Kirsti Knits

Time - such a precious Gift is it; To work, to read, and Yes, to knit. - Minnie Gertz

Monday, July 10, 2006

Not quite so long a wait!

At least it's not been a month or more since my last update... but I've still got a lot of catching up to do. First and most importantly, I have a long overdue THANK YOU to my Sockapaloooza pal Laurie for some gorgeous knitting and great socks. Here's the opened box...

They didn't actually travel very far - Laurie's based in Michigan too. And just to confuse me, she asked the guys at Threadbear to mail the package! Included inside the red tissue were some Red Wings goodies - pencils and a key ring .... and these:
The yarn is Fiber Gems Opal (navy) and Quartz (hummingbird). I've not seen or knitted with this yarn, and it's so so soft. I just love the colours - the flecks of blues and purples - and Laurie's knitting technique has me so so impressed. They are a little bit, and she suggested that I rip them out and reknit, but it feels wrong to destroy such wonderful wonderful work. Besides, I know I wouldn't be able to get anywhere close to that even tension and tight short row heel! So I'm going to try and tumble dry them after washing to see if I can shrink them without felting. Laurie, I'm sorry it's taken me this long to thank you - but I am so so pleased with these.
In the meantime, I've been finishing hats and starting some more. Here is the Shedir chemo cap, in Rowan "Calmer", for my friend Rose. I love how the cables look, particularly how the decreases worked to make the octagonal pattern on the top of the hat. It was absolutely worth the 110% concentration that the decrease rows needed!
And here is a finished Odessa hat, this time for me. I wore on Saturday night with my black pearls and a simple black dress, and got nothing but compliments on the 1920s style and how cute it was. It doesn't look quite so good when I'm wearing a T-shirt and squinting into the sun, but this does show how the deep bronze beads catch the sunlight.
And the final piece of knitting news ... I went to the Knitting Room in Birmingham today to return extra yarn I'd bought for Shedir, and they're clearancing out their Manos stock... so I picked up 2 skeins of variegated, and 1 skein of solid turquoise, at 40% off. Drool away...
And I've started Yet Another Odessa hat. When I gave Rose the green one, both her teenage daughters (who act as her fashion advisors in chemo caps, scarves and other style matters) thought it was so cute that they wanted them too. So I've just started one in blue (actually, I had 3 beaded rows done before realising this morning that I'd forgotten to change up to the size 6 needles after the ribbing, so I had to rip it out back to where the pattern rows start), and have one in pink waiting to be done. Thankfully it's a quick enough knit that it should only take about 3 days or so.
I've also got to do some more Broadripple socks for my godmother's birthday gift, and am dreaming of starting on the alpaca lace shawl, so that I can at least get in on the tail end of the Amazing Lace summer knitting. And I'm off to England on August 5th for 2 weeks or so, so will have some good plane time to knit. In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying the summer weather, with good friends and family, and no dropped stitches!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Not sure I could manage this...

.. but some art student has created a knitted Ferrari complete with embroidered badge.

My own knitting news isn't quite so impressive. I finished the Odessa hat and gave it to our friend who's going through chemo, before I could take a photo of the final product. She loved it, and so did her daughters, so I'll be making two more for them. Hopefully there'll be SOME Odessa pictures here soon. It was fun to knit (once the darn beads were strung) and quick too - I started on Wednesday night and had it finished by Friday evening.

I've also started the Shedir chemo cap from Knitty for the same friend, in Rowan calmer. It's a lovely yarn to work with, and really soft. I'm not 100% happy with how the cables are looking though - single stitch cables in cotton show up every tension error that I make. Hopefully after blocking it will look better.

We're off to Chicago on Wednesday for a gig - details at if anyone reading this is in the area and wants to come along. Bring your knitting! I'm looking forward to 9 hours or so of knitting time in the car to get there and back home again.

More updates to come, including a very very overdue thanks to my Sockapalooza pal.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ye Gods, she's still here

Yep, I'm still around and finally had some time to get photos off my camera and resized and cropped in Paintshop Pro, and uploaded to flickr. (And as with most pf my posts, click on any of the pictures for a larger version. Especially the sweater pics. Really.) So this entry will actually contain some knitting content! In the 3 second "other news" bulletin: I didn't get my job back; I'll be starting an MA in Counseling at Oakland University in September; I'll be briefly visiting England in August to get the student visa; immigration paperwork sucks; so does trying to find health insurance that will cover the meds I need; and I had the most wonderful visit with my sister and adorable nephew which was the best soul medicine anyone could ask for.

And I've actually been knitting! Continuing on the sock kick (there's a pun in there somewhere), I made some Broadripple socks as a 50th birthday gift for my "folk sister" Sherry. Sherry loves purple, and claimed the very first object I ever knit - a scarf with blue/purple novelty yarn and black worsted - the moment it was off the needles. I was a bit worried as the only shoe size information I knew was "small" but with the stretch of the Fixation yarn, they fit perfectly. I now have requests from two other people for identical pairs!

We drove down to Maryland last weekend for the big 50th birthday party, which was just great fun. And for the person who's complained that they wanted to see pictures of me (and because it was such a great party with such wonderful people)...
Me, Terry and musician Eric SchwartzFrom left to right..Siobhan Quinn, Laurie Laba, Mary Pittari and me.
Terry and I relaxing and listening to featured performer and exceptional songwriter Greg Greenway. Sherry and her husband Steve run a house concert series where we've played a couple of times, so absolutely knew how to put on a great concert. And wonderful food too.
So, back to knitting ... here's the other big project I've been working on: an Aran Sweater from the Harmony Guide to Aran and Fair Isle Knitting. It's a gift for a friend, who picked out the yarn and the pattern. It's my first sweater, so I'm a little intimidated about the whole putting-it-together process, but right now, I'm enjoying knitting away on the back.
And here are close-ups of the side and centre cable panels. The edges of the sweater and the middle of the diamonds are filled in with double moss stitch. I have to admit, there are occasional times I impress myself, and this is one of them.
And finally ... I'm also working on the Odessa hat, which I started on Wednesday night, with lots of help from Lynne with the bead stringing and is coming on rapidly. Although I did find a knot in the yarn and so had to restring about half the beads, which was immensely frustrating.
I'm still making slow progress on the Cedar Creek and toe-up Pomatomus socks from the previous knitting post, and about to start the Shedir chemo cap from Knitty's breast cancer issue for a friend who's going through chemo right now. And that's pretty much the update. Now I've got to also go and catch up on my commenting/visiting friends' blogs, which I've shamefully neglected over the past month too.
Thanks for reading this far, and I hope it won't be nearly so long before the next update!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

An explanation

I've really neglected this blog over the past 2 months or so ... there is a reason why. I try to keep my posts on here mostly knitting focused, and not go into huge personal stuff, as that really isn't what I intended this blog for. But I figured I owed at least a brief post saying what's been going on.

Since mid-March, I've been having severe panic attacks that left me unable to get into work. All my old "don't tell, don't reach out for help" coping kicked in, so I pretended to the rest of the world that everything was fine, while the idea of even contacting my boss would leave me shaky, unable to breathe, sweating etc etc. Not good. And the end result was that I was fired on May 2nd.

This threw everything into turmoil, but has also had some really positive consequences. Firstly, I had to tell Terry what was going on - and she's been just amazing. Wonderful. The best partner I could have ever wanted. The fact that I was even too afraid to tell her what was going on is an indication of how skewed my perception of the world had got. Talking to my friends and family made me realise what an exceptional support network I have, and need to use.

Secondly: I'm now getting help from a variety of sources to deal with both the panic and the underlying stuff that triggered all this, and stopped me from getting the help I needed. I've put in an appeal to my job asking that my absence be taken as medical leave under the FMLA, and my termination be revoked. I don't know how long university bureaucracy will take to handle this; it's been a week so far, and nothing.

I guess that's the administrative system for you. But I have been knitting and have a bunch of pics to upload. My finished sockapalooza socks were sent off (and my pal left a lovely comment in my last blog entry). I received my own pair and they are just wonderful - I'm truly in awe of the construction and even tension and knitting technique. I've also started on an Aran cable sweater for my friend Gregg, and am halfway up the back. Plus today, because I wanted a change, I cast on for another pair of Broadripple socks in purple.

So now I've got all this out ... I'll make room for photos and stuff as soon as I can.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yes I am still alive...

.. but my laptop isn't, hence the lack of recent updates. It won't boot up in anything other than safe mode, and even then, it is constantly accessing the hard drive, and seems to have no memory at all. Not good. I'll have to find some geek squad or store to take it to, as I've tried running spybot and a virus scan to no avail - but I couldn't use live update for my virus definitions in safe mode, so that may be part of the problem.

So.. knitting progress since I last blogged. We have some finished socks (scroll past the inevitable space that Flickr inserts before a table - if anyone's figured out how to avoid this, please let me know!)

Full details on these are in my finished objects blog. On the left are my Jaywalkers, in Socks that Rock Fire on the Mountain colorway, and on the right are my Lorna's Laces socks from my "2 socks on 2 circulars, toe up, short row heel" City Knits class. I'm really pleased with the toe up ones. Here's a close up of the lace pattern, as modelled by my hand - hence the bad fit!
We also have major progress on my Sockapaloooza socks. My pal had no real preferences except nothing fun fur or acrylic, so I dug this yummy Mountain Colors Bearfoot from my stash, and looked for a suitable leaf pattern to go with it. I love this Fiber Trends one, and the leaves are more distinct when the sock is stretched out than they look in this picture.
I had one false start on size 1 needles, and got worried after two pattern repeats in when it wouldn't fit over my heel, but they're knitting up just fine on size 2 Addis. I also had to reknit the toe of the first sock, as I managed to do the three needle bind off without re-arranging my stitches, so it was perpendicular to the sock toe. Ooops. My only concern is that they're definitely "autumn/winter" socks, and we're just starting spring ... I guess my pal will just have to hold onto them for 6 months or so.

And so with 2 pairs of socks finished, of course, I have to start on some more.
On the left is the second Hippo Beast sock, this one being knitted toe-up, so as to reverse the pattern. I figured out how to turn the "end of pattern decreases" into "set up pattern increases" and the few rows I've got are looking good. My only concern is how much my guage has tightened up since knitting the first - I may switch to continental carry, as I do knit more loosely with the yarn in my left hand.
And on the right are my Socks That Rock sock club yarn. Again, very little progress, but I do love how the yarn is knitting up. The socks also have a fancy picot edging. Much as I hate knitting 3 rounds only for them to disappear and be folded underneath, I do like how it looks. Here's a close up:
I've got a couple of larger projects that I'm about to embark on as well. The first is an Aran cabled sweater in a pale blue for our friend and household angel, Gregg. The pattern is the "His and Hers" Aran Sweater from Aran and Fair Isle Knitting. The book is mostly a collection of stitch patterns and some history of both techniques, but this is the few actual object patterns in there. And I'm glad that Gregg preferred that one to any of the Alice Starmore designs!
So I've swatched, and after going down two needle sizes, finally got guage. This will be my first "big" project and my first real sweater, and I don't want to mess things up from the start. So I swatched, and then washed and blocked the swatches before measuring them. The yarn was chosen by Gregg - it's Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight, in Blue Vista.
We've worked out a bartering system for this: for each hour I spend knitting, he will put in an hour of work on the house - painting, organizing, decorating, etc etc. Our house wouldn't look nearly as nice as it does without Gregg; so far, he's painted four rooms for us, used his flower arranging talents to make the place look gorgeous for our Christmas party, cleaned out our basement after it was flooded last year ... he's been a lifesaver. Hopefully this sweater will meet his standards!
Here's the other experimental project: I had such fun knitting ThreadyBear that I didn't want to stop the Fair Isle knitting, but I was having a hard time finding projects that I'd actually wear. I love some of the Philosophers Wool designs, for instance, but can't see myself actually wearing any of them.
So I combined my love of Fair Isle with my love for knitting Booga Bags, and have come up with a slightly larger scale booga base, with a fair isle pattern up the sides. I used motifs from the book above, as well as one or two that I liked in ThreadyBear, and have bought Cascade 220 in 7 colours: 3 shades of purple/dark blue; 3 shades of yellow/gold and a deep red for an accent colour. I just started casting on the base in purple, so we'll see how this turns out. My first design project, almost a year to the day since I picked up knitting needles.
This book, however, contains a whole load of things I would like to knit. It arrived from Amazon yesterday, and I've already learned a whole lot about design and project selection from the first chapter, which is worth the price of the book alone. Then there's all these wonderful projects. Here's two that are calling my name at the moment:
There's also a gorgeous cabled skirt by the wonderful Jodi Green that could be a fun design to knit and I could almost see myself wearing.

So that should be enough updates to keep people happy for a while - at least until my laptop gets fixed. And my mother is visiting from England this weekend, so I won't be around much til next week at the earliest. Thanks for missing me!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Home again, home again...

Well, almost. Packing up and getting ready to leave Boston. But Stariel has put together some photos from my time out with the Magnificent Seven Knittyboard folk yesterday. Go look. There's even Jaffa Cakes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Boston adventures

Another quick post, because I'm heading out to Haaavad Square to meet some friends for dinner. But Boston is great fun (and the conference is just about bearable). I got to meet up with Ariel and Jenn on Tuesday night for coffee and knitting and yummy Indian food. And here's proof (picture shamelessly stolen from Ariel's blog:

I was also delighted to find a LUSH store 2 blocks away from the hotel. Lush was one of my affordable treats back in the UK, and there's nothing like walking into one of their stores and having your nose overwhelmed with all kinds of good smells. So I stocked up on Flying Fox shower gel, and Retread conditioner and massage bars and hand cream and various other goodies.

Plus I got to explore the Boston Public Library - I even became a guest member mostly so that I could look at their reference only copy of Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting - yes, the one that goes on ebay for over $200. It's certainly a wonderful book - great history and research on Aran sweaters, and some yummy yummy patterns too. But I'm not shelling out that amount of money for it! Hopefully someone will bring it back into print soon....

OK, that's the news update. Oh - and I'm getting together with a bunch of Knittyboard folk on Saturday afternoon, which should make for some fun adventures. If anyone reading this is around the Boston area, check this thread for more info. And now off for food. And if you want to have an overload of adorable cuteness, you really need to see the newest photos of my nephew. Can't wait to see him again.