Monday, January 29, 2007

Columbia Sunsets, Silky Tofu, and a Word on Sock Knitting

As mentioned a couple posts ago, I have been playing with tying together random bits of yarn to make new and interesting yarns. I'm really enjoying this techinique- now I just have a big bag that I throw leftover bits in, and every now and then, sort through to find a combination that I like. This is also a nice way to think outside the box abit... I tend to be a rather linear thinker, so the notion of freeform knitting/crochet just doesn't work for me. The random appeal of these yarns gives me permission to shake things up a little... sometimes I just knit back and forth (often using moss stitch), but I will also throw in short rows to help give a special bit of yarn prominence.

So, after creating various swatches of organic random goodness, I was wondering what to do with the side with all of the knots in it. No, I was not going to weave them in. Puhleeze. So, I decided to needle-felt some roving to the backside, giving me little pieces like so (both are about 6" tall).

The swatch on the bottom reminded me of rivers and mountains and rolling hills- much like those of my native Pacific NW. I grew up a stone's throw from the Columbia River, and was often blessed with beautiful sunsets that illuminated the Cascade Mountains while sparkling on the river. So, I decided to embellish, just a little:

I beaded a river, embroidered a mountain and a tree, then added a button depicting Tsagaglalal ("She Who Watches"), one of the most famous petroglyphs of the NW, located just north of the river in central Washington. Click here for her story- it's a wonderful one!

After that, I affixed the piece to some fabric-covered Timtex with fusible web, then did a little embroidery to soften the edges a bit. I'm so proud of myself! Looking at this, I am reminded of hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, camping in the Cascades, fishing in that mighty river of the West... it's like being home in a 6.5" x 9" random collection of fibers, fabrics, and other stuff ;-)

In other news, a while back I knit a scarf for my friend Amy. She is a devout vegitarian, so I felt a little Soy Silk would be in order. I used Patons SWS. It's funny, this seems to be one of the yarns du jour right now, but I wouldn't knit with it again... it splits like a bitch, and has the texture of something like hay. It does look beautiful however, and softened a bit with washing. As Amy lives in Maine, I'm sure this scarf with be somewhere in the middle of all her layers, so I'm not too concerned about the lack of softness.

That's about it...I have a sock class coming up in a few days, so I am working on the final tweaking of my pattern for the class. It's just a sock worked in Peace Fleece, on 5 mm dpn's... some seriously old-school hiking boot socks. I figure starting out with worsted-weight yarn is a good way to teach people about sock construction without making them knit with toothpicks. Plus, Peace Fleece wear like a pair of jeans, and is just fuzzy enough to cover up any little mishaps along the way. And while on the subject of socks, why do people think that knitting them on two circulars is faster? It's not. I've tried both ways, and well, it's not. That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A New Year, Some New Colorful Goodies, and An Updated Blog (finally!)

I seem to be recovered enough from the madness of the holidaze to find time to blog again. I have to say, I have been doing a lot of knitting, but have just not had the motivation to write about it. Mostly this comes from the fact that our Internet connection is verrry slow, and it takes a long time to load pictures. I'm not a fan of very wordy blogs with few photos, so I like to make sure I am avoiding that in this one...
Anyway, we experienced a little bit of disappointment this Christmas- we had plans to travel to Boston to stay with my new in-laws. Unfortunately, the weather in Kodiak did not permit us to fly out on the scheduled date, and with all of the travel woes facing the Lower 48 at that time, the best the airline could have donw was get us into Boston on Christmas Day. We decided to reschedule our trip, got a full refund (!) and are going to head there for St. Paddy's Day. I told the husband that my goal is to puke Guinness all over him, then get in a fight with a barstool. Because I'm classy like that.

I did get to go to Portland, OR for a week shortly after the new year to see my family. Of course, as with any good trip, I stopped at some fiber shops. First, I went to Knit Knot, an adorable lil' shop in the swanky Pearl District. I like this place, it's small, but there is everything you need. The woman who owns the shop (also an Elizabeth) is extremely friendly and helpful. Here is my haul:

Some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, Noro Aurora (perfect for AK- actually knits up looking very Aurora-ish), some rainbow mohair (on sale!), some cobwebby NZ wool,
and some Regia Bamboo. Nice.

The best part is, I could not have gotten all of this without a very dear friend. You see, I went downtown to meet my friend Nate for lunch (oh my, Lebanese food- we don't get that in these parts). I was a bit early, so I stopped into Knit Knot on the way and got the mohair and Aurora. When Nate and I met for lunch, he handed me a brown package. "There's a funny story behind this," he said. Curiously, I opened the package, and inside was an envelope with Congratulations written in Arabic (his major at Portland State University) containing a gift certificate to... guess where... Knit Knot! Seems he remembered that I really liked that store last time I came to town, which I mentioned with great excitement when I came to eat at his work just a few doors down on my visit several months before. This was a belated wedding gift, and exceedingly thoughtful. Turns out, he came in the shop about 10 min after I left, and upon speaking with the propreitor about the fact that this was for a friend from Alaska, she realized that same girl had just come in. Smart man though, he made the purchase anyway, knowing that I always am in need of more yarn...

OK, so much for not being too wordy. Next stop, my mom and I went to Northwest Wools, and she bough me the following for a late Christmas present: 8 oz of handpainted Corriedale Roving, some merino top, a little camel down, recycled sari silk, a ball of Silk Garden, and, one of those cute lil' sweater keyrings from Lantern Moon (I LOVE that company!). She insisted, much to my amusement, that I needed one. Love that woman.

In other news, I am knitting a hat for my stepdaughter. She is in a bit of a hippie-dippie phase, which I also went into at that age (almost 15). I decided to make here a hippie-dippie hat using Cascade Pastaza. She is really into llamas, so I thought she would appreciate a hat made of 50/50 llama/wool. The pattern is the "Scrunchie Hat" from One-Skein Wonders (not to be confused with the also awesome book entitled One Skein). This is a great book- especially for us handspinners who have orphan skeins of yarn on our hands. A must buy, and you get a lot of bang for your $18.95! I'm knitting the hat using Us#8 Destiny needles from Lantern Moon (a gift from my boss at the LYS- ebony... OMFG)... also pictured is a sweet lil' silk bag, also from Lantern Moon from the same person, for carrying a small knitting project. She knows that I love to knit hats, and gave me these exceedingly thoughtful gifts for Christmas- thank you!

uggh.. pardon the el crappo pic

Am also knitting up the Purple Pewter yarn into a little lace mini-shawl, using this pattern. I like this pattern very much... easy to get into the rhythm of it, and looks pretty without having to squint at a chart all the time! Of course, it looks all sad and scrunched-up now, but hopefully soon it will be ready for blocking so it's true beauty can come through. The handspun yarn has a painterly quality that I am enjoying very much in the knitted piece, which also has nice hand and drape when knit on us#9 needles.

OK, there is way much more I have been doing, but I am going to give my hands a bit of a break! I will work hard not to be such a hypocrite and have more photos/less text in the next post...