Tuesday, April 29, 2008

never say never

Here's a pair of koigu socks knit from scraps from a Charlotte's Web shawl:
(These were both pre-blog projects. Shawl was a gift.) They've been great socks. I love the way they've worn over the past 3 years.
Well-- up until yesterday, anyway:

Before I noticed the hole in my sock, I was chatting with uber-sock knitter Holly about how I've never had socks wear out before*... yep, it's o.k. Laugh. After recent wear-outs, she's given up and now is going to use commercial sock yarn (nylon blends) only. I've decided to boycott Rowan Soft 4-ply for now.

Bad Heels! Bad! Bad Rowan 4-ply Soft!

(*I did walk right through my kitchnered toes on my first socks. They don't count-- that was just kitchner gauge incompetence.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

being good to yourself (and house)

Over the weekend new windows were put in, and they are great! It was a little painful to pull out Oak and replace with Vinyl due to cost-- but the cold draft in the living room and bathroom is gone! (The house is well-insulated, but the previous windows were not.)

I'll never have to carry heavy window parts around again-- and paint/caulk/re-screen/re-glass the storms and screens on a bi-annual basis. (I gave up on this effort last fall.)

So, here they are:

My dad's friends put the windows in, and I swear he must have uttered the phrase, "don't worry, my daughter will clean that up" at least 20 times. My house was clean on Thursday, and absolutely filthy when they were done. It would take two minutes to clean your boots, guys. I spent a good 2.5+ hours sweeping, vacuuming & mopping the floors/rugs. Argh!

One of my duties over the weekend was to clean up clutter on all surfaces. Yeah, that happened all right. (I'm knitting here, but you just can't see it.)
In other exciting house news, the upstairs bathroom toilet was replaced. It's soo exciting that I'll skip a photo for this one...


Uncle Sam owed me a bit of cash after my yearly taxes were filed. Instead of being a responsible adult and invest further for retirement, I purchased a few lovely items:

Shoes: Dansko Lotus in Pomegranate.
As some of you know, I'm a partial amputee. All of my shoes are purchased through Nordstroms at no extra cost for different sizes. (Bless them for making me and other "Intentionally Mixed Mate" purchasers their tax write-off!)
Do they make you think 'tulip', or is that just me?

Smart Phone: Treo 755
My 2 year contract was up, and my
brother J found a fantastic deal that I couldn't refuse.

Spinning Wheel: Rick Reeves 19" Wheel Frame.
(now completely paid for!)
Man, I love this wheel.
It's been at my house for a few months now, and it spins wonderfully.

Ok, I've done my part to boost the economy. Time to start saving again!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In search of leafy green

Lunchtime park knitting returns.
Note: root beer water. The city of St. Paul hasn't cleaned out the fake river yet. The holiday lights are still up. I love how they sparkle in the sun.
As you can see, the trees are still bare. I'm waiting in suspended animation for that wonderful burst of chartreuse-- when the baby leaves burst all over in spring. Last year this happened from April 24-27th. Since nature isn't ready to supply the leaves just yet, here's my latest sock. It's a 2-at-a-time toe-up Koigu number with a leaf-like pattern. Well, at least a geometric leaf.
Over the weekend I organized the stash, and put all started projects away in the yarn storage --the 'yarn-oire' downstairs. All untouched stash went upstairs. Hopefully this move will help with project monogamy. It's a good exercise to count how many pairs worth of sock yarn you own, and how many sweater's worth.

I really shouldn't buy any stash for the next three years. Perhaps I should place this photo in my car and look at it every time I get the urge to buy that "needed" skein of sock yarn or malabrigo. Think it'll work?

Exciting Bohus Class + Announcement

A few weekends ago I was lucky. Lucky, indeed. There was an opening in the Bohus Stickning class on during this year’s Minnesota Knitter’s Guild Yarnover event - and I was able to use it. Wahoo!
Bohus Stickning (Bohus knitting) has this fantastic duality:

1. The designs and garments are gorgeous: fantastic studies of color, absolutely gorgeous designs, and high-quality wool blends for absolutely dreamy knitted fabric.

2. The story behind Bohus Stickning is terribly facinating—it’s creator Emma Jacobsson was quite a woman. She started this cottage industry due to economic need: a world-wide economic downturn + a gravel industry gone bad in Sweden (asphalt roads!) left families in need of sustinance. Bohus garments truly were luxury sweaters knit by this cottage industry for the very rich to wear* Two owners: Grace Kelly & Eartha Kitt

To me, this combo-platter is utterly inspirational. To learn more, you might want to pick up Wendy Keele’s book Poems of Color: Knitting in the Bohus Tradition.

The class, taught by Susanna Hansson (below) was absolutely stellar.
She's holding up an authentic Blue Shimmer garment from her extensive collection.
Over the years, this design was the most popular with the public.

Susanna has thought through how to keep her audience entertained as she talked about the fascinating history of Bohus knitting: wind gorgeous bits of angora/merino fingering-weight yarn!

Here Susanna demos how to avoid nasty puckers in your colorwork:

The class project was a wee taste of Bohus knitting: Blue Shimmer wristlets! Aren't they adorable? (Some knitters elected to make sock cuffs instead).

Here are two examples of wristlets from Susanna's collection.

They're different. Do you like one more than the other?One is knit with bohus texture (left), the other is knit plain- just like regular fair isle work. Of course, Bohus knitting also often incorporated multiple colors per row instead of fair isle's mainstay of two.

Fellow classmates Pam and Paula work on their wristlets.During a full-day class, I didn't get much further than this. Apparently I talk too much, take too many breaks-- or am an exceedingly slow knitter! :)

I knit the largest size-- but should have opted for at least one size smaller. They're loose, but still lovely.

At the end of the class we lined up our work. My favorite part of the class was spending time with Susanna's gorgeous collection of Bohus garments. They're absolutely dreamy.

If you are petite enough, you could try them on. Here Pam wears a non-authentic Bohus garment. It's the Large Lace Collar design, and is knit with bohus-quality yarn. The sweater, however, is not true to design. Susanna surmised that a Bohus knitter decided to make this design 'update' for a sweater of her own. Pam also tried on the blue variant of The Egg:
I just love this one: Someone (probably an American per Susanna) special ordered a Blue Shimmer with a dark main color. It's next to the original design. Gorgeous, no?
It was incredibly hard to capture the gorgeousness of this design. It's The Azalea.
Without Susanna's guidance, I never would have noticed that this design is exactly the same as The Egg-- it's just in a different colorway! Susanna seemed to directly hint that Solveig may very well have The Azalea ready for sale sometime soon. Re: in the next year or two. (Use this link to see all of Solveig's available kits in Bohus-quality yarns. The patterns are available in English as translated by Susanna.) Knit swatches of popular designs were on view along with Bohus Stickning books in Swedish. (I have purchased both of these directly from Sweden. Email AnneSofie in English for availability. Her site is not updated often.) On the left is a design I've never seen before: Dallas. On the right is The Blue Flower. Oh, and here are my finished wristlets.

Just a few days after the class I had the luxury to chat with Joan Schrouder during the April Minnesota Knitter's Guild meeting. She knit the Blue Shimmer (the actual) sweater photographed in Poems of Color. Joan has also done what many of us thought impossible: She has steeked a Bohus knit in the round to knit a cardigan. What a rebel! She's my knitting hero of the week. :)

Finally, during the class Susanna made an exciting announcement for Bohus enthusiasts. Here in Susanna's words:

Dear Bohus Knitting Friend,

I have some wonderful news and I wanted all of you, my special Bohus devotees, to be the first to hear, and hopefully mark your calendars:

There will be a Bohus Stickning exhibit in America in 2009! It will be held at the American-Swedish Institute in Minneapolis between January 23rd and March 29th, 2009.

Many things about the exhibit are still undecided but during the opening weekend the Institute is hoping to host celebrity guests and present lectures, expert guidance through the exhibit, and show a brand new Swedish documentary film (with English subtitles) about Bohus Stickning. It is even possible that a special Bohus garment will be re-created and released for sale in conjunction with the exhibit.

I hope that many of you will be able to come - if not for the opening weekend festivities, then at least at some point while the exhibit is showing- to celebrate this great event and ASI’s willingness to provide exhibition space for these wonderful garments. This is something I have been dreaming of for for a long time and I am so very happy that it is now in the works for real!

The last time there was a Bohus exhibit was in conjunction with the World’s Fair in New York in 1964 so it is about time for another one, don’t you think?

Warmly, Susanna

Friday, April 11, 2008

Keeping us all in stitches

Amid the driving freezing rain and hail thunderstorm nastiness, about 400 knitters gathered last night.

On the left is the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl McPhee. Can't you tell? Yeah, I can't see her either. Good thing she's soo darn funny, then.

Aside from laughing a lot, last night we learned how knitters are less likely to have dementia or Alzheimer's in life because of our daily constant-- plenty of theta time. Fascinating.

For me, the best part of the night was The Yarnery's fantastic pre-show. I was mightily impressed. Staffers and Men's night knitters were great as the Yarn Harlot Family Knitters. Angie re-wrote lyrics from the Sound of Music-- and it was absolutely hilarious. You really should go check it out for yourself on YouTube! (Thanks to Shelly for posting these!)

Sarah took photos of a few audience members last night-- here's Renee in her adorable new top, moi, and Deepa in her colorful Rosedale Cardi.

It was great to see all of the Minnesota knitters (and tri-state area, Ms. Cathy-Cate!-- and International knitters-- Ms. Holly!) out enmasse last night!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

MN Fiber Activities and stuff

Fiber Activities in the Twin Cities in the next few weeks

1. Yarn Harlot visits St. Paul once again this Thursday at St. Thomas.

There will be some tickets available via standby if you are willing to show up at 6 with a print-out from the link above. (620 free tickets were given away by the Yarnery within a week. I've heard 120 requests were not met.)

2. Joseph Scrimshaw's new production: Stitch, Bitch N' Die looks like a great time!

It's a murder-mystery-comedy playing at the Bryant Lake Bowl the next three

Friday nights at 7pm. B.Y.O.K. (Bring Your Own Knitting)

I'll be at this Friday's show with fellow fiber lovers.3. The Minnesota Knitter's Guild hosts Yarnover this Saturday in Hopkins. (note location change) There's a plethora of classes to take & there will be a fab marketplace, too.

4. Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival is just around the corner. It's always mother's day weekend, and is well worth placing on your calendars! Come spin; buy fiber, yarn, or tools; take a class; watch working dogs round up sheep; and don't miss the Llama Magic!

On Not Giving Away Yarn:

I've been giving away most of my handspun yarn. Last week my first yarn creation nearly left the house. After looking at it this weekend, I decided I would make it impossible to give away in it's current form...

Most of the first yarn is now a neck warmer. I casted on 77 stitches on a US 9, knit a few rows of seed stitch and switched to stockinette thereafter. 1/2 way through I decreased 2 stitches evenly around and knit until it was 'just the right length', and finished with more seed stitch.
Toby was a pretty willing model last night.

He may just want to keep it.

Perhaps I should knit him a sweater of his own.

Of course, this is supposed to be worn by a human.

For the first time, here's a few pics of me. (Taken just hours after a bout with flu, no less.) This is how I'll wear it next winter while waiting for public transportation.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fiber Stash

Yes, certified "work(s) of art" entered my house in the past few months. Deepa likes to keep me honest and often asks for full stash disclosure. So, dear readers-- here it is-- the fiber stash.


Crown (Crack) Mountain Farms released a new set of Blue Faced Leister handpainted roving for Spring. I couldn't resist "American Spirit" below. It's reminiscent of my favorite koigu colorway-

Enchanted Knoll Farms

"Queen Mermaid" batts with a mix of fiber + a dash of sparkle

Cherry Tree Hill roving in potluck colorways, a gift from Cathy

Pigeonroof Studios,

Peony BFL (left), and Hydrangea S. African Fine (right) Mill Ends @ Detta's Spindle

11 oz superwash

"Scrappies" fromVedabliss/Funky Carolina, mixed fiber
More Crack Mountain Farms, Wild Horses superwash merino. (I love this colorway!)
Crack Mtn. passed Toby's sniff tests. (Here, superwash merino in "Pretty woman")Of course, Toby grew bored pretty quickly.

(now with In the Skies, superwash)-right about here the "it's-s000-nice, let's-go-out" whining began. "Enough with the pictures. There are bunnies out there to chase!"

(and chase them he did!)

***for brevity's sake, I left just a few items out. Go to my flickr page for full disclosure.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


A return to blogging after nearly two weeks--
I have no excuse other than two handfuls of increased work duties and extra hours in the office. The project is nearing the end, and they started tearing down miles of cubicles in on the floor center. I've been sneezing like mad for the past two weeks due to the dust storm. Do you think any over the counter products would help?
The latest handspun installment started out with enthusiastic singles (my specialty!) and turned into a fun, striping worsted weight skein. It's 176 yards in total and was spun on a Reeves 19" wheel. Once I realized the driveband was too loose, I've been able to control the amount of spin per ply on the next spinning project. Details forthcoming...
My friend Sara, uber-St. Paul/Political blogger and recreational knitter, gave me her older MAC laptop this week. She collects computers like I buy yarn. The least I could do was give her a little handspun love.
*As you may or may not know, I've been a bit of an electronic luddite for the past three years. I have a tv, a cell phone, and a digital camera. No cable- no internet. Now that I have a laptop... well, perhaps I'll blog more often. Perhaps.
In other news, new windows will be installed in my home in a week or so. Yipee! I can't wait to end the storm/screen screen/storm updates each spring and fall. As you can tell, I gave up on glass replacement last September. (and yes, it's April-- and we still have snow on the ground!!!)
I've abandoned the last few repeats of Madli's Shawl to whip up a bit of knitted origami. Someone's first birthday is coming up in a few weeks...
Toby's eyes pleaded, "Can we go out for a walk, pleeease? You're gore-tex tennis shoes are out and waiting..." It doesn't matter how late, this little guy always wants to smell the fresh air.