 September 2009

ANTM and knitting

Hollah, all you ANTM fans! If you have been living under a rock recently, you might not have noticed that McKey is gracing the cover of Vogue Knitting this season. Apparently, she learned to knit from Paulina.

Knitty Fall 2009

Did you know the new Knitty is up? I went over yesterday to look up something and saw all the new patterns and redesign before the announcement email hit my inbox.

I'm not even going to try to list favorites, as there are so many beautiful projects, and I've found over the years that my tastes change - patterns that I had no interest in will suddenly become my passion. There are various reasons for this, though I know one of them is when I feel I've more fully mastered a technique and can do a pattern justice. Of course, another is seeing beautiful FOs that show a pattern in a different light than the original photography.

I will just mention that I've met Anna, designer of Ruby Red, at Purl Diva's Knit Night. I've been very keen to see what she designed, and it is a lovely sweater. Frankly, I have a difficult time resisting any project using Madeline Tosh Sock yarn!

11 September 2009

FO: Lena's Matryoshkas and Sweater

Pattern: Matryoshka Japonais [Ravelry link]
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Marron Oscuro, Shocking Pink, Natura, and Paris Night
Needles: US6/4.0mm
Notions: Needle felting fiber for stuffing from Halcyon Yarns
Mods: Using a smaller needle to make a tighter fabric

Well, I like the pattern ;) Actually, I'm happy to report that I followed my pattern blindly, and they worked out just right. If you're interested in the pattern, you can follow the link in my sidebar to my Etsy shop or buy it directly on Ravelry.

I made this set for my new niece Lena (Nick's sister's baby) and hope she finds them as cuddly and soft as Penelope did. P kept wanting to appropriate the dolls while I was finishing them, so they have her stamp of approval. The color choices grew out of the lovely yarn I used for her BSJ.

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann from The Opinionated Knitter [Ravelry link]
Yarn: Merino 2/6 by Fleece Artist in a beautiful chocolate-covered cherry colorway specifically requested by Ellen, the clever owner of Purl Diva
Needle: US5/3.75mm
Notions: Five lovely little pink buttons from Purl Diva

Apparently, this is my fourth BSJ, though I think my first is languishing in the UFO bin. Such a wonderful pattern, and a great garment with all the squishiness of garter stitch. This really has become my go-to baby pattern, especially as it's a great excuse to use some new-mom-friendly superwash sock yarn. I knit Lena some of Ysolda's tiny shoes, too, with adorable, little, pink bunny rabbit buttons, though I neglected to take a picture of them before giving them to Lena. Hope we'll get a picture of the recipient in her finery soon.

E.T.A. I almost forgot that Ellen had taken a picture of the sweater and booties in her lovely lightbox.

As you can see I'm doing my best to catch up on some belated posts, trying to get back in the groove.

KSA: Knitter's Review

Just in case you've been knitting offline since 2000, a great place to find reviews of yarn, books, and tools is Knitter's Review, maintained by Clara Parkes, author of The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn, which is an amazingly informative resource on fiber and yarn and how the one gets turned into the other, as well as some nice patterns. If she gives something a good review, you can be sure you'll be happy with the yarn. There are also some busy forums on the site. Sign up for the weekly newsletter and never miss another review.

FO: Fair Isle Hat (for Isobel)

Pattern: Fair Isle Hat from Fiber Revival Two-Handed Fair Isle class [Ravelry link]
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Marron Oscuro, Shocking Pink, and Natura
Needle: US7/4.5mm 16" circular
Mods: None

Isobel saw this while it was still OTN and claimed it for her own. How could I object to my daughter wanting something I knit? She's modeling it right before bedtime, and this may have even been the night she wore it to bed. I'm glad she likes it, and I'm so glad to have conquered two-handed fair isle knitting, thanks to Isobel (Abelson, my teacher).

The purl rounds are interesting, giving a little dimension, though I think if I were to knit this chart pattern again I would probably omit the purl rounds. However, I am very interested in experimenting with purl bumps of color as shown in the Bohus sweaters.


Trisha Malcolm commented on this little blog. I was so excited that I could not fall asleep last night (and should have come out to the computer and posted a few belated blog posts: Door County yarn crawl with mom, Isobel's new hat, EZP progress - soon!). Instead I lay in bed thinking about knitting and blogs and publishing. I've been lucky enough to meet Amy many moons ago at a Circles event, have Stephanie mention that she'd seen my blog at a book signing, drank tea with Mary Jane Mucklestone at Ysolda's book signing, hung out briefly with Julia and talked about how great Franklin is, and then the following week took a class with Franklin and talked about how great Julia, Veronik (who, of course, has an adorable french accent), and the rest of the clever folks at Twist Collective are, talked shawls with zee Joan Schrouder. Of course there is also a long list of knitting luminaries that I long to meet.

I'm striving to be a capital K Knitter, and not just because of my stash but because of my ongoing apprenticeship to this craft. That's why I'm working on the EZP. There is always more to learn. It's exciting to be a part of the knitting community right now, especially when our rock stars are also real people. OK, time for this fangirl to get back to the real world of laundry, back-to-school paperwork, and my nephew's unfinished sweater (luckily, he doesn't know it's his first birthday tomorrow!).

Thank you for the comment, Trisha!

10 September 2009

Photographing Your Knitting with Franklin Habit

Loopy Yarns Wall of Koigu I

Loopy Yarns Wall of Koigu II

Ayre in the lightbox

So, I had a great time at my class at Loopy Yarns with Franklin Habit. Of course in my desperate attempt not to seem like a crazy fangirl I didn't even snap a pic of clever, witty, knitter extraordinaire Franklin. Though I know something about photography, having taken a class at the Museum School a couple of lifetimes ago (and being an Art Director), I signed up for the class to give me a kick in the derriere and to learn how to make my own lightbox at home. Mission accomplished! Franklin reminded me about the properties of light, depth of field, and presenting objects to highlight their best qualities (and hide their flaws). Everyone was very nice (knitters almost always are, though, aren't they), and near the end we found ourselves talking about Manor House.

How did I miss out on the "House" series? I so want to see Colonial House! Carole went to the Adams National Historic Park recently, and now I've had to add it to the long list of New England places we'll have to drag the kids when they're a little bit older.

Anyway, back to the photography. The shots above were from the shop, and it was fun to play with perspective. The class was also a chance for me to play around with my camera and all its settings. I'm usually a little lazy when it comes to the camera, leaving it on "Auto" far too often.

So, hopefully you will see an improvement in my photography going forward. I plan to start a Year In Pictures (YIP) on Sunday. It was going to be a Self-Portrait 365, but I'm not sure I'm up for 365 self portraits at this point. I'm excited and need to go spend some more time with my camera manual. And I've saved a Fresh Direct box from this afternoon's delivery - just need some white posterboard and clamp lamps to build my lightbox.

Thanks, Franklin, for a great class!

VK 360º

I thought for sure I'd mentioned this before. Vogue Knitting has this great feature on their website where you can view every project in the past five issues on a real person from all angles. There are close-ups of details that you might not be able to see in the styled photographs in an issue. Pretty neat. Anyway, if you've been on the fence about a project, check it out.

07 September 2009

Knitting in Books

Did you know that Dorothy Parker was an avid knitter and carried her knitting bag with her everywhere? I just found this list. It is a very incomplete list but a fun find.

In fact I read The Book of Salt: A Novel
this summer (the fictional autobiography of the Vietnamese chef of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Paris - interesting, but I think I was hoping for there to be more depth to the book), and there is a reference to Alice B. Toklas knitting.

04 September 2009

The Elizabeth Zimmermann Project (EZP)

As I have immersed myself more and more in knitting, I have become more interested in Elizabeth Zimmermann and her books. She was a clever woman and a generous teacher. One of my dreams is to go to Knitting Camp some day. Until then I have decided to apprentice myself to the knitting projects of EZ, working the projects of Knitter's Almanac (KA) in the appropriate month for the next year. I also plan to knit through Knitter's Workshop (KW).

September is the KA Nether Garments project, so there will be a pair of longies/knit pants, probably for Penelope, as she is the smallest member of the family (there are four birthdays, not counting my own, in the family in September, so I have to cherry-pick where I can).

For KW I've already knit the first project, which is a basic hat with some colorwork thrown in for excitement, knit in cozy Ultra Alpaca from Berocco (a leftover from Nick's Cobblestone Sweater two years ago - love marinated yarn from the stash) and a smidge of light grey Alpaca from Plymouth Yarns (a leftover from a February Baby Sweater). The hat took just two nights and will make someone warm - Nick wants his new hat plain, no colorwork, please.

2009 Birthday Wish List

It's time for my semi-annual wish list, since my birthday is a little over a week away (the other one is at Christmas-time)! What has caught my eye this summer? In no particular order...

  • A job! Modestly lucrative pay, meaningful work, a chance to talk to other grownups about something besides the kids. Sometimes I think that's just a fantasy. I know, work is ... work, and I'm contributing to society by doing my best to raise strong yet sensitive children, but I am capable of more.
  • Twist Tote - looks like a great project bag

  • Still crazy about the Scilla cardigan kit from Solveig Hisdal (select Bohus Stickning, then scroll down about half way) - blue for the main color, of course!

  • Knitpicks stuff: some options needles perhaps (the new Zephyr tips look neat, and I'm often partial to warm and lightweight plastic/acrylic like my Bryspuns), blocking tiles, maybe even a new ballwinder. A Knitpicks gift certificate would work, too ;)
  • iPhone - I go round and round on whether I really want to join the 21st century and be able to get online anywhere. It's really a blessing and a curse, isn't it? I read something recently that people get a little endorphin rush every time they get a message, and it's addictive. Hence all those people Driving While Texting (DWT). Right now I just have a pretty lame cameraphone, which is OK. Plus, I'm a Verizon customer, and there are rumors Apple will partner with them soon, since AT&T is dropping calls left and right with their overloaded system. Maybe I'll wait.
  • Some new clothes, probably J.Crew. When I get a job I will definitely need some clothes, since most of mine are three years old or so (anybody want some maternity clothes?), and I purged much of my wardrobe when the Gloucester house sold. Actually, what I'd really like is a cool, eclectic wardrobe of clothes from etsy. I am always amazed by all the creative things people are producing over there.
  • A remote for my digital camera, so I can stage my own photo shoots :) I'm also thinking of doing a Self-Portrait 365 starting on my birthday. I hope it will improve my knowledge of my camera. My class with Franklin reminded me to, you know, actually use the various functions on my camera and experiment, not just leave it on "Auto".

  • Still keen on the Ork Posters: Boston (blue screen print), Chicago (white on black screen print), Great Lakes (clear blue print), and of course Manhattan (butcher paper orange - how cool). Once a graphic designer, always a graphic designer, I guess.
  • A Mermaid Napper blanket from Nan Kennedy/Sea Colors. I met Nan at the Bath Farmer's Market (and had missed meeting her a few years ago at a Sea Colors trunk show at Yarns in the Farms) and had a great time talking with her and admiring her woolly wares (solar-dyed yarn, sweaters produced by Maine knitters with seaglass buttons - want some of those! -, tasty lamb chops, and these blankets). Wedgwood or Mermint are my favorite colorways, of course.

  • Barbara Walker's Fourth Treasury (the green one) - I used to dismiss this one, but as I've delved deeper into knitwear design, I see that there is more wisdom in there that I could benefit from, beyond just plugging stitch patterns into existing shapes.

  • Yarn yarn yarn. Although I did acquire two skeins of Swan Island Certified Organic Merino Fingering weight in Robin's Egg before leaving Maine for the summer. It's the stash pet of the moment, while I figure out a worthy project for this yarn. And yarn came home with me from Wisconsin. But you always need more yarn, right?